The news is all over the place about a topic we last wrote about here: South Carolina Creationism Standards: Rejected. The next two indented paragraphs provide background information, which most of you can skip:
New language for high school biology standards is headed for consideration to the South Carolina State Board of Education that would have students learn “the controversy.” The S.C. Education Oversight Committee sent proposed language to the board that would require biology students to construct scientific arguments that seem to support and seem to discredit Darwinism.
The State Board of Education was scheduled vote on adoption of the creationist standards on June 11. If the Board doesn’t approve the new standards, then the state keeps its 2005 standards — which apparently don’t promote creationism. State Senator Mike Fair — a long time creationism advocate — was responsible for the proposed revision of the standards. The Discovery Institute had been lobbying for this change, but the state board of education didn’t adopt Mike Fair’s creationist proposal.
We’ll start with our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), who posted this late yesterday: End to the impasse in sight? They say:
A panel approved a proposed revision to the section on evolution in South Carolina’s new state science standards, according to The State (July 29, 2014). If the revision is approved by the state board of education and the Education Oversight Committee [EOC], it will end the impasse over South Carolina’s state science standards that began with the EOC’s refusal in December 2013 to accept a standard covering evolution.
What’s the proposed revision — which still has to navigate a labyrinth of bureaucracies to get adopted? NCSE says:
According (PDF) to the panel’s agenda, the proposed revision adds a new standard and a related performance indicator as follows:
H.B.5D. Conceptual Understanding: Science is the systematic gathering of information through both direct and indirect observation, and the testing of this information by experimentation with the aim of developing concepts and formulation of laws and theories. Scientific conclusions are tested by experiment and observation, and evolution, as with any aspect of science, is continually open to and subject to experimental and observational testing.
Performance Indicator: Student who demonstrate this understanding can:
H.B.5D.1 Explain how scientists develop theories and laws by using deductive and inductive reasoning in situations where direct observation and testing are possible and also by inference through experimental and observational testing of historical scientific claims. Students should understand assumptions scientists make in situations where direct evidence is limited and understand that all theories may change as new scientific information is obtained.
Huh? That sounds pretty good to us. In fact, NCSE tells us:
The language of the revision largely derives from the National Science Teachers Association’s position statement on evolution.
What does Mike Fair — the South Carolina creationist war horse — think of this? According to what we’re told by The Herald of Rock Hill, South Carolina in this article SC evolution update clears hurdle, headed for final OK:
Fair said the proposed language will lead to more “critical thinking” in the classroom. It could allow students to ask questions about creation theories other than evolution.
He’s dreaming. And at the website of NBC television station WSAV of Savannah, Georgia we read New Standard for Teaching Evolution in S.C. Gets Approval. They say:
The standard is a compromise, after member Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville, wanted language calling for students to question the theory of natural selection. He voted for the compromise. “Hopefully, they’ll stimulate even more in-depth questions, which then will beg for some critical thinking to come up with some opinions, and some inferences made by the students,” he said after the meeting.
If Fair supports the new standard, it will likely be approved by the other bureaucracies and go into effect for the coming school year. But why is a creationist like Mike Fair supporting the proposal? Does he actually think it helps his cause?
The way we see it, he’s so confused he thinks that by defining evolution as a theory, which of course it is, he has somehow succeeded in denigrating it. And by encouraging students to ask questions about it, he imagines that the theory will not be able to survive. That’s how sincere creationists think, so he actually believes that he’s accomplished something.
In other words, he’s living in a Jack Chick comic book. Would that all our adversaries were as simple-minded as Mike Fair.
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