Texas: Debating “Strengths and Weaknesses” of Reality

AN INTERESTING ARTICLE in the New York Times, Opponents of Evolution Are Adopting New Strategy, discusses the latest public relations ploy being used by creationists to sneak their anti-science doctrine into state-run science classes.

Here are some excerpts, with bold added for Curmudgeonly emphasis:

Opponents of teaching evolution, in a natural selection of sorts, have gradually shed those strategies that have not survived the courts. Over the last decade, creationism has given rise to “creation science,” which became “intelligent design,” which in 2005 was banned from the public school curriculum in Pennsylvania by a federal judge.

Now a battle looms in Texas over science textbooks that teach evolution, and the wrestle for control seizes on three words. None of them are “creationism” or “intelligent design” or even “creator.”

The words are “strengths and weaknesses.”

That Pennsylvania case, as most of you probably know, is Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, a devastating blow to Intelligent Design “theory,” which exposed it as mere creationism masquerading as science. Continuing with the article:

Starting this summer, the state education board will determine the curriculum for the next decade and decide whether the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution should be taught. The benign-sounding phrase, some argue, is a reasonable effort at balance. But critics say it is a new strategy taking shape across the nation to undermine the teaching of evolution, a way for students to hear religious objections under the heading of scientific discourse.

[…]

The “strengths and weaknesses” language was slipped into the curriculum standards in Texas to appease creationists when the State Board of Education first mandated the teaching of evolution in the late 1980s. It has had little effect because evolution skeptics have not had enough power on the education board to win the argument that textbooks do not adequately cover the weaknesses of evolution.

Yet even as courts steadily prohibited the outright teaching of creationism and intelligent design, creationists on the Texas board grew to a near majority. Seven of 15 members subscribe to the notion of intelligent design, and they have the blessings of Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican.

Ah, the plot thickens. Will Texas be the next state to follow the example of Kansas, and disgrace itself throughout the civilized world? Back to the article:

“ ‘Strengths and weaknesses’ are regular words that have now been drafted into the rhetorical arsenal of creationists,” said Kathy Miller, director of the Texas Freedom Network, a group that promotes religious freedom.

The chairman of the state education board, Dr. Don McLeroy, a dentist in Central Texas, denies that the phrase “is subterfuge for bringing in creationism.”

Another dentist! This is a strange pattern. See our earlier Curmudgeonly article: Dentists Gone Wild! One more excerpt from the Times article:

In Texas, evolution foes do not have to win over the entire Legislature, only a majority of the education board; they are one vote away.

Dr. McLeroy, the board chairman, sees the debate as being between “two systems of science.”

“You’ve got a creationist system and a naturalist system,” he said.

Dr. McLeroy believes that Earth’s appearance is a recent geologic event — thousands of years old, not 4.5 billion.

That guy is the chairman of the education board! Keep an eye on Texas. It seems to be drifting out of our reality.

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9 responses to “Texas: Debating “Strengths and Weaknesses” of Reality

  1. Are you certain that Dr. McElroy is indeed a dentist, and not a cdesign proporthodontist?

  2. Pingback: Discovery Institute — Blithering Pettifoggery « The Sensuous Curmudgeon

  3. You’d think that dentists, of all people, would see one great strength of evolution . . . in explaining the misfit of many wisdom teeth in undersized jaws!

  4. Pingback: Texas Anti-Evolution Debate: Pure Creationism « The Sensuous Curmudgeon

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