SOME ARTICLES are more deserving of attention than others, and today we’re writing about one of them. It’s an article by Alan Leshner, appearing in the Houston Chronicle: Board’s actions could put students at a disadvantage, subtitled “Anti-evolution push may hurt efforts to teach science.”
Dr. Alan I. Leshner is head of the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which has 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. They publish Science, which has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of one million.
Here are some excerpts from the article, with bold added by us. First, Leshner introduces the subject:
Last week, they [the Texas State Board of Education] appointed three anti-evolution activists, including a leader of the “intelligent design” religious campaign, to a six-member panel that will review proposed new science curriculum standards.
Then he hits all the key points:
Intelligent design advocates on the state board have been maneuvering for months to undermine the teaching of evolution in science classes. They say that students need to hear about the strengths and weaknesses of evolution, which of course is true. But then they argue that the universe is so complex that it required an intelligent designer and that should be taught in science classes as an alternative to evolution. This is a religious belief, not a scientific argument. There is no science base to the notion of an intelligent designer.
That’s rather straightforward. Here’s more:
In addition, there is no scientific controversy. Mainstream science and medical organizations in the United States and worldwide, representing tens of millions of scientists, accept evolution as the best explanation for how life developed on Earth.
Tens of millions? Probably. Leshner would certainly know. As for the dissenting few:
Yes, the anti-evolution campaign has lined up a small number of scientist supporters, but most have no expertise in biology or evolution. U.S. courts have seen through their arguments, repeatedly ruling that creationism and intelligent design are religious ideas that should not be taught as science in public schools.
In this article, Leshner emphasizes the distinction between science and religion to an extent that we didn’t see him do during the recent Louisiana legislative affair:
Science uses experiments and repeatable observations to build understanding of the natural world; it has nothing to say about the supernatural or spiritual realm. What experiment can test for the working of an intelligent creator? What hard evidence can prove it, or disprove it? This isn’t a scientific issue. It’s a matter of faith.
This is a good article. It’s far more diplomatic than something we would write, but of course it has to be. Leshner has responsibilities as head of a large and respected organization. But he makes all the necessary points, and he does it well.
Some of the efforts by the AAAS and Leshner during the recent “Expelled” and “Academic Freedom” campaign can be found here: Evolution on the Front Line.
Addendum: Thanks to our operatives in the underground control room at Operation TruthGuard, we bring you a link to the Discovery Institute’s reaction to Leshner’s article: In Texas Former CEO of AAAS Agrees With Teaching Strengths and Weaknesses of Evolution.