WE REMIND you again that the Texas Board of Education (BOE), guided by the Dark Ages thinking of their chairman (see: Don McLeroy: The Mind of a Creationist Dentist), is currently deciding whether it should keep the anti-science, anti-evolution, creationism-friendly “strengths and weaknesses” language in the state’s current standards for science education.
We’ve already told you quite a bit about the creationist dentist, and recently we wrote Texas Creationism: Meet Cynthia Dunbar. Today we’d like to introduce another board member, Ken Mercer, who is said to have “a bachelor’s in biology from The University of Texas at Austin.”
Mercer has written an article which appears in the San Antonio Express-News, provocatively titled: It’s right to ask questions about evolution. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:
I want to present the other side of the State Board of Education’s debate on teaching scientific strengths and “weaknesses” of evolutionary theory in future textbooks.
By “other side” he means his side — the creationist side. In doing so, Mercer engages in a bit of character assassination, saying that the pro-science group, Texas Freedom Network (TFN), is “an ultra-liberal advocacy group,” Maybe they are, and maybe your Curmudgeon wouldn’t agree with them on anything else except this one item. But science isn’t liberal or conservative; it’s rational, so let’s stick with the issue at hand.
We read on:
TFN’s real agenda may be illustrated in this consistent, three-fold testimony to the State Board of Education: (1) Evolution is a fact; (2) there are no weaknesses to that theory; and (3) students are “unqualified” to ask questions.
Mercer continues to attack TFN and their “real agenda,” and doesn’t bother to defend his own creationism. Is he being intentionally slick, or is this mere incompetence? We report, you decide. Let’s continue:
Is evolution a fact? Most people of faith agree with what is commonly referred to as “micro” evolution,” small changes that are clearly visible. We see this in new vaccines and new strains of flu. You can witness evidence of microevolution downtown in any city via the thousands of varieties of stray dogs and cats.
We groan in anticipation. Is this guy really going to use the “micro-yes, macro-no” line of argument? Let’s see:
The controversial “macro” evolution was commonly understood as those major changes that could occur if one species jumped to another. For example, have you ever seen a dog-cat, or a cat-rat? The most famous example of macroevolution is the Darwinian “man from an ancestral primate.”
Realizing the weakness in macroevolution, Darwinists changed the meaning. Whatever their new definition, where is the evidence for one species changing to another?
Hey, Mercer, did the dog-cat eat your homework? Lookie here: List of transitional fossils.
Let’s read a bit more from the pen of this Texas genius:
The famous “missing link,” the Piltdown man, survived scientific method and peer review for almost 40 years. Finally someone was allowed to ask a question and found a weakness. This missing link was really the jawbone of an orangutan fused to a human skull. British Broadcasting called this the greatest scientific fraud of the 20th century.
No, no, no. Mercer’s creationist revision of history would have you believe that some brave creationist finally challenged the “Darwinist” orthodoxy and dared to “ask a question.” Sorry, Mercer. Like the entire creation-science enterprise, your 1984-ish version of history is all wrong.
Virtually no one accepted the authenticity of Piltdown man, because it contradicted the theory of evolution. Darwin thought that man’s ancestors would probably be found in Africa, because that’s where so many non-human primates are found. There are none in England, so it’s quite impossible for man to have evolved there without any ancestral candidates. If Piltdown man were real, Darwin would have been proven to be spectacularly wrong. Mercer understands nothing!
Some final thoughts from this great Texan:
The third part of the liberal agenda is most troubling. How can anyone state that students are “unqualified” to ask questions?
I stand for students who will always ask questions and search for truth. An agenda that opposes both freedom of speech and academic freedom is unpatriotic, un-American, and unscientific.
That’s quite an Ark-load of distortions there, Mercer. Certainly students are qualified to ask questions. After all, they’re students! It’s the answers that are the difficult part. Students are not qualified to do the heavy-duty research required to examine the entire body of evidence supporting evolution and then reach rational conclusions that can withstand peer-review and testing.
So where does that leave us? Students can ask questions. A competent teacher with a well-chosen text should answer their questions. It isn’t going to help the students at all if the BOE selects a text that presents Noah’s Ark as an alternative “scientific” theory, and then the teacher leaves it to the bewildered students to sort if all out.
If students, having learned the basics, want to become experts in the subject so they can examine things in depth, they can study the subject in college and then go on to do graduate work. At that point they’ll be qualified to do research. As high school students, all they can do is ask questions — not decide the answers. If Texas is going to teach science, its textbooks should provide the scientific community’s best information.
As for Mercer’s blather about patriotism (and what seems to be a primitive attempt to claim our flag solely for the creationists), let us say this: Mr. Mercer, there’s nothing patriotic about idiocy. Got it?
Copyright © 2008. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.