WE BEGIN by reminding you that the Texas Board of Education (BOE) 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.
The BOE is dominated by creationists. They’ve already had one hearing, and we suspect they paid no attention to anything the science experts told them. They’ll have a second public hearing Jan 21, at which the witness list will probably be loaded up with people reciting talking points from the blog of the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids). Then, armed with a record showing that there’s a scientific “controversy” over evolution, the BOE will take a final vote on the new standards in March.
Meanwhile, various groups with an interest in good science education, and others with an interest in the First Amendment, are publicizing their positions. For example, The American Association for the Advancement of Science issued a statement a few months ago, for all the good it will do in impressing the BOE: Texas Educators’ Move Against Evolution Threatens State’s Students and Economy. We’ve reported about similar statements from other groups, although none are as prestigious as the AAAS.
A new article appears in today’s San Antonio Express-News, written by Eric Lane, President the the San Antonio Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church & State. That may be a group with which your Curmudgeon has little in common except for this issue, but the article is a good one, well written and quite correct in all respects: Science classes are for science only. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:
In the upcoming months, the Texas State Board of Education will make a decision on whether public school science classes will teach scientific concepts or religious non-scientific beliefs known as intelligent design/creationism.
The debate won’t be structured this way. The intelligent design folks will say it’s only about “weaknesses” of evolutionary theory, “freedom of speech” and “academic freedom.” Don’t fall for it. The debate has nothing to do with science. It has everything to do with religious fundamentalists trying to force non-science into the public science classroom.
It starts well. Lane clearly understands the issue. Let’s read on:
Students in Texas come from families with diverse religious and personal beliefs about the origins of life. It is imperative to abide by the constitutional mandate of separation of church and state. No single religious perspective should be taught in our public schools and no religious belief should be taught as scientific fact.
Our founders understood this issue all too well. They had witnessed the treachery, both abroad and here at home, that state-mandated religion can create. That is why the Founders were so adamant to begin the First Amendment to the Constitution with “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…..”
That’s entirely correct. Will it have any effect on BOE Chairman Don McLeroy, a creationist dentist? We doubt it. McLeroy is on a mission to save the world from the evils of “godless” science. Here’s more:
There is no controversy in the scientific community regarding evolution. The National Academy of Sciences calls evolution “the only tested, comprehensive, scientific explanation for the nature of the biological world today that is supported by overwhelming evidence and widely accepted in the scientific community.” In a recent Express-News article, it was reported that 97.7 percent of Texas scientists overwhelmingly reject intelligent design as valid science.
We suspect the percentage is actually higher in the life-sciences. Let’s skip to the end:
The real agenda of the intelligent design/creationist crowd is not to prepare our children for a 21st century economy and work force, but to create a theistic fundamentalist Christian nation. That is the very thing our founders fought so hard to avoid. Not only is this agenda un-scientific and unpatriotic, but also, truly un-American.
Good article, but Don McLeroy, definitely, and his creationist board, probably, are of the opinion that Americans should learn about Noah’s Ark in science class. That’s real science!
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