Texas: Creationism and Cosmology?

map-usa-1

SOMETHING is horribly wrong in Texas. They’ve got a creationist governor, a creationist State Board of Education (BOE), and we’ll soon learn if they have a creationist legislature.

The two indented paragraphs which follow are background material, and you can skip them if you’ve been following events in Texas.

As our readers know, Don McLeroy is the creationist dentist whom Governor Perry has just re-appointed to another term as chairman of the Texas BOE. McLeroy and his creationist-dominated BOE seem determined to draft a science curriculum on 27 March that will, one way or another, assure the teaching of creationism in Texas science classes.

Also, as we reported here: Texas Creationism: Now a Two-Front War, creationists in the Texas legislature have opened a second front by introducing H.B. 4224 in the Texas House of Representatives. It’s one of those anti-science, anti-evolution, pro-creationism bills modeled after the misleadingly-named Academic Freedom Act, promoted by the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids).

But it keeps getting crazier. What we’re reporting today could have been titled “A Tale of Two Press Releases.”

The first is a “press release” put out by a what appears to be a public relations outfit hawking books for what is probably a vanity publisher: Crucial Texas Evolution/Creation Debate Impacted by ‘Sowing Atheism’ Book. Here, with bold font from us, is some of what this “press release” tells us:

Solving Light Books announced today that Don McLeroy, controversial Chair of the Texas State Board of Education, has recommended “Sowing Atheism” (ISBN: 978-0-9705438-5-1) by Robert Bowie Johnson, Jr., to other board members and to the general public. McLeroy’s timely recommendation could influence the board’s final decision on the science curriculum scheduled for March 27. The Texas decision will determine what is printed in science textbooks nationwide.

We’ve Googled around in an effort to learn something about Solving Light Books, but with no success. We could be wrong, but our guess is that it’s a vanity press, or one of those “print on demand” outfits. Let’s read on:

McLeroy extols Johnson’s succinct demonstration that natural selection, the vaunted lynchpin of evolutionist reasoning, is not a scientific principle at all, but rather a mere figure of speech that adds nothing to our understanding of nature. McLeroy has said he plans to raise this issue in the March 26-27 meetings.

[…]

[Quoting the book’s author:] “I’m delighted with Mr. McLeroy’s endorsement of ‘Sowing Atheism,’ and hope all the board members read it thoughtfully before they vote. Our nation cannot progress morally, spiritually, or politically so long as we permit the NAS to teach our children that they are descended by chance from worms,” Mr. Johnson said.

We won’t trouble you with more from that “press release.” You can read it all if you like. Nor will we waste our own time analyzing that book’s arguments. It’s sufficient to note that Don McLeroy likes it, and he’s promoting it to the rest of the BOE. Things don’t look good for the 27 March hearings on Texas science education standards.

But while all of this creationist activity is going on in the legislature, the governor’s mansion, and at the BOE, your Curmudgeon came upon another press release. This one is from SpaceRef Interactive, which appears to be a source of genuine news. Their offering is titled: Texas Cosmology Center Established at UT Austin. Here are a few excerpts:

AUSTIN, Texas — A new interdisciplinary center for the study of the frontiers of the universe, from the tiniest subatomic particle to largest chain of galaxies, has been formed at The University of Texas at Austin.

The Texas Cosmology Center will be a way for the university’s departments of astronomy and physics to collaborate on research that concerns them both. “This center will bring the two departments together in an area where they overlap — in the physics of the very early universe,” said Dr. Neal Evans, astronomy department chair.

Looks like the real thing, doesn’t it? Here’s more:

Dr. Steven Weinberg, Nobel laureate and professor of physics at the university, called the Center’s advent “a very exciting development” for that department. “Many of us have felt that cosmology, because of the wonderful progress on the observational side, has the kind of excitement we used to find in elementary particle physics,” he said. “Many of us have shifted our work toward cosmology. We intend to participate fully in the Texas Cosmology Center.”

Definitely the real thing! So that’s a press release worth reading.

But now it’s time to end this post, and we’re thoroughly confused. Which of today’s press releases describes the real Texas? If McLeroy and the other creationists on the BOE prevail, how long can the cosmologists expect to do their work without serious political interference? And why would such a worthy facility want to be located where there is even a slight risk of political interference?

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

5 responses to “Texas: Creationism and Cosmology?

  1. MF says: “Hey Curmy. Interested in North of the Border?”

    Wow! That’s good. I’ll have to do something with that one. Later today, maybe tomorrow. Thanks.

  2. As a biologist who grew up in Dallas, TX (and by the way didn’t hear about evolution in my early 60s high school biology class) all of this is very disturbing. How can we have the Johnson Space Center in Houston and all the great academic institutions in Texas and yet have all this bulls**t coming from the politicians of the state. Academia in Texas must rise up in mass and say NO to all of this. It may be the biologists today, but tomorrow the physicists and astronomers will be up to their eyeballs in bulls**t.

  3. I wonder if they could dispatch some Baptists from Baylor to help squash some of this silliness….

  4. James says: “I wonder if they could dispatch some Baptists from Baylor …”

    Some of them are pretty good. Others, however …