YOU know about Don McLeroy — the creationist dentist whose appointment as chairman of the Texas State Board of Education (BOE) recently failed to win confirmation in the state senate. McLeroy is being challenged in the Republican primary next year by Thomas Ratliff, the son of former Texas Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff.
The last time we posted on this subject was here: Thomas Ratliff, Don McLeroy’s Opponent, Speaks, when we presented Mr. Ratliff’s comments to our earlier post on this election contest. Our biggest concern at that time was that Thomas Ratliff’s website said nothing about the evolution-creationism controversy, and that silence caused us to suspect that the two candidates had no disagreements on that topic. We said:
Running against Don McLeroy and not discussing whether creationism belongs in science education is like running for President against Abe Lincoln’s re-election in 1864 and not mentioning that there’s a war going on.
We also said:
Therefore, we look forward to a clear and unambiguous statement on Mr. Ratliff’s website. What kind of science education does he favor — evolution, straight up? Or some watered-down, religiously-oriented creationist version? This is a simple question. One or two straightforward sentences on the Ratliff website will clarify the matter.
Mr. Ratliff has just informed us about some position papers that he added to his website. He expresses the hope that, despite some disagreement, we can maintain a professional discourse and an open dialogue on what is appropriate for public schools to teach or not teach. We’ll do our best to comply with his wishes.
The Thomas Ratliff website has a new section: The Issues. At the bottom of that are links to positions on several topics. Two of those are of particular interest to us.
First: In-State vs. Out-Of-State Experts, in which Mr. Ratliff states that he sees no good reason to use non-Texan experts to review curriculum standards:
Unfortunately, I think the reason we have experts from around the country coming to Texas can be summed up in one word: politics. Some of the SBOE members search far and wide to find “experts” that also support their political agendas.
We like that — especially because Seattle isn’t in Texas.
And then there’s this position statement — the one we’ve been waiting for: Creation vs. Evolution. Here’s an excerpt:
I believe the Bible tells us who created the Earth and why. I believe science tells us when the Earth was created and how. Neither is designed to tell the other story, therefore we shouldn’t ask them to try.
I believe God created the Heavens and the Earth millions and millions of years ago. I do not believe, as my opponent does, that the Earth is a mere few thousand years old, nor do I believe, as my opponent does, that dinosaurs and mankind lived at the same time.
For those who have followed this issue during the debate at the SBOE, I offer the following explanation of my position on this issue. Had I been a member of the SBOE at the time when the science curriculum was adopted, I would have voted with Bob Craig, Tincy Miller and the majority of the board members to adopt the science curriculum.
We’d like even more clarity — but maybe the statement is clear enough, given the political realities involved. We understand this to mean that Mr. Ratliff wants the public schools to teach science, as scientists want to teach it. That’s the way the curriculum standards were originally drafted, before the McLeroy faction started amending things. Such a position would leave religious matters — including creationism — for home and family.
Even if we’re reading too much into Mr. Ratliff’s statement, he’s still a big improvement over McLeroy. We wish him well in the coming election.
If the voters agree, then Don McLeroy will soon be able to devote his full attention to the practice of dentistry.
Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.