This is the week the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) will decide on revisions to the state’s high school science curriculum standards. A week ago in Texas Science Standards Battle Continues we said that back in 2009 the Discovery Institute actively lobbied to get their creationist nonsense into the Texas science standards — see Texas Science Chainsaw Massacre: It’s Over — and now they’re fighting to keep things that way.
At the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog they just posted At Dallas Morning News a Senior Scientist Weighs In on Evolution and Texas Science Standards. [*Begin Drool Mode*] Ooooooooooooh — a senior scientist! [*End Drool Mode*]
It was written by Sarah Chaffee — whom we call “Savvy Sarah.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
This morning, the Texas Board of Education hears public comment on the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) science standards, before considering adoption later this week. As we’ve mentioned before, there has been a concerted push to gut the science standards of provisions asking for students to learn the scientific strengths and weaknesses of evolution.
To the Discoveroids — as with all creationists — the “weaknesses” of evolution are that it explains the diversity of life without reference to supernatural causes. Savvy Sarah says:
Today, the Dallas Morning News features an op-ed endorsing objective standards on evolution from Dr. Robert Marks, a senior research scientist at the Evolutionary Informatics Lab and Distinguished Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering at Baylor University:
Before we get to what the “senior scientist” said, we need to know something about him. Who is Robert Marks? His name shows up in our humble blog back in 2010, when we wrote William Dembski’s Challenge to Ken Starr, in which we reported:
Marks’ research lab was expelled from Baylor because Baylor officials saw it as supporting Intelligent Design, a scientific theory that purports to dismantle Darwinian evolution … . The expulsion of Marks’ lab from Baylor was reported nationally from World Magazine to the Chronicle of Higher Education. It was also a centerpiece of Ben Stein’s film “Expelled,” documenting the persecution that proponents of Intelligent Design endure from the academy.
As you recall, Dembski’s intelligent design shop at Baylor was also shut down — see Intelligent Design’s Brief Shining Moment.
Marks shows up numerous times at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog. For example, see The Evolutionary Informatics Lab: Putting Intelligent Design Predictions to the Test by Casey Luskin in 2012, which says:
One of the brightest spots of the intelligent-design research program, highlighted in our newly updated listing of pro-ID peer-reviewed publications, is the Evolutionary Informatics Lab. The lab’s founders, William Dembski and Robert Marks, have some of the strongest credentials in the ID movement.
Okay, that’s who Marks is. Savvy Sarah tells us what he said in the Dallas Morning News:
There’s a battle over evolution education in Texas right now. The latest round is coming up soon in Austin, with the State Board of Education hearing testimony on both sides of the controversy. There is a tug-of-war between those who want to teach only their corner on truth and those who would prefer to include critical analysis and discuss developments that challenge neo-Darwinian dogma.
This is unfortunate, because at least in areas of my specialization, using computers and mathematics to model evolution, the problems are fascinating and would be both fun and instructive to teach.
Gregory Chaitin, arguably the greatest and most creative mathematician of my generation, lays out the stakes: “The honor of mathematics requires us to come up with a mathematical theory of evolution and either prove that Darwin was wrong or right!”
No math, no evolution! Savvy Sarah quotes some more:
Many attempts have been made to simulate evolution on a computer. None has truly succeeded.
Charles Darwin admitted the need for mathematical modeling in science. “Every new body of discovery is mathematical in form,” he wrote, “because there is no other guidance we can have.” Darwin also confessed his own lack of skill in this area. “I have deeply regretted that I did not proceed far enough to understand something of the great leading principles of mathematics, for men thus endowed seem to have an extra sense.”
I would agree, and I hope defenders of neo-Darwinian evolution respond to the challenges of mathematics and modeling with more than hand waving and anecdotes.
We can’t find that alleged Darwin quote at Darwin Online, which includes his publications and his private writings. If she has a craving for math, Savvy Sarah might want to look at Wikipedia’s article on Mathematical and theoretical biology.
Anyway, near the end of her post, Savvy Sarah says this:
We’ll see if objective evolution standards prevail this week.
Yes, we shall see. If the Discoveroids’ version of the science standards prevails, then we’ll know that truly objective standards don’t exist in Texas. But that’s been true for years.
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