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Texas Textbooks To Teach Evolution As “Theory”

March 28, 2009

This is troubling for those of us who care about science, and think it important to prepare the next generation to be able to confront the rest of the world in an educated way.  Texas, as I have stated before,  is truly the armpit of the country.

But within Texas, what the board says, goes. Several years ago, the board expressed concern that a description of the Ice Age occurring “millions of years ago” conflicted with biblical timelines. The publisher changed it to “in the distant past.” Another publisher sought to satisfy the board by inserting a heading about “strengths and weaknesses of evolution” in a biology text, drawing condemnation from science organizations.

For instance, they want textbooks to suggest the theory of evolution is undercut by fossils that show some organisms — such as ferns — haven’t changed much over millions of years. They also want texts to discuss the explosion of life forms during the Cambrian Era as inconsistent with the incremental march of evolution.

Scientists respond that the fossil record clearly traces the roots of Cambrian Era creatures back as far as 100 million years.

It isn’t just evolution at issue: The board also approved an earth-science curriculum that challenges the widely accepted Big Bang Theory. Students are expected to learn that there are “differing theories” on the “origin and history of the universe.”

Board members also deleted a reference to the scientific consensus that the universe is nearly 14 billion years old. The board’s chairman has said he believes God created the universe fewer than 10,000 years ago.

5 Comments
  1. michael permalink
    March 13, 2010 9:07 PM

    you have absolutely no grasp as to what a scientific theory is….this isn´t politics or some right wing talk show….when scientists talk about scientific theories they mean the most acceptable explanation for a series of phenomenon, usually grouping one or more scientific laws. for example we use Newton´s Laws of Universal Motion in explaining planetary theory. The theory that the planets in our solar system move around the sun in elliptical orbits is still a theory, using laws such as Newton´s to provide the most logical and scientifically sound explanation. You can say that the planets move because God (Jesus, Allah, Buddha, Xenu of Scientology fame) whispers with his giant mouth….but that is not a scientific theory. The term theory in SCIENCE is not the same as the way most laypersons use it in everyday use. There are facts like saying “the Earth experiences darkenss at night” but to explain it you need theory like the theory of planetary motion. Get it? You are misusing the terms my friend. Theories are explanations based upon decades and centuries of observation using the scientific method which begs for theories to be misproven by trial and observation. So far no better explanation for planetary motion has come along, nor has any serious scientist suggested the Earth was created 6,000 years ago as many creationists state.

  2. Richard permalink
    March 30, 2009 4:20 PM

    Jenny,

    please read what the philosophy and tactics of the creationists are, very well listed in the “Wedge Document” by someone of the Discovery Institute, the proponent of ‘Intelligent Design’ alias creationism.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedge_document

    It should tell what these folks have on their mind.

    No, by no means you can put creationism and evolution on one level, by far not. Creationism, in its essence, postulates a result of research, i.e. God, before it does ever approach the facts to support it.

    No way creationism is science, no way.

  3. Bruce permalink
    March 29, 2009 1:29 PM

    The theory of evolution, like all good science, does not depend on any preconceived notions about the existence of God. Evolution merely describes the process by which life came about on this planet based on physical observations. It makes no claims about who or what is responsible for that process. In the end, evolution will stand or fall purely on the weight of the evidence and nothing else. That’s the beauty of it and that’s how it should be.

    Creation theory, on the other hand, cannot make the same claim. Creationism, by definition, DEPENDS on belief in a creator. It CANNOT be fairly discussed as science because it can only exist in the NON-scientific context of spiritual belief. To put it another way, if creationism was a valid scientific theory in the same sense that evolution is, then we should find at least one atheist who believes in creation theory. As far as I know, that person does not exist. On the other hand, there are plenty of people who believe in God AND evolution. In fact, I’m one of those people myself.

    Sure, let’s teach creation theory to our kids. I’m all for freedom of speech and religion and learning as much as we can about ALL aspects of life. But I’m also confident that good science will always triumph over bad science. Unfortunately, those who support teaching creation as science are doing it a grave disservice by attempting to present it in a forum where it can’t possibly stand up to the rigorous scrutiny that is demanded of it. Let’s do everyone a favor and keep creation theory where it belongs, in a class on religion, not the science classroom.

  4. March 28, 2009 5:47 PM

    “widely accepted Big Bang Theory. Students are expected to learn that there are ‘differing theories’ on the ‘origin and history of the universe.'”

    Big Bang THEORY THEORY THEORY
    It may be “widely accepted” but yes, it is still a theory and yes, there still are other theories.

    I expect my children to learn the difference between FACT and THEORY too. “Widely accepted” and FACT are NOT the same thing. Evolution and the Big Bang Theory may be related but the are not inseparable. Does evolution happen? Evolution is simply change over time. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who says nothing ever changes over time. A fern staying largely the same over a long period of time? Fascinating! Let those imaginations soar! Time for some hypothesis on why.

    I think the idea that a theory should be taught as fact is the most close-minded approach one can take. You don’t feel creationism is correct; I don’t feel the Big Bang is correct. Both are technically theories. Neither is fully proven or disproven scientifically. Teach them both in my opinion. One of the largest disservices we can do to ourselves is to teach a theory is fact such as…the world is flat. Remember learning how that was taught as fact? I suppose in light of science, history is sometimes forgotten. For those of us who care about science, Do NOT teach theory as fact. Do teach tools for discovery! If everyone accepted the big bang theory as fact, who will ever set out to prove it? The same can be said for creationism. PROVE IT! Teach tools, not mindless acceptance.

  5. March 28, 2009 4:15 PM

    Even more concerning than what Texas chooses to put in its textbooks, is that publishers across the spectrum edit books that the rest of the country’s teachers end up using. Because, as I note in my blog, of how Texas purchases books for the entire state, textbook publishers really adapt to what the board wants, thereby affecting the choice in texts that our local teachers have as well.

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