Thursday, September 25, 2008

Good News from Austin: Committee Recommends Removal of Creationist Language

A committee has recommended removing the "strengths and weaknesses" neocreationism from the Texas science curriculum:

The Texas Education Agency on Tuesday released to the public an early recommendation for the state's new science curriculum that would excise ideas "based upon purported forces outside of nature" from what Texas students are taught in biology classes.

The recommendation, which covers many courses, also removes language in the current curriculum requiring that students be taught the "strengths and weaknesses" of all scientific theories. Several State Board of Education members have said they support that language. Critics of the teaching of intelligent design and creationism — ideas that hold that the universe was created by a higher power — say such language has been used to undermine the theory of evolution.

Way to call a spade a spade guys. Unfortunately, committee recommendations in the past have been changed wholesale at the last minute, so we should expect similar games with the science standards with leadership like state board chairman Don McLeroy parroting creationist nonsense like this:

I'd argue it doesn't make sense scientifically to take it out. Evolution shouldn't have anything to worry about — if there's no weaknesses, there's no weaknesses. But if there's scientifically testable explanations out there to refute it, shouldn't those be included too?

Yes Don, but all your years of dentistry haven't left you equipped to teach biologists biology. There are no scientifically testable explanations out there competing with evolution, as the paucity of ID research attests, a full 10 years after their shining moment, the publication of Michael Behe's "Darwin's Black Box". The weaknesses are all ID's: who, what, where, when, and how remain unanswered. Evolution, by contrast, answers many questions, and has opened numerous avenues for research. Science never has all the answers, McLeroy's ignorant criticisms to that point notwithstanding. Committee member Kevin Fisher put it well:

"We actually have more evidence for evolution occurring than we do for the law of gravity. ... Something doesn't become a theory if it's got weaknesses. There may be some questions that may yet to be answered, but nothing that's to the level of a weakness."

Pity the chairman of the board of education has to be educated on basic science. It is a serious threat to the education of future generations who will have to deal with ever-more-complicated scientific issues. The hearings on the science standards begins this fall. Make sure those involved know how important it is that everyone get a 21st century education instead of McLeroy's 19th century one.

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