Creationism Suffers A Huge Defeat In Texas

Jul 23 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) reported on Friday a huge victory for science and education – not to mention sanity, against the forces of superstition as represented by the supposedly non-partisan but staunchly creationist Discovery Institute in Seattle, Washington. In fact, this think-tank is so non-partisan that Bruce Chapman, its president, has declared that “Intelligent Design” is the institutes “No. 1 project.”

The Texas Board of Education “has unanimously come down on the side of evolution.” Yes, they voted 8-0 to approve “scientifically accurate high school biology textbook supplements from established mainstream publishers – and did not approve the creationist-backed supplements from International Databases, LLC.”

We have all been worried about Texas sliding out of the 21st century and into the dim and superstition-laden past. The 13th century looked like a likely destination. This turnaround stands strongly at odds with the message being sent out by Texas’ gun-toting, Bible-thumping governor, Rick Perry, who is about to take the stage as a genuine Lonestar messiah.  Perry, as is well known, espousing a Bronze Age understanding of climate science and meteorology, thinks prayer is the answer to drought.

NCSE previously reviewed the creationist materials, Joshua Rosenau writing, “International Databases’ materials are not only laced with creationist arguments, they are also remarkably shoddy, teeming with misspellings, typographical errors, and mistaken claims of fact.” Another reviewer at the Dallas Observer noted that they “have the grammar prowess of a fourth-grade book report and the aesthetics of a middle schooler who just learned PowerPoint.”

As Rosenau observes, “{t}he materials describe ‘intelligent design’ as a ‘legitimate scientific hypothesis’ and even as ‘the default position,’ despite the consensus of the scientific community that it is not. Examples of these claims are posted (PDF) at the TFN’s website.” (See examples below):

Dr. Eugenie Scott, NCSE’s Executive Director is celebrating the decision. “These supplements reflect the overwhelming scientific consensus that evolution is the core of modern biology, and is a central and vital concept in any biology class. That these supplements were adopted unanimously reflects a long overdue change in the board. I commend the board for its refusal to politicize science education.”

There is no downplaying the significance of this victory.

No doubt creationists will continue to push their anti-science agenda. The Republican War on Science has been with us since at least the presidency of George W. Bush (see Chris Mooney, The Republican War on Science, 2005) and the Discovery Institute already lost an earlier case in Dover, Pennsylvania (2005). After all, facts can’t stand in the way of belief. The Bible cannot be trumped by science and it cannot be trumped by the U.S. Constitution. For fundamentalism, it is the other way around, and it is the Bible that is the trump card, to be played whenever reality takes that inevitable liberal bias.

The Discovery Institute, as observed by Chris Mooney, is an “ideological think tank” and its president, Bruce Chapman, is a primary leader of the crusade against evolution. Chapman served in the Reagan administration and when Reagan turned toward evolution so did Chapman. Chapman outdid Reagan, calling evolution a “theory in crisis”. He claims he has become more conservative as he has grown older; an argument could be made that he has also grown less intelligent.[1]

Intelligent Design should be relabeled “unintelligent” design and were time machines possible, Chapman and the folks at International Databases sent back to cavort with cavemen and dinosaurs. Sadly, we can’t be rid of them that easily. But as the news from Texas shows, they can be thwarted. Stay tuned for much foot-stomping, holding of breath, and other forms of tantrum in the days to come. They’re not done with us yet.

 


[1] Chris Mooney, The Republican War on Science (2005), 172-173.

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