25 August 2007

Creationists rule the Texas Board of Education

It's been two whole weeks since I've had to write about creationists. But duty calls.

From the Houston Chronicle: The Texas State Board of Education appears to be against including Intelligent Design in school curricula. 10 of 11 board members interviewed (the board has 15 members) claim they "wouldn't support requiring the teaching of intelligent design." The 11th interviewee, Patricia Hardy, openly advocated teaching ID.

Phil Plait (of Bad Astronomy) thinks this is good news.
In fact, [McLeroy's stance] is standard creationist rhetoric, and it’s a lie. This is all part of the leaked Wedge plan to get religion taught as science; first they try to show the weaknesses of science, then they make the "if not A then B" argument, which is bad logic (the only kind most promoters of creationism are capable of). If one scientific explanation is weak, why then, creationism must be right!


But let’s be positive here: Other board members who said they believe the curriculum should continue to include evolution and not be changed to accommodate intelligent design were:
Geraldine “Tincy” Miller, R-Dallas; Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands; Gail Lowe, R-Lampasas; Bob Craig, R-Lubbock; Mavis Knight, D-Dallas; Rick Agosto, D-San Antonio; Lawrence Allen, D-Houston; and Mary Helen Berlanga, D-Corpus Christi.
Show them your love, folks. They need our support, for surely they have an uphill battle.

But as much as I admire Phil's optimism, I don't buy for an instant that these school board members are really opposed to ID.

Case in point: Sal Cordova (of UncommonlyDense) also thinks this is good news:

As much as I advocate that ID is correct, it is not the time to teach it in the public schools. Creationist Don McLeroy, chairman of the Texas School board, agrees.
. . .
There are individuals who may be pro-ID out there who want to lobby to teach ID in the public schools. I think this is ill advised. I encourage rather than lobbying for the teaching of ID or creation science, one should lobby for teaching MORE evolution, and in the way Darwin would have wished it taught. The was beautifully accomplished in the book: Explore Evolution
Don McLeroy, the creationist appointed to head the Texas SBOE, said the following in his 2005 lecture at Grace Bible Church in Bryan, TX:
According to Johnson, the first thing to do is to get the Bible out of the discussion. Remember, even if you don’t bring the Bible into the discussion, the naturalist has already put it into the discussion. And Johnson states “it’s vital not to give any encouragement to this prejudice and to keep the discussion strictly on the scientific evidence and the philosophical assumptions. This is not to say that the Biblical issues aren’t important, the point is the time to address them will be after we have separated materialistic prejudice from scientific fact.”

And let me say it again: in the 2003 biology book adoption in Texas this principle was followed strictly. There wasn’t a board member that wasn’t trying to get the weakness of evolution into the debate. We never brought up religion. We never brought up intelligent design. All we brought up was evidence.
That's the same speech wherein he quite plainly connected ID to religion, asserting (among other things) that evolution must be wrong because it contradicts the Bible.

Note that remark in the second paragraph: there "wasn't a board member" in 2003 who wasn't trying to highlight the weakness of evolution. Of the current board members, who was serving on the board in 2003? Don McLeroy (current chair), Geraldine "Tincy" Miller (chair in 2003), Rene Nuñez, Mary Helen Berlanga, Patricia Hardy, Mavis Knight, Terri Leo, Gail Lowe, David Bradley, and Bob Craig. 10 out of 15 current members, 8 of whom were interviewed by the Houston Chronicle.

So I'm sorry, Phil, but these other people are not on our side. Texas is doomed.

This is further warning that the new name of creationism and intelligent design is going to be "evolution." (These people have some serious legitimacy envy!) But as one of Phil's commenters pointed out, maybe it's a good thing this is happening in Texas. The success of actions to keep creationism out of schools thus far has largely been leveraging of the separation between church and state. And though the creationists try to play linguistic games, their religious motivations are ever-present, especially in Texas.

Cordova has linked to a Discovery Institute video about circumventing the law to teach ID. So I'm going to have to watch that next... if you don't hear back from me within the next few days, don't worry, the brain hemorrhaging probably won't be too severe.

UPDATE: New post up with more details on the 2003 textbook vote.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"the brain hemorrhaging probably won't be too severe."

True enough. An organ that small can't bleed much more than a hangnail and it's housed in a cavity so large it must rattle like a peanut in a boxcar.