It’s bad enough that anti-science extremists are now calling the shots on the Texas State Board of Education. It’s true parody, however, when the state board’s chairman — a dentist — pretends to be an evolutionary biologist. Don McLeroy, R-Bryan, whom Gov. Rick Perry named as state board chairman last year, has written an opinion piece in which he argues that science should include supernatural explanations. By this, of course, McLeroy — a creationist — means that science should include the study of how God created life.
If science is limited to only natural explanations but some natural phenomena are actually the result of supernatural causes then science would never be able to discover that truth — not a very good position for science. Defining science to allow for this possibility is just common sense.
Science must limit itself to testable explanations not natural explanations. Then the supernaturalist will be just as free as the naturalist to make testable explanations of natural phenomena. The view with the best explanation of the empirical evidence should prevail.
One hardly knows where to begin.
The looming education battle in Texas over evolution and creationism moved closer today, with supporters of sound science on the offensive. The Texas Education Agency today posted proposed new science curriculum standards for grades K-12, crafted by teacher work groups, for public schools. As the Texas Freedom Network reports in a press release, the proposed standards remove unscientific language (“strengths and weaknesses”) in the current standards that creationists have abused to attack the science behind evolution. The new standards also include language that would block the teaching of supernatural and religious concepts — such as “intelligent design”/creationism — in public school science classes. From the TFN press release:
The president of the Texas Freedom Network is praising proposed new public school science curriculum standards that put the interests of students above politics in Texas classrooms. The proposed standards are the product of official Texas Education Agency work groups made up of teachers and academics nominated by State Board of Education members.
“These work groups have crafted solid standards that provide a clear road map to a 21st-century science education for Texas students,” TFN President Kathy Miller said. “These common-sense standards respect the right… Read More
A Roman Catholic bishop is telling a prominent far-right group to look elsewhere for congregations willing to break the law by promoting partisan politics from the pulpit during this year’s general election campaign. Talk to Action has more here.
The Texas Freedom Network has been a leading voice in exposing far-right efforts to drag our houses of worship into partisan politics through groups such as the Texas Restoration Project. A TFN Education Fund report in 2006 took a close look at the Texas Restoration Project’s ties to Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the Republican Party. The Restoration Project is still active, with plans for another so-called “Pastors’ Policy Briefing” (again featuring Gov. Perry) on Oct. 9-10 in Austin. These briefings bring hundreds of conservative pastors and their spouses (free of charge) to hear Gov. Perry and a string of pooh-bahs rail against separation of church and state, gay men and lesbians, reproductive rights for women and other favorite demons of the religious right.… Read More
The Liberty Legal Institute — the legal arm of the far-right Free Market Foundation, which itself is the Texas affiliate of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family — spends hundreds of thousands of dollars each year using the courts to promote the religious right’s public policy agenda. (You can read more about Liberty Legal and the Free Market Foundation in the back of the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund’s annual State of the Religious Right reports.) Suing public school districts over alleged discrimination against Christian students has been one primary activity for the institute. The group also defended the Ector County Independent School District in the West Texas city of Odessa against a lawsuit challenging the district’s choice of a Bible class curriculum. The district settled the lawsuit earlier this year, agreeing to drop the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public School’s deeply flawed and blatantly sectarian curriuclum.
Despite its failure in Odessa, Liberty Legal Institute has decided to enter an even bigger arena. Associated Press reports that the institute is helping five Republican lawmakers in Alaska in a lawsuit challenging an investigation of the state’s… Read More
It is past time that Texas stopped promoting ignorance when it comes to protecting the health of young people. Today the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund is launching a new grassroots campaign to empower young Texans in advocating for responsible sex education. This new campaign will be a direct counter to the abstinence-only movement, which has recklessly but successfully ensured that the vast majority of Texas teens today remain ignorant about medically accurate information on how to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
First some background: Just four years ago, far-right groups worked with religious extremists to persuade the full Texas State Board of Education to adopt new high school health textbooks that, when it comes to sexuality education, fail to include a shred of information on responsible pregnancy and disease prevention. Those textbooks focus exclusively on abstinence from sex until marriage as the only strategy for avoiding pregnancy and STDs. Yet that same year, Texas became the state with the nation’s highest teen birth rate. In fact, the nation’s teen birth rate overall is rising again, and sexually active teens suffer from high rates of sexually… Read More