Creationists Launch Their Assault on Science Education in Texas: Reviewers Push Publishers to Insert 'Creation Science,' Other Junk Science in New Biology Textbooks

Now the veil is dropped.

We already knew that creationists on the State Board of Education had nominated anti-evolution ideologues to sit on teams reviewing proposed new high school biology textbooks in Texas. We now have seen the actual reviews from those ideologues — and they’re every bit as alarming as we warned they would be.

Many of the reviews offer recitations of the same pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo anti-evolution activists — like the folks at the Discovery Institute in Seattle — have been promoting for decades. Never mind, of course, that each one of those arguments has been debunked by scientists (repeatedly). No, they are insisting that Texas dumb down the science education of millions of kids with such nonsense.

Even more astonishing is a demand that “creation science based on Biblical principles should be incorporated into every Biology book that is up for adoption.” Some of the reviewers are clearly oblivious to the fact that teaching religious arguments in a science classroom is blatantly unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court has made that abundantly clear.

Tuesday, September 17, is the first (and only scheduled) public hearing on the proposed new biology textbooks. [UDPATE: A TEA official contacted us this afternoon to let us know that the state board will hold a second public hearing in November.] Those textbooks could be used in classrooms for a decade. Come to TFN’s Stand Up for Science rally at noon on Tuesday in Austin and help us send a message to the anti-science fanatics on the State Board of Education: Stop putting personal agendas ahead of the education of Texas students and ensure that public schools provide a science education that prepares students to succeed in college and the jobs of the 21st century.

Following is the joint press release we just sent out with the National Center for Science Education:

Ideologues appointed to official state review teams are pressuring publishers to weaken instruction on evolution and climate change in new high school biology textbooks up for adoption in Texas this year, documents obtained by the Texas Freedom Network reveal. The textbooks, once adopted, could be used in the state’s public schools for a decade.

The documents show that reviewers made ideological objections to coverage related to evolution and climate change in textbooks from at least seven publishers, including several of the nation’s biggest publishing houses. Failing to obtain a review panel’s top rating makes it harder for publishers to sell their textbooks to school districts or can even lead the State Board of Education (SBOE) to reject the textbook altogether. The documents, obtained from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) through a request under the state’s Public Information Act, are available at (See  a sampling of objections from the reviewers here.)

“Once again culture warriors on the state board are putting Texas at risk of becoming a national laughingstock on science education,” TFN President Kathy Miller said. “What our kids learn in their public schools should be based on mainstream, established science, not the personal views of ideologues, especially those who are grossly unqualified to evaluate a biology textbook in the first place. What we see in these documents makes it imperative that the board finally establish genuine qualifications for those entrusted with reviewing textbooks or curriculum standards for our kids.”

Officials at the National Center for Science Education in California are also expressing alarm.

“The arguments in these reviews are the same discredited claims anti-science activists have pushed for years,” said Josh Rosenau, Programs and Policy Director at NCSE. “This is scary because of Texas’ big influence on publishers and on textbooks used across the country. Publishers should listen to real experts, not unqualified reviewers who don’t seem to understand even basic scientific terms.”

SBOE members nominated the evolution deniers serving on the review teams. Most of the critics are not biologists or even scientists. They include a College Station dietician, an Austin systems engineer and a retired Dallas businessman with a background in finance.

Some of the country’s most prominent evolution deniers are also on the review teams. They include Ide Trotter, a retired chemical engineer who has served as a spokesperson for a Texas creationist group; Walter Bradley, a retired professor of engineering at Baylor University who wrote a founding text of “intelligent design” creationism; and Ray Bohlin, vice president for Probe Ministries, a Plano-based evangelical Christian ministry that rejects evolution. Bradley and Bohlin are also fellows with the Discovery Institute, the Seattle-based institutional home of the “intelligent design” creationism movement.

Science scholars at the University of Texas at Austin and Southern Methodist University in Dallas gave the coverage of evolution in those textbooks passing marks after publishers submitted the books to the state last spring. Those scholars’ reviews are available in a TFN Education Fund report:

Negotiations between publishers and the reviewers are ongoing. TEA officials say they cannot release documents showing what changes – if any – publishers are offering to make to their textbooks before the only scheduled public hearing on the books on September 17.

A final vote on whether to approve or reject the textbooks for Texas schools is set for November.

44 thoughts on “Creationists Launch Their Assault on Science Education in Texas: Reviewers Push Publishers to Insert 'Creation Science,' Other Junk Science in New Biology Textbooks

  1. To those of us who care about education and the students served in public schools – Insist that the Texas SBOE adopt text books that support established evidence-based science and support the Constitution’s requirement regarding separation of church and state.

    1. I think they will do whatever they can get away with, and I think they enjoy seeing people repeat scientific principles to them
      as if there is some argument between science and religious fundamentalism.

  2. Wow. Thank you Dan, Ryan, and Kathy for making these review panel reports so easily available. Now everyone can review them immediately. My talking points for my three-minute address to the SBOE on Sept 17 will come from responding to the Creationist comments within them (TFN helpfully summarized some of the most objectionable ones in their document linked above). I suggest that anyone else who wants to publicly address the Board can do the same.

    This is the power the public now has due to the Internet–widespread and easy availability of hard-to-get documents–so no more can this sort of perversion of scientific knowledge and corruption of science instructional materials take place in secret as it used to decades ago in the TEA and SBOE; now it can be exposed and addressed in public.

    Even better, every school district can choose their own instructional materials without regard for what the Board decides. So if the Board votes to “revise” (i.e. censor, misrepresent, corrupt) some of the science materials in ways encouraged by the Creationist reviewers (Bohlin, Bradley, Trotter, et al.), school districts can choose materials written for the national market that conform to the Next Generation Science Standards which don’t censor or misrepresent modern evolutionary biology.

  3. I believe in God: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I also believe He wants us to discover the nature of what He has made. That path to discovery is called science.

    To pooh pooh science is sacrilegious in my book.

    1. You, sir, need a medal, and are exactly the kind of religious person who i can totally support. Im absolutely non religious. But that should never stop another person from having their beliefs. I have just as little right to push my beliefs on the religious as they do on me, PROVIDED that those beliefs arent harming or indoctrinating young minds into a ridiculously anti-educational pro religious world view.
      Religious education is for the church. Leave science to the science teachers. All of which have been educated themselves on the scientific process, and yet some willfully throw everything they have been taught about the process because god.

  4. Oh no. Texas is about to become the launch pad for a 21st century “Scopes Monkey Trial” type of hysteria. I was born and educated in So. Texas. I implore anyone with common sense to categorically and emphatically denounce this unscientific approach for the adoption of textbooks. We must call attention to this outrage by any means possible. Publishers should not give in to ignorance. Texas has deep-pocketed,Right-winged religious zealots ready to sell our children’s future to an uncommon good. Science and technology are the basic structure of this nation’s security. Denying a scientifically sound education for our children places in peril their future livelihood and existence. We all should be extremely cautious in this regard. How is this happening? All the major “polls” and news organizations are sounding a loud warning about the United States’ low educational ranking. I hope there is public outrage and support for dismantling this horrendous assault on educated citizens. We must uphold “separation of church and state” at all cost.

  5. Well, Cargill swore up and down to the Senate attorney she would not include
    religious non science in Texas textbooks. Oh well, bearing false witness is okay with creationists. But everyone already knows that.
    The science education officials who approved the texts should have the final say on this if the publishers aren’t interested in losing alot of sales. And they will if they agree to these crazies getting into our science books.

    1. Dishonesty speaks to the credibility of their beliefs as well. This should leave no doubt. Now let’s get it out there, and throw the rest of these kooks out of public office.

  6. What I’m wondering is why aren’t there actual teachers on this book adoption board? You wouldn’t ask a construction worker to decide about a new medical procedure. If anyone knows what our students need to excel in the world market it’s their teachers. I guess Texas wants to keep importing our dr.s and scientist from other smarter countries.

    1. Personally I would rather have university academics in the relevant subject review books, people who are well versed in the particular subject and stay up to date on the current state of science, High school teachers are not in my opinion qualified.

  7. Well, the important thing to remember here is that the Texas SBOE is going to fail either way. The inclusion of this creation science crap in the textbooks could very well be voted down in the Texas SBOE. If it is not voted down and is included in the textbooks, it will not have a prayer in the federal courts, and responsible people all over Texas will be lining up to be listed on the plaintiff line in the legal filing with the U.S. District Court. They will find no friends at all on the U.S. Supreme Court because most of the justices are Catholic and Jewish:

    1) The Catholic and Jewish faith traditions made peace with evolution long ago and even advocate for it.

    2) American Catholics know and remember well from their childhoods how Christian fundamentalists shunned and derided them—and how their preachers spewed hatred for them out into the pews on Sunday mornings. Catholics might forgive stuff like this, but they will not forget it—and they know that these morons (yes you are) will be a threat to their children in public schools.

    People like Babs Cargill either know this or are incredibly stupid—or both—I do not know which. However, you have to remember here that they believe that they are soldiers in the army of the Lord and that putting on a big, dramatic show and whooping it up wins them brownie points at the final judgement. Ultimately, this whole fight is not about the factual truth, science, evolution, or even creation science. It is about winning brownie points for the world to come.

  8. If we are seeking the best for our kids we should demand that the text books discuss evolution as a theory since it has never been proven and creation as a belief of many Christians which is based on the word of God. The separation of church and state does not prohibit telling the truth about both.

    1. If you knew anything about science or evolution, you would know that it is backed by virtually every field of science. It actually HAS been proved. It has more evidence than the law of gravity.

      You need to learn exactly what the word theory means in science. An educated guess that is made based on the knowledge you already have and the observations you have made is called a HYPOTHESIS. A hypothesis that has undergone a LOT of testing and has proved to show consistent and correct results is called a THEORY.

      The only reason it isn’t called the law of evolution is that we cannot demonstrate it. Of course, that’s only because it would take millions of years.

      Creationism is based solely on the Bible. Oh wait, that’s not true. There are many more creation stories based on the thousands of religions that have been dreamed up by humans.

      I have no problem with creationism being taught in schools, as long as EVERY SINGLE VERSION is represented. I don’t just want Adam and Eve in the classroom, I want the giant space turtle, the Titan mother Gaia, and Coatlicue, the mother of the gods.

      Maybe if every single religion’s creation story is taught, the kids will start to see religion for the retarded bullshit it really is.

      1. “I have no problem with creationism being taught in schools, as long as EVERY SINGLE VERSION is represented. I don’t just want Adam and Eve in the classroom, I want the giant space turtle, the Titan mother Gaia, and Coatlicue, the mother of the gods.”

        Bravo! Best response I’ve seen in years!

        And the kicker: “Maybe if every single religion’s creation story is taught, the kids will start to see religion for the retarded bullshit it really is.”

        Point awarded. Carry on.

    2. Science doesn’t deal in absolute proofs. It is a learning process. As we make observations and learn more about reality we improve the theories we use to model reality. This process cannot end because we never know if there is something else out there which might change or improve our understanding of the universe. The theory of evolution elegantly explains the diversity and complexity of life.

      Creation on the other hand is, at best, a speculation as to how things happened which has absolutely no supporting evidence. It is wildly inappropriate to teach creation to a child and insist that it is truth. There is no reason to believe the Christian creation myth any more than the thousands of other creation myths from cultures all throughout history.

    3. @Max- If you mean Young Earth Creationism, that has been solidly disproven long ago. There is no need to even consider teaching that version of creationism.

    4. I feel real sympathy at one level for the parents of children that believe in creationism and do not want any competing information given to their children. Especially information that so conclusively and utterly contradicts these parents belief system and proves that belief system to be simply mythology using testable scientific knowledge.

      That said evolution theory has been backed up by a 150 years of vast amounts of scientific discovery, all of which without exception has corroborated evolution. A science that predicted every single basis for advancement in biology, medical research etc.

      So while I understand the horror and panic that scientifically uneducated parents have when their deeply held worldview is directly contradicted with an unassailable and unarguable body of scientific evidence, it is my duty as a citizen to see public schools teach science, and exclude iron age mythology as being taught as science thank you. And as someone who pays my hard earned tax dollars to fund public education I stand ready to take to court anyone who succeeds in introducing religious dogma to Texas schools in the guise of science.

    5. I agree with this partially. I think in a world where roughly 80% of inhabitants subscribe to a religion, with many creation stories etc. our kids are not well served at all without being taught about religions and specific religious beliefs.

      To send kids out into the world as adults without a decent understanding of the different religions and their beliefs is to send them out unprepared to deal with the reality and cultures of the people they must live and work with in the adult world around them.

      But a science class is NOT the proper place to do this.

  9. I find it a little hypocritical that on one hand you are (quite rightly) panning evolution education being weakened in these textbooks on the basis that science says otherwise, while at the same time demanding the ‘Climate Change’ fairytale being re-inforced. Which has also been debunked.

    1. Well, it would be hypocritical — if you were right about climate change being debunked. But, of course, it hasn’t been.

      1. It has been. Repeatedly.
        “Look at the last decade” “No YOU look at the last Century” “No YOU look at the last millennia” “No YOU look at the last 10,000 years” – Rinse and repeat
        Historical record shows that what is going on is NOTHING MORE THAN A NORMAL CYCLE BEING HYPED BY POLITICIANS TO MAKE MONEY ON AIR. Notice that the minute that people started to question “Global Warming” the name was changed to make it more palatable and less controversial? Kind of like how “Young Earth Creation” got turned into “Creation Science” as if it somehow legitimises it?

        So it is absolutely hypocritical, even for the fact that the burden of proof is on the pro climate change crowd, who have yet to actually provide something other than a couple of decades of “Look. Hot”

        If climate change means my country now has 70% full water catchments compared to the 10-15% a decade ago, then methinks you might have the wrong idea.

        1. Anyway this debate is being done to death by people far far smarter than you or i. Sadly the greedy money making crowd who keep throwing money at it to make more money back are winning.

          This is never a good thing.

        2. The term “climate change” is preferred to “global warming” because atmospheric heating by increasing CO2 disrupts and changes ancient climate zones and cycles. In most cases this results in global warming and drought, such as the American Southwest, including Texas, but in a few regions a cooler and wetter climate is developing. This has led to massive floods which are more immediately damaging than the slow warming which is more common globally. You can still use the term “global warming” to refer to most of the planet, but for the entire planet, “global climate change” is preferred.

    2. Chris, anthropogenic climate change is as well supported by evidence and logic as evolution by natural selection. Neither is doubted by mainstream scientists. Climate change denial has been debunked, not climate change. The problem with evolution and climate change is that both have political enemies: fundamentalist religionists for evolution and fossil fuel profiteers for climate change. Thus, both evolution and climate change suffer disparagement by influential and wealthy deniers who hire proven polemicists, marketeers, and rhetoricians to make their case in the public square. Since finding scientific evidence or rational arguments is impossible by this time, both instead indulge in specious arguments, sophism, and advertising to make their case as quickly as possible. Using these extremely effective methods to convince an audience largely ignorant of science and its methods, evolution and climate change deniers have quickly succeeded in corrupting science education in the U.S. and confusing and misinforming a generation of American science students. I see you have been half misinformed.

    3. holy sh*t you’re an idiot climate change hasnt been “debunked” and neither has evolution. debunk either and claim your nobel prize, smartass. no one has or they would be recognized by both the scientific and creationist communities. creationist logic: “i think ‘a’ is wrong, therefore ‘b’ is right”
      even the the vatican observers dont deny evolution, or climate change, only the little religious followers do. accept it, thats what you are. i follow evidence, you follow fairytales and ‘men of god’

    4. “the ‘Climate Change’ fairytale being re-inforced”. Really? I mean, really? You’re willing to post that on a public forum? With absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support your claim? Wow. Just. Wow.

    5. Sorry, Chris, but the short reply is “You’re an idiot.”

      If you can refute former climate skeptic Richard Muller’s work on data collected over the past 100 years and analyzed by a group of skeptical physicists who came to not only the conclusion that man-made climate change is real, but identifies specific technologies responsible, then bring it on.

      You can’t just say “It’s been refuted” because that’s simply not true.

      Where does atmospheric CO2 go, Chris? Tell you what, figure that out and report back. We’d be fascinated to hear your findings.

    6. The IPCC assessment of climate change is accepted by:
      The US National Academy of Sciences (the most knowledgeable scientists).
      The national academies of sciences of most developed countries.
      Nearly every scientific association (e.g,. ACM, AMS, AAAS, AGU) in the world.
      The CIA, the Defense Department, the G20.
      Many of the largest corporations in the world (,
      I guess these organizations have not heard that climate change has been debunked. Since you seem to be more knowledgeable about climate change that all these organizations and corporations, I am sure they would be happy to hear the facts supporting your claim.

      1. Funny enough we just heard from the IPCC recently with their latest report. It has dialed back alarm, and has even stated that unlike previous reports they cannot now provide a best estimate for climate sensitivity.

        Directly from the IPCC: “No best estimate for equilibrium climate sensitivity can now be given because of a lack of agreement on values across assessed lines of evidence and studies.”

        They are speaking of the climate’s sensitivity to increased CO2, which determines how much warming will result for a specific increase of CO2, and have less confidence in previous estimates given observable data contradicts previous estimates.

        They have also backtracked on the claim that warming will cause more hurricanes and droughts, and backed away from previous warming estimates.

        I am concerned in how climate science and warming will be presented in textbooks in this uncertain “climate” if you will.

        I am sure with the exponential growth of climate research in the last couple of decades we will in the next decade or three come to a much better understanding of the complexity of our climate, an understanding that can make as well founded and accurate predictions as evolutionary theory does, but we have clearly not arrived at that point yet.

        I am a bit concerned that in a field of science that has modified it’s findings significantly every few years that a textbook which is purchased now could easily become obsolete possibly before it is even published and distributed.

        1. John M’s comment merits a reply. As climate scientists better understand climate systems through additional research, they have discovered more complexities and are now less certain of the rate of future warming (climate sensitivity). In no way does this mean that warming is not occurring–the occurrence of warming is unequivocal. The rate of warming has always been uncertain and controversial, and it still is.

          I have never heard that climate scientists claimed that seawater warming causes more hurricanes. Rather, they claim that hurricane intensity increases with warming. Hurricanes obtain their energy from the heat stored in ocean water. The more heat, the stronger the hurricanes. This is not in dispute. Hurricane frequency follows a weather cycle that is apparently not affected by warming.

          I can’t comprehend why IPCC would back away from a statement that increased warming causes more droughts. Of course it does. Just look at Texas and the U.S. Southwest. Climate change, however, does not mean universal global warming, but regional warming over most of the globe. Some places become cooler and wetter. One example is the U.S. Southeast. Perhaps this is what John M read.

          I think John M’s arguments are an attempt to confuse readers. I read the IPCC summary. It claims that climate scientists are even more certain (95-100%) that global warming is anthropogenic. It predicts continued warming with a high degree of certainty. John M’s second to the last paragraph is disingenuous. Scientists already have a much better understanding of the complexity of our climate, and can already make well-founded and accurate predictions. No science is complete, all are improving, predictions are difficult with such complex systems, and uncertainties about some issues will always remain, but we know enough now to say with confidence that burning so much fossil fuel is causing the Earth to heat up and society must take action now. And scientists can explain why. That’s what we need to teach to students so they will understand the problems they will face. Attempts to obfuscate the educational program with confusing and misleading arguments is just an attempt to mislead people. This is sophism, not science.

          1. Your getting way too complicated. Any textbook in publication today will likely state the sensitivity of our atmosphere to CO2 that was published in the previous IPCC report, or possibly even the one before that.. That is not insignificant, it is the core that future warming predictions are based on.

            Predictions based on that sensitivity value have already been observed to be incorrect enough that the IPCC cannot now give a best guess of sensitivity because they do not yet understand why it was so incorrect well enough to be able to state a new sensitivity with any confidence.

            I think we should be careful in how we approach this subject in teaching kids.

            I believe after objectively following this closely for over a decade that we will see significant advancement in the next decade in this science, in what direction I couldn’t say. I didn’t say don’t teach it in schools, I didn’t say man wasn’t contributing, I didn’t say the earth wasn’t warming.

            Climate science is evolving before our eyes, in our time, at a rapid rate. There is every reason to believe that it will continue to evolve and change significantly, that is all. Take care in choosing a textbook today that will be in use a decade from now.

            Is that not perfectly reasonable?

          2. John M, thank you for your reply, but I think you’re the one getting way too complicated. A high school textbook would, or should, just give a temperature increase range, based mainly on a range of climate sensitivity to CO2, but also on a dozen other variables that have ranges. The only way to predict future warming rates and amounts is to use atmospheric models with dozens to hundreds of variables. These models–probably thirty or more of them exist–give different predictions because they use different algorithms and different variables. This is why the IPCC is more reticent about giving precise predictions. These are far, far too complicated to discuss in high school in an Environmental Systems course except in general terms. There are computer modeling programs suitable for high school that use two or three simultaneous variables to illustrate the principles. During the short time students will learn about climate change and regional warming, they must be told the facts: atmospheric CO2 concentration is increasing and so is atmospheric warming.

            The 2013 IPCC Summary has 19 general conclusions reliably confirmed to a high degree of certainty. These include, “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. . . Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850. . . Over the last two decades, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have been losing mass, glaciers have continued to shrink almost worldwide, and Arctic sea ice and Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover have continued to decrease in extent. . . Total radiative forcing is positive, and has led to an uptake of energy by the climate system. The largest contribution to total radiative forcing is caused by the increase in the atmospheric concentration of CO2 since 1750” There are 15 more such statements made with “high confidence.” These are the issues that students should learn, not precise predictions of future warming which are as irrelevant as they are uncertain. Temperature increases are high enough now to cause significant problems and the situation is getting worse. Scientists know enough now, with great certainty, for textbooks to be useful for the next decade. What seems reasonable to me is that climate science is not going to change significantly, or at all, in the opposite direction that it is going today.

          3. “These are the issues that students should learn, not precise predictions of future warming which are as irrelevant as they are uncertain.”

            Precisely correct, and exactly my point.

  10. So we do know the purpose behind the creation accounts in the bible, right? I mean it might do us some good to understand the history behind the interpretation of the text if we are going to defend it. I am a Christian, but my understanding of how to work with the Biblical Text has changed drastically since I have been in school. It might do us some good to realize that the two foundational movements, Judaism and Catholicism from which Christianity emerged have accepted Evolution. I am not arguing a case for , or against it. I am merely pointing out details that need to be factored in to our perspectives.

  11. Creationism will not fly. It sounds like the review board is trying to waste a whole bunch of taxpayer money in litigation defending a losing position.

  12. Chris’ ignorant comment is exactly why we need better science education so our kids understand the difference between climate change and weather, and what the effects are of dumping chemicals into the atmosphere.

    Ocean pH changes will be more terrible than any drought as it disrupts the food chain leading to mass extinctions.

    The issue is not “bad weather.” The issue is sudden changes to the ecosystem. We’re facing sudden ecosystem collapses that are irreversible.

    Unfortunately, the stupidity of simplistic arguments parroted by the Chris’ of the country mask what is really happening and prevent us from embarking on a course that can begin to slow the effects we’re having on the planet.

    Regarding ocean pH, if we only hold current CO2 levels the oceans will recover in about 500 years. Yes, 500 years. If we keep dumping CO2 into the atmosphere until the end of the century it will take 10,000 years to recover. Do the math, Chris, but unfortunately you slept through that class, right?


  14. Data, data, data: it’s always better to cite data than to make unsupported statements. For CO2 levels, go here: Continuous monitoring of atmospheric CO2 has been underway since 1958. Intermittent records are available prior to that date. In 1943, atmospheric CO2 was at about 300 parts per million. Last month at Mauna Loa, CO2 levels touched 400 ppm. In other words, one-quarter of all the CO2 in the atmosphere has been added within one human lifetime.

    CO2 is only one factor in climate change. For more details on other contributors, plus some information on the complex modeling necessary to incorporate multiple factors interacting in non-linear fashion, go here:

  15. The human mind works best using information, high-octane, SCIENTIFIC information as fuel. To teach even a single mind to function on ancient, unprovable, preposterous, unscientific ideas in a world progressing through science and technology is to pollute, irreparably damage that mind, and make it naught but dead weight. Our children are the most important things we have. Children are the future of the human race. To damage our children is to damage our future. To instill preposterous and unusable thoughts instead of practical and usable thoughts is akin to committing intellectual suicide, and such a thing on a widespread scale bears the risk to plunge the rest of America into a modern-era Dark Ages.