Just Can’t Help Themselves

The creationists on the Texas State Board of Education just can’t seem to help themselves. Once again one of the board’s far-right members — Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio — makes clear that religious agendas are driving efforts to dumb down science education in Texas public schools.

Writing in a San Antonio Express-News opinion column, Mr. Mercer says the claim that he and other creationists are trying to promote religion by challenging evolution in public school science classrooms is a “red herring.” Then, following a familar pattern, he contradicts himself:

For the last twenty years, teachers have been required to present both the strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories; and I challenge the Express-News to find one science book approved by the SBOE that includes either creation science or intelligent design.

In fact, members of Texans for Better Science Education, who listened to the numerous testifiers at the public hearing, have stated that the three Republican SBOE members who voted to delete the “weaknesses” provision were swayed by  “Darwinists, atheists, ACLU members, and at least one bona fide signer of the infamous Humanist Manifesto III, in an attempt to promote indoctrination over critical thinking skills.”

I pray for my three friends, Pat Hardy of Ft. Worth , Bob Craig of Lubbock, and Geraldine “Tincy” Miller of Dallas.  They voted against the Republican Party platform and allowed themselves to be constantly lobbied by prominent atheists and secular humanists. These three Republicans will now have to stand accountable before their constituents.

So… attacking evolution has nothing to do with religion, but defending sound science instruction on evolution is “indoctrination” promoted by atheists and secular humantists. Got it?

And attacking evolution has nothing to do with religion, but Mr. Mercer is praying for three Republicans who apparently fell under the influence of said atheists and humanists and even betrayed the Republican Party platform.

(Just curious — which does Mr. Mercer consider more sacred, the Bible or the Republican Party platform? And is he even capable of distinguishing between the two anymore?)

You can read the whole screed for yourself here. Then help the Texas Freedom Network Stand Up for Science and stop politicians like Mr. Mercer and his fellow evolution deniers from using public schools to promote their own religious beliefs over everybody else’s.

UPDATE: Mr. Mercer also brought religion into the debate during the state board’s discussion of science standards in January.

“This is a battle of academic freedom. This is a battle over freedom of speech. It’s an issue of freedom of religion.”

Oh, really? If creationists are telling the truth that they aren’t trying to promote religion in public schools, then why are they framing the debate as being “an issue of freedom of religion”?

10 thoughts on “Just Can’t Help Themselves

  1. I hope the overlords don’t revoke my Global Darwinist Conspriacy™ membership card – I’ve never heard of the “infamous Humanist Manifesto III.”

    Let’s check it out, shall we?

    Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

    *gasp* That’s horrible! Read the rest if you dare!

  2. Saying that some opponents of the “strengths and weaknesses” language are motivated by religion (or irreligion) does not imply that all proponents of that language are motivated by religion.

    The claim that proponents of teaching criticisms of evolution are trying to teach Genesis is a straw man. Some scientific and pseudoscientific criticisms of evolution are so technically sophisticated that they should be taught only by qualified science teachers and not by unqualified parents, unqualified Sunday School teachers, and unqualified social studies teachers.

    IMO the “evolution v. religion” issue has grown stale. Some people see evolution as compatible with religion, others see it as incompatible with religion, and others don’t care. We should leave it at that. It is high time to consider some new ideas in the evolution controversy, like co-evolution. Co-evolution is discussed on my blog in the post-label group titled “Non-ID criticisms of evolution” —

  3. Larry, science should be taught by qualified science teachers. The science standards should be written heeding the counsel of qualified scientists, not from fundamentalist dentists’ opinions and not from other scientifically unqualified SBoE members’ religious qualms.

  4. Larry said,
    ‘IMO the “evolution v. religion” issue has grown stale.’

    Okay, great, Larry, then quit commenting here. You’re repeating yourself anyway, so we’ve already heard all your arguments. Everybody knows where your blog is. No need to keep pushing it. Are you that desperate for attention?

  5. Biology Teacher said,
    –Larry, science should be taught by qualified science teachers. —

    I never said otherwise.

    –The science standards should be written heeding the counsel of qualified scientists —

    That depends. The “strengths and weaknesses” language does not require any scientific knowledge to evaluate (BTW, I proposed that “strengths and weaknesses” be replaced by “strengths and criticisms”).

    Ben Says:

    –Larry said,
    ‘IMO the “evolution v. religion” issue has grown stale.’

    Okay, great, Larry, then quit commenting here. —

    I am trying to persuade people to stop wasting time on the evolution v. religion issue and shift their attention to more important matters.

    –You’re repeating yourself anyway, so we’ve already heard all your arguments. —

    Am I the only one here who is sometimes repetitive?

    I repeat myself because there are always new comment threads.

  6. Larry, this isn’t your blog. Likewise, just because you think something is a waste of time, that doesn’t mean it IS a waste of time. If you don’t want to read this blog, don’t read it. It’s that simple.

  7. Ben Says:
    –Larry, this isn’t your blog. —

    I never said it is. But the way that you use this blog as a platform for personally attacking me implies that you think that it is your blog.

    — just because you think something is a waste of time —

    I just get tired of hearing how some pope, archbishop. patriarch, lubavitcher rebbe, ayatollah, guru, witch doctor, etc. says that there is no conflict between evolution and religion. All you Darwinists say is that the controversy is only about religion — that’s nonsense.

  8. Ben, do you have any intelligent arguments to make, or are you just going to make personal attacks? You look like a stupid fool.

    Here is a homework assignment for you — come up with some answers to my following arguments about co-evolution —

    IMO of particular concern are (1) the co-evolution of obligate mutualism — i.e., total co-dependence between two different kinds of organisms, e.g., bees and flowering plants — and (2) the co-evolution of extremely complex parasitic relationships. In the co-evolution of obligate mutualism, unlike in evolutionary adaptation to widespread fixed physical and quasi-physical (e.g., forests) features of the environment, e.g., air, land in its different forms (e.g., forests, plains, mountains, deserts), and water in its different forms (fresh, salt, and brackish), there may be nothing to adapt to because the corresponding co-dependent trait in the other organism is likely to be locally absent. A mutant pig with wings that suddenly appears anywhere in the world can fly immediately, but bees appearing in the absence of flowers or flowers appearing in the absence of bees — or other pollinators — will die immediately.

    The following factors are important:
    (1) The co-evolution of obligate mutualism presents a particular problem because this kind of co-evolution may require simultaneous changes in both kinds of organisms in the same geographical location, because the co-dependent traits in both kinds of organisms may be immediately fatal in the absence of the corresponding co-dependent traits in the other kind of organism. In contrast, in the evolution of parasitism and commensalism, for example, change may be required — or immediately required — in only one of the organisms.

    (2) Co-evolution is more difficult where the required change is one of kind rather than degree. For example, in buzz pollination, where the pollen is shaken loose by resonance from special vibrations of insects’ wings, the pollen is contained in tubes — it is not just a matter of the pollen adhering more strongly to the plant.

    (3) Often the two co-dependent organisms can interact only in large numbers, requiring that large numbers of both kinds of organisms suddenly appear in the same place at the same time.

    (4) Co-evolution is more difficult where the adaptations must be very complex and exact — e.g., orchids’ mimicry of female wasps’ sex pheromones. One particular species of orchid is pollinated by only one species of wasp.

    (5) Even where the co-evolution of obligate mutualism can be gradual, the gradual changes must exist in both kinds of organisms at the same time and place in order to be mutually reinforcing.

    (6) Extremely complex parasitic relationships — including multiple-host relationships — are also a big problem for co-evolution. In some parasitic relationships, the parasite invades the nervous system of the host and produces drastic changes in the host’s behavior.

    (7) Co-evolution, unlike Intelligent Design, is a problem for natural selection. It has been assumed that all that is necessary for evolution to occur is to have beneficial mutations and then natural selection will assure that the best beneficial mutations will survive. However, in co-evolution, if the corresponding co-dependent trait in the other kind of organism is absent, natural selection will not occur. Also, co-evolution is a problem for “front-loaded” (pre-programmed) evolution as well as Darwinian evolution, because it may be necessary to trigger the front-loaded mutations in both co-dependent organisms at the exact same time and place.

    (8) The problem of co-evolution is what I call a “non-ID” criticism of evolution — i.e., arguments against co-evolution do not necessarily depend on any of the traits involved being irreducibly complex. However, ID can be used in arguments against co-evolution — for example, whole sets of co-dependent traits may be irreducibly complex. For example, bees must not only be able to digest nectar, but must also be able to find the flowers. Bees are able to detect the ultraviolet light from flowers and perform a special “dance” which informs other bees where flowers are located.