5:37 p.m. – The pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Shiner, TX just told the board to leave the religion to him and keep it out of the classroom. I think we can all raise a tall glass of Shiner Bock to that!
5:38 p.m. – As we listen to supporters of a sound science education testify, it’s hard to avoid thinking about the irony of this debate following a board vote on another topic earlier today. The State Board of Education voted to allow students to get graduation credit for participating in football and other sports. The board may have had little option after lawmakers passed legislation that, essentially, would have required students to quit athletics to earn enough academic credits to graduate. Even so, the board today is hearing people beg for sound science standards even as football players earn credit for graduation by making tackles and scoring touchdowns.
5:50 p.m. – One of the expert reviewers appointed by the board – Dr. Ron Wetherington of SMU – delivers some, you know, genuine expertise to the board. Dr. Wetherington points out that speaking of the “limitations” of a scientific theory is not only unscientific, it is misleading for students. Board members who favor “limitations” seem puzzled by such rational thinking.
5:51 p.m. – Good heavens. It’s amusing when some board members with no training in science challenge scientists who have spent years conducting and studying research on evolution.
6:26 p.m. – An extended break comes to a close.
6:35 p.m. – Rev. Tim Tutt from Austin’s United Christian Church gives the board a little theology lesson: “I believe God gives us a brain and expects us to use it.” The religious right bloc on the board initially looked pleased to hear the word “God” in the hearing room, but quickly lost interest when they realized the reverend was not on their side.
6:37 p.m. – Someone just tried to use Ben Stein’s anti-evolution “Expelled” movie as evidence that critics of evolution are being censored.
6:39 p.m. – Board member Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands: “We keep hearing testifier after testifier talk about promoting religion. But that’s not where we’re headed.” Really? Here’s board Chairman Don McLeroy in the New York Times this past June, explaining that there are “two systems of science”: “You’ve got a creationist system and a naturalist system.”
6:45 p.m. – University of Texas at Austin Professor Andrew Ellington‘s testimony in support of teaching evolution is a barn-burner. No questions from board members. No one wants a piece of him. Ellington gives Stephen Meyer and his anti-evolution pressure group Discovery Institute a beat down. He might have set the record for number of times the term “factual inaccuracy” was used in a single testimony — each time applying the term to the Disco Institute’s phony arguments against evolution.