7 p.m. – Creationists on the board are moved by testimony from a college student who says arguments against evolution were censored in her science classes. She says: “(Evolution is) not total and complete fact, and to pretend it is so, you have to silence” arguments against it. Board member Mavis Knight, D-Dallas, isn’t buying it. Bless her.
7:05 p.m. – Board member and evolution critic Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio: “This is about academic freedom.” No, Mr. Mercer, it’s not. It’s about opposing propaganda that will undermine the ability of our kids to get a 21st-century science education that prepares them for college and the jobs of the future.
7:06 p.m. – Sigh. Now creationists on the board are wondering aloud just why folks can question any theory except evolution? Actually, we’ve been wondering why the only scientific theory that’s under attack is evolution.
7:12 p.m. – One of the most encouraging aspects of this hearing is the number of testifiers who make it clear that they have a deep religious faith yet have no problem accepting the science of evolution. They put the lie to the notion that only atheists could possibly support making sure students learn real science, including evolution, in their public school science classrooms.
7:24 p.m. – University scientists continue to educate (or try to) board members on just what a theory is, what evolution is all about and why claimed “weaknesses” are not based on science. This is the State Board of Education. We’ll say it again: State Board of Education. It determines what more than 4.6 million Texas children learn in their public schools.
7:28 p.m. – “If I could disprove evolution, I would win a Nobel Prize. I would be ecstatic.” That comes from a University of Texas scientist trying to turn back criticism that scientists just don’t want to learn about “weaknesses” of evolution.
7:42 p.m. – “Science is our children’s future.” Indeed.
7:47 p.m. – As we continue to monitor testimony from some of the state’s top scientists, clergy and everyday folks, we wanted to take a moment to describe the scene. The board’s meeting room holds probably about 150-200 folks. The board members themselves sit in desks arranged in a circle, with testifiers speaking from a podium outside that circle. The room was packed nearly all day as people waited for the public hearing to begin. The audience was supplemented by more than a dozen reporters from newspapers and television stations, many of whom also covered the Texas Freedom Network’s press conference this morning. Now most of the reporters have gone to file their stories for this evening’s broadcasts and tomorrow’s newspapers. Several dozen folks remain.