Looking Ahead to the Science Textbook Battle

by TFN

Now that the State Board of Education has adopted new science curriculum standards, publishers can write their textbooks for the Texas adoption in 2011. The state board’s creationists will use the flawed standards they approved as a weapon to force publishers into dumbing down instruction on evolution. To get a sense of some of the nonsense they will demand to see in the textbooks, check out board chairman Don McLeroy’s Web site.

Chairman McLeroy, who led the charge during the standards debate to weaken instruction on evolution, includes commentary about science and other topics on his Web site. Evolution, however, is a primary target there.

One part of the site includes a presentation he made during the heated state board debate over proposed new biology textbooks in 2003. The presentation, dated September 8 of that year, is called “Historical Reality.” That heading is followed by two statements:

Copernicus’ “Heliocentric” Hypothesis–Yes

Darwin’s “Common Descent” Hypothesis–NO

He writes:

Evolutionists are quick to point out that the hypothesis of “descent with modification from a common ancestor” (hereafter referred to simply as “common descent”) is as much a historical reality as the hypothesis of “heliocentricity.”

We suppose we should be grateful that the chairman of the board that directs what more than 4.6 million Texas schoolchildren learn accepts the fact that Earth revolves around the sun. (The folks at www.fixedearth.com will be disappointed.) Unfortunately, the chairman rejects evolution, which mainstream science considers just as factual and supported by sound, overwhelming evidence.

So what will be his position in the 2011 adoption? Surely the same as in 2003:

This analysis will demonstrate that “common descent” has not been conclusively demonstrated to be true and therefore can not be described as “factual” in our textbooks.

Therefore, any book that represents “common descent” as a fact and not a hypothesis should be rejected as factually incorrect.

Also, any good book will present at least some of the identified weaknesses raised in this analysis.

The rest of the section is an argument showing why “heliocentricity” is a good theory, while “common descent” is not. It’s a masterful exercise in quote mining and junk science. He concludes:

The entire crux of the evolution debate hinges on whether “descent from a common ancestor,” like the heliocentric theory of Copernicus, is accepted as a historical reality, or as only a hypothesis.

This analysis has argued that it is only a hypothesis, and a shaky one at that.


· I urge board members to carefully consider the argument of this analysis and in spite of  the overwhelming scientific experts’ opinions, consider what the overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates, and insist that “common descent” be portrayed as a hypothesis in the textbooks.

· I also urge the board to reject any book that portrays descent with modification from a common ancestor as a fact.

· I also appeal to the publishers to incorporate in the texts the many reasons for the distinction.

Needless to say, the 2011 science textbook adoption in Texas will be a train wreck.

To get fuller idea of what our state board chairman thinks about education issues, surf around on his Web site a bit. One long essay, dated February 6, 2005, appears to be from a church lecture and the basis for a similar lecture in July of the same year. An excerpt:

Darwinian evolution and ID stand in a complete antithesis; ID requires a designing influence to account for all the complexity of life, whereas the Darwinian Theory common descent claims that life spontaneously arose all by itself.

And why is intelligent design considered a “big tent”?  It is because anyone opposed to naturalism is welcomed into the movement.  All of us, progressive creationists, recent creationists, old earthers, and young earthers are welcomed in this tent.  Intelligent design here at Grace Bible Church is a smaller tent than the intelligent design movement itself.  We are all biblical literalists and believe the Bible to be inerrant.  It is good to remember that the intelligent design movement is a bigger tent.  There is no reason to attack one another over our disagreements, though we should rigorously examine our Bible, and see how our views fit the Scriptures and how coherent a creation story they tell. Remember, naturalism is the main target.

But this debate hasn’t really been about religion, right?