The folks over at the Discovery Institute, an anti-evolution pressure group based in Seattle, appear to have little problem with irony (even if they do have problems with the truth).
Robert Crowther, DI’s director of communications, has written a letter to the editor at the San Antonio Express-News, offering his disingenous critique of a pro-evolution op-ed column the newspaper published last week. Eric Lane, president of the San Antonio chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, penned the op-ed, “Science classes are for science only.” Lane focused on the debate at the Texas State Board of Education over teaching evolution in public school science classrooms:
The intelligent design folks will say (this debate is) only about “weaknesses” of evolutionary theory, “freedom of speech” and “academic freedom.” Don’t fall for it. The debate has nothing to do with science. It has everything to do with religious fundamentalists trying to force non-science into the public science classroom.
Crowther begins his rebuttal with this:
Not surprisingly, Lane apparently didn’t bother to do a shred of research. Instead, he was quite satisfied to let his imagination come up with all sorts of ridiculous things.
Oh, do tell.
Crowther and the Discovery Institute should know something about not bothering “to do a shred of research.” After all, there isn’t a shred of scientific evidence to support the DI’s pet “intelligent design”/creationism alternative to evolution. Nor is there any real science behind the DI’s “weaknesses of evolution” argument. Mainstream scientists have repeatedly debunked the phony “weaknesses” promoted by Crowther and other anti-science fanatics. Moreover, representatives of the 21st Century Science Coalition — an organization of Texas scientists — have pointed out that there are thousands of research articles in peer-reviewed journals — over decades — about the evidence supporting evolution.
Crowther then offers this howler:
The SBOE is not considering religious, non-scientific beliefs, nor creationism, and certainly not intelligent design for inclusion in science classes.
Please. The fundamentalist religious beliefs of the state board’s creationists are the true motivation behind their opposition to teaching the real science of evolution. This was made clear in a New York Times piece in June of last year. The newspaper quotes board Chairman Don McLeroy, R-College Station, as saying he saw the debate as being between “two systems of science”:
“You’ve got a creationist system and a naturalist system.”
McLeroy has also called for redefining science to include supernatural explanations for phenomena. In a church lecture he gave in July 2005, McLeroy characterized this way the debate over evolution when the board considered new biology textbooks in 2003:
(T)here were only the four really conservative, orthodox Christians on the board were the only ones who were willing to stand up to the textbooks and say that they don’t present the weaknesses of evolution.
And Barbara Forrest, a Louisiana professor who has thoroughly researched the “intelligent design” movement, has shown how undermining evolution is a key part of the creationists’ strategy for promoting their religious beliefs in public schools. (You can find a wealth of Forrest’s research — there’s that problematic word again for the DI folks — by clicking here.)
As Lane wrote, don’t fall for the disingenous arguments from the creationists on the state board and at the Discovery Institute. They’re simply blowing smoke. The national crusade — with its focus now on Texas — to undermine science education is all about promoting the fundamentalist religious beliefs of some over everybody else’s.