Houston lawyer Kelly “www.christianattorney.com” Coghlan is burning up the Internets with another screed on the evolution battle in Texas public schools. (Coghlan was the author of another e-mail a few weeks back linking acceptance of the science of evolution to serial murderers like Jeffrey Dahmer.) He testified at least week’s Texas State Board of Education public hearing, darkly warning that the state would face lawsuits if the board eliminated a science curriculum requirement that students learn phony arguments attacking evolution. The board ultimately refused to retain the “strengths and weaknesses” requirement, but Coghlan is declaring victory anyway.
(T)he phrase was replaced with an even broader standard requiring teaching “all sides of scientific evidence” which implicitly includes teaching the scientific weaknesses. Some other issues were also voted on, and our side (pro-science) prevailed on most of these issues in close votes. The evolution lobby won the battle but lost the war.
There is no doubt, of course, that creationist pressure groups and their allies on the board will try to use the new language to force publishers to dumb down instruction on evolution. But what’s most interesting about Coghlan’s e-mail is the contempt with which he holds three Republicans who opposed “strengths and weaknesses” but supported the compromise that Coghlan now praises. He lists each of the three, asking for candidates to run against each in the next election:
We must elect people of integrity to the State Board. Over the next 2 years, this Board will decide which textbooks are used to teach our 4.7 million students. We don’t want to have to go through this same ordeal again. We must eliminate Board members who lack a moral compass on important issues such as these.
The lesson: political compromises with extremists earn you little but future troubles. The world of extremists is black and white. If they can’t get their way completely, they will squeeze everything out of you they can get and then push you over the political cliff. Talk about “lacking a moral compass.”
15 thoughts on “On ‘Lacking a Moral Compass’”
People like Kelly Coughlan have no shame and no integrity whatsoever. While we are used to people like him lying and misrepresenting evolution, science, and the scientific method, those who should really be outraged are the vast majority of Christians whose knowledge and beliefs he maligns.
Coughlan should be ashamed of himself and get on his knees and apologize to all of us.
–The board ultimately refused to retain the “strengths and weaknesses” requirement, but Coghlan is declaring victory anyway. —
I didn’t like the term “weaknesses” myself — invalid criticisms are not real weaknesses and teaching invalid criticisms is sometimes a good idea — but I supported the “strengths and weaknesses” language because I felt it was better than nothing. I am glad that the board adopted what I consider to be better language.
You must be very proud of your nephew Aaron.
Coghlan appears not to have enough fiber in his diet and too much time on his hands.
What is the source of the Coghlan quotes?
I think we would all agree that people who tell lies lack a moral compass. So then Coughlin would agree that McLeroy, Mercer, Dunbar, and Leo should not be on the board.
During Coughlin’s testimony and question and answer session before the SBOE meeting last Wednesday, he made allegations that the SBOE would be sued if the strengths and weaknesses expectation was removed, there were no creationist tenets being taught in public school science classrooms, and teachers would be at risk of law suits if the strengths and weaknesses expectation was eliminated. I attempted to visit with him after his presentation and find out the justification or rationale he was using to support his allegations about the threat of lawsuits. Also, I told him I had data from teacher surveys that indicated that tenets of creationism and intelligent design were being emphasized by some Texas biology teachers. He refused to talk with me and indicated I was getting my information from TFN. He walked away and never looked back!! Maybe we do need to look at “all sides” to develop critical thinking skills. One of the most attributes of critical thinking is being open-minded. Do anti-evolutionists really want their children and others to approach evolution and creationism with an open mind?
> Gerald Skoog wrote:
> Do anti-evolutionists really want their children and others to approach evolution and creationism with an open mind?
I agree. I think the TEKS “all sides” business can be made to backfire on the anti-science position. Anti-evolutionism only works if you close your eyes to the science.
It’s interesting that the specter of of lawsuits over removing “strengths and weaknesses” disappeared after the amendments passed. While I’m disappointed that they passed at all, another way it can backfire – adding to what Joe said – is that it spells out the so-called weaknesses using obvious intelligent design-speak (complexity of the cell, etc.) and in one case flat-out YEC concepts (stasis, differing “theories” on the age of the Universe) which aren’t going to be easy to get into textbooks without blatant ID/creationism passages.
Gerald Skoog Says (March 31, 2009 at 8:08 pm) —
–During Coughlin’s testimony and question and answer session before the SBOE meeting last Wednesday, he made allegations that the SBOE would be sued if the strengths and weaknesses expectation was removed–
At the November public hearings of the SBOE, Darwinists threatened to sue if the SBOE retained the “strengths and weaknesses” expectation.
–I told him I had data from teacher surveys that indicated that tenets of creationism and intelligent design were being emphasized by some Texas biology teachers. —
I don’t know about Texas specifically, but a recent national survey of science teachers showed that 25% of respondents spend some time teaching creationism and intelligent design, though not necessarily as good science:
–Do anti-evolutionists really want their children and others to approach evolution and creationism with an open mind?–
Many if not most do.
Joe Lapp Says (March 31, 2009 at 9:27 pm) —
–Anti-evolutionism only works if you close your eyes to the science.–
Well, my arguments about coevolution work pretty good, and they are completely scientific:
James F Says (March 31, 2009 at 10:37 pm) —
–it spells out the so-called weaknesses using obvious intelligent design-speak (complexity of the cell, etc.) —
Well, cells are very complex — the discovery of their great complexity helped spark the intelligent design movement. Cells contain incredibly complex nanomachines (e.g., the bacterial flagellum), biochemical factories (e.g., the blood-clotting cascade), and informational databases (e.g., the DNA molecule).
–and in one case flat-out YEC concepts (stasis, differing “theories” on the age of the Universe) —
Stasis is not a YEC concept — a young earth would not allow enough time for stasis to occur.
This is a success for fundamentalist christians because it allows “teachers” to safely if subtly indoctrinate children into religion. It won’t backfire because good teachers are already helping students develop critical thinking skills. Those teachers won’t go away, but now bad teachers have much more free rein to instruct students up to, but not beyond, a 17th century level.
I am not so sure of that Lorax. I think the Texas SBOE has set itself up for the lawsuits from Hades. The cancer rate for the general population is about 1 in 4. The U.S. Supreme Court has 9 judges past 40. Ginsberg already has cancer. One more of these old poots is bound to get it soon. I predict it will be Scalia. With the older ones retiring and being replaced by Obama, one conservative lost to cancer, and who knows what else—I think trouble is on the way.
How long has Aaron been married to Melissa Thomas?
Moral compass? Is the Moral North Pole near the Magnetic one? Surely Coghlan believes it to be in the US instead of Canada.
TFN, is it possible to sue a book company that introduced “Exploring Evolution”? Since it is loaded with dozens of antiscience fallacies?? Is it OK to teach these fallacies to children without any consequences??(I’m not saying that I’m gonna do it, remember it won’t be taught!!)
Jdg, that’s a good question. ID proponents don’t publish in respected scientific journals because their arguments are not scientifically rigorous. Rather than humbly submitting themselves to the scrutiny of their peers and learning from it as mature scientists, they brazenly ignore points that invalidate their perspectives while telling laymen that there is a great scientific debate. Case in point, Michael Behe was humiliated by experts in the Dover trial to such a degree that William Dembski bailed ship without presenting any argument whatsoever in favor of the ID movement – and this after bragging that he would destroy Darwinism in the witness stand*!