The evolution wars in Texas are still simmering, but creationists in Kansas have suffered a series of routs in recent years. Chalk up another on Tuesday, when the Kansas State Board of Education adopted new curriculum standards that require students in all grades to learn about evolution and climate change as key scientific concepts.
Creationists took control of the Kansas board in the late 1990s and promptly moved to dumb down instruction on evolution in the state’s public schools. Over the next several elections, creationists and moderates alternated in winning control of the state board. As a result, the state’s science standards — particularly what they required students to learn about evolution — changed frequently.
But moderates have now controlled the Kansas board since 2006, and that control was clear when the board voted 8-2 on Tuesday to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). More than two dozen states and the National Research Council have worked to develop those standards. NGSS is not part of the Common Core standards project, and neither one is a federal project. But critics have lumped the two together as examples of federal intrusion into state education policies. (The Texas… Read More
If you were watching our Facebook page this week, you may have noticed a series of silhouetted pictures teasing a big announcement of this year’s celebrity guest for TFN’s EPIC Evening.
Well, we’re very proud and honored to reveal that the person depicted by a silhouette in those images is Bill Nye the Science Guy.
(EPIC Evening will take place in Austin on Sunday, Nov. 3. You can find event details at tfn.org/epic)
Bill Nye the Science Guy, or BNtSG for short as some of us at the office have been calling him, is an ideal choice this year. The Texas State Board of Education has already started the process of adopting new science textbooks, and as we know all too well, these adoptions can get contentious.
The final vote in this process will take place shortly after Mr. Nye visits Austin for EPIC Evening. So who better to give us a science pep talk than the man who is known for wearing bow ties and for lots of other things, including saying this about creationism:
First, let’s make clear that the Texas Freedom Network doesn’t oppose the right of parents to educate their children at home. Nor does TFN oppose the right of private organizations to invite whomever they wish to speak to members at their convention. And finally, we realize that people choose to home-school their children for many different reasons, religious and otherwise.
So with that out of the way, we do think it’s interesting to see that one of the most prominent home-school lobby groups in Texas has invited Ken Ham to be the featured speaker at its state convention Aug. 1-3 in The Woodlands near Houston. Ham, a young-Earth creationist from Australia, founded the Christian ministry Answers in Genesis. The organization seeks “to train others to develop a biblical worldview” and “to expose the bankruptcy of evolutionary ideas, and its bedfellow, a ‘millions of years old earth’ (and even older universe).”
Check out this video of Ham attacking Bill Nye (“Bill Nye the Science Guy”), a science educator, engineer, comedian and popular television host. Nye has strongly criticized teaching creationism as science:
“If you want to deny evolution and live in… Read More
As the Texas State Board of Education prepares to adopt new science textbooks for public schools this year, we expect to see plenty of junk science thrown around by evolution deniers. And among the most prominent evolution deniers are the folks at the Discovery Institute — the Seattle-based outfit that promotes the concept of “intelligent design.”
For those who don’t already know, “intelligent design” proponents suggest that life as we know it is far too complex to have developed without the guidance of an “intelligent designer.” In 2005 a federal judge in Pennsylvania, after an exhaustive accounting of the evidence, wrote in Kitzmiller v. Dover that “the writings of leading [‘intelligent design’] proponents reveal that the designer postulated by their argument is the God of Christianity.” He even noted how proponents in the 1980s had simply replaced “creation” with “intelligent design” in written materials in light of court rulings that it was an unconstitutional promotion of religion for public schools to teach creationism as science. He wrote:
“The overwhelming evidence at trial established that [‘intelligent design’] is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory.”
Well, that kind of talk makes… Read More
Update: HB 285 has been pulled from today’s House Higher Education Committee hearing. We will let you know when it comes up for consideration again.
Earlier: Texas scientists have gotten wind of Rep. Bill Zedler’s proposed legislation forcing the state’s colleges and universities to validate and support “intelligent design.” And they’re not happy.
We’ve obtained a letter signed by 19 University of Texas science professors telling the Texas House Committee on Higher Education to oppose the Arlington Republican’s bill.
The gist is that Rep. Zedler wants to bar universities from “discriminating against” faculty members or students who try to pass off “intelligent design” or other religious doctrines as science. So it should come as no surprise that mainstream scientists are concerned about the bill.
The professors write that:
While we strongly support academic freedom and protections for valid scientific research, we don’t think colleges and universities should be required to look the other way when faculty and students distort mainstream science. Yet HB 285’s broad language could require that colleges and universities do more than simply look the other way. By barring discrimination “in any manner,” HB 285 could force… Read More