Creationist pressure groups and Texas State Board of Education members who oppose teaching public school students the sound science behind evolution make, strangely enough, a lot of claims about what scientists think. We’re told that there is a raging controversy among scientists about whether evolution is really supported by strong scientific evidence. We’re told that scientists have plenty of evidence for alternative ideas, like “intelligent design” (which is, essentially, creationism dressed up in a lab coat). And we’re told that it’s only “fair” to teach both sides of the “controversy.” But no one, it turns out, has actually asked scientists in any systematic way what they really think about these claims.
A new report from the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund explodes those and other myths promoted by evolution opponents. The report, authored by Dr. Raymond Eve of the University of Texas at Arlington, details results from a statewide survey of biologists and biological anthropoligists at all 35 public and the 15 largest private colleges and universities in Texas. The survey’s results clearly reveal that claims of “controversy” among mainstream scientists are simply a fiction. In addition, university science faculty overwhelmingly reject claims that “intelligent design” and so-called “weaknesses” of evolution are based on science evidence.
You can read about those and other findings in this groundbreaking report here. (A press release about the report is available here.)
This timely report comes as the State Board of Education continues work revising science curriculum standards for Texas public schools. Moreover, the Texas textbook market is so large that publishers will create new science textbooks based on those standards and then sell their books to schools across the country.
You can help ensure that students get a 21st-century science education by signing on to the Stand Up for Science petition and campaign here.
4 thoughts on “What Scientists Really Think about the War on Evolution”
The report was very interesting, and while I find the results not very surprising, I am glad that this research was done to put some scientific method behind various “weaknesses” assertions.
I think though that the section on “Is evolution compatible with religious faith” side-stepped a key issue. The quote from Kansas State Board of Education Chairman Steve Abrams that “At some point in time, if you compare evolution
and the Bible, you have to decide which one you believe” is critical. The scientists you surveyed can presumably agree on what is meant by the term “evolution”, but the term “religious faith” is more nebulous and needs to be more specifically defined. It would appear based on his statement that Abrams equates religious faith with a literal interpretation of the Bible. Some of the questions posed to Texas faculty about young-earth creationism might lead one to think that if you had asked them “Is evolution compatible with fundamentalist Christianity that requires a literal interpretation of the Bible” that roughly 98% of them would have said “No”. So I think that when 91% of them said that they agreed that someone who accepts evolutionary biology can have religious faith, I think they are using a different interpretation of the term “religious faith”.
Why is this distinction important? I believe, based on quotations from people like Abrams and McElroy, that their version of religious faith is more in-line with a literal interpretation of the Bible. Hence, they may not be swayed by scientists (which might arguably be stereo-typed as being liberal leaning) seeing no conflict between evolution and religious faith. Ultimately, compatibility of evolution and religious faith, while very important and fascinating, is not relevant to the discussion of teaching good science (especially in public schools). After all, in our diverse state and country, “religious faith” can be interpreted in a multitude of ways, including, but especially not limited to, those held by Abrams, McElroy, and other advocates of teaching “weaknesses”.
The poorly worded questions betray the bias of the authors and weakens the strength claims based upon the 45% response rate. The appearance of bias and an agenda would likely create a selection bias among those that responded. It also would be interesting to see a breakout of the biologists and anthropologists, since the latter are specifically dependent upon evolution, whereas biologists can have research and classes where evolution is not an issue. It would have been more helpful if strength and weaknesses language was addressed specifically and without the biasing with proponents of creationism and intelligent design. Including other scientific disciplines would also show that the discomfort with strenths and weaknesses language is specific to the politics surrounding teaching evolution in the public schools.
Three cheers for africangenesis – although not a creationist, he’s right-on regarding the flawed survey by Raymond Eve.
The TFN article “WSRTA the W on E” is shot through with total falsehoods. It really is very shoddy ‘reporting’. “Creationist pressure groups”? Is not TFN a secular pressure group? If TFN really believed in freedom they would see that even creationists have First Amendment rights. They don’t because they are against freedom for creationists (a valid minority).
Please show me in AiG literature or ICR literature where these “pressure groups” oppose teaching public sch students macroevolution. TFN will not be able to list a single reference because these 2 “p.g.” are not advocating censorship in taxpayer-paid schools – rather TFN is the censor group. By that I mean TFN insists that the problems with macroevolution not be shared with the students. Instead, the students will be told only that macroevolution is a “fact” and the teacher is threatened by the administration not to tell students macroevolutionary problems.
We have crossed the line from education to indoctrination. Teaching macroevolution as a fact is atheism dressed up in a lab coat.