I was shocked (shocked, I tell you!) at this bit of news to come out of Texas yesterday. Apparently, the Texas Board of Education will be reviewing instructional materials for the state’s biology classes that tout creationism.
The reason why I’m so shocked, of course, is because board members have assured us that they had no intention of trying to sneak creationism into science class. In 2009, when the board approved its revamped science curriculum standards that critics feared would pave the way for the adoption of creationist supplemental material, its members took umbrage at such accusations.
As former Board President Don McLeroy said at the time, “Creationism and intelligent design don’t belong in our science classes. Anything taught in science has to have consensus in the science community—and intelligent design does not.”
Now publishers and vendors have submitted their proposed on-line material for review. And guess what? A joint review by the National Center for Science Education and the Texas Freedom Network has turned up a submission that is filled with creationist and intelligent design claims.
An organization called International Databases Inc., based in New Mexico, has submitted supplementary material featuring outright promotion of intelligent design. NCSE’s Josh Rosenau also said the material was filled with misspellings and typos.
According to TFN:
NCSE found creationist claims and factual errors throughout International Databases’ materials, including:
* Religious claims such as “life on Earth is the result of intelligent causes” (Module 1, “Origin Nucleotide,” Slide 19)
* Teacher instructions such as: “students should go home with the understanding that a new paradigm of explaining life’s origins is emerging from the failed attempts of naturalistic scenarios. This new way of thinking is predicated upon the hypothesis that intelligent input is necessary for life’s origins.” (Module 8, “Teacher Resources”, Slide 3)
* Arguments that “intelligent design” is a “legitimate scientific hypothesis” (Module 1, “Origin Nucleotide,” Slide 19) or even “the default position” (Module 7, “Null Hypothesis,” Slide 8) in science—despite the consensus of the scientific community, and a federal court, that it is essentially religious creationism without any scientific basis
* Misrepresentations of Darwin’s 150-year-old writings in an attempt to discredit modern biology
* Distortions of the scientific understanding and evidence behind key biological processes, such as the modern synthetic theory of evolution and the stages of the cell cycle
The board will vote on the submissions in July. It could decide not to adopt the creationist material – which is a possibility. Since last year’s election, several of the most conservative Christian board members have left, including McLeroy and Cynthia Dunbar, who believes there should be legal litmus tests prohibiting non-believers from holding elected office. So this could be the first significant test of the new board.
We’ll be waiting to see how they do. But we won’t be holding our breath.