Monday, March 30, 2009

Did the Texas SBOE Trick Itself?

That seems to be what the Discovery Institute is saying. From the Discovery Blog, Bruce Chapmen writes:
The New York Times got the preview story wrong, and the Washington Post editorial writer probably was too rushed to question the charges of "creationism" coming from the National Center for Science Education, the Darwin-only lobby. So this week's important decisions by the Texas Board of Education (TBOE) on how to teach evolution were predicated in the media by the big question of whether teachers should provide both "strengths and weaknesses" of Darwin's theory. Those words might sound benign, readers were told, but they really are "code words" (take the press' word for it) for creationism and religion.
Boy, it sure would be nice if he had provided the links to those editorials. You know, like most people do in blogs. So...I have to go get them myself. The NYT headline was "Defeat and Some Success for Texas Evolution Foes" while the WaPo's headline read: "Texas education board approves science standards", which is closer to the mark but not quite correct. It is possible that the "critical evaluation" language might allow for some creationism in the schools but the reverse is equally true—that teachers will simply say that, under critical evaluation, the theories of modern science hold up and that, under critical evaluation, the tenets of ID and creationism, do not. I am, perhaps being overly optimistic in this approach but, like Kenneth Miller, think that students ought to critically examine all scientific theories. Creationism tends to creep in when teachers and students DON'T critically examine all theories. Then Chapman writes this:
Once again the NCSE was too-smart-by-half. It ran blogs making fun of religion, while organizing public speakers who gave fulsome testimony to their Christian faith and how compatible it is with "evolution" (meaning Darwinian evolution). To the purists like Richard Dawkins and P.Z. Myers it probably makes them look like toadies.
Not quite. The NCSE's Josh Rosenau live-blogged the meetings from his own site. In fact, from the NCSE page, you find this:
Detailed, candid, and often uninhibited running commentary on the proceedings is available on a number of blogs: Texas Citizens for Science's Steven Schafersman is blogging and posting photographs on the Houston Chronicle's Evo.Sphere blog, the Texas Freedom Network is blogging on its TFN Insider blog, and NCSE's Joshua Rosenau is blogging on his personal blog, Thoughts from Kansas (hosted by ScienceBlogs). For those wanting to get their information from the horse's mouth, minutes and audio recordings of the board meeting will be available on the Texas Education Agency's website. NCSE's previous reports on events in Texas are available on-line, and of course NCSE will continue to monitor the situation as well as to assist those defending the teaching of evolution in the Lone Star State.
The NCSE didn't run a blog about the meetings. Even Josh Rosenau's blog is hosted by someone else. That some of the writers of these blogs do not support religion has nothing to do with the NCSE. Eugenie Scott's testimony was perfectly appropriate at the hearings, as was Josh Rosenau's.

Additionally, Chapman throws a nasty, veiled insult about Christians that support evolution that is mean-spirited and offensive. Once again, the DI bloviates and, once again, doesn't get it quite right. And they want us to take them seriously?


  1. bobxxxx8:06 PM

    Good article but WTF is an evolutionary creationist? Those two words don't belong in the same sentence.

  2. An evolutionary creationist (or theistic evolutionist) is one who believes in God but is convinced that God acted through the evolutionary process throughout deep time. I prefer theistic evolutionist simply because it avoids the word "creationist," and I can't come up with anything as catchy as "cdesignproponentsists."

  3. Anonymous5:59 PM

    Thanks Jim. We don't do supernatural events in science
    for obvious reasons. Its easy to plug miracles into things one can't figure out.Worked for mankind for thousands of years.

    Facts are facts and faith is faith.
    You confuse evolution and darwinism. darwinism is a term used by religious groups to describe anyone who doesn't agree
    that God acted in supernatural ways in geologic history. When you use the term Darwinist or drawinism, you tip the reader off that you're pushing your religious views into science. Wonder why Buddhists and Hindus don't have these fundamentalism hangups with regards to science. Theistic evolution, creationist, intelligent design all the same.
    The person ascribing that term to themself is a scientific illiterate confused about religion and logical observation of nature.
    Please, take some science courses at an accreditted university.And no further discussion is necessary because you are quite confused.
    Thanks Will
    Please, keep religion out of science.

  4. Anonymous, I don't confuse the two terms, but lack of appropriate resolution in the post may have made that unclear. I do not use the term “Darwinism” simply because it has such a pejorative use. Your average evolutionary biologist would never call him/herself a “Darwinist.” The thing about evolutionary creationism (a term I have embraced since this post, by the way) is that it compartmentalizes science in such a way that religion is irrelevant.

    While it might strike one that this is cognitive dissonance, it is not. It simply suggests that there might be proximate causes for things and ultimate causes for things. Science is capable of addressing the former but not the latter.

    Why this is not the same methodology employed by folks that support young earth creationism is that for them, science is forced to adhere to a particular scriptural interpretation. In EC, the scientific enterprise is encouraged to find what it finds. Since those of us that subscribe to EC believe that this is God's vast creation, this presents no problem whatsoever. We are quite happy to let science go where it goes.

    I was just in the Grand Canyon bookstore and came across Tom Vail's The Grand Canyon: A Different View, a YEC book. I picked it up and read a page at random. It had five main points on the page for considering the young age of the canyon. Four of them were outright fabrications and one of them was completely unsupported by any literature. I put the book down in disgust. It was completely intellectually dishonest.

    I am perfectly in agreement that religion needs to be left out of science. That does not mean that God does not exist.