Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Education United States Science

Texas Vote May Challenge Teaching of Evolution 1306

Posted by kdawson
from the what-happens-in-texas-does-not-stay-in-texas dept.
tboulay writes "The Texas Board of Education will vote this week on a new science curriculum designed to challenge the guiding principle of evolution, a step that could influence what is taught in biology classes across the nation. The proposed curriculum change would prompt teachers to raise doubts that all life on Earth is descended from common ancestry. Texas is such a large textbook market that many publishers write to the state's standards, then market those books nationwide. 'This is the most specific assault I've seen against evolution and modern science,' said Steven Newton, a project director at the National Center for Science Education, which promotes teaching of evolution." Both sides are saying the issue it too close to call. Three Republicans on the school board who favor the teaching of evolution have come under enormous pressure to reform their ways.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Texas Vote May Challenge Teaching of Evolution

Comments Filter:
  • Cue the following: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Arthur Grumbine (1086397) * on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @03:54PM (#27316807) Journal
    1. "Texans are all ass-backwards hicks and should be murdered" -Tolerant Liberal
    2. "This is why America sucks" -EuroTard
    3. "Religion is the root, trunk, branches, and leaves, of all evil" -Sgt. Atheist
    4. "Intelligent design is not Creationism. It's philosophical." -Closet Creationist
    5. "Science is..." insert simplistic, high-school-esque view of 'The Scientific Method' -Every /.er that claims to have read an issue of Scientific American
    6. "Although this proposal, and the people behind it, are certifiable, the idea that a theory of evolution holds some special uncriticizable position because of the 'preponderance of evidence' is just as stifling to scientific progress as the dogmatic fervor with which academia held to Newton's theory of gravitation. A theory should always be accepted as necessarily conjectural, and all efforts should be made to falsify the accepted 'best' theory and replace it with a better theory." -Me
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I'll take combo #1, #2 and #3, hold the mayo, super sized please. Oh and hold the pickles, they give me gas.
    • by syrion (744778) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @03:58PM (#27316867)
      This is not an attempt to falsify the teaching of evolution. These backwards magical-thinking buffoons have no evidence, no tests, nothing to point to a different theory; they have a book. A book they believe trumps the evidence of our own eyes and our most advanced scientific methods. These people aren't asking for ID to be taught because they don't think evolution explains the evidence; they are asking for ID to be taught because they don't think.
      • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:05PM (#27317013) Homepage Journal
        FUD. Flamebait. You rage, you lose:

        Texas is such a huge textbook market that many publishers write to the state's standards, then market those books nationwide.

        No. That would never fly nationwide. It would lead to an ugly mess of boycotts and TPB for the major publishers, who are all located in Northeast America.

        Texas school board chairman Don McLeroy...believes that God created the earth less than 10,000 years ago...The textbooks will "have to say that there's a problem with evolution -- because there is," said Dr. McLeroy, a dentist.

        Awhawha? A dentist? And what the hell does that joker think about all of those Biology classes he took in college? Oh, wait. According to another site, Texas Governor Rick Perry, who supports teaching Intelligent Design in high school science classes, recently hand-picked that assclown from Bryan University, a Christian college in Tennessee.

      • by SirGarlon (845873) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:38PM (#27317697)

        You didn't RTFA, did you? Two specific proposals on the table:

        If the new curriculum passes, he says he will insist that high-school biology textbooks point out specific aspects of the fossil record that, in his view, undermine the theory that all life on Earth is descended from primitive scraps of genetic material that first emerged in the primordial muck about 3.9 billion years ago

        Depending on what those "specific aspects" are, this could in fact be actual, hard science in these textbooks.

        He also wants the texts to make the case that individual cells are far too complex to have evolved by chance mutation and natural selection

        But this claim is bollocks... Yeah, and I don't think a photon could ever be a wave and a particle at the same time, because gosh, that just doesn't fit my preconceptions. It's more a comment that he doesn't want to believe in evolution, than anything resembling evidence.

        This chairman is clearly incompetent in science -- not because he disbelieves evolution, but because he can't or won't distinguish a scientific argument from a non-scientific one.

        P.S. I'm inclined to think his first category of evidence also boils down to "I don't think this could work" but since TFA lacks details I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

      • by Jurily (900488) <jurily@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:46PM (#27317919)

        This is not an attempt to falsify the teaching of evolution.

        Get a pen and a paper, draw 10 of gene A organisms, and 1 of gene B. Assume gene B organisms reproduce twice as fast, and ideal conditions. Start drawing the generations. Do that until gene B becomes dominant.

        Now, falsify the principle you just proved. Mathematics. Reproduction rate sets an exponential curve, the initial conditions are just the polinomial part of the equation. It's not something you can or can not believe in.

        If you increase the chance of reproducing of those with a specific gene, that gene will become dominant.

        You cannot falsify evolution any more than you can falsify "1 2", because that's what it really is. If you accept the fact that genes exist (even christians know about dogs I believe), and that living organisms tend to reproduce as much as they can, you're already there. (Oh, one more assumption: random genes can appear. We have evidence of that too, just talk to your doctor about the latest flu variant.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by FooAtWFU (699187)
      7. "Sigh." (Non-Protestant-Fundamentalist Christian groups who maintain any less-than-fully-metaphorical creation story but recognize that the proposal described is, in fact, nuts.)
    • by Mr_eX9 (800448) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:22PM (#27317327) Homepage
      Except for the fact that this is really just an excuse to teach Intelligent Design (read: NOT SCIENCE) in science class. ID belongs in theology/philosophy classes, NOT biology.
    • by Zakabog (603757) <john@nosPAm.jmaug.com> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:25PM (#27317401)

      6. "Although this proposal, and the people behind it, are certifiable, the idea that a theory of evolution holds some special uncriticizable position because of the 'preponderance of evidence' is just as stifling to scientific progress as the dogmatic fervor with which academia held to Newton's theory of gravitation. A theory should always be accepted as necessarily conjectural, and all efforts should be made to falsify the accepted 'best' theory and replace it with a better theory." -Me

      So let me get this straight, you think we should entertain the idea of replacing the theory of evolution with the theory that the earth is only 10,000 years old and life came about in it's current form by way of a "magic man"?

      How do you go about testing the "magic man" theory?

      (I'm not saying you support the "magic man" theory in any way, I somewhat get your point. It's just that they don't want to replace the theory of evolution with a better theory, they want to replace it with "magic".)

    • by Jeremi (14640) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:27PM (#27317461) Homepage

      A theory should always be accepted as necessarily conjectural, and all efforts should be made to falsify the accepted 'best' theory and replace it with a better theory.

      The theory of evolution is just as well established as any other scientific theory that is taught in public schools, and should be treated the same way as the others.

      When high school science classes start encouraging kids to question the existence of gravity, or to look for alternative explanations for electricity, then we can talk about casting doubt on evolution as well. But to single evolution out for special treatment because certain idiots feel that it threatens their personal superstitions is to condone ignorance -- which is not what science classes are meant to do.

    • by Joe U (443617) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:27PM (#27317463) Homepage Journal

      Here's a vote for #5 and how about not re-defining words or procedures just because some morons feel like it?

      Now, Evolution is a law of nature, not a theory. Natural Selection is a theory. I have no problem with people coming up with theories that fit the scientific method, because THATS HOW YOU FUCKING PLAY THE GAME CALLED SCIENCE.

      If someone wants to come up with their own words and rules and whatever, fine, go do it. If they call it science, I'm going to have a major problem with it and the people doing it.

    • by Rary (566291) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:35PM (#27317627)

      "Although this proposal, and the people behind it, are certifiable, the idea that a theory of evolution holds some special uncriticizable position because of the 'preponderance of evidence' is just as stifling to scientific progress as the dogmatic fervor with which academia held to Newton's theory of gravitation. A theory should always be accepted as necessarily conjectural, and all efforts should be made to falsify the accepted 'best' theory and replace it with a better theory." -Me

      This isn't about attacking evolution as dogma. This isn't about attempting to falsify it. This isn't about fighting those who refuse to challenge it. This isn't about halting science by consensus.

      This is about a group of non-biologists, led by a dentist who believes that God created all species as they exist today 10,000 years ago, trying to force biology teachers to teach Creationism. These people aren't even pushing for Intelligent Design — they're explicitly against that as well. They want pure Creationism taught as science.

    • by jonfr (888673) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:38PM (#27317691) Homepage

      Creationism is not science. It never has been and it never will be.

      Creationism is a dark age religion nonsense that people in the 21st century should abolish. People around the world should also abolish there own primitive religions.

      There is one good reason for that, among many others to do this. To make the world a better place.

      The human race can do so much, and can have so good live. We don't need a world with poverty, wars and disease. The human race is on the technological point that those things can be abolished all together.

      Sadly, some people are more keen to hold on there to there own greed, power and religion bad ideas then to improve the world around them.

      For the record. I am an atheist and I want the world to be a better place for everyone.

    • by LordKazan (558383) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:39PM (#27317727) Homepage Journal

      Intelligent Design is not science, therefor it doesn't belong in the science books or classroom.

      How hard is that to understand.

      This isn't special protection of evolution, it's protection of the integrity of science. It just happens to be those trying to violate the integrity of science are specifically targeting evolution.

    • by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:52PM (#27318107)

      Although this proposal, and the people behind it, are certifiable, the idea that a theory of evolution holds some special uncriticizable position because of the 'preponderance of evidence' is just as stifling to scientific progress as the dogmatic fervor with which academia held to Newton's theory of gravitation

      You can criticize the theory of evolution when you earn the right to do so.

      You earn that right in a classroom, not in a church.

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @03:56PM (#27316837)
    I'm just grateful this wasn't us for ONCE. Of course, now our redneck legislators will feel the need to one-up the Texans with some Bill declaring Jesus the official state mascot or something.
  • by wimg (300673) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @03:58PM (#27316869) Homepage

    Seriously, for the country that's supposed to be the most modern and have the best technology (all ofcourse delivered through scientific study), it remains unbelievable that evolution is even questioned.

    No such thing in Europe. Not even the Vatican and the Church of England (both the foundations for the US churches) doubt evolution theory. They even support it !

    Wake up, Americans :-)

    • by Delirium Tremens (214596) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:00PM (#27318347) Journal
      What is unbelievable is that Americans criticize fundamentalism in Muslim countries but they do not see the bigotry in their own culture.

      So much for pretending to have the moral high ground.

      • by SBacks (1286786) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:18PM (#27318745)

        What is unbelievable is that Americans criticize fundamentalism in Muslim countries but they do not see the bigotry in their own culture.
        So much for pretending to have the moral high ground.

        Please don't use the term "Americans". It refers to many of us that do realize the complete hypocrisy and idiocy of major portions of the population. And, yes, we hate it as much as you do.

        So in the future, when referring to these people, please use "Rednecks" or "Hillbilly Yokels" or "Inbred Fucktards".

  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @03:59PM (#27316881)

    The proposed curriculum change would prompt teachers to raise doubts that all life on Earth is descended from common ancestry.

    Duh, her name was Hera Agathon [wikipedia.org].

  • by assemblerex (1275164) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:00PM (#27316919)
    I am glad they open the way for my scripture to be taught side by side with christian beliefs once they step on this landmine! Prepare the pasta! We have learnin' to do!
  • This will influence (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Presto Vivace (882157) <marshall@prestovivace.biz> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:01PM (#27316945) Homepage Journal
    everyone else's textbooks. Texas is such a big state that they serve as a de facto standard for textbook companies. If you don't ask your local school board, books written for Texas are likely to show up in your system. How many at Slashdot have ever asked their local school system how, or even if, science in taught in their school system?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:02PM (#27316969)

    The Catholic church is in agreement with the theory of evolution, so it's time for it to make it clear to its followers they need to support the teaching of evolution over creationism.

    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:15PM (#27317201) Journal

      The Catholic church is in agreement with the theory of evolution, so it's time for it to make it clear to its followers they need to support the teaching of evolution over creationism.

      It's not the Catholics who are the problem, it's certain fundamentalist Protestants.

      Please don't conflate the two.

      The big problem with fundamentalist protestants is that they believe the bible to be literally true and inviolate. So if you invalidate one little part of the bible, you invalidate their entire faith.

      This means that they'll defend the most ridiculous things as a defense of their faith, and supporting teaching of evolution is viewed as a direct attack on their faith.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pxlmusic (1147117)

      it has. it's the fundie protestants that are making all the noise.

  • Nonsense (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Darren Hiebert (626456) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:02PM (#27316971) Homepage
    California is a much larger textbook market than Texas. A much stronger claim can be made that California is the market that publishers try to satisfy. And California is the most likely market to demand evolution and reject its minimization.
  • How can we know? Because they don't put their money where their mouth is.

    Take oil companies. Finding oil is a very important and high-stakes issue for them. Literally hundreds of billions of dollars are riding on it. When the chips are down and they need to find the most likely spots to drill - what kind of geology do they use? Flood geology, or mainstream? Which one actually delivers the goods?

    Let's assume the Earth is only a few thousand years old. Where did the oil come from? Was it created in the ground with the rest of the Earth? If so, is there a way to predict where it might be found? Or perhaps it really did form from plants and dinosaurs, but about 10,000 times faster than any chemist believes it could? Any way you look at it, a young Earth and a Flood would imply some very interesting scientific questions to ask, some interesting (and potentially extremely valuable) research programs to start. How come nobody's actually pursuing such research programs?

    Why don't fundamentalists put together an investment fund, where people pay in and the stake is used as venture capital for things like oil and mineral rights? If "Flood geology" is really a better theory, then it should make better predictions about where raw materials are than standard geology does. The profits from such a venture could pay for a lot of evangelism. Why don't they do this?

    (It turns out some people actually are doing this - or, at least, claiming too. But it appears that deeply-held beliefs are easier to exploit than deeply-held oil reserves [motherjones.com].)

    • Let's assume the Earth is only a few thousand years old. Where did the oil come from? Was it created in the ground with the rest of the Earth? If so, is there a way to predict where it might be found? Or perhaps it really did form from plants and dinosaurs, but about 10,000 times faster than any chemist believes it could?

      Of course, the obvious answer to that is that the creator carefully placed all the oil where it would be as if it were the product of ancient plants and dinosaurs; and the same goes with all the rest of the Earth's geological strata, all observable astronomical events, etc. Anything older than 4000BC (or whereever else you put the crucial date) is planted evidence.

      In other words: if you believe in Creationism, you believe that God is lying to you.

      There's no other conclusion to come to. Everything in the universe hangs together too well for it to be a coincidence. Either it all actually happened the way it looks like it happened, or else Someone has spent a great deal of effort arranging things to make it look that way.

      There are a number of interesting aspects to this, not least of which is the idea that if the universe has been carefully faked to look the way it does, would it not be against God's will to reject all that and believe something completely different? Might Creationism actually be blasphemous?

      This is, by the way, one reason why most scientists reject Creationism (both young-Earth and old-Earth; the only difference between them is philosphical hair-splitting, anyway). Contrary to popular belief, a lot of scientists are deeply spiritual people who believe strongly in their quest to explore the universe. I can easily imagine whole idea that anyone wants to simply dismiss such a wonderful, exotic, complicated thing as being a lie would be deeply distasteful to them --- it certainly is to me.

    • by juuri (7678) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:58PM (#27318279) Homepage

      One must first understand the story of Noah is based heavily in Sumarian lore. When civilization was first spawning it's first resou...er cities they choose to stick them in places rather convenient for growing large amounts of food and such.

      One of these was near Ur and Lagash and such which just happened to be where the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers come together. Oh! By the way did you know that land there, well that land there, is a low land and in the past was prone to massive flooding.

      So yes, to early civilization as the stories and tales spread out from the epicenter of humanity, the entire world DID indeed flood.

  • by DigitalSorceress (156609) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:04PM (#27316999)

    I've never understood why religious folk have such a hard time with evolution. I mean, can't they just say "okay, fine, evolution is the process, and God is the architect". Far as I can see, that kind of solves it.

    I do not recall any teacher or textbook saying that evolution proves that God doesn't exist. (For me, bigotted religious zealots did quite a good job of that all on their own).

    I know there are those born again types who fervently believe that the Earth is only 6000 years old so they'll never be satisfied until the schools are beginning and ending each lesson with a prayer and throw out all textbooks in favor of bibles, but cummon, there have got to be SOME sane people in Texas.

    • by langelgjm (860756) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:28PM (#27317473) Journal

      Well, there are a lot of religious folk who don't have a problem with evolution: e.g., Catholics, pretty much any mainstream Protestant church, lots of Jews...

      And in fact, many of them have taken just that tack of "evolution as process, God as architect." It's nothing new, either - Darwin's book prompted controversy in religious circles when it was first published, but plenty of religious figures accepted it then, and plenty do now.

      If you're interested in reading historical religious perspectives on it, check out The Post-Darwinian Controversies [google.com], which looks at a bunch of different religious reactions to Darwin.

  • perhaps it would be better to release the members of the board into a remote ecosystem with limited resources, and allow them to compete, whereby the most well-adapted board member is selectively chosen not to starve, and he or she at that point decides the issue of whether or not to teach evolution

    if on the other hand, angels are heard singing, a bright light shines from the sky, and a booming voice chooses one particular board member while the rest perish in a scream and a flash, destined for eternity to hell, maybe that will decide the issue instead

  • by slashdotlurker (1113853) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:09PM (#27317081)
    Frankly some of these people are an embarrassment to the country. Maybe they can band together parts of the old Confederacy, make Chuck Norris its new Jefferson Davis, and get the hell out of the US. As it stands, most of these states survive on federal aid handouts (they take more in federal assistance than give in in taxes). The reason is simple - educated people and the high paying jobs that follow them don't want any part of their 19th century thump-the-good-book-to-get-all-answers "paradise".

    With Chuck Norris, they can take their rightful place along with witch doctors of Africa, voodoo practitioners of the Caribbean, fundamentalists in rural Afghanistan and Pakistan, etc. and form a living human history museum of sorts, where we can bring our kids off and on to show how we used to live in the old times.

    Evolution states among other things that not all members of the same species evolve/progress at the same rate. The odd century gap between these jokers and the rest of humanity is a startling confirmation of that.
  • Need not be said (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:09PM (#27317085) Homepage Journal

    Steven Newton, a project director at the National Center for Science Education, which promotes teaching of evolution

    Why would you even spell that out? I bet the NCSE also promotes teaching of water being wet and the sun being a hot thing we orbit.

  • by zig43 (1422373) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:11PM (#27317121)
    "Three Republicans on the school board who favor the teaching of evolution have come under enormous pressure to reform their ways."

    Lest they be sentenced to eternal damnation and cast into hell. :)
  • by Stanislav_J (947290) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:17PM (#27317237)

    What I wish these extremist nuts would understand is that the theory of evolution does not, ipso facto, rule out the possibility of a supernatural creator. Evolution is simply an ever-refining description of how life unfolded on Earth. No one is staking any claim in the theory concerning who or what (if anyone or anything) might have initiated or guided or overseen the process. There are tens of millions of Christian clergy, theologians, and laity who accept evolution as the process that God used to achieve his purposes. Even among evangelicals, most no longer subscribe to the literality of Genesis -- they understand the "six days" of creation as metaphor. They also understand that the Bible is not meant to be a complete, literal history that can be quantified (a la Bishop Usher) to produce a firm figure for the age of the universe.

    So, who are these Christians who are on the anti-evolution bandwagon? Not Christians in general. Not even evangelicals. It's a tiny subset that still insists that evolution "denies God," that the universe was literally created in six days, that species were set and defined at the moment of creation, etc. In other words, a minority of a minority of a minority, if you will. And yet, these vastly outnumbered idjits carry incredible weight and influence, especially in the heartland, and people cower in fear of upsetting them.

  • On "Theory" ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by PhxBlue (562201) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:22PM (#27317349) Homepage Journal

    Anyone who says, "Evolution's just a theory" should read up on what the word "theory" means within the scientific community:

    "A theory is a good theory if it satisfies two requirements: It must accurately describe a large class of observations on the basis of a model that contains only a few arbitrary elements, and it must make definite predictions about the results of future observations." (Wikipedia: Scientific Theory) [wikipedia.org]

    Natural selection meets these criteria, as does evolution as a whole. Saying "evolution is a theory" is like saying gravity is just a theory. If you want to test gravity (and natural selection, for that matter), jump off a tall building and see if you can fly.

It's time to boot, do your boot ROMs know where your disk controllers are?

Working...