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News item - Texas scientists challenge creationists

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  • Todd S. Greene
    From: http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/local/10/01/1001evolution.html [link may be line-wrapped]
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 23, 2008
      [link may be line-wrapped]


      Texas scientists challenge proposal to teach weaknesses of
      evolutionary theory
      By Laura Heinauer
      (American-Statesman, 2008-10-01)

      Science curriculum draft that would remove ideas "based upon purported
      forces outside of nature" from what Texas students are taught in
      biology classes.

      Armed with stacks of scientific journals, a group that says it
      represents more than 800 Texas scientists is challenging the idea that
      discussion of the weaknesses of evolutionary theory belongs in science

      The group of professors held a news conference Tuesday in the lobby of
      the Texas Education Agency in Austin and said that they would be
      watching while a state board rewrites the state public school science
      curriculum next year.

      "Not a single one (of the articles in these journals) gives us reason
      to believe evolution did not occur," said Dan Bolnick, an assistant
      professor of integrative biology at the University of Texas, pointing
      to stacks of the scientific journal Evolution. "So where are the
      weaknesses? Simple: They don't exist. They are not based on scientific
      research or data and have been refuted countless times."

      Last week, the state released an early committee recommendation for
      the new science curriculum that would excise ideas "based upon
      purported forces outside of nature" from what Texas students are
      taught in biology classes. The curriculum, once approved, will outline
      what will be taught about science to every public school student in
      the state.

      Organizers of the 21st Century Science Coalition said the group formed
      about two weeks ago and blossomed in membership in response to
      comments by State Board of Education Chairman Don McLeroy, R-Bryan,
      who opposes a committee proposal to remove the requirement that the
      "strengths and weaknesses" of all scientific theories be taught in
      biology classes.

      McLeroy has also said he wants to spell out in the curriculum that
      there are limits to what science can explain.

      Critics of the teaching of intelligent design and creationism — ideas
      that hold that the universe was created by a higher power — say such
      language has been used to undermine the theory of evolution.

      "It's clear he wants to promote a particular religious agenda," said
      David Hillis, a UT integrative biology professor. "Texas public
      schools should be preparing our kids to succeed in the 21st century,
      not promoting political and ideological agendas that are hostile to a
      sound science education."

      In an interview after the news conference Tuesday, McLeroy said he
      "totally rejected" the idea that he or anyone on the board wants to
      inject religion into science classrooms. "I'm not arguing for
      supernatural explanations, only testable ones. When I look at the
      evidence, I see lots of problems," McLeroy said.

      William Dembski, a senior fellow for the Discovery Institute, a think
      tank devoted to challenging aspects of evolutionary theory, said the
      fossil record defies the theory of evolution in several instances.
      Because of the inconsistencies and other reasons, Dembski said, "I'd
      argue that constitutes a weakness."

      The institute promotes intelligent design.

      Coalition member Richard Duhrkopf, who teaches introductory biology at
      Baylor University, said that although one might expect his university
      — the largest Southern Baptist and second-largest Christian university
      in the country — to teach creationism in science classrooms, it does not.

      Creationist theories, Duhrkopf said, "just don't make the grade as
      science, and to teach them would be to teach a lie to our students."
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