from 2003–Teach evolution? Yes, warts and all!

HoustonChronicle.com — http://www.HoustonChronicle.com | Section: Viewpoints, Outlook
Oct. 22, 2003, 6:40PM

Keep good science in, dogma out of textbooks

By DON McLEROY

THE State Board of Education is required by law to adopt textbooks that are factually correct and adequately cover the state curriculum. In the case of biology books, there is no place for dogma (the teaching of an opinion as a fact); science books must present good science.

The state curriculum, the future educational opportunities of Texas students, the strong general consensus of biologists, and intellectually stimulating teaching require that evolution be taught. However, evolutionary hypotheses that life spontaneously arose billions of years ago, and that all life since then is related by descent from a common ancestor — for example, that we share a common ancestor with a tree — raise tremendous difficulties. To fulfill the requirement of Texas law and good science, textbooks must adequately present these difficulties. Despite all the rhetoric to the contrary, this is the issue.

What, if any, are the major difficulties? Are they presented in the textbooks? Will our Texas children be given the opportunity to hone their critical thinking skills on this controversial subject?

The spontaneous origin of life is beset with the most extreme difficulties. In the 50 years since Stanley Miller’s first scientific experiment that semi-randomly produced organic molecules from inorganic molecules, scientists have vigorously pursued the study of the origin of life. How has it progressed? According to Steve Benner, as stated on the International Society of the Study of the Origin of Life Web site, it is now clear that Miller-like experiments create too many biological molecules, in mixtures that are too complex to self-organize in a way rationally likely to lead to replication. The intrinsic reactivity of organic material under the influence of energy is to create tar, not life. If this up-to-date analysis from the premier scientific origin of life organization is not reflected in our modern textbooks, they violate state law.

Common descent is likewise beset with a myriad of difficulties. A cogent argument makes its appeal to authority, utility (it works), and empirical data to prove its point. How cogent is the common descent argument? The appeal to a qualified authority is the strongest argument for common descent; it is incredibly strong! This was readily apparent at our public testimony. Common descent’s critics are likewise highly qualified; they include, historically, the founder of paleontology and comparative anatomy, Cuvier, and the founder of modern taxonomy, Linnaeus.

Common descent’s appeal to utility is incredibly weak; adaptive variation has been empirically demonstrated, but it cannot be extrapolated as evidence for common descent. As for empiricism, common descent must be inferred historically and philosopher Karl Popper doubts if historical science is science

at all.

Also, a good theory displays the qualities of coherency, adequacy and consistency. How good a theory is common descent? Common descent is a completely naturalistic explanation for life, but does it adequately explain all the facts — for example, the fossil record? At first appearance, common descent explains the fossil record with old rocks with simple life and young rocks with more complex life. Yet a leading paleontologist, Niles Eldredge, has stated that: “We paleontologists have said that the history of life supports (the story of gradual change) all the while knowing it does not. Also, common descent is inconsistent with the laws of thermodynamics and, many discoveries in the field of embryology.”

In spite of many scientific experts’ opinions, there is plenty of scientific evidence that demonstrates common descent difficulties; these are required by law to be presented in our children’s textbooks.

Scientific dogmatism about origin of life and common descent has no place in Texas biology books. Our state’s scientific educational system must not be corrupted. Teach evolution? Yes, warts and all!

McLeroy is a member of the Texas State Board of Education.

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from 2003–Copernicus’ “Heliocentric” Hypothesis—Yes Darwin’s “Common Descent” Hypothesis—NO

Historical Reality

An analysis writteni n 2003 that uses logical argument to show the weakness of evolution.

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from 2009 –New Science Standards for Texas Schools Strike a Major Blow to the Teaching of Evolution

AAAS News Story 1 April 2009

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Books Read on Evolution

Books Read on Evolution

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2009 Texas Controversial Evolution standards rated “Exemplary”

McLeroy: Texas’ evolution teaching meets science standards

Don McLeroy, Special Contributor

Updated: 7:09 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012

Published: 6:40 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012

The big story concerning the release of the Fordham Institute’s “State of the State Science Standards 2012” is not the overall grade that Texas received but that the controversial high school evolution standards were described as “exemplary.”

How can this be? These are the standards that the State Board of Education’s religious conservatives successfully amended to challenge some of evolution’s most glaring weaknesses in explaining the fossil record and the complexity of the cell.

Three years ago, Eugenie Scott, the Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education, an organization that promotes the teaching of evolution, stated that those “amendments were intelligent design talking points.”

Steve Newton, also with the NCSE, claimed “the board’s actions are the most specific assault I’ve seen against the teaching of evolution and modern science.”

“Let’s be clear about this,” cautioned Scott. “This is a setback for science education in Texas, not a draw, not a victory.”

The American Association for the Advancement of Science’s ScienceInsider even noted “Creationists Notch Win in Texas Showdown.”

Again, how can this be?

Is the Fordham Institute soft on evolution? No.

Their report claims the greatest problem in standards across the country is the undermining of evolution. Also, it liberally criticizes Texas’ coverage of evolution before high school.

However, concerning the high school biology standards that were the focus of the controversy three years ago, the report states: “There are no concessions to ‘controversies’ or ‘alternative theories.’ In fact, the high school biology course is exemplary in its choice and presentation of topics, including its thorough consideration of biological evolution.”

Back in 2009, the controversy over evolution focused only on the high school course. The State Board of Education did not change, delete or add any evolution standards in the earlier grades. Those standards were adopted exactly as the review committees had written them. If they are weak, then all involved, including the board, share responsibility.

Interestingly, in the section where the conservatives did take an active role and added the evolution-challenging amendments, Fordham describes the standards as exemplary. It states, “the standards handle the subject straightforwardly.”

Thus, their report vindicates the board’s religious conservatives. While most of the credit for the standards is thanks to the review committees that wrote the majority of the section, the point here is that the board amendments added rigor to the standards.

Why not judge the amendments for yourself?

Here are the changes that drew such ridicule at the time, but not this week. The board added two standards: “Analyze and evaluate scientific explanations concerning the sudden appearance, stasis and sequential nature of groups in the fossil record,” and “Analyze and evaluate scientific explanations concerning the complexity of the cell.”

The board also strengthened the other evolution standards by substituting the more rigorous scientific language “analyze and evaluate” for the verbs “identify,” “describe” and “recognize.”

Any insertion of intelligent design or creationism in school standards is quickly challenged in court — and successfully.

The fact that, after three years, these standards have not even been challenged, supports the findings of the Fordham report and not the hysterical statements made at the time of their adoption by some evolutionists.

Thus, Texas high school evolution standards have passed the test of time and have been proven to represent sound scientific reasoning and legitimate science.

Semi-amusingly, this allows for a final observation. Because Texas evolution standards represent legitimate science, and because, according to Eugenie Scott, they include “intelligent design talking points,” does this mean she would now argue that “intelligent design talking points” represent legitimate science?

McLeroy, a Republican, is a former chairman of the State Board of Education. He is a dentist in Bryan.

 

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What does SMU’s Ron Wetherington and Don McLeroy both praise?

From Texas Freedom Network’s Friday, April 21, 2017 press release:

‘Southern Methodist University professor Ron Wetherington, who served on the state-appointed panel, praised today’s outcome.

“For the first time in decades, the science standards contain no controversial student expectations and represent mainstream science,…”’

What does he support?

7 (B) examine scientific explanations of abrupt appearance and stasis in the fossil record;

4 (A) “compare and contrast prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, including their complexity, and compare and contrast scientific explanations for cellular complexity.”

6 (A) “identify components of DNA, identify how information for specifying the traits of an organism is carried in the DNA, and examine scientific explanations for the origin of DNA;

Thank you Professor Wetherington! We agree; these are fine standards!

 

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Texas Freedom Networks’ Strange Press Release

Fact Checking the TFN

Texas Freedom Networks’ press release last Friday, April 21, 2017, stated “Other anti-evolution standards are also removed or gutted.”  Here are the “other standards.”

2009 Science Standards

7 (B) analyze and evaluate scientific explanations concerning any data of sudden appearance, stasis, and sequential nature of groups in the fossil record;

7 (G) analyze and evaluate scientific explanations concerning the complexity of the cell.

9 (D) analyze and evaluate the evidence regarding formation of simple organic molecules and their organization into long complex molecules having information such as the DNA molecule for self-replicating life.

2016 Streamlining Committee Recommendations

(Complete Removal)

7 (B) analyze and evaluate scientific explanations concerning any data of sudden appearance, stasis, and sequential nature of groups in the fossil record; 

7 (G) analyze and evaluate scientific explanations concerning the complexity of the cell. 

9 (D) analyze and evaluate the evidence regarding formation of simple organic molecules and their organization into long complex molecules having information such as the DNA molecule for self-replicating life.

2017 Science Standards

7 (B) examine scientific explanations of abrupt appearance and stasis in the fossil record;

4 (A) “compare and contrast prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, including their complexity, and compare and contrast scientific explanations for cellular complexity.”

6 (A) “identify components of DNA, identify how information for specifying the traits of an organism is carried in the DNA, and examine scientific explanations for the origin of DNA;

You decide; have they been removed or gutted?

 

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