Over at the Discovery Institute’s Evolution News blog, they recently reported that the Texas State Board of Education reached a split decision on the state standards for teaching evolution.
Evolution News says this in their post:
Kudos to the New York Times for filing a story on the actions of the Texas State Board of Education that actually describes what happened last week. Unlike much of the rest of the newsmedia, the Times doesn’t tell only half of what happened or play up the hysterics. The story’s even-handed title is telling: “Split Outcome in Texas Battle on Teaching of Evolution.”
The NYT article they mentioned explains the compromise reached by the Texas State Board of Education.
First, the bad news:
…the board voted to drop a 20-year-old mandate that science teachers explore with their students the “strengths and weaknesses” of all theories.
But the board also passed some good amendments, among them this one:
…one that would compel science teachers to instruct students about aspects of the fossil record that do not neatly fit with the idea of species’ gradually changing over time, like the relatively sudden appearance of some species and the fact that others seem to remain unchanged for millions of years.
Let me explain why this is a big win for ID. One of my previous employers was a major academic publishing company. By major, I mean my alma mater’s campus library featured academic publication databases that I helped to code. In this company, it was well known that California and Texas were the two most important states, because their textbook standards set the guidelines for the other states.
The NYT article explains:
Whatever the 15-member board decides then will have consequences far beyond Texas, since the state is one of the largest buyers of textbooks in the nation. The new standards will be in place for the next decade, starting in 2010, and will influence the writing of the next generation of biology texts, which the state will order this summer.
John G. West of the Discovery Institute evaluates the board’s decision as positive:
“They did something truly remarkable today,” John G. West of the Discovery Institute, a group that questions Darwinism, said in a statement. “They voted to require students to analyze and evaluate some of the most important and controversial aspects of modern evolutionary theory.”
I actually have podcasts for you of the testimonies of pro-ID scholars given to the Texas Board. If you want to learn how scientists argue for academic freedom on issues of origins, you should listen to these three 15-minute podcasts.
- My favorite ID scholar Stepen C. Meyer testified on the Cambrian explosion and the fossil record, (podcast, article). Meyer holds a Ph.D in the Philosophy of Science from Cambridge University. I once saw him explain biological information using colorful lock-blocks, live. (He stole them from his children). I often draw it up for my co-workers on a white board, just like he does!
- Microbiologist Ralph Seelke testified about how his lab research that shows clear limits on how far bacteria can evolve, (podcast, article). Seelke holds a Ph.D in Microbiology from the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine. He is a Professor in the Department of Biology and Earth Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.
- Biochemist Charles Garner testified on the chirality problem in chemical evolution, (podcast, article). He also discussed the importance of not glossing over the weaknesses of scientific theories. Garner holds a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from University of Colorado, Boulder. Garner is now a Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at Baylor University.
For those looking for a definition of what intelligent design is, look here. I highly recommend the work of Canadian journalist Denyse O’Leary, who is probably the foremost expert on why there is an ID controversy. Her main blog on ID is called Post-Darwinist.
As a supporter of academic freedom, I sent a donation to the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture yesterday. The CSC is currently offering a free book with donations received before February 28th, 2009. For my annual donation, I chose Stephen C. Meyer’s forthcoming book “Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design“.
On another note, I am also excited about Jay Richards’ forthcoming book, “Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem“. Jay did a great lecture on basic economics for Christians and another great lecture on what Christians should think about global warming. Maybe his employer, the Acton Institute, will give me a free book if I send them a donation?
UPDATE: Casey Luskin just posted audio of Stephen C. Meyer responding to questions after is presentation at the hearing.
Filed under: News, Academic Freedom, Acton Institute, Cambrian Explosion, Charles Garner, Chirality, Discovery Institute, Education, Evolution, Intelligent Design, Jay Wesley Richards, Liberty, Limits of Biological Change, Origin of Life, Ralph Seelke, Stephen C. Meyer