Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Is Evolution Integral to Science? No.

I encountered the following on the internet today. The statement below (which can be found here; the facts about this group are here) is offered by....

The 21st-Century Science Coalition is a group of Texas scientists who have come together for a common purpose: to ensure that Texas students get a sound science education that reflects the most current scientific knowledge and is based on established scientific data. We simply believe that students deserve the best science education in their Texas classrooms.
Good science education is certainly desirable, but it is not possible apart from objectivity, observations, solid reasoning, and facts. This group is actually quite concerned that those in a position to impact state science curriculum standards in Texas will allow teachers to discuss intelligent design and creation, thus decreasing the absolute stranglehold evolution has on the public education establishment in this country. Evolution is not a fact. It has never been observed; it is not observed today. I would like to critique their statement below.
Scientists for a Responsible Curriculum in Texas Public Schools

A strong science curriculum is an essential part of a 21st-century education and should be based on established peer-reviewed empirical research. In 2008-09 the State Board of Education is revising the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) curriculum standards for the sciences.

Scientifically sound curriculum standards must:

• acknowledge that instruction on evolution is vital to understanding all the biological sciences; It is not vital. Some of us got great understanding of the biological sciences while receiving a creation-based education. Really.

• make clear that evolution is an easily observable phenomenon that has been documented beyond any reasonable doubt; It has never been observed, much less easily. It is not documented, much less beyond a reasonable doubt.

• be based on the latest, peer-reviewed scholarship;

• encourage valid critical thinking and scientific reasoning by leaving out all references to “strengths and weaknesses,” which politicians have used to introduce supernatural explanations into science courses; and What?!? By choking out a discussion of strengths and weaknesses, critical thinking and scientific reasoning skills are strengthened?!? What sort of ridiculous reasoning is this?

• recognize that all students are best served when matters of faith are left to families and houses of worship. OK. Better there than in public schools, but public schools still need to reinforce the basic tenets of religion and morality in society.

We, therefore, call on the Texas State Board of Education to approve science curriculum standards that prepare Texas students to succeed in the 21st century. I do, too. I just want to see something different than this group wants to see.


Brenda Brough said...

Well, not everything here in Texas is fantastic. Hence, the reason we don't put our children in public school here.

Venessa said...

I just wanted to add a refutation to the point about the "latest, peer-reviewed scholarship." As a conservative academic myself, I have seen firsthand how the "peer-reviewed process" is incredibly skewed. Research that meets with the leanings of both the editors and the journals gets published; those types of studies get funded; and they get disseminated. We all want to believe that the peer-review process is unbiased and blind, but it is not. Additionally, there has been research done on how conservatives in the sciences feel unwilling or unable to question the "dominant ideology" of evolution and feel unable to have academic freedom in that area. Therefore, to lean on "peer reviewed research" as some gold standard is not valid in this particular area because of the incredible built-in bias and blindness in the process.

Great blog!