Creationist Textbook Reviews in Texas. Again.


The Texas Board of Education is once again considering new textbooks to purchase and, true to previous form, they’ve appointed a bunch of creationists to analyze the science textbooks. The Texas Freedom Network has the reviews written by those creationists and the results are predictable. A few examples:

“I understand the National Academy of Science’s [sic] strong support of the theory of evolution. At the same time, this is a theory. As an educator, parent, and grandparent, I feel very firmly that ‘creation science’ based on Biblical principles should be incorporated into every Biology book that is up for adoption.”

The same reviewer also wrote (in the Houghton textbook review):

“While I understand the theory of evolution and its wide acceptance, there should be inclusion of the ‘creation model’ based on the Biblical view of history.”

You might want to try and keep up. The Supreme Court ruled such teaching unconstitutional more than 25 years ago. On another biology textbook:

“Text neglects to tell students that no transitional fossils have been discovered. The fossil record can be interpreted in other ways than evolutionary with equal justification. Text should ask students to analyze and compare alternative theories. The statement that there are hundreds of thousands of transitional fossils is simply not true. Moreover, those fossils that are considered transitional are often subjects of disagreement among biologists.”

That’s a tired old creationist talking point and blatantly false. Ray Bohlin, one of the creationist “experts” appointed by the board, repeatedly referred to one of Stephen Meyer’s very bad books on the subject.

“This entire section is out of date and wrong. Also see Meyer’s ‘The Signature in the Cell.’ [sic]”

“There is no discussion of the origin of information bearing molecules which is absolutely essential in any origin of life scenario Meyer’s Signature in the Cell easily dismisses any RNA first scenario. The authors need to get caught up.”

“If authors would read Signature in the Cell, chapter 14, they would be made fully aware of the deep problems of any RNA first scenario.”

There is irony in a creationist, who takes his views from an ancient religious text, telling others to “get caught up.” Meyer, of course, is not a cell biologist and has no training in the field. Here’s what Christian cell biologist Dennis Venema had to say about this book when he reviewed it:

Signature in the Cell represents a layman’s attempt to overturn an entire field of research based on a surface-level understanding (and, at times, significant misunderstanding or ignorance) of the relevant science, published in a form that bypasses review by qualified peers, and that is marketed directly to a nonspecialist audience. This is not good science, nor science in any meaningful sense.”

Quite right. They could submit their ideas to peer-reviewed journals, but they know that actual scientists in those fields will see through their nonsense.

Comments

  1. Mr Ed says

    They aren’t even trying to hide creationism behind intelligent design. If they really want to give students the whole picture by including bible based alternatives then why not also include other origin “theories.” Along with Adam & Eve kids should hear about a goat licking the ice and freeing the gods or that the Earth rest on four elephants standing on a tortoise flying through space.

  2. Gvlgeologist, FCD says

    Text neglects to tell students that no transitional fossils have been discovered

    Whenever I see crap like this I always wonder to myself, “Are they really that ignorant, are they lying with an agenda, or are they deliberately dismissing the actual evidence because it disagrees with their preconceptions?”

    And then I say to myself, “Well, those aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive.”

  3. unbound says

    OT, but can FTB set the ads to not have the audio on by default or I’ll have to start blocking (which I think hurts your revenue which I’d like to avoid).

  4. Chiroptera says

    Mr Ed, #1: They aren’t even trying to hide creationism behind intelligent design.

    Well, they haven’t really been able to hide creationism behind intelligent design in the past, so they decided if they were going to end up blurting out sectarian evangelical Christian nonsense anyway, they may as well just do it at the outset.

  5. says

    I got to love the leap from “evolution is just a theory” to “therefore Creation Science should be taught” in the first quote. Aside from the fantastic non-sequitur, Creation Science can only wish it were a theory.

    Also, I find this telling:

    There is no discussion of the origin of information bearing molecules which is absolutely essential in any origin of life scenario

    They don’t seem to understand that evolution isn’t an origin of life scenario. Evolution is what happens when you already have life (or really any other process which has descent with modification and selection).

  6. Ex Patriot says

    This is the highpoint in stupid, I feel sorry for the kids who ecause of these jackasses will not learn the truth about the origins of the species and us as we are one of the many . Texas is living in the 12th or 13th centurys. at least the book pickers are

  7. howardhershey says

    “There is no discussion of the origin of information bearing molecules which is absolutely essential in any origin of life scenario…”

    I must have missed the section of the Bible where it talks about God making the information bearing molecule. So, is the God-caused “origin of information” a “theory” or merely a supposition based on no evidence whatsoever?

  8. Doc Bill says

    Here’s what I don’t understand unless it’s just a case of We Just Don’t Care Anymore.

    With all the Supreme Court decisions against creationism so well documented and not subtle things at all, how can anyone at the state level, which has to be swarming with lawyers, possibly put forth Biblical creationism as a topic in science education?

    These folks are reviewing science books. These folks were picked as “experts,” although I realize several of the reviewers are flaming creationists and to be picked as an “expert” required only a nomination and no vetting at all.

    Still, they can’t be ignorant of the Supreme Court rulings, yet they push Biblical creationism right out there in the open, not even under the cloak of “intelligent design” creationism.

    Is this a case of simply flaunting some kind of perceived power? I don’t get it.

  9. John Pieret says

    Bohlin, when pushing Signature in the Cell did not, I believe, reveal that he is a Discovery [sic] Institute fellow. Conflict of interest much?

  10. MikeMa says

    Deen brings up a good point. The anti-science biblicists often blend origins and evolution. This could be pure ignorance but I feel it is more likely a profound lack of science understanding combined with a biblically induced blindness. Genesis presents a basic origin myth where people are popped into existence as part of the origination. Difficult to fit evolution into that hence their inability to even consider a separation of the two things.

  11. caseloweraz says

    The book has a defense: Signature of Controversy: Responses to Critics of Signature in the Cell by David Klinghoffer of the Discovery Institute. (DI Press, 1 March 2011)

    Clearly, these books are part of the continuing PR campaign by the DI. Part of this likely occurs on Amazon, where the book has 372 customer reviews, garnering a 4.3 rating, in its HarperOne reprint edition (0061472794; 10 June 2010). Together with the comments, this may be the most voluminous review collection on Amazon. I haven’t waded through it; I don’t have a week to devote to that. But I suspect the majority of reviews resemble this one:

    “This book is well written. It is thick and it has a lot of information for the reader to learn. The author seems to be an excellent writer.” –Niceperson

    But read the critical review by David K. vun Kannon, who appears to be a “fellow traveler” with the ID crowd. He’s evidence that there are a few ID advocates who reject the bogus science of the DI. I’d like to believe they are the opening wedge of a defection when it sinks in that “bogus” is all the science the DI has.

  12. Johnny Vector says

    Moreover, those fossils that are considered transitional are often subjects of disagreement among biologists.

    Goooooooooaaaaaallllll!!!!!! Own goal, but goal. Yes, the old “is it a dinosaur or is it a bird?” argument. Let’s see, what combination of characteristics could possibly cause disagreement about which of two currently known clades a newly discovered fossil belongs to? Like, maybe, the fact that the newly found fossil has a mosaic of the features that have been used to distinguish the clades previously? Almost as if it were halfway between the previously known ones? What would you call such a fossil? Trans-something. Transylvanian? Trans Europe Express? It’s on the tip of my tongue, but I can’t quite recall.

  13. zero6ix says

    Here’s a fun little experiment that can teach the difference between a Theory and a Hypothesis. Label a foam bat “Hypothesis” and label an aluminum bat “Theory”. Ask someone from the Texas school board which is more solid. Correct them if necessary.

    (Please don’t actually hit anyone with an aluminum bat. Or the foam one. People are very fragile, and I don’t want to get in trouble for your silly decision.)

  14. eric says

    Doc Bill @12:

    …how can anyone at the state level, which has to be swarming with lawyers, possibly put forth Biblical creationism as a topic in science education?
    …I realize several of the reviewers are flaming creationists and to be picked as an “expert” required only a nomination and no vetting at all…

    You kinda answered your own question there, didn’t you? The politicians who appoint these SMEs don’t vet their candidates for the ability to make defensible arguments. They vet them for shared ideology and party loyalty, and that’s probably pretty much it. The reason the make arguments ruled unconstitutional 20 years ago is because knowing what’s constitutional to teach is not something the nominators care about.

    What this shows is, if you’re a conservative politician, nominating a conservative fundamentalist is a double-edged sword. You get the conservative, sure, but sometimes the fundamentalist leaks out.

  15. felidae says

    I support the teaching of religious creation stories in schools, as long as they teach ALL of them, Hindu, South Sea Islanders, Norse, Australian Aboriginal, Native American, et al, so that students can see that they are all made up stories and the one in the Bible is more or less as silly as the rest of them

  16. says

    They don’t seem to understand that evolution isn’t an origin of life scenario. Evolution is what happens when you already have life (or really any other process which has descent with modification and selection).

    Doesn’t matter. If it conflicts with Genesis, it’s all “evilution” to them. Often they toss in the Big Bang Theory for good measure even though cosmology is in a completely different wheelhouse. And of you’re a Schlafly, imaginary numbers are part of the conspiracy, too.

  17. Michael Heath says

    “While I understand the theory of evolution and its wide acceptance, there should be inclusion of the ‘creation model’ based on the Biblical view of history.”

    I’d bet big bucks this person doesn’t know shit about the theory of evolution. The most glaring attribute of creationists, actually all science deniers including AGW deniers, is their ignorance. Even Michael Behe’s arguments are dependent on his demonstrated ignorance of inconvenient facts, e.g., his written debate with Joe Thornton.

  18. magistramarla says

    My grandson had a science teacher in a Texas middle school who told the class that none of that evolution stuff is true anyway. My grandson was the only kid in the class who disagreed with him.
    Thankfully, between his Mom, Step-dad and his Grandfather, he gets a good science education at home.

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