Saturday, December 22, 2007


Not-So-Big Brother

Don McLeroy, the creationist dentist chosen by Texas Governor Rick Perry to lead one of the largest school systems in the country, is out with a letter to the editor in The Dallas Morning News that should send shivers down the spine of anyone interested in good science education:

Science education has to have an open mind

Re: "Teaching of evolution to go under microscope – With science director out, sides set to fight over state's curriculum," Thursday news story.

What do you teach in science class? You teach science. What do you teach in Sunday school class? You teach your faith.

Thus, in your story it is important to remember that some of my quoted comments were made in a 2005 Sunday school class. The story does accurately represent that I am a Christian and that my faith in God is something that I take very seriously. My Christian convictions are shared by many people.

Given these religious convictions, I would like to clarify any impression one may make from the article about my motivation for questioning evolution. My focus is on the empirical evidence and the scientific interpretations of that evidence. In science class, there is no place for dogma and "sacred cows;" no subject should be "untouchable" as to its scientific merits or shortcomings. My motivation is good science and a well-trained, scientifically literate student.

What can stop science is an irrefutable preconception. Anytime you attempt to limit possible explanations in science, it is then that you get your science stopper. In science class, it is important to remember that the consensus of a conviction does not determine whether it is true or false. In science class, you teach science.

Don McLeroy, chair, State Board of Education, College Station
Quite apart from the appalling notion of a dentist, with an admitted bias that no amount of pious talk about "empirical evidence" can paper over, deciding what "scientific merits or shortcomings" evolutionary theory may or may not have, what science does he expect to be done in grade and high schools that could be "stopped" by teaching the overwhelming consensus of biologists that evolution is the only valid scientific explanation for the nature of life on Earth?

But if this is really about the science and not McLeroy's religious beliefs, then I look forward with interest to the curriculum standards that challenge the scientific interpretations of the evidence for the germ theory of disease, the theory of gravity and the heliocentric solar system. After all, there is no place for dogma and "sacred cows" in those areas either, right?

Via Pharyngula and Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub.

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