Creationists Notch Win in Texas Showdown

Staff Writer

A seesaw battle between creationists and their opponents in Texas ended this afternoon on a dismal note for scientists and educators. The Texas State Board of Education voted 13–2 to adopt new science standards containing a number of last-minute amendments aimed at weakening the teaching of evolution. The only silver lining for scientists is that the new document does not require teachers to teach the "strengths and weaknesses" of evolutionary theory as was stipulated by the old standards.

Creationists on the board "amended and amended and amended" the draft standards until "they got what they wanted," Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education told ScienceInsider.

The "strengths and weaknesses" language was substituted by a guideline to teach students to

analyze, evaluate and critique scientific explanations in all fields of science by using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing, including examining all sides of scientific evidence of those scientific explanations so as to encourage critical thinking by the student.

Creationists also inserted the statement that students be taught to

analyze and evaluate scientific explanations concerning the complexity of the cell

and

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.

That language, Scott points out, comes straight from the intelligent design literature and is aimed at promoting skepticism about evolution.

"What the creationists got was a bunch of heavily compromised standards that will allow them to go to textbook publishers and ask for content for teaching of intelligent design," Scott says. The state is due to consider adopting new textbooks 2 years from now.

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