The Texas State Board of Education has overturned its own requirement that public schools teach the strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories presented in the classroom, watering down its language to this less stringent standard:
“in all fields of science, analyze, evaluate and critique scientific explanations … including examining all sides of scientific evidence of those scientific explanations, so as to encourage critical thinking by the student.”
Republican board member Barbara Cargill says that the old rule had to go because the words “strengths and weaknesses” are creationist code words and under the new rule “we’ll teach all sides of scientific explanation, using scientific evidence.”
Those with long memories will recall that the rule was implemented in the first place because evolution was being force-fed to an audience of captive children as if it were fact rather than the theory it is. The new language does nothing more than explain the purpose of a teacher’s job, something that was equally obvious 20 years ago when it wasn’t being properly carried out in science classrooms.
Moreover, beating a linguistic retreat from the language of a perfectly fair rule – one that is in precise harmony with the scientific method – because Darwinists see will-o-the-wisps of meaning in plain English grants them high ground their argument does not deserve.
This is a terrible idea because ceding control over language and its meaning to one’s opponents allows them to dictate the course of future arguments by claiming offense and/or lack of clarity where none exists, as Jeff explains.
Yet even this undeserved verbal victory isn’t enough for some evolution advocates. Critics of the new rule say it casts doubt on 2 key tenets of the theory of evolution — natural selection and common ancestry.
This is another attempt to dictate the terms of the debate. By linking a truth and a falsehood together, this argument deliberately attempts to branding proponents of the status quo as ignorant fools for criticizing both elements of Darwin’s theory when in fact they do no such thing.
Is there really anyone of consequence who disputes natural selection in nature as an established fact? Certainly not here in the agricultural part of the Bible Belt where it plays out in the fields, farms, and pastures on a daily basis. And if not there then where?
Common ancestry, on the other hand, deserves to be doubted and must be taught as a theory if teachers are to respect the true state of human knowledge about our origins and the scientific method itself. The fossil record is missing more than one link – many more – and it’s unlikely that evolution will ever be proven to the same extent as physical laws in chemistry and physics are. This, coupled with the number of scientists who reject random evolution as the mechanism by which life originated on this planet, mean that Darwin’s theory of creation deserves to be held in question.
Unfortunately that seems less likely to happen now. To the extent that these questions are not asked in Texas classrooms because of today’s vote, the Board of Education has rejected the scientific method and weakened the science curriculum in this state by removing from schools the one essential element that science cannot function without: doubt.