Creationists in Texas attack the Earth and Space Science standards

As if the foolishness surrounding the biology TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) wasn’t enough, the proposed standards for the Earth and Space Science course are under attack as well. 

Steven Schafersman has reported on this issue at his blog on the Houston Chronicle’s website here.

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6 Responses to “Creationists in Texas attack the Earth and Space Science standards”

  1. “Terri Leo would be the one to make the anti-evolution, anti-radiometric dating, and anti-fossil amendments, but instead it was Barbara Cargill who took on that task (while Leo made four relatively simple and not very controversil amendments to the Biology evolution standards).” -Steven Schafersman

    So this is one of the fellows your listening to…Why are you against “strengths and weakness” of scientific theories? Do you think it has restricted your teaching in any way? Stephen J. Gould was a paleontologist. I’m sure you have heard of him, I would be surprised if you didn’t know him, but know who Schafersman is. He stated the following;

    “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches…in any local area, a species does not arise gradually by the gradual transformation of its ancestors; it appears all at once and fully formed.”

    Even though Gould was a defender of evolution, he knew the weakness in the fossil record. Students ought to be made aware of it. Just like Darwin’s Tree of Life which if finally being down away with and it will finally be just part of history rather an understanding of evolution because it’s unrealistic.

    I think it’s foolishness to keep certain information away from students and labeling it a creationist attack or intelligent design attack.

  2. Michael,

    I’ve stated many times why I feel “strengths and weaknesses” is a bad idea to include in the science TEKS…in fact, I think I’ve discussed it at your own blog as well.

    I agree that students should be made aware of the REAL controversies in science. There are plenty of topics within evolutionary biology that are still being debated–including gradualism versus punctuated equilibrium (which you refer to, though not by name, above). But there is no controversy within the scientific community about evolution being a valid, falsifiable, testable, and useful theory.

  3. Michael wrote:

    “Even though Gould was a defender of evolution, he knew the weakness in the fossil record. Students ought to be made aware of it.”

    But that’s a complete misrepresentation of Gould’s position. Here are Gould’s own words concerning the issue:

    “The third argument is more direct: transitions are often found in the fossil record. Preserved transitions are not common—and should not be, according to our understanding of evolution (see next section) but they are not entirely wanting, as creationists often claim.”

    “Faced with these facts of evolution and the philosophical bankruptcy of their own position, creationists rely upon distortion and innuendo to buttress their rhetorical claim. If I sound sharp or bitter, indeed I am—for I have become a major target of these practices.”

    “Since we proposed punctuated equilibria to explain trends, it is infuriating to be quoted again and again by creationists—whether through design or stupidity, I do not know—as admitting that the fossil record includes no transitional forms. Transitional forms are generally lacking at the species level, but they are abundant between larger groups.”

    Evolution as Fact and TheoryStephen Jay Gould

    Michael’s assertion that Gould “knew the weakness of the fossil record” is a blatant misrepresentation of Gould’s true position, as demonstrated by the late paleontologist’s own words. Keeping such misinformation away from students is not “foolishness.” It would be intellectually dishonest to teach students what Michael is proposing.

  4. Gould’s book The Richness of Life, pages 263 and 264 contained my quote so it was a good and valid representation.

    airtightnoodle ,

    So you believe “weakness” in the current science standards in Texas means teaching evolution as invalid? I don’t think so. Theories as you know change over time even with no conflict about them, if there was no weakness in the theory, change wouldn’t be needed.

    The scientific community dismissed Howard Temin proposal that said RNA reproduces itself by connecting back to the DNA. Similar to that of the HIV virus. It’s called; reverse transcription. He was laughed at by the scientific community for years. This is why using the vast majority all the time to prove a point is hindering science. It’s also the reason why scientific theory must be analyzed and evaluated as a whole not just the controversial aspects of evolution.

  5. Michael,

    I believe including the term “strengths and weaknesses” in regards to ANY theory is giving students an incorrect understanding of the scientific method. I’ve stated this many times before. Theories change over time, as you’ve stated yourself. This is not a weakness and should not be categorized as such.

    It’s also the reason why scientific theory must be analyzed and evaluated as a whole not just the controversial aspects of evolution.

    If the people making these proposals were truly interested in analyzing and evaluating the scientific method as a whole, I might agree with you. However, the evolution issue is the main reason this clause ever existed in the TEKS to begin with. The steps the state board took on Friday regarding common descent provide even more evidence of this, in my opinion.

  6. Michael wrote:

    “Gould’s book The Richness of Life, pages 263 and 264 contained my quote so it was a good and valid representation.”

    A good and valid representation, huh? Do you really think it’s “good and valid” to insert an ellipsis for all of the following?

    ; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils. Yet Darwin was so wedded to gradualism that he wagered his entire theory on a denial fo this literal record:

    The geological record is extremely imperfect and this fact will to a large extent explain why we do not find interminiable varieties, connecting together all the extinct and existing forms of life by the finest graduated steps. He who rejects these views on the nature of the geological record will rightly reject my whole theory.

    Darwin’s argument still persists as the favored escape of most paleontologists from the embarrassment of a record that seems to show so little of evolution directly. In exposing its cultural and methodological roots, I wish in no way to impugn the potential validity of gradualism (for all general views have similar roots). I wish only to point out that it was never “seen” in the rocks.

    Paleontologists have paid an exorbitant price for Darwin’s argument. We fancy ourselves as th eonly true students of life’s history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we almost never see the very process we profess to study.

    For several years, Niles Eldredge of the American Museum of Natural History and I have been advocating a resolutino of this uncomfortable paradox. We believe that Huxley was right in his warning. The modern theory of evolution does no require gradual change. In fact, the operation of Darwinian processes should yield exactly what we see in the fossil record. It is gradualism that we must reject, not Darwinism.

    The history of most fossil species includes two features particularly inconsistent with gradualism:

    1. Stasis. Most species exhibit no directional change during their tenure on earth. They appear in the fossil record looking much the same as when they disappear; morphological change is usually limited and directionless.

    2. Sudden appearance. In any local area…

    Michael-

    On your blog, I see that you profess a desire to seek the truth. And yet, you insist on passing along blatant misrepresentations of the scientific opinions of a deceased paleontologist.

    Your behavior does not reflect the principles of your Christian faith (a faith that you and I share, by the way). I would ask that you consider the admonishment of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:25.

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