So goes Texas, so goes the nation

Decision on textbooks will affect classrooms nationwide
Discovery Staff
Discovery Institute
July 12, 2003
Print ArticleSo goes Texas, so goes the nation

Texas Board of Education decision on textbooks will affect classrooms and textbooks across the country

SEATTLE – On July 9 the Texas State Board of Education heard testimony from two Discovery Institute scholars who encouraged the Board to make sure biology textbooks fulfill state standards and teach students about both the strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian theory.

The Texas Board of Education have enormous influence over what students nationwide read in their textbooks. As one of the largest buyers, its decisions dramatically influence textbooks marketed across the nation.

Contrary to almost all media reports of the hearing, Discovery Institute is advocating expanding the teaching of evolution to include both the theory’s strengths and weaknesses. The Institute is not suggesting that intelligent design theory be included in textbooks or curriculum.

“The focus of our testimony to the Board was science, not religion, but you would never guess that fact from what the Texas media has been reporting,” said Dr. John West, Associate Director of the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute.

Dr. Francis Beckwith, a professor at Baylor University, presented the Board with a letter from 22 faculty members at Texas universities who urged Board members to make sure the biology textbooks they adopt cover both the strengths and weaknesses of evolutionary theory.

Discovery Institute Fellow Ray Bohlin, from Richmond, Texas, discussed some scientific weaknesses of evolutionary theory not covered in most textbooks and presented the Board with a statement from 100 scientists challenging the neo-Darwinian claim that natural selection acting on random mutations is sufficient for explaining the complexity of life. Dr. Bohlin holds a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology, an MS in Population Genetics, and a BS in Zoology.

“The true censors are the Darwinian activists who want to keep textbooks from including any discussion of the scientific weaknesses of evolutionary theory,” said West.

West added that the Institute’s goal is to inform policymakers and citizens about factual errors in how some textbooks cover evolutionary theory and to encourage textbooks to include information about both the strengths and weaknesses of evolutionary theory.

The Discovery Institute distributed to the Board of Education a 41-page preliminary textbook review focused on factual errors and the need to include additional information about four issues—the Miller-Urey experiment, the Peppered Moth experiments, the Cambrian Explosion, and Haeckel’s embryos.

The only place that the report broached the subject of intelligent design was in reference to two textbooks that already discuss intelligent design theory. The textbook review noted how these two textbooks discussed intelligent design in a biased and highly inaccurate manner.

While the Institute is not advocating that textbooks must cover intelligent design theory, it does believe that textbooks that already mention intelligent design should cover the theory accurately and fairly.

Intelligent design theory is an effort to empirically detect whether the “apparent design” in nature acknowledged by virtually all biologists is genuine design (the product of an intelligent cause) or is simply the product of an undirected process such as natural selection acting on random variations. The effort to detect design in nature is being adopted by a growing number of biologists, biochemists, physicists, mathematicians, and philosophers of science at colleges and universities around the world. American scholars who adopt a design approach include biochemist Michael Behe of Lehigh University, microbiologist Scott Minnich at the University of Idaho, and mathematician William Dembski at Baylor University.

Read the Texas Media Advisory:

Read the Evolution Controversy Media Advisory: