Darwinism Critics Have Viable View

Francis J. Beckwith
San Angelo Standard Times
August 18, 2003
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Editor:

In his letter to the editor Thursday, Oak H. DeBerg made the completely audacious claim that those who testified at the July 9 State Board of Education hearings on behalf of textbook accuracy in the biological sciences were pushing “a conservative religious view . . . at the expense of good science.”

Because I am one of those who testified, I can assure you that DeBerg is making this up out of whole cloth.

In my testimony I offered the uncontroversial suggestion that textbooks that address the topic of evolution offer to their readers, the state's students, accurate portrayals of current scientific data as well as thoughtful questions that have been raised against the Darwinian paradigm by credentialed scholars whose works have been published by university press monographs and in peer-reviewed periodicals.

As I have pointed out in my latest monograph, “Law, Darwinism & Public Education” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003) and three recent law review articles, in Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy, and San Diego Law Review, offering arguments critical of Darwinism, or even scientific alternatives to it, in a public school science classroom is not religious as long as the lesson plans rely exclusively on publicly accessible, or secular, reasons.

In fairness to DeBerg, perhaps he is suggesting that it is “a conservative view” for the SBOE to require that Texas schools offer scientifically accurate textbooks that include new and provocative arguments by leading scholars. But I would not say such a thing, for all decent citizens--including liberal secular ones--want to advance the cause of truth and accuracy in our school curricula and texts.

Francis J. Beckwith,
M.J.S., Ph.D.
Associate professor of
Church-state studies
Associate director,
J. M. Dawson
Institute of Church-State Studies
Baylor University