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Evolution 'warning' for science textbooks in Alabama retained

“We have also seen improvements in the textbooks because of this — slight improvements. They still have an evolutionary bias, but we’re finding them not as bad as they were ten years ago when we achieved getting the first sticker in the biology books.”

— “Research Analyst” Margaret Brown of Mother Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, ‘Bama division

Sigh. I was hoping not to have to post about wifey’s home state again today, but up popped this headline about this interesting approach taken by the flat-earth crowd at the Alabama Board of Ed.

Parents can be assured that their kids will be adequately warned that they will be exposed to evolution in the classroom. It’s interesting to note in the AgapePress article that Margaret Brown is confident that the cultural/political climate in Alabama is supportive of the labeling and is unlikely to be challenged, as the practice was in Cobb County, GA (a federal court declared it unconstitutional); one was removed from books in Beebe, AR.

Science textbooks in Alabama public schools will continue to warn students that controversy surrounds the theory of evolution. The Alabama Board of Education recently agreed unanimously to retain an evolution disclaimer that has been in state biology textbooks for four years. The insert refers to evolution as a “controversial theory” on the origins of life.

Margaret Brown with the Eagle Forum of Alabama says although similar evolution disclaimers have been challenged in other states, that has not been the case in Alabama. “We have kept the battle focused on teaching science,” she notes. “We just have tried to promote not excluding science,” Brown further explains. “For the purpose of seeing that it would not be challenged, we’ve tried to keep the debate on science itself and the teaching of scientific information in science classes.”

Nevertheless, supporters of the disclaimer being used in the Alabama public school biology textbooks realize the insert is likely to rankle neo-Darwinian evolutionists. A federal court declared a similar evolution disclaimer in Cobb County (Georgia) schools unconstitutional. However, Brown says such disclaimers are not as contentious in her state.

The Eagle Forum supports an academic freedom bill in the Alabama legislature that would remove penalties from teachers who teach scientific criticisms of the theory of evolution. Brown says she would like to see Alabama teachers allowed to discuss with students the strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian evolution, as well as scientific alternatives to that theory.

Alabama’s not alone, a plethora of states are doing end-runs like this, or like the fairyland of Fred Phelps, Kansas, just tossing out the science altogether (a good site to see what states are doing is the National Center for Science Education).

Anyway, I hunted around for the original insert provided by the Alabama, and here is the language from the Textbook League.

A Message from the Alabama State Board of Education

This textbook discusses evolution, a controversial theory some scientists present as a scientific explanation for the origin of living things, such as plants, animals and humans.

No one was present when life first appeared on earth. Therefore, any statement about life’s origins should be considered as theory, not fact.

The word “evolution” may refer to many types of change. Evolution describes changes that occur within a species. (White moths, for example, may “evolve” into gray moths.) This process is microevolution, which can be observed and described as fact. Evolution may also refer to the change of one living thing to another, such as reptiles into birds. This process, called macroevolution, has never been observed and should be considered a theory. Evolution also refers to the unproven belief that random, undirected forces produced a world of living things.

There are many unanswered questions about the origin of life which are not mentioned in your textbook, including:

* Why did the major groups of animals suddenly appear in the fossil record (known as the “Cambrian Explosion”)?

* Why have no new major groups of living things appeared in the fossil record for a long time?

* Why do major groups of plants and animals have no transitional forms in the fossil record?

* How did you and all living things come to possess such a complete and complex set of “instructions” for building a living body?

Study hard and keep an open mind. Someday you may contribute to the theories of how living things appeared on earth.

Head over to the Textbook League, where this disclaimer is wonderfully fisked.

***

Live Science has a good four-part series to check out, SPECIAL REPORT: Evolution & Intelligent Design. I don’t think anyone on the Alabama Board of Ed will be taking a peek.

PART 1
An Ambiguous Assault on Evolution
This Trojan Horse for Creationism has become very popular. But who is being duped? And what does it all mean for morality?

PART 2
The Death of Science’
Intelligent design is presented as a legitimate scientific theory and an alternative to Darwinism, but a close look at the arguments shows they don’t pass scientific muster. So why are scientists worried?<

PART 3
Belief Posing as Theory
As evolution takes a beating, scientists remind us of the difference between fact, theory and belief.

PART 4:
Anti-evolution Attacks on the Rise
Each time the effort to introduce creationism into classrooms starts up again, so does legislation aimed against evolution. Learn about the rash of recent cases, plus a look at historically pertinent court cases.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding