Creationists on Texas board of education shoot themselves in the foot.

It used to be that creationists were sneaky.  They knew teaching creationism was against the law, so they tried to dress it up as science, or as teaching the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution.  It wasn’t exactly crafty, and it certainly wasn’t honest.

And the reason they weren’t honest is because playing fairly would result in immediate defeat (it turns out creationists don’t get to break the law more than anybody else).  This is a lesson the creationists on the Texas board of education are about to learn.  Karen Beathard, one of the reviewers, made a misstep by telling the truth.

Religious conservatives serving on state textbook review panels have criticized several proposed high school biology textbooks for not including arguments against Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

The review panels include several creationists. They urge the State Board of Education to reject the books unless publishers include more disclaimers on key concepts of evolution.

One reviewer even suggested a rule requiring that each biology book cover “creation science.” That would run counter to a 1987 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The decision banned the teaching of creationism in public school science classes.

“I understand the National Academy of Science’s strong support of the theory of evolution,” said Texas A&M University nutritionist Karen Beathard, one of the biology textbook reviewers. “At the same time, this is a theory. As an educator, parent and grandparent, I feel very firmly that creation science based on biblical principles should be incorporated into every biology book that is up for adoption.”

Should the board get silly (as they almost certainly will) and should this end up in court (as it almost certainly will) the first thing the prosecution will do is quote Karen Beathard.  This will confirm that the motivation for altering the science standards was religious in nature and the case should be closed before lunch.  While I certainly appreciate Beathard’s candor, being less morally repugnant about breaking the law than one’s predecessors doesn’t earn you enough gold stars to allow you to break the law.

I don’t envy Zach Kopplin.  These people are persistent, and not nearly as entertaining as sparring with one’s ethical and intellectual equals.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • ufo42

    Lying for Jesus… a time-honored tradition.

  • unbound55

    So, why is a nutritionist reviewing a biology textbook? That makes about as much sense as a drywall installer reviewing architectural design standards….

    • Loqi

      It’s even more nonsensical than that. “Nutritionist” has virtually no meaning in the US. Anyone who wants to call themselves a nutritionist can do so. There are no professional or regulatory standards. “Nutritionist” and “dietitian” are not interchangable. One is a regulated profession with standards and licensing, while the other is a self-granted title that does not necessarily imply any knowledge of nutrition. I’ve met several nutritionists who were nothing more than new age alt med quacks selling organic snake oil, and I doubt that is an uncommon experience. When it comes to nutritionists, be skeptical and make sure they actually know what they’re talking about before listening.

      • unbound55

        I didn’t know that. Thanx for lowering my already low opinion of them (I’ve met a couple myself and was wondering what / if any education requirements there were).

      • Matthew Lane

        Yep: A “Nutritionist” is to a “dietitian” what a “toothiologist” is to a “dentist”

      • JeromeGiraffe

        But what about the fact that 9 out of 10 scienticians agree with the nutritionist?

    • Icon

      I’ve known two architects that worked drywall.

      Out of the hundreds of construction workers I’ve met.

    • TiffanyinTexas

      Because she and other creationists are motivated to attend. I forgot what the percentage of people who are invited to review end up turning down the invitation.

    • Spuddie

      When you don’t give a crap about science or basic credibility in general, qualifications and expertise are meaningless concepts.

  • EdensCancer

    So we’re going to teach creation now? AWESOME!

    JUST so they get it right I’ll start them off.

    In the beginning was Chaos. Then came Earth which produced Sky. Covering Earth each night, Sky fathered children upon her. Earth was personified as Gaia/Terra and sky was Ouranos (Uranus). Their children included the Titan parents of most of the Olympian gods and goddesses, as well as many other creatures, including the Cyclopes, Giants, Hecatonchires, Erinyes , and more. Aphrodite was the offspring of Ouranos.

    • Justin

      Great. Greek Mythology was always more interesting than Christianity anyways. At least the Greek Gods didn’t pretend to be holy while acting like douches.

  • Pat

    of course and here’s how it went: In the Beginning there was Oludumare and he sent a chicken to a water planet, the chicken began to scratch and scratch at a lone dirt pile scattering the sand and dirt around the globe until the continents were formed. Then Oludumare sent his child Obatala who picked up the clay and began to form creatures. It was a hot day and Obatala was hitting the wine coolers a bit so after a while the creatures weren’t looking as good as the morning’s work, hence mutations and deformities leading to the variety we see today.

    • JeromeGiraffe

      I’ll join any church that offers wine coolers on a hot day. Where is the temple?

  • Paul Plotczyk

    A scientific theory summarizes a hypothesis or group of hypotheses that have been supported with repeated testing. If enough evidence accumulates to support a hypothesis, it moves to the next step—known as a theory—in the scientific method and becomes accepted as a valid explanation of a phenomenon.

    When used in non-scientific context, the word “theory” implies that something is unproven or speculative. As used in science, however, a theory is an explanation or model based on observation, experimentation, and reasoning, especially one that has been tested and confirmed as a general principle helping to explain and predict natural phenomena.

    Any scientific theory must be based on a careful and rational examination of the facts. In the scientific method, there is a clear distinction between facts, which can be observed and/or measured, and theories, which are scientists’ explanations and interpretations of the facts.

    Scientists can have various interpretations of the outcomes of experiments and observations, but the facts, which are the cornerstone of the scientific method, do not change.

  • JethroElfman