By Geraldine “Tincy” Miller, SBOE Member from Dist. 12
The recent debate over the Science TEKS, especially over Biology (creation vs. evolution) brought to mind President Ronald Reagan’s famous “11th commandment … thou shalt not speak ill of fellow Republicans”.
Since January, an atmosphere of bigotry and hypocrisy surfaced and surrounded this issue. The three Reagan Republican’s on the board, myself, Bob Craig & Pat Hardy, became targets of a particularly false smear campaign from a group of anti-science Republican fundamentalists sending threatening calls and e-mails.
These ultra-religious extremists used an automatic dialing system to place pre-recorded calls to registered voters at our homes with a deliberately deceptive message distorting the issue and claiming we were liberals voting with the ACLU against true scientific debate
In a clever and misleading “sound bite” argument, the Intelligent Design/Creationists were determined to insert religious discussion into the science curriculum of millions of Texas schoolchildren by forcing educators to teach “weaknesses of Evolution” … which deliberately confuses “hypothesis” with scientific theory.
The theory of evolution is universally accepted by all legitimate peer-reviewed scientists as the foundation of biology. As one scientist stated: “using broad, imprecise terms dilutes and misdirects the debate away from this central issue: — religion in the biology classroom”.
In the arena of politics, good people can usually agree to disagree … Christians can agree to disagree … Republicans can agree to disagree … and Democrats can agree to disagree. However, they usually find a way to ultimately come together and agree.
Fellow SBOE Members Craig, Hardy and I brokered a compromise agreement on Friday, March 19th, assuring academic freedom and encouraging critical thinking with the following key amendments:
Section 112.34, Biology, 3A:
“In all fields of science, analyze, evaluate, and critique scientific explanations by using empirical evidence, logical reasoning and experimental and observational testing, including examining all sides of scientific evidence of those scientific explanations so as to encourage critical thinking by the student”.
Section 112.34, Biology, 7G:
“Analyze and evaluate scientific explanations concerning the complexity of the cell”.
Section 112.34, Biology, Section 7B:
“Analyze and evaluate scientific explanations concerning any data of sudden appearances, stasis, and the sequential nature of groups of the fossil record.”
In closing, I am a Christian and a student of the Bible. I have studied and taught the Bible, and I can see that both faith and science can co-exist and illuminate each other.
In the words of Dr. Francis Collins, genetic biologist, from his book “The Language of God”…
“God, who is not limited in space or time, created the universe and established natural laws that govern it. Seeking to populate this otherwise sterile universe with living creatures, God chose the elegant mechanism of evolution to create microbes, plants, and animals of all sorts.
Most remarkable, God intentionally chose the same mechanism to give rise to special creatures who would have intelligence, a knowledge of right and wrong, free will, and a desire to seek fellowship with Him. He also knew these creatures would ultimately choose to disobey the Moral Law.
This view is entirely compatible with everything that science teaches us about the natural world … the theistic evolution perspective cannot, of course, prove that God is real, as no logical argument can fully achieve that. Belief in God will always require a leap of faith … this perspective makes it possible for the scientist-believer to be intellectually fulfilled and spiritually alive, both worshiping God and using the tools of science to uncover some of the awesome mysteries of His creation”.
For those who are interested, the Texas Science TEKS are available at: http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/teks/
Geraldine “Tincy” Miller, represents Dist. 12 on the Texas State Board of Education. She has been a Member since 1984, and served as Chair from 2003-2007.