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1:17 pm CST - April 28, 2009

Posted under The Scoop

SBOE’s Recent Science TEKS Deliberations Explained


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.

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21 Comments

Nancy Attaway
2:41 pm CST
April 28, 2009


I was a high school science teacher and read Dr. Collin’s book. Anything is possible with God and I am sure he enjoys watching us try to understand a little bit of how he made this universe. I highly recommend his book.

Dan McDonald
3:43 pm CST
April 28, 2009


Wow, starting by claiming the 11th commandment, then slamming your fellow Republicans shows quite a bit of hutzpah. I would remind Tincy that the Republican platform calls for Strengths and Weaknesses to be taught, and it is perfectly reasonable for people to lobby their fellow Republicans to encourage them to follow the platform.

Leah Hayden
4:30 pm CST
April 28, 2009


Ms Miller, is parroting the usual dishonest, hateful, left wing smears againts your fellow Republicans such as referring to them as “anti-science Republican fundamentalists” and “ultra-religious extremists” an example of the “atmosphere of bigotry and hypocrisy” to which you refer? Maybe, if you really are a Reagan Republican, then you should practice what you preach and follow the 11th commandment. You have lost my vote in any future elections not because of your stance on evolution but because of the bigotry, hatefulness and dishonesty that you have exhibited in this article. Since you sound just like a liberal in your rhetoric why should anyone believe that you are anything else? I can no longer trust that you are a fellow Republican since you are so willing to join in with the usual suspects in denegrating others in the party.

Matt Rinaldi
6:07 pm CST
April 28, 2009


Ms. Miller, you could have written a very persuasive defense of your compromise by pointing out the various conservative organizations, like the Free Market Foundation, that support your compromise and feel it allows for a reasoned critique of evolution. Instead, you decide to smear at the opening of your piece the very people your article should have been intended to sway. What’s more, your vitriolic rhetoric likely brought your motives into question and caused some who supported the compromise to reconsider. I cannot fathom what you intended to accomplish by writing this.

Charles
6:32 pm CST
April 28, 2009


Ms. Miller is a wonderful and beautiful person, and she is as sharp as a razor, smart as a person can be, and wise beyond belief. She is also a person of firm principles and great courage who knows how to stand in the gap and face down lies and extremism with the truth.

She is a REAL REPUBLICAN in the proud tradition of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Barry Goldwater, Everett Derkson, Howard Baker, Jr., Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan (who was not the extremist that most of today’s extremists would like to nurse themselves into thinking he was). Tincy Miller is the future of the Republican Party in Texas and across the entire United States. It is time for all sane, sensible, and balanced Republicans with a good education and a sound faith to oust the assorted crazies that have run the party for the last 20 years and put the ship on a right course. It is already happening all over the country now, and the new Republican revolution is heading for Texas too. Break out guillotines, grab a Christian reconstructionist fruitcake, and give them the blade (figuratively speaking of course).

Your article was wonderful Ms. Miller. Wonderful and so VERY TRUE.

Larry Fafarman
7:25 pm CST
April 28, 2009


Did the automated pre-recorded phone calls say anything at all about Geraldine Miller’s religious beliefs? On the other hand, “Chintzy” Miller is making unfounded ad hominem allegations about the religious beliefs of those who sent the phone message, calling these people “anti-science Republican fundamentalists” and “ultra-religious extremists.”

Telling students that evolution theory has no weaknesses is lying to them. Telling students that evolution theory is “the foundation of biology” is lying to them. Telling students that there is no conflict between evolution theory and religion is lying to them.

Charles said,
–She is a REAL REPUBLICAN in the proud tradition of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Barry Goldwater, Everett Derkson, Howard Baker, Jr., Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan–

Don’t forget that Ronald Reagan was in favor of school prayer. That’s something to think about for you strict separationists.

Thomas M.
9:04 pm CST
April 28, 2009


I’m not sure I get the arguments that people are making here. Why is it okay for the people attacking Miller to violate the ‘commandment’ but not for her to do so to an extent in retaliation for what she has suffered? Yes, she invoked it, but let’s be reasonable — you can’t honestly expect a person to receive insult after insult and not have a frustrated response to it. This strikes me more as a case of a ‘Play by the rules if you expect me to do the same’ than hypocrisy.

“Since you sound just like a liberal in your rhetoric why should anyone believe that you are anything else?”

Umm….By doing something reasonable like comparing her voting record to that of liberals and conservatives and seeing which she most closely matches overall?

“Did the automated pre-recorded phone calls say anything at all about Geraldine Miller’s religious beliefs?”

Oh, come now. While the phone calls themselves may not have done such, you know as well as anyone that those supporting these kinds of calls did just that. After all, you posted a response to this blog post on the very subject: http://tfnblog.wordpress.com/2009/03/29/hypocrisy-and-faith-bashing/

And, why, look at that! You yourself slighted her religious beliefs by referring to Christians that share her beliefs as “cafeteria Christians”

”On the other hand, “Chintzy” Miller is making unfounded ad hominem allegations about the religious beliefs of those who sent the phone message, calling these people “anti-science Republican fundamentalists” and “ultra-religious extremists.”’

Oh, the irony…Look, instead of insisting that the rule that has shown to be true over and over and over again be proven to you, try something different. Find a prominent evolution denialist who rejects it for scientific reasons rather than one whom rejects it for explicit and prior-held religious reasons and throws together a mish-mash of ‘scientific’ reasons after the fact. I’ve asked for such a person several times and have never been given one. And no, you don’t count, given your well documented claims over at the TFN blog that evolution and Christianity cannot co-exist (properly) because Christianity is incoherent if the creation story is not true. That shows quite clearly that your reason for rejecting it is one of worldview rather than evidence.

More irony….speaking of unfounded claims:

“Telling students that evolution theory has no weaknesses is lying to them.”

False, and will continue to be so until someone can provide some evidence that contradicts it that stands up to scrutiny.

“Telling students that evolution theory is “the foundation of biology” is lying to them.”

Ditto. I suppose you also think that we shouldn’t teach chemistry students about the nature of the atom? (HINT: They play a very similar role in their respective fields.)

“Telling students that there is no conflict between evolution theory and religion is lying to them.”

This may or may not be the case, and unlike your previous two statements, it is actually something debatable rather than an outright falsehood. That said, this is a philosophical issue and I think a person would have a difficult time coming to a reliable conclusion on this (go dig up the blog of a Christian philosopher who accepts evolution and debate this issue with that person and you’ll see what I mean). In any case, this whole issue can be avoided by simply not dragging religion into the science classroom in the first place. Teach them the fact of evolution, how it fits into the grand scheme of biology; let them draw their own theological conclusions outside of the classroom.

brenda
10:00 pm CST
April 28, 2009


Wow, she puts herself out there as being the giving, calm, logical one. All others who do not share her views and believe God’s WORD are “ultra- religious extremists”, and anti-science Republican fundamentalists.” She says, the theory of evolution is universally accepted by legitimate scientists, so those who say that this is just that– a theory, that it is not proven without a doubt, are just quacks and religious kooks? Regarding the ACLU, if she was not voting with them, then they were voting with her. Either way, they were on the same side, trying to shut down any discussion of creation. And she brokered a compromise? Looks like what previously was said in 2 words, “strengths and weaknesses”, is now said in many words. It is not my place to question her Christianity, however, it is amazing to me that she thinks that she can pick and choose which words in the Bible are true. You either believe the WORD or you do not. All is true or none is true. How could anyone be so arrogant as to say that, “God chose the elegant mechanism of evolution to make life and man? You still have made the statement that God created man and life. So, she doubts that God is able to make the world and all life in 7days? But she believes that God became man and came to the Earth, died, and rose again from the dead? If she reads this letter. I will leave this passage for her to ponder and remember. I think it is written for Christians like her. Isaiah 56:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. “

Travis M. Lamar
11:47 pm CST
April 28, 2009


The “anti-science Republican fundamentalists” were the first to break the 11th commandment, not Ms. Miller. She deserves a fair chance to respond without being accused herself of breaking that commandment. The ultra-religious extremists who used automatic dialers with deceptive messages were the ones who created an atmosphere of bigotry and hypocrisy. Ms. Miller is correct about these individuals–they deliberately confused scientific theory with hypothesis to mendaciously try to make it appear that biological evolution has “weaknesses” and that false anti-evolution criticisms that support Intelligent Design Creationism should be taught.

The scientists didn’t like the “compromise” standards that resulted (the standards proposed by the science teachers were better), but there is nothing overtly anti-science in them. Yes, they allow the opportunity for anti-science, pro-ID creationist misinformation to be presented in textbooks, but they don’t require it. Everything is now up to the authors and publishers of biology textbooks. These individuals can use the new standards to include even more accurate and reliable information about evolution, the complexity of the cell, the biological information in DNA, and the record of fossil evolution, things that were not required before. I hope the authors and publishers do exactly this, completely countering the perverse antiscientific intentions of the seven Republican religious right creationists on the State Board.

Creationist blogger and troll Larry Fafarman has decided to add his ignorance and vitriol in an unwanted comment. He hypocritically and mean-spiritedly refers to Ms. Miller as “Chintzy” Miller in a sentence accusing her of “unfounded ad hominem allegations.” He should look to himself for name-calling. The people who sent the phone messages are exactly what Ms. Miller called them: “anti-science Republican fundamentalists.” This is not “unfounded ad hominem allegations.”

Telling students that evolution theory has no weaknesses and that it is the foundation of biology would be telling them the truth. This is exactly what scientists say. Fafarman may not agree with those statements but to say that scientists are “lying” about this is grossly duplicitous. Scientists also truthfully say there is no conflict between evolution and most religions. Fafarman misrepresents scientists when he claims they say this about all religions. Obviously, evolution conflicts with those who are Christian fundamentalists and believe in Biblical inerrancy or literalism.

brenda
7:26 am CST
April 28, 2009


I have another question. If evolution is such an accepted proven fact, it would not have to be defended by shutting down questions regarding other view points. Constantly researching and questioning have led to long held theories being disapproved and new discoveries. Scientific theories and concepts are not infallible nor should they be permanent and rigid. Questioning is the right approach. I don’t believe that the “religious fundamentalist” have called for not allowing the theory of evolution to be taught in the schools. But, the evolutionist are wanting not even a mention of creation by a divine power. Dr. Collins wrote that “God chose the elegant mechanism of evolution.” Chose infers that there was more than one choice. What was that other choice? or choices? True freedom allows open debate, and this disallows brain washing.

Larry Fafarman
9:35 am CST
April 28, 2009


Thomas M. said,

–Oh, come now. While the phone calls themselves may not have done such, you know as well as anyone that those supporting these kinds of calls did just that.

You yourself slighted her religious beliefs by referring to Christians that share her beliefs as “cafeteria Christians”–

Miller’s article responded only to those who sent the phone calls — she did not mention anyone else.

Larry Fafarman
10:14 am CST
April 28, 2009


Miller called herself a “Reagan Republican.” When Ronald Reagan was president, he proposed a constitutional amendment to allow school prayer. So I don’t see how anyone who is in favor of church-state separation can be a “Reagan Republican.”

Leah Hayden
11:11 am CST
April 28, 2009


Of course Ms Miller has a right to defend herself against any untrue or unjust attacks. I believe that she could have done it without resorting to the use of terms such “ultra-religious extremists” and anti-science Republican fundamentalist”. I am well aware of her record of service on the SBOE and I have always supported her. I also call on her opponents to follow the 11th commandment. Anyone who would call her things like “cafeteria Christian” because of a political disagreement are hateful and wrong. We should debate these issues civily and honestly without denegrating others who disagree. If the robo calls were as as described then I condemn them as well. I would never question Ms Miller’s faith nor would I support anyone who does. My issue is not even with the debate over evolution. I think that Ms. Miller’s compromise is probably a good one. I just have a real issue when she uses the bigoted language of the left against fellow Republicans and fellow Christians for that matter. (saying that she was just referring to those who made the calls is not a good defense because the other side refers to all of us when they use this same language. She is therefore aiding and abetting their cause.) I do not think that anyone who questions evolution is automatically “anti-science”. Anyone who believes this could be considered quite “extreme” and “fundamentalist” themselves. Those who support evolution do not like it when they are they are called “anti-religious”. Who gets to decide what qualifies as an “extremist” anyway? It is always the left and liberals who get to define these terms. They are rarely applied to those on the left who can be just a much “fundamentalist” and rigid in their beliefs as they accuse others of being. Red flags go up for me when I hear a fellow conservative use this language and I wiill have a very difficult time trusting or supporting that person in the future regardless of their record.

Ngener
12:36 pm CST
April 28, 2009


“I have another question. If evolution is such an accepted proven fact, it would not have to be defended by shutting down questions regarding other view points. Constantly researching and questioning have led to long held theories being disapproved and new discoveries. Scientific theories and concepts are not infallible nor should they be permanent and rigid”

Exactly. And creationism and so-called “Intelligent Design” have not passed any of the markers for science – no research, no testable hypotheses, no testable claims that can be falsifiable. The entire idea of ID was made up by a few individuals, who have produced nothing except to pick about minor points of evolutionary theory. All legitimate scientists looked at the present claims and evidence for ID and have dismissed it, because there is nothing to it. If someone comes up with solid, peer-reviewed evidence for alternative hypotheses for evolution, they will also be evaluated and adapted if they are better at explaining all known and observable phenomenon of biology, cosmology, paleontology, and so on.

Anyone is favor of church-state separation is called “an American who follows the Constitution”, not a Republican.

Ngener
12:38 pm CST
April 28, 2009


As an additional point, we mainstream Christians to do have a problem with evolution. There is a large minority group of fundamentalist churches who teach that Genesis I is literal, and some who teach Genesis 2 is literal. Those groups are the ones who apparently have a problem with any science that disagrees with those literal interpretations.

Ngener
12:40 pm CST
April 28, 2009


Typo – should have read “we mainstream Christians do NOT have a problem with evolution”

Gerald Skoog
6:28 am CST
April 28, 2009


Ngener notes that some churches teach a literal interpretation of Genesis 1 whereas other teach a literal interpretation of Genesis 2. Because Genesis 1 has humans created last whereas Genesis 2 creates humans (Adam & Eve) first, the disagreements between these two camps of literalist should be resolved before any claims that statements in Genesis trump scientific evidence about the nature and history of the natural world.

Because advocates of creationism and intelligent design do not use evidence to support their so-called scientific tenets, these tenets will remain impervious to scientific evidence, and, as a result, have no legitimate place in public school science classrooms and textbooks. Ms. Miller’s votes and discussion when the SBOE approved the science standards (TEKS) reflected this reality.

Larry Fafarman
4:18 pm CST
April 28, 2009


Gerald Skoog wrote: “Because Genesis 1 has humans created last whereas Genesis 2 creates humans (Adam & Eve) first, the disagreements between these two camps of literalist should be resolved before any claims that statements in Genesis trump scientific evidence about the nature and history of the natural world.”

The inconsistency of Genesis 1 & 2 is nothing compared to the illogic, inconsistencies, ambiguities, and unintelligibility of the gospel. And there is not just one gospel story, but four. Yet the Darwinist cafeteria Christians accept the gospel literally but do not accept the creation story literally.

Gerald Skoog wrote: “Because advocates of creationism and intelligent design do not use evidence to support their so-called scientific tenets . . . .”

That is absolutely false.

Larry Fafarman
6:54 am CST
April 28, 2009


if it is assumed that Genesis 2 only describes exactly how humans and animals were created and not when humans and animals were created, then there is no inconsistency at all between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. Genesis 2 says,

–”These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,

And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.

But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed . . . .” . . etc.
King James version–

Nothing there specifically says when humans were created, and the mere fact that the above description of the creation of humans follows the statement that god rested on the seventh day does not necessarily mean that the creation of humans occurred after the seventh day.

Also, Genesis 2 says,

–”And out of the ground Jehovah God formed every beast of the field, and every bird of the heavens; and brought them unto the man to see what he would call them:”–

But Genesis 2 does not say exactly when the beasts and the birds were created.

In contrast to the fairly straightforward creation story, the gospel is full of inconsistencies, illogic, ambiguities, and unintelligibility, and there is not just one gospel story but four of them! And both the gospel and the creation story contain the supernatural, so there is nothing to choose between them on that account. Yet the Darwinist cafeteria Christians accept the gospel literally but do not accept the creation story literally. These holier-than-thou Darwinist cafeteria Christians look down upon those who interpret the bible differently from the way they do. William Jennings Bryan said, “If those who teach Darwinism and evolution, as applied to man, insist that they are neither agnostics nor atheists, but are merely interpreting the Bible differently from orthodox Christians, what right have they to ask that their interpretation be taught at public expense?”

However, unlike Bryan, I am not proposing that evolution not be taught in the public schools, but I think that scientific and pseudoscientific criticisms of evolution should be taught in public schools.

Larry Fafarman
7:55 pm CST
April 28, 2009


The jerks at the so-called Texas Freedom Network are now blocking all of my comments and no longer considering them on a case-by-case basis because I was moderately abusive of the TFN. TFN has a pretty thin skin but saw nothing wrong in allowing other commenters to abuse me constantly. TFN was looking for an excuse to get rid of me because my dissenting comments are too persuasive.

Geraldine “Chintzy” Miller, you are a real phony. You are a holier-than-thou Darwinist cafeteria Christian who accepts the illogical, inconsistent, ambiguous, and sometimes unintelligible gospel as literally true but does not accept the fairly straightforward biblical creation story as literally true. Both the gospel and the creation story involve the supernatural, so there is nothing to choose between them on that account, and science cannot absolutely disprove the creation story. You are of course entitled to your religious beliefs, but when you misuse those religious beliefs to try to support your evolution education policies, you look very foolish.

Also, you call yourself a “Reagan Republican,” but when Reagan was president he proposed a constitutional amendment to allow school prayer. “Reagan Republican,” my eye.

By calling your critics “anti-science Republican fundamentalists” and “ultra-religious extremists,” you have alienated both the fundies and those who question evolution on scientific instead of religious grounds. A recent Zogby poll shows that 78% of the public is in favor of teaching the evidence both for and against evolution.


[...] a 2009 commentary, she lashed out at “ultra-religious extremists” and “anti-science … [...]

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