Don McLeroy, guest column:

Don McLeroy, guest column:
Biology standards and reasonable doubts
Waco Tribune - 10/19/2008 - original
COLLEGE STATION — Science education has become a culture-war issue. The battle is over the controversial evolutionary hypothesis that all life is descended from a common ancestor by unguided natural processes.

Texas is adopting new science standards. Scientists representing evolutionists and calling themselves the 21st Century Science Coalition say that creationists on the State Board of Education will inject religion into the science classroom. Should they be concerned? No. This will not happen.

They also say that the board will require supernatural explanations to be placed in the curriculum. This will not happen.

The National Academy of Sciences in its recent booklet Science, Evolution and Creationism, 2008, defines science as “the use of evidence to construct testable explanations and predictions of natural phenomena, as well as the knowledge generated through this process.” This definition should be acceptable to both sides.

But, the coalition also makes claims about evolution that will be challenged by creationists.

The advocates for evolution claim that it “is vital to understanding all of the biological sciences,” that evolution “has been documented beyond any reasonable doubt” in the peer-reviewed literature and that evolution has gained the status of a scientific theory and therefore has no “weaknesses.”

First, is understanding of evolution “vital” to the understanding of biology? No.

Would’ve done it the same

Philip Skell, a National Academy chemist, “recently asked more than 70 eminent researchers if they would have done their work differently if they had thought Darwin’s theory was wrong.

The responses were all the same: No.

Next, has evolution been demonstrated to be true beyond any reasonable doubt? No.

Is evolution’s support from the peer-reviewed literature unassailable? No.

Galileo said, “In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.”

Does evolution have scientific “weaknesses”?

The 21st Century Coalition not only says no but insists that we must strike the weaknesses language from our standards because leaving it in threatens our children’s scientific reasoning.

The coalition says that if students are taught to doubt what it believes to be unquestionably true, then the students will lose their faith in science.

All we must do to maintain science’s credibility and to decide if there are weaknesses in the evolutionary hypothesis is “to use evidence to construct testable explanations” and see where the evidence leads. Let the best scientific explanation win.

Don McLeroy of College Station is chairman of the State Board of Education.