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Education Science

Texas School Board Searching For Alternatives To Evolutionary Theory 763

An anonymous reader writes "[Ars Technica] recently reviewed the documentary The Revisionaries, which chronicles the actions of the Texas state school board as it attempted to rewrite the science and history standards that had been prepared by experts in education and the relevant subjects. For biology, the board's revisions meant that textbook publishers were instructed to help teachers and students 'analyze all sides of scientific information' about evolution. Given that ideas only reach the status of theory if they have overwhelming evidence supporting them, it isn't at all clear what 'all sides' would involve."
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Texas School Board Searching For Alternatives To Evolutionary Theory

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  • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Friday February 08, 2013 @06:24PM (#42838079)

    Examining all sides of a scientific theory that are contrary to an established scientific theory means examining decidedly unscientific theories as if they were scientific... or, you could just say, "Teaching our students Not-Science"

    Well, you are probably suspecting that it is codespeak for religion, and I'd tend to agree with you.

    But you dismiss the fact that since it is still theory, it is subject to review and modification. For instance, Eldredge and Gould pretty much shook the foundations of evolution when they published their paper on Punctuated equilibrium [].

    One could also see this as an opportunity to add to the curriculum, a catalog of every objection to evolution, each followed by a resounding trashing of that argument. Nothing is quite as satisfying as burning each thread of a wacko claim as soon as it is spun, before they have an opportunity to weave a tapestry of lies.

  • Well ... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday February 08, 2013 @06:43PM (#42838277) Homepage

    analyze all sides of scientific information

    There's really only one side in this case -- there is no scientifically credible evidence to the contrary of evolution.

    Everything else is wishful thinking.

  • by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Friday February 08, 2013 @07:26PM (#42838809)

    There was a comment a couple days ago quoting someone who said "all that's left in physics is the fifth decimal place" or something similar, the same is true for evolutionary science. What's cool is that you can teach it that way.

    First decimal: Evolution is how diversity on earth came to be, it's organisms changing from one generation to the next until they are different species. (A lot of people knew that much before Darwin even came along).
    Second decimal: Evolution is powered by natural selection; organisms that are successful are more likely to have offspring. (Basically what Darwin came up with, along with a few other naturalists of his day)
    Third decimal: Sexual selection, gender wars, kin selection (a bunch of stuff Darwin came up with to some extent but wasn't to sure about)
    Fourth decimal: Genetics (if Darwin knew about genetics he would rage at the heavens questioning how people could still not accept his theory)
    Fifth decimal: Horizontal gene transfer, latent retrovirus DNA, gene regulation (stuff we are just beginning to understand the importance of)

    The problem occurs when all you learn about is the first decimal, then say to yourself "but God did it" and ignore the rest or "but what about his aspect!?" and assume that your objection isn't resolved at a deeper level than you currently understand.

  • Re:FSM (Score:4, Interesting)

    by flyneye ( 84093 ) on Friday February 08, 2013 @07:51PM (#42839057) Homepage

    I find complete harmony in both evolution and creation, but then I study the original Hebrew and Aramaic in addition to following science. Most Christians shit their drawers when I talk about Christs use of - and most atheist start trying to impress me with the skeptics bible which seems to be written by Beavis and Butthead. No need to choose either, when you can harmonize both.

  • Give It Time (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cmholm ( 69081 ) <> on Friday February 08, 2013 @08:09PM (#42839189) Homepage Journal

    Er did someone evolve an intelligent life-form in a lab from a lesser organism while I wasn't looking? I am all red in the face. I must have missed that monumental announcement.

    That's very cute. And, you're not addressing what the parent said. In fact, you can go into a biology lab and watch evolution happen over the course of tens of thousands of generations of bacteria. Evolution at the level of virii and bacteria occurs quickly. The more complex the life form, the longer it takes for visually obvious symptoms of evolution. But, thanks to the fine focus provided by current genomic lab techniques, you can see signs of human evolution within historical times. No third arms or eleventh toes, sorry, but real change nevertheless.

    Again, what we're dealing with isn't God-centric creation or not, but dogma and magic wand waving v. what is observed to be occurring. It may be that a Christian God caused the HIV to arise and target gays, or it may have been outhouse (bad) luck, but the observed mechanism was still evolution.

  • by zieroh ( 307208 ) on Friday February 08, 2013 @08:53PM (#42839585)

    You think Texas is bad, try California or Illinois. At least Texas can more or less balance a budget and follow the Constitution.

    I've lived in both Texas and California (but was born in neither).

    Guess where I choose to live? I'll give you a hint: it doesn't start with T.

  • by hondo77 ( 324058 ) on Friday February 08, 2013 @09:45PM (#42839967) Homepage

    What I find interesting is that most atheists are just like religious extremists. Their belief is right and no amount of facts will change their mind.

    What facts do you have that should change their minds?

  • Re:FSM (Score:4, Interesting)

    by flyneye ( 84093 ) on Friday February 08, 2013 @10:05PM (#42840129) Homepage

    It's a very long road.
    The easy part is an understanding of evolution, most people have a basic knowledge of this.
    The harder part is an understanding of the Bible as a book of history as well as the word. To do this and dispense with the nonsense of being asked to believe impossiblilities is to understand what it is you are looking at. Primarily it is a history book, an understanding of world history of Israel and pre- Israel and it's surroundings, politics and how this history survived in spite of being destroyed and by word of mouth and through translation is essential. A good place for the beginner to start, with an author familiar and enjoyed by most is to acquire a copy of the two volume set " Azimovs guide to the Bible" and let the scholar begin shining a flashlight around the dark for you. Later ,study of Hebrew, Aramaic,Apocryphal books and early Christian and Gnostic writings, translations , their implications and politics come from a need for more knowledge. I've seen Issac Asimovs book floating around P2P ,if this is out of print, as it was written in 1967. Be a good soul and make a donation to somewhere worthy in his name if you should download it. The understanding you gain will be in direct ratio to your hunger and effort.
    As for the "Skeptics Bible, it is an Atheist book by book refutation of the Bible done with all the rigor you would expect Beavis and Butthead to put into "disproving" the Bible as the word. Laughable, I think you can find it in full on some website. Just as lazy and argumentative as you would expect, but gives some insight into what is lacking in Atheism.
    For me to share my faith with you would be to write a book. I'll instead let you discover and decide for yourself.

  • Re:FSM (Score:5, Interesting)

    by julesh ( 229690 ) on Saturday February 09, 2013 @06:47AM (#42842251)

    Actually, they technically do. Their doctrine is that the Bible is wholly and completely true AND that science is discovering God's work in creation, and if you think one contradicts the other, you're misinterpreting at least one and should reinterpret them as necessary until they agree.

    This is not entirely true, as I understand it, and I'm lead to believe it was a subject of some debate at the second vatican council, which rather cautiously made the following statement: "the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures." Which is to say that they acknowledge that the bible may be in error regarding issues which God did not wish to teach us for the sake of our salvation. See Brown et al, The New Jerome Biblical Commentary page 1169 for further discussion of this idea.

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"