Other Voices

Stop the crusade to teach Darwinism as dogma

This photo provided by the journal Science shows a pre-human skull found at the medieval village of Dmanisi, Georgia.
This photo provided by the journal Science shows a pre-human skull found at the medieval village of Dmanisi, Georgia. AP

Texas’ State Board of Education has initiated an effort to streamline our state standards for science education.

Some members of the committee charged with the revision — along with various lobbyists — are using this process as a pretext to strip from the science standards any evidence against evolution.

That would be bad for Texas, bad for science and bad for our kids.

Our current science standards, the best in the nation, were adopted overwhelmingly by the State Board of Education, and they call for students to analyze and evaluate the actual evidence for and against Darwin’s theory rather than to ingest it as unquestioned dogma.

That’s too even-handed for some.

In a letter to the state board, pro-Darwin Kathy Miller of the misnamed Texas Freedom Network insists that the revision committee just wants to get rid of the “junk science.”

In reality, the evidence she wants to airbrush away comes from leading scientists, much of it in peer-reviewed science journals. But Miller doesn’t want Darwinism criticized, so she calls the evidence junk.

Her use of the word junk is ironic.

Evolutionists long insisted that much of the DNA in living things was “junk DNA,” useless information built up from the Darwinian trial-and-error process of random mutations and natural selection.

Meanwhile, some biologists critical of Neo-Darwinism predicted this “junk DNA” wasn’t junk at all but had crucial functions. They’ve since been proven right and the Darwinists wrong.

Why should that fact and others like it be hidden from students?

Keep in mind, the sources that the revision committee members wish to exclude aren’t questioning the idea of microevolution, change within species as when bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics.

That kind of evolution is uncontroversial.

And they’re not questioning the idea of change over time in the history of life.

They’re questioning the much more sweeping claim that all the diversity of life evolved by a blind process of natural selection working on random genetic mutations.

Here is a brief sampling of the scientific evidence Miller doesn’t want our Texas students to hear:

A paper in the International Journal of Developmental Biology by Jaume Baguña and Jorde Garcia-Fernández stated that “the major evolutionary transitions in animal evolution still remain to be causally explained.”

A 2009 New Scientist article by Graham Lawton announced that the Darwinian tree of life “lies in tatters, torn to pieces by an onslaught of negative evidence.”

Here is one example the magazine provided: Biologist Michael Syvanen “compared 2,000 genes that are common to humans, frogs, sea squirts, sea urchins, fruit flies and nematodes.

“In theory, he should have been able to use the gene sequences to construct an evolutionary tree showing the relationships between the six animals. He failed.

“The problem was that different genes told contradictory evolutionary stories.”

A paper in the Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics reported, “It remains a mystery how the undirected process of mutation, combined with natural selection, has resulted in the creation of thousands of new proteins with extraordinarily diverse and well optimized functions. This problem is particularly acute for tightly integrated molecular systems that consist of many interacting parts.”

Miller and others want all such testimony purged from the state science standards. Not good.

The late Dr. Philip Skell, member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, urged a different approach.

“Evolution is an important theory and students need to know about it,” he wrote to South Carolina officials reviewing science standards. “But scientific journals now document many scientific problems and criticisms of evolutionary theory, and students need to know about these as well.”

Offering students only an airbrushed view of evolution isn’t good science, and it doesn’t help our students develop the questioning and curious minds that drive progress in science.

Jonathan Witt is a senior fellow of Discovery Institute-Dallas.