Evolution, Creationism and Public Schools: Surveying What Texas Scientists Think about Educating Our Kids in the 21st Century
by Raymond A. Eve and Chawki A. Belhadi
(Texas Freedom Network Education Fund, Nov. 2008)
As a researcher who has studied the conflict over creationism and evolution for more than two decades – and as a resident of Texas with a vested interest in a strong public education system – I have for some time been aware of the brewing conflict over evolution at the Texas State Board of Education. When the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund approached me last year about surveying science faculty to find out what they think about this issue, I jumped at the chance. I did so thinking that otherwise the voice of scientists – a significant constituency in this debate – might be drowned out in the cacophony of political wrangling.
It is widely anticipated that the debate over curriculum standards for science education – particularly regarding instruction on evolution – will be subjected to unprecedented political pressures. Such a situation, of course, raises concerns for the scientific integrity of the results of the process. This is particularly true because the various political factions attempting to influence the outcome appear to have considerably better access to the mass media than has traditionally been the case for scientists. The purpose of the current report, then, is to let as many relevant scientists as possible have a voice in this debate through the mechanism of a questionnaire designed for such a purpose.
To be candid, I already suspected that the much ballyhooed lack of consensus and uncertainty about evolution held to exist among scientists is actually an illusion on the part of those making such a claim. Even in Texas, a state famous for conservative politics and religion, I suspected that almost no college or university faculty scientist would support the agenda of creationism and intelligent design advocates. Nor did I expect that they would perceive a need to highlight the "weaknesses" of evolutionary theory (at least not the weaknesses the proponents of intelligent design have in mind). As with credible science, however, one does not make good education policy based on guesses. So we set out to let faculty scientists speak for themselves.