She outlines the attempts made by various religious and political groups to have Creationism and Intelligent Design taught in the Texas Public School System. Here's an excerpt:
The process of chipping away at the theory of evolution in Texas science curriculum actually began with Texas Proclamation 95 in the mid-1990s. Signed by then-Gov. George Bush, the proclamation requires basic biology textbooks to “formulate, discuss, critique, and review hypotheses, theories, laws, and principles, and their strengths and weaknesses.”
Opponents of the theory of evolution, who are variously called creationists, Young Earth believers, or anti-Neo-Darwinists, have laid the groundwork both nationally and in Texas over the past decade to turn the relatively simple task of curriculum development into a fight over the basic theory of how humans came to be. Whatever you call them, this group of mostly fundamentalist Christians believes in biblical inerrancy. In recent years, many of them have lined up behind the concept of “intelligent design,” which attempts to use scientific terminology to promote the idea that, as it says in Genesis, the world was created in six days. If the Bible is correct, the proponents say, the Earth is very young — less than 7,000 years old.
This, of course, is nuts.
Do a little research on the speed of light. Then figure out how far we are from some of the most remote stars. Figure out how long it has taken the light from those stars to reach our telescopes. You'll get a number that's greater than 7,000.
I remember watching some guys put in a new irrigation well on our farm in Mississippi. The routine they used was to drill down, then bring the auger back up, then drill a little deeper, and bring the auger back up. On the return trip from one of the deepest plunges, the auger came back with a chunk of a tree in it. Even within the flood plain of the Mississippi River, trees couldn't be buried under that much silt in just 7,000 years.
Look at the current height of The Rocky Mountains. Look at how much they are growing each year. (Not much, but they grow). Divide the height by the growth rate. Big number.
The Bible, in this case, isn't a document that should be seen as "right" or "wrong". The word "Truth" instead of the word "Fact" is more appropriate. Here's some more Laurie James:
The argument at the root of the issue is biblical inerrancy, a doctrine as old as the Christian church itself. Nicholas Copernicus and Galileo Galilei, early scientists and Christians, challenged the Catholic Church’s doctrine on the Earth as the center of the universe.
We can now demonstrate that the Earth moves around the sun, not vice versa. Back before the Protestant Reformation, however, even scientific evidence drew a penalty when it came into conflict with accepted interpretation of what the Judeo-Christian Bible (which had been translated from Hebrew to Aramaic to Greek and then Latin at that point) said. Perhaps it’s fittingly ironic that Charles Darwin, who proposed the theory of evolution in the mid-1800s, was first a ministry student before a voyage aboard the Beagle changed the course of his future. Now people of diverse faiths — clergy as well as laypeople — accept the theory of evolution and want to see it taught in schools.
Well, yeah, they do. But they're not very vocal about it.
Part of our problem is the lack of a hierarchy in many of our Protestant denominations. (You may have noticed that the Catholics are strangely silent on the evolution issue. They learned some things from the Galileo incident. If a priest were to start railing against Darwin, I think everyone higher up the food chain would tell him to shut up.) Anyone in the U.S.A. who cares to do so can start a church, and this isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's a very libertarian thing. But they can also claim to speak for God, and in defense of God. There's no one around to provide any historical context.
Why does God need defending? Who is attacking God?
The Godless Evolutionists, and they make a perfect enemy for fund-raising appeals.
God used to get credit for putting us at the center of creation, aiming the lightning, causing the earthquakes, and making us out of mud. Science has been explaining more and more of these phenomena.
But the Creationists don't understand the difference between Religion and Science, between Truth and Fact.
Elsewhere in the article, an acquaintance of mine tries to explain things:
Ralph Mecklenburger, the rabbi at Fort Worth’s Beth-El Congregation, has been paying attention to the debate about Texas’ science curriculum. As an expert in the Torah, or Old Testament, upon which the proponents of intelligent design base their theories, the rabbi is concerned with misinterpretation.Well said. (Rabbi Mecklenburger once came to Broadway Baptist Church and put together a combination Seder/Communion service. It was the first time in my life that I understood the context for what Jesus was trying to say. But I digress....)
“Has evolution been demonstrated experimentally? Yes, many times,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Intelligent design, on the other hand, may be true, but until someone comes up with a way to test it, it will not be science.”
Many scientists echo Mecklenburger’s statement that, despite challenges, the theory of evolution has held up for more than a century. Those scientists and many teachers believe that intelligent design proponents ignore the proofs and use outdated information to hammer away at accepted science. Historically, Jews found the Bible to be “full of memorable ways to teach values, but we know it is not science,” Mecklenburger said. “We deny that science and religion conflict, but that is because we recognize that the Bible is about religion, not about science.”
Now that a Creationist has been nominated for the Vice Presidency, I'm betting that Evolution vs. Creationism will be an increasingly hot topic as we approach election day. In the meantime, enjoy this logo from an upcoming event at Texas CHRISTIAN University, 2008's TCU Family Weekend.....
I think it's now safe to say that Darwin's Dangerous Idea has gone mainstream everywhere but in the Texas Public School system.