Dear Friend,OH NO! A friend called last week, announcing his great dismay at the outcome of the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) deliberations over the hard-fought issue of including "strengths and weaknesses" when teaching theories of science. Like many others, he was under the impression that the Darwin-only forces had won the day. How very happy he was to learn that he was wrong. But why did the outcome matter so much?
First, Some Background
Every six years, new biology textbooks are up for adoption before the Texas SBOE. Two years prior to those adoptions, the science standards (TEKS) are reviewed for possible alteration.
Having testified and organized large teams of science and medical faculty to testify at the hearings in two of the last three biology textbook adoption cycles, I felt it best that we leave the initiative to our friends at the Discovery Institute and Texans for Better Science Education. But when Casey Luskin, Discovery's point man on the project called asking for help in arranging for science teachers to testify on March 25th, we were happy to do so.
Braving powerful storms that swept through central Texas that day, scores of people came to Austin from around the state and the country to testify, including the science teachers recruited by FTE. The time allotted for testimony proved to be very inadequate. Most of the people registered to testify were unable to do so. But one who did "make the cut," was our own Lois Harbaugh, longtime FTE board member. Lois is a veteran jr. high and high school science teacher, a recipient of the Christa McAuliffe Fellowship, and in 1997 served as Secretary of the State Textbook Committee. Pointing out how critical it is in today's classrooms for teachers to have curriculum that can grab and hold students' attention, she pleaded, "We teachers need your protection through the TEKS to enable us to allow students to question theories."
Many of the Darwinists were dogmatic in their insistence that only the Darwinian view was science. But when LeTourneau University biology professor and Department Chairman Amiel Jarstfer testified, he pointed out that "good science is based on continuous questioning and critique."And, as Lois suggested, good teaching builds on students' eagerness to do exactly that: question and critique.
Here's why my friend was mistaken when he called
The Austin Bureau of the Dallas Morning News reported in daily articles on the SBOE deliberations that conservatives had lost the debate. Then on Saturday, March 28, there was yet another article with an innocuous headline and a subhead that read, "Conservatives lose on common ancestry, natural selection issues." The actual conservative victory was slipped in at the very end of this 2-page article where it was seen by only that small minority of readers who read to the very end.
Yet this was the outcome that the Hon. Ken Mercer, Board member from San Antonio, reported as a "HUGE EDUCATION VICTORY FOR TEXAS STUDENTS." Significantly, immediately under the title of the report, Judge Mercer placed this caption: "If our students do not feel the freedom to simply raise their hand and ask a question in science class, then we are no longer living in the United States of America."
In a widely circulated email, Mercer reported how the embattled "strengths and weaknesses" language went down to defeat. But, in the wee hours of Friday morning, less than an hour after the vote defeating the "strengths and weaknesses" language, a far superior statement passed by a vote of 13-2! Nobody saw this "Cinderella Statement" coming: In all fields of science, analyze, evaluate, and critique scientific explanations by using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing including examining all sides of scientific evidence of those scientific explanations so as to encourage critical thinking by the students.
Yes, friends, this outcome is beyond anything we dared to expect and is cause for celebration. But it is still two years before the textbooks following these new guidelines are submitted for adoption. And make no mistake, those who insist (many quite sincerely) that their view is the only view that should be heard, will be working tirelessly until that time to undermine and ridicule this standard and eventually eliminate it in one way or another. It is up to us to nail it down "like a butterfly on a butterfly board" as Ben Stein said in the movie, Expelled.
A Great Evening with Chinese Graduate Students
And speaking of Expelled, in early March Linda and I were invited by a friend and graduate business school professor at Southern Methodist University to join her and a group of Chinese students to watch the movie in a beautiful Highland Park home, together with the host and hostess. Having had a lot of experience inviting friends to go with us to the movie, we were happy to introduce it to the students and host couples, and to lead a discussion afterwards. One thing became clear as these international students responded to the film: Doubts about the Darwinian explanation for life on earth are a rapidly spreading world-wide phenomenon among thinking people, both religious and non-religious. In his book, The Language of God, the celebrated former Director of the NIH's Human Genome Project, Francis Collins says that on Google, for every hit for the term "Theistic evolution," there are 145 hits for "intelligent design."
Domestic Showcase of ID
The growing enthusiasm for ID was showcased in April when the Discovery Institute and Watermark Community Church hosted a remarkable 2½ hour event in Dallas featuring three leading ID scholars and scientists: Dr. Steven Meyer, Director of Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, Dr. Michael Behe, author of Darwin's Black Box, and Dr. David Berlinski, author of The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions. Their presentations (on the nano-machinery in the cell, on the complexity of the information code in DNA, on answers to Darwinian objections to ID, and on the intellectual flabbiness of Darwinian arguments) were so powerful and engaging, that as the evening concluded, the over 2500 audience members erupted in spontaneous and prolonged ovation. It was thrilling!
We told you last month about a large order for The Design of Life from Barnes & Noble. This week a Michigan reader who found our book in a New York Barnes & Noble store emailed us. He had seen Expelled last spring and was looking for books for a paper he is writing on the design of the universe. "Finding Design of Life," he wrote to us, "was like finding a gold mine!"
Thank you, faithful partners, for standing with us in this great endeavor. Because of you, the ID movement is making inroads in our culture despite enormous opposition in the academy and constant misrepresentation in the media. Isn't it ironic that Darwin himself insisted on full and open debate within the scientific community? In his Introduction to The Origin of the Species, Darwin wrote, I am well aware that scarcely a single point is discussed in this volume on which facts cannot be adduced, often apparently leading to conclusions directly opposite to those at which I have arrived. A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question. Yet the favorite tactics of the celebrants of Darwin are censorship — driving out dissent, suppressing uncomfortable evidence, and destroying the career and reputation of anyone who abandons the faith, the Darwinian faith, that is. So let's not call 2009 the Year of Darwin. Let's call it what it really is: The Year of the Redacted Darwin.
And may I speak with you very practically? Just words on our part won't secure the victory or even build momentum. We need to hear from you. We need your help to establish a major web presence and get new information — breakthrough information — out and into our culture. Yes, we can print the truth in our newsletter and yes, that is important and positive. But we have breakthrough information that, once released, will be fought tooth and nail, and it will cost a lot of money to push it out past the opposition.
So, my friend, I have to ask: Would you help us? Would you pray and give serious thought to sending the largest gift possible, or making the greatest pledge you can? With many of us joining together and acting in concert, we can turn The Year of the Redacted Darwin into a year of explosive growth for intelligent design.
Please pray and roll up your sleeves to be part of a great shift of momentum. Thank you.
P.S. Why not scroll to the very bottom and forward this letter to a good friend?
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