The Evolution of Intelligent Design

The latest effort to sneak creationism into schools should stop now.

A strong push by the political right backed by big money has been heating up the battle over how students in Texas and across the nation are to be taught about the origins of life. In an effort to punch holes in evolution theory and revive the dying intelligent design movement, the Texas Board of Education may mandate the use of textbooks that invite theistic explanations of life by including the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution.

Historically, the science curriculum supported by the Texas Board of Education has included the alleged “strengths and weaknesses” of the theory of evolution. But this statement has not had any real effect, as creationist sympathizers have not held enough seats on the Board of Education to declare current textbooks’ assertions to be inadequate in discussing those concerns. When the board meets this summer to set the curriculum for the next decade of Texas’ public education, seven of the 15 board members are expected to support the inclusion of evolution’s “strengths and weaknesses” in the next generation of textbooks.

This decision may end up having a broader effect on education in the United States. As one of the largest consumers of textbooks, the curriculum change may discourage the publication of texts that do not align with Texas education standards.

The supporters of this measure suggest that they are simply attempting to encourage a skeptical approach to evolution on the erroneous grounds that it has not yet been proven. But this statement is hollow considering Don McLeroy, Chairman of the Board of Education, is a vocal proponent of measures to “replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God.” McLeroy and the like-minded clearly do not care about the factuality or accuracy of science education when the lesson plan may compromise their worldview. And that worldview may soon become policy not just in Texas, but elsewhere. This craven effort to subvert public education is not pro-skepticism, it is anti-science.