Evolution News and Views (ENV) provides original reporting and analysis about the debate over intelligent design and evolution, including breaking news about scientific research.

Evolution News and Views
Texas NEWS

Dallas Morning News Debate on Evolution: Evolution Defender Preaches Religion, While Evolution Critics Focus on Science

The op-ed page of today's Dallas Morning News features a revealing exchange on the Texas science standards. Medical professor and evolution supporter Daniel Foster devotes his column to religion, while biology professor Amiel Jarstfer and lawyer Kelly Coghlan focus on science. Foster is completely out-gunned; if I supported his side of the debate, I'd be more than a little embarrassed.

Part of the problem is that Foster doesn't seem to know anything about what the State Board of Education is actually doing. He starts out with a giant blooper: "This week the Texas State Board of Education will vote, for the third time, on wording in science textbooks." (emphasis added) No, Dr. Foster, Board members aren't voting on "wording in science textbooks" this week. They are voting on science standards to govern what students should learn in the science classroom. Those science standards eventually will have an impact on the textbook selection process, but biology textbooks aren't even up for adoption in Texas this year. The debate right now is over science standards, not textbooks.

It gets worse. Foster next insists that

There are multiple proposed amendments to texts suggesting that experimental and confirmed scientific facts be treated as if they are no more valid than religious beliefs. An example: the promotion of the "young earth" view -- that humans and all creatures, including dinosaurs, appeared 6,000 to 10,000 years ago and implying that the scientific view that the universe is 13.7 billion years old is wrong.

To reiterate: the Board is not amending textbooks, so it can't possibly be considering "multiple proposed amendments" to textbooks. I suppose what Dr. Foster meant to say was that there are multiple amendments to add things like the "young earth" to the science standards. Except he's wrong about that too. There are no proposals to add young earth creationism to the science standards. None. Such ill-informed comments make one wonder whether Foster has even read the proposed science standards. I hope he doesn't practice medicine with as blithe regard to the facts as he comments on public affairs.

Foster ends by touting his own religious credentials and even engaging in Biblical interpretation. He says he is an elder in a Presbyterian Church, has taught Sunday School for over 30 years, and argues that the Board should base its science education policy on his interpretation of Matthew 22:21. No, I'm not kidding.

It's curious that evolutionists keep insisting their views are based on science when they spend so much time trying to turn the spotlight on religion. If teaching evolution is about science, why does Foster expend so much effort touting his religious credentials and interpreting scripture?

The opposing piece by Jarstfer and Coghlan, by contrast, tries to return the focus to science. Jarstfer and Coghlan actually describe the point at issue--whether to scrap the "strengths and weaknesses" language that has been applied to schools in Texas for two decades. They also highlight the red herrings put forward by the evolution lobby to divert attention from the real debate--red herrings like the false claim that people are trying to insert young earth creationism into the science standards. Finally, Jarstfer and Coghlan concisely summarize the scientific challenges to modern Darwinian theory, including the Cambrian explosion, irreducibly complex biological structures, and the harmfulness of random mutations.

Kudos to the Dallas Morning News for airing both sides of the debate--even if the evolution side was so poorly represented.