In September, a panel of educators created by the Texas Education Agency to streamline the state’s science curriculum voted to remove Creationist language from four passages in the science standards written in 2009.
For example, the panel voted to strike out a requirement for students to evaluate the scientific evidence for “sudden appearance,” an idea tied to the Cambrian Explosion that argues that a sudden change in fossil record is inconsistent with the evolutionary pace of change.
The panel also voted to scrap requirements for students to “evaluate scientific explanations concerning the complexity of the cell,” which allows students to analyze the Creationist belief that the structure of cells and their functions are too complex to have developed through evolution.
Additionally, the panel voted to no longer require students to examine “all sides of scientific evidence of those scientific explanations, so as to encourage critical thinking by the student,” and even claimed that “evidence does not have sides, only different perspectives on the interpretation of the evidence.”
While the panel voted to approve their curriculum guidelines, the final decision for the change in curriculum will be voted on by the Texas State Board of Education sometime early next year, according to the Daily Beast.
In an interview with The Christian Post, Ross, an astrophysicist and founder of the progressive Creationist organization Reasons to Believe, explained that while there might be some issues with the Creationist models in the state’s curriculum, it would be a complete disservice for students not to be able to examine all the sides of the evidence they are presented.
“[Evidence] can have sides,” Ross told CP. “The book of nature and book of Scripture significantly overlap and therefore we can use science to put to the test what the Bible says.”
Ross said the critique against the Creationist models presented in Texas’ standards is that they aren’t testable or falsifiable.
He added that a problem that Creationists have in getting their ideas presented in public schools is that they oftentimes don’t “attach dates” or explain “who the Intelligent Designer is.” Not answering such questions, Ross says, leads scientists to believe that they are being deceived.
Ross continued by saying he believes the Creationist models in Texas’ curriculum could be testable if details were hashed out more thoroughly.
“I think the problem with what is happening in Texas is that they are throwing out the baby with the bathwater. A few fixes in what they have there will go a long way because yeah, we have very sound scientific evidence for the suddenness of the Cambrian Explosion,” Ross said. “I think one reason why it’s not getting the attention it deserves is that proponents are unwilling to attach dates. If they were willing to attach dates, they would have a much stronger scientific case for their position and they would remove the appearance of deception.”
“If you are not willing to be specific on those kinds of issues it is very difficult to build a testable model,” he added. “Another factor that I think is really important is that when the question ‘Who the designer is’ is dodged or ‘What is the age of the age of the universe’ is dodged, scientists usually see that as symptoms of deception. They are trying to fool me.”
As conservative members of the board are putting up a fight to keep the Creationist language in the curriculum standards, the Texas Tribune reports that conservative opposition to the standard changes may have been aided by the most recent election, when all Republican members seeking re-election won and one Republican seeking election for the first time in a deeply conservative area beat his Democratic opponent.