South Carolina Board of Education Considers Creationism

Two years ago, the S.C. state school board introduced creationist-friendly language into its science standards, mainly on the urging of Republican State Senator Mike Fair. This was part of the Wedge Strategy, and involved including language to “critically analyze” evolutionary theory. They were highly criticised at the time.In January, the board will consider the use of two textbooks in sate schools. Board Member Charles McKinney is brining into the discussion criticisms brought up by Clemson Universtiy Professor Horace Skipper. One of the books is by Kenneth Miller and Joseph Levine. Skipper’s claim:

Where (Miller) talks about the origins of life and evolution stuff — I didn’t see where they had the scientific support that I think public schools need in a textbook,

He is talking about the widely acclaimed textbook Biology, used in many schools througout the country. At present, 100 schools in South Carolina use this textbook.Ken Miller plans to be at the hearing on January 9th. Not to sell his textbook, but to defend evolution. Go Ken.Here is a note on the SC Citizens for Science Education web site providing some of the details, dated December 15th:

… I’ve finally been able to gather enough information about Wednesday’s meeting of the State Board of Education that I feel comfortable sharing with the group at large. I myself was not present when the Board withheld approval of two biology texts on the basis of creationist objections, but have been able to piece together a fairly complete picture of the proceedings from friends and colleagues who were in attendance.The two books held back for further study were the Miller & Levine “Biology” (Prentice Hall) and the Raven, Johnson, Losos & Singer “Biology” (Glencoe/McGraw Hill). Both of these titles enjoy sterling reputations nationwide; the latter is a college-level text suggested for use in HS advanced placement courses. Both texts were approved in September by the state’s high school biology textbook evaluation committee, a panel of 11 educators, most with 20+ years of experience in the classroom.During October and November, the texts approved by the state Evaluation Committee were sent out for public review to 28 sites – mostly colleges and universities with teacher education programs. It was during this period of time, that Ms. Kristin Maguire (or one of her colleagues) apparently contacted two outside referees to review the texts, a Dr. Joseph Henson and a Dr. Horace D. Skipper.Skipper and Henson are young-earth creationists. Dr. Skipper is listed on the Institute for Creation Research website among the colleagues of Carl Fliermans, an ICR “Associated Scientist.” Henson is on the faculty at Bob Jones University. According to his testimony on the BJU website, “Through his high school years, [Henson] did not believe evolution because of his religious upbringing, his familiarity with the Genesis accounts of Creation and the Flood, and because he did not take biology in high school. However, during his college years he entertained ideas about theistic evolution and other compromising positions in an effort to reconcile the Bible with what was considered science… These questions, along with the commandment in 1 Peter 3:15, prompted him to study, think, and pray on his own, as well as consult believers knowledgeable in science and philosophy who upheld the absolute authority of the Bible. These years of struggle resulted in a firm belief in the biblical account of Creation.”

The relatively pedantic critique provided by Skipper and his crew is here.Well, its mostly pedantic, but has a few gems, such as “Eruption Mt. St. Helen in 1980 proved long ages are not needed for geological formations. Canyons in GA and WA states were formed in days or months, respectively, and not millions or billions of year. (sic)”(Here’s what I have to say about Canyons and Creationists.)And this one: “In a malaria fit over several hours, A. Wallace developed the same theory that had taken Charles Darwin 20 years to develop and A. Wallace was co-author fo the first Origin of Species paper (not book).”…and…”Since scorpions are still scorpions after 25 millions of years (if date is accurate), what does this prove?”And this tidbit suggesting that the Bean is the product of an Intelligent Designer (probably named Mr. Bean, I would suspect):””Since soybean has about 50 genes involved in nitrogen fixation and these must function with another 50 genes for nitrogen fixation in bradyrhizobia, the probability of such a functional relationship by random chance over eons of time per evolutionary theory is zero. This section should be deleted or probabilities be addressed”I’m sure the authors of this widely used textbook will appreciate these suggestions…In fact, here is Miller And Levine’s Response.See also this post on Pharyngula (which is where I cribbed the Miller and Levine response).

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3 thoughts on “South Carolina Board of Education Considers Creationism

  1. Skipper – make that FORMER Clemson prof (not in biology) and major whack-job. I heard him give a talk last year in which he blamed evolution for rising bank fees on checking accounts. I’m completely serious. The banks have evolved, and now charge him more for his checking account, so obviously evolution is evil, wrong, and destroying society.

  2. The South? Hell, why does America have such a concentration of ignorant creationists? It’s bad enough that you keep “creating” them but now you’re exporting the crazy ideas here too. I wish they’d just do a dodo on us an die out – they’re about as useful.

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