Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Mess in Texas

Yes, Texas is finally on the proper ID-evolution controversy map. Yesterday, NYT reported on the firing of Texas Education Agency's director of science, Christine Comer. And the grounds for her dismissal? Forwarding an e-mail to the local community about a talk by Barabara Forrest, a philosopher and a leading critic of Intelligent Design. And kudos to NYT for a prompt editorial, Evolution and Texas, in today's paper:

As Ralph Blumenthal reported in The Times yesterday, Ms. Comer forwarded to a local online community an e-mail message from a pro-evolution group announcing a talk by Barbara Forrest, a professor of philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University. Professor Forrest testified as an expert witness in a 2005 Dover, Pa., case that found intelligent design supernatural and theological and definitely not part of a scientific education.

An hour later, Ms. Comer was called in by superiors, pressured to send out a retraction and ultimately forced to resign. Her departure was instigated by a new deputy commissioner who had served as an adviser to George Bush when he was governor of Texas and more recently worked in the federal Department of Education.

It was especially disturbing that the agency accused Ms. Comer — by forwarding the e-mail message — of taking a position on “a subject on which the agency must remain neutral.” Surely the agency should not remain neutral on the central struggle between science and religion in the public schools. It should take a stand in favor of evolution as a central theory in modern biology. Texas’s own education standards require the teaching of evolution.

And here is the reason Texas may be gearing up for an ID controversy:

Those standards are scheduled to be reviewed next year. Ms. Comer’s dismissal and comments in favor of intelligent design by the chairman of the state board of education do not augur well for that review. We can only hope that adherents of a sound science education can save Texas from a retreat into the darker ages.

And while at it, if you are still in a good mood, try out this NYT Magazine article about professional young-earth geologists (yes, 8000 year old earth) and about big crowds going to the Creationism museum in Kentucky. Yikes!!