Friday, January 23, 2009

Creationist mess in Texas and Evolution in texbooks in Pakistan

Mutation of creationism in the US continues. But it seems that crap with any new clothes is still crap. Efforts to change biology curriculum have seen the presentation of creationism evolve (yes, yes, I know) from "creation science" -> "scientific creationism" -> "intelligent design" -> "teach the controversy" and now to the latest "strengths and weaknesses". Texas is now at the center of this battle and Texas school board is currently conducting hearings on the topic (check out latest updates and live blogging from Josh Rosenau here).

It seems that, at least for the time being, some sanity has prevailed and the Texas Board of Education will not be inserting a "strengths and weaknesses" statement (the new creationist catchphrase) in the education standards. The vote for the amendment to add the statement was 7-7 (yikes! too close) - and thus it failed. The final decision will take place in March. Read the full story here.
Update: Creationists on the board did succeed in making some amendments - including one on the discussion of fossil record in education - and so Texas is not out of hot water yet.

Fig: Chapter on Evolution in 12th grade biology textbook in Pakistan. There is a verse from the Qur'an at the top - but rest of the chapter presents evolution as a fact of science and there are no religious references.

By the way, I find it interesting that biology textbooks in Pakistan present evolution as a fact. To be sure, they don't talk about human evolution at all - but still it is nice to see evolution in there. What's more interesting is the fact that biology textbooks have a number of verses from the Qur'an. In fact, the epigraph to the chapter on evolution is a Qur'anic verse - but the rest of the chapter goes on without any reference to religion (the above image is from a 12th grade biology textbook). I don't know how many students actually take note of the Qur'anic verse - but at least they get to learn about evolution. This is not to say that things are all rosy in Pakistan - only 14% accept evolution (see my paper on Islamic Creationism here (pdf)) - but at least on the issue of presenting evolution in textbooks, surprisingly, Pakistan is not doing that bad. Paradoxically, the lack of separation of mosque and state in Pakistan is, perhaps, keeping the controversy over textbooks at bay.

5 comments:

JMH said...

This is so interesting! Thanks.
Jennifer

Robin said...

Yeah, thx for the thoughts. I like your evolutionary arrow diagram for the teaching of creationism in the US. Are you going to post any comments on Jerry Coyne? Seems to be a lot of buzz on him now, possibly due to new book which I have yet to read. Reading this today and finding it limited: http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2009/01/jerry-coyne-on-science-vs-religion.html

Salman Hameed said...

Yes, I did see the Coyne article and I will be posting about it probably later today (I have an NSF proposal due later this week - and at present, its kicking my butt).

Salman Hameed said...

Oh - and thanks for the link!

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