Texas 'Freedom' Network, UTA Professor Oppose Academic Freedom in Public Schools
by Brian Thomas, M.S. *
The upcoming battle over what public science textbooks should teach promises to be no less contentious than the battles of the past. The Texas State Board of Education held a public hearing Wednesday, November 19, 2008, about the state’s science standards, which Board members will vote on early next year. Some interest groups are outraged that certain individuals still do not believe that particles developed into people all by themselves, and they are gathering their arguments to influence the Board, whose decision will affect millions of schoolchildren’s science curricula.
One such group—Texas Freedom Network (TFN), billing itself as “A Mainstream Voice to Counter the Religious Right”—recently conducted a survey of evolutionary biologists across the state. They presented their results to the Board during the hearing, confident that the survey “leaves no doubt that the political crusade against evolution and other attempts to dumb down our public school science curriculum are deeply misguided.”1
TFN may consider the results to be definitive, but the implementation and presentation of the survey were wrapped in a host of false arguments that prop up the organization’s strong faith in unobservable macroevolution (e.g., fish changing into frogs).
First, portraying a “crusade against evolution” as an “attempt to dumb down” science education is a baseless smear, committing the fallacy of “appeal to ridicule.” The group’s mission to ensure evolutionary indoctrination in the schools belies the fact that evolution is not a scientific observation, but an abstract idea. If macroevolution were demonstrable, then surely students could just see the evidence for themselves (such as they can with gravity and entropy and other scientifically observable realities). Instead, TFN chooses to use lobbying, campaigning, faulty reasoning, and other peer-pressure ridicule tactics to push its agenda.
According to the survey, “universities in Texas soundly reject arguments promoted by opponents of scientific evolution.”1 The mantra “evolution is science” is reiterated so often that many believe it simply by virtue of its repetition, but it amounts to the argumentum ad nauseum fallacy (a conclusion is true because it is often repeated).
However, the relevant question is, “Is evolution science or scientifically verifiable?” To assert that evolution is true without demonstrating it (with live examples, plausible mechanisms, or transitional forms) is to commit the logical fallacy “begging the question,” where the conclusion is assumed in the premise.
“The claim of broad support in the science community for intelligent design/creationism so often trumpeted by evolution skeptics simply does not exist in the biology and biological anthropology departments at Texas colleges and universities,”2 the TFN stated. The survey’s authors seem totally convinced that intelligent design advocates are just cleverly disguised creationists, but this ignores the relevant facts. Many different religions—naturalism included—are represented among the hundreds of signers of the Scientific Dissent from Darwinism.3 As Dr. Jerry Bergman has amply documented in his book Slaughter of the Dissidents,4 and as the Ben Stein documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed further illustrated, any dissent from Darwinian dogma is taken as sacrilege by the establishment monopoly. To merely question macroevolution, from those of any religious background, results in systematic exclusion from positions and employment in major universities. Is it any wonder then that the survey of major university professors revealed a massive majority of evolutionary proponents?
TFN claims to be mainstream, yet popular surveys show that the radically dogmatic, evolution-only philosophy that they are laboring to force upon public schoolchildren is actually a minority view as of 2007, when a Gallup poll showed that 66 percent of Americans surveyed favored the concepts of creation.5
The TFN survey offers another faulty argument. Raymond Eve of the University of Texas at Arlington, who conducted the survey, told the Houston Chronicle that "with 94 percent of Texas faculty ... telling me it [teaching the weaknesses in Darwinian evolution] shouldn't be there, I tend to believe them."6 An argumentum ad populum holds that because many people believe a conclusion, the conclusion must be correct. However, the validity of a given conclusion should correspond to reality, not to that which is most popular. Though many people believe a certain doctrine, they may all be entirely mistaken, as history has repeatedly confirmed.
Unfortunately, the cold, hard facts of science do not support the evolutionary account. Forensic evidence from nature easily aligns with a creation model.7 TFN and the evolutionary establishment’s efforts show that in the absence of real scientific evidence, molecules-to-man evolution must be propped up by monopolistic bullying.8
- Survey of Texas University Faculty: Overwhelming Opposition to Watering Down Evolution in School Science Curriculum. Texas Freedom Network press release, November 2008.
- Eve, R.A, and C. A. Belhadi. 2008. Evolution, Creationism & Public Education: Surveying What Texas Scientists Think about Educating Our Kids in the 21st Century. A Report from the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund, accessed online November 18, 2008.
- A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism. Discovery Institute. Posted on dicovery.org August 2008, accessed November 18, 2008.
- Thomas, B. 2008. Book Review: Slaughter of the Dissidents. Acts & Facts. 37 (11): 19.
- Gallup poll results. USA Today. Posted on usatoday.com June 7, 2007, accessed June 25, 2008.
- Scharrer, G. Most Texas profs support no limits on evolution teaching: 98% in survey against politics in science education. The Houston Chronicle. Posted on chron.com November 17, 2008, accessed November 18, 2008.
- Study the many articles available on this topic on www.icr.org.
- Bergman, J. 2008. Slaughter of the Dissidents. Southworth, WA: Leafcutter Press. In this book, Dr. Bergman implicitly but thoroughly documents the prevalent use of the logical fallacy argumentum ad baculum (an appeal to force) in an approach that might be summarized thus: “Evolution is true because if you don’t believe in it you will lose your job.”
* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer.
Article posted on November 26, 2008.