On September 17, the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) held a hearing on new proposed instructional materials/textbooks for science and math classes, and the focus was clearly on the topic of evolution. Almost five dozen people spoke to the board, including NCSE’s Josh Rosenau. (For background leading up the hearing, see Josh’s earlier posts here, here, and here.) My colleague Genie Scott has already posted some of her reactions after we watched the proceedings on-line. (Archived video of the entire afternoon is provided by the Texas Education Agency.) And I know that Josh will be posting more in the next few days about his time in Texas and the hearing.
However, I wanted to highlight one specific speaker whom I found especially entertaining and illuminating: Don McLeroy, one-time SBOE chair and forthright young-earth creationist. Unlike other anti-evolution speakers who trotted out the usual misunderstandings and long-refuted misrepresentations of evolution or its treatment in biology textbooks while calling for them to be modified, Dr. McLeroy (a dentist by profession) surprised me, and probably most other observers, by calling for the board to adopt the disputed biology textbooks without changes despite what he considers their “dogmatism.”
And why, exactly, would he want this? You can see his entire presentation here, starting at about the 28:18 mark, but to summarize briefly, he gave two reasons for wanting the board to adopt the biology books as is. First, to do so would “strike the final blow to the teaching of evolution,” because, in his opinion, the books contain either no real evidence or only very weak evidence for evolution. He thinks that in the texts the “evidence [is] incredibly weak to nonexistent. If there’s no evidence, there’s no evolution.”
Second, McLeroy thinks that the biology books also “happen coincidentally to support what the Bible says…What we see in these books supports what the Bible says.” Later he asserted, “Even the units on evolution support what the Bible says, because, as demonstrated, they don’t even support evolution.” These sentiments beautifully illustrate one of the classic logical fallacies of creationist arguments against evolution: the false dichotomy. It must be either evolution or Biblical creation, there are no other alternatives, and evidence against one is necessarily evidence for the other.
And thus his concluding call to the Board where he served until being defeated in 2010: “Strike the final blow to the teaching of evolution, support the Bible, and adopt these books.” Does anyone still wonder why we at NCSE, after years of following this issue, tend to be suspicious of those who claim that their opposition to the concept of evolution is not religiously-based, that they do not have any interest in promoting their own narrow sectarian religious views in public school classrooms, that they really just want to teach more about evolution and science?
Thank you, Dr. McLeroy, for helping to clarify this issue for anyone who hasn’t been paying attention.
(Our friends at the Texas Freedom Network have also posted their own video of Don McLeroy’s presentation and a commentary on it.)