Texas Academy of Science *
The Texas Academy of Science has been one of the state’s leading advocates of scientific education since its founding in 1892. The Academy’s membership of nearly 1000 scientists and educators pursue a diverse array of scientific disciplines including mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, geosciences, physical anthropology, and computer science. Within their respective disciplines of study, the Academy’s members practice critical observation and experimentation of falsifiable concepts, which are the primary methods for obtaining the data on which scientifically defensible theories and concepts are based. Peer review and re-testing of hypotheses generated through scientific research are mandatory steps prior to the acceptance by the scientific community of any hypothesis or set of hypotheses leading to the development of a credible scientific theory. Newton’s theory of gravitation and the theory of evolution by natural selection are prime examples of scientific concepts that have been rigorously tested in this way by generations of scientists.
Today, the theory of evolution remains the primary unifying cognitive framework in the biological sciences. The effectiveness of the expanding knowledge base of biological systems and their multi-billion year histories requires a firm understanding of evolutionary processes. The purportedly competing “theories” explicated by creationists to displace the theory of evolution in the biological sciences are not based on an effective application of scientific methodologies, nor are they testable using established scientific methodologies. Scientific methodologies are not designed to address metaphysical questions that deal with the nature of god(s) or the reasons for the existence of the universe. The viewpoints expressed by adherents to creationism and intelligent design explicitly address such issues. The overwhelming majority of members of the scientific community defer to experts in philosophy and religion to address metaphysical issues relevant to their respective disciplines.
It is the position of the Texas Academy of Science that because neither creationism nor intelligent design are based on information obtained using scientific methodologies, and because neither has withstood the test of scientific peer review, they are not scientific concepts. It is critically important to recognize that neither of these concepts is falsifiable. Having failed the scientific verification process, both must be excluded from scientific curricula at the primary, secondary and higher education levels. This is not just the position of the Texas Academy of Science, it is the consensus of the U. S. Supreme Court, Judge John E. Jones in Kitzmiller vs. Dover (2004) and 11,000 plus Christian clergy signers of the Clergy Letter Project. Other scientific organizations throughout the United States have formulated position statements calling for the exclusion of creationism and intelligent design from science curricula, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; the National Research Council; the National Center for Science Education; the National Science Teachers Association; the National Association of Biology Teachers; the Geological Society of America; and the American Geological Institute. It is the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community that creationism and intelligent design are faith-based concepts that have no scientific merit.
Texas science teachers have a finite amount of class time and textbook space in which to teach the many valid and foundational scientific concepts that enable students to become knowledgeable consumers, decision makers and voters. Inclusion of creationist or intelligent design concepts in science curricula would seriously diminish the effectiveness of science education by distracting teachers from covering an already overwhelming body of knowledge and would consequently dilute student’s understanding of scientifically valid concepts and theories. Therefore, it is the position of the Texas Academy of Science that, through their policies and decisions, the State Board of Education, the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board should ensure that neither “creationism” nor “intelligent design” is added to the state’s scientific curricula. If the State Board of Education considers the material presented by the concepts of “creationism” or “intelligent design” to be appropriate for inclusion in school curricula, these concepts should be addressed in humanities, social science, or religious studies curricula separate from all pre-kindergarten to graduate school-level science education programs.
Modern industry requires a scientifically educated workforce. In order for Texas to remain economically competitive, it is essential that all Texans, but especially our youth obtain a solid foundation in the sciences. Government agencies which oversee their education must enact policies and make personnel decisions that reflect a commitment to sound, science-based education and which are never dictated by the religious views of agency administrators. Integrating religious doctrine into the mission of the Texas Education Agency or the State Board of Education will result in a further lowering of the educational performance of Texas school children. The hiring of TEA administrators and staff must be based on appropriate educational credentials and teaching experience for those individuals to conduct the agency’s mission to educate the children of Texas. Texas’s reputation is at stake and the country is watching.