Dispatches from the Creation Wars

One of the most powerful tools we have for exposing the creationist agenda for public school science classrooms is the fact that we can trace their own words as their rhetoric, ironically, evolves. They continually change their catchphrases and then feign outrage when you point out that they really believe what they said they believed before their change in terminology. “Creationism” becomes “intelligent design” which becomes “critical analysis of evolution” which becomes “teaching the strengths and weaknesses of evolution” which becomes “having the academic freedom to teach the strengths and weaknesses of evolution. The Texas Freedom Network provides an excellent example of this semantic geneology when it comes to the Texas Board of Education.

These days they all claim that they’re not trying to get ID into public schools, only the “strengths and weaknesses of evolution.” But take a look at how the questions and answers regarding their position has changed over the last few years. In the 2008 voter guide put out by the Free Market Foundation, the Texas chapter of Focus on the Family, they were asked whether they supported teaching “both the scientific strengths and weaknesses of the theory of evolution.” All the usual suspects on the board said they strongly favored doing so. Here’s a snapshot of the guide:


But go back 2 years to the voter guide for 2006 and you can see the old catchphrase at work. In 2006, the candidates for the SBOE were asked if they wanted to “present scientific evidence in our public schools supporting intelligent design, and not just evolution, and treat both theories as viable ones on the origin of life.” And again, all of the folks currently pushing the “strengths and weaknesses” language said that they strongly supported teaching ID. Here’s a snapshot of that guide:


But that’s just the start. Let’s go back to the 2002 voter guide, which asked the same question as in 2006, but with one key change: in the chart of responses, they labeled that issue “creationism.” Here’s a snapshot:


TFN’s conclusions are spot on:

Bottom line: An “intelligent design” supporter today is a creationist with a thesaurus. And a backer of “weaknesses of evolution” is an “intelligent design” supporter who has read the Kitzmiller v. Dover decision. Same motives. Same end game. Same politicians who “Strongly Favor.”

And they predict what the 2010 voter guide will ask:

ACADEMIC FREEDOM: Support the right of teachers to express their personal views on scientific theories on the origins of life.

And you can bet that the same ones who supported teaching creationism and ID will strongly favor that too. This is great work by TFN.


  1. #1 Leonard
    December 18, 2008

    My favorite summation of this sort of thing came from the Columbus Dispatch editorial board in July 2006, when state board member (and co-founder of Moms for Ohio, a right-wing wedge issues PAC) Colleen Grady tried to sneak the “teach the controversy” canard into Ohio’s science classrooms. The Dispatch wrote:

    These few wily board members are the best possible evidence that evolution exists; their tactics mutate every time the public catches on to what’s happening.