The New York Times provides an update on the latest shenanigans of the ID folks:
Now a battle looms in Texas over science textbooks that teach evolution, and the wrestle for control seizes on three words. None of them are “creationism” or “intelligent design” or even “creator.”
The words are “strengths and weaknesses.”
Starting this summer, the state education board will determine the curriculum for the next decade and decide whether the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution should be taught. The benign-sounding phrase, some argue, is a reasonable effort at balance. But critics say it is a new strategy taking shape across the nation to undermine the teaching of evolution, a way for students to hear religious objections under the heading of scientific discourse.
Somehow I don’t think a failure to fully incorporate the findings of evo-devo into traditional Neo-Darwinism is the sort of weakness they have in mind.
Since Intelligent Design (ID) is nothing more than a litany of alledged failures of evolution with the statement, “Therefore, God did it,” tacked on at the end, this is plainly an attempt to teach ID. “Strengths and weaknesses” is just the new euphemism they have devised for covering up their sectarian religious motives.
The article goes on to quote one of the main supporters of the change:
Dr. McLeroy, the board chairman, sees the debate as being between “two systems of science.”
“You’ve got a creationist system and a naturalist system,” he said.
Dr. McLeroy believes that Earth’s appearance is a recent geologic event — thousands of years old, not 4.5 billion. “I believe a lot of incredible things,” he said, “The most incredible thing I believe is the Christmas story. That little baby born in the manger was the god that created the universe.”
But Dr. McLeroy says his rejection of evolution — “I just don’t think it’s true or it’s ever happened” — is not based on religious grounds. Courts have clearly ruled that teachings of faith are not allowed in a science classroom, but when he considers the case for evolution, Dr. McLeroy said, “it’s just not there.”
“My personal religious beliefs are going to make no difference in how well our students are going to learn science,” he said.
If Texas high school students are taught a lot of creationist talking points because McLeroy gets his way, then I’d say his personal religious views will be making a big difference in how well they learn science.
The article closes with this:
“When you consider evolution, there are certainly questions that have yet to be answered,” said Mr. Fisher, science coordinator for the Lewisville Independent School District in North Texas.
But, he added, “a question that has yet to be answered is certainly different from an alleged weakness.”
Mr. Fisher points to the flaws in Darwinian theory that are listed on an anti-evolution Web site, strengthsandweaknesses.org, which is run by Texans for Better Science Education.
“Many of them are decades old,” Mr. Fisher said of the flaws listed. &lldquo;They’ve all been thoroughly refuted.”
The distinction between an open question (calling it a problem makes it sound like it’s something you’re worried about) and a weakness is an important one. An open question is one that you might reasonably hope to answer with more research of the same basic kind you have been doing. A weakness is some bit of data that seems to conflict with the expectations of the theory. Evolution has plenty of open questions, but no weaknesses. The problem for biologists is never, “How could this possible have evolved?” It is always, “Of the many ways this might have evolved, which is the correct one.”
Incidentally, if you follow the link mentioned in the article, you realize that Dr. Fisher is not kidding. Their list of weaknesses in evolution is the usual litany of creationist quote-mines. Worth a skim, if just for the part where Stephen Jay Gould is described as an “Atheist-Marxist-Evolutionist.”