By Lucia RodriguezThe unabridged evolution theory and the concept of intelligent design will be incorporated in Texas public schools curriculums beginning in 2010.
The Texas Board of Education voted March 27 by a 13-to-2 margin to revise its science curriculum, which was last approved in 1998. The existing curriculum, states that students must be able to analyze the “strengths and weaknesses” of scientific theories such as evolution. The proposed new guidelines removes the “strengths and weaknesses” language, which has been in place since 1988, and state, “scientific theories are well-established and highly reliable explanations, but may be subject to change as new areas of science and new technologies are developed.” The measures adopted by the board may cause debate on key aspects of evolutionary theory such as natural selection and common ancestry.
“In CCISD we focus on strengths, weakness, and changes that have resulted from our improved technology, of all theories, not just evolution,” said Terry Berry, secondary science coordinator for Clear Creek Independent School District.
“We present the student to evolution as a biological concept,” said Marvin Stewart with Hardin Independent School District.
Charles Darwin formulated the two theories: creationism, which holds that God created all living things as stated in the Bible; and the theory evolution, which holds that different species have evolved naturally from a common ancestor. Darwin concluded that the creation theory could not be true, and thus opted for the theory of evolution put forth in his book “On the Origins of Species.” The evolution concept supports the belief that animals and plants have developed or ‘evolved’ gradually through various existing forms.
Intelligent design theory is another theory of origin that claims there is evidence of complex biological structures and other aspects of nature having been designed by a superior intelligence. Their complexity level is so high that these structures could not have just gradually evolved as per Darwin’s Theory. Intelligent design theory does not rely on the biblical account of creation like creationism; it does acknowledge a belief in God.
The issue of evolution is one that is tinged with politics, religion, science, legislation and educational curriculum.
Democrats have supported the evolutionary theory and most of the Republicans have opposed it in favor of the creationist theory. From a Pew Poll taken between May 21-24, 2007, it was found that 68 percent of Republicans favored the idea that God created human beings about 10,000 years ago, while only 30 percent believe in evolution. Independents and Democrats, on the other hand, voted 61 and 57 percent, respectively in favor of evolution theory.
Christian fundamentalists protest the teaching of evolution in schools and support the teaching of biblical creationism.
“Because intelligent design is based on belief, not science, we have not included it in our curriculum,.” Berry said.
Advocates of intelligent design desire to have it taught in U.S. public schools alongside the Darwinian theory of evolution.
According to a Gallup poll, since 1982 there has been very little change in the views of adult Americans on this issue. Between 43 percent and 47 percent of Americans during this period supported the creationist view that God created human beings pretty much in their present form
“Between 35 percent and 40 percent have agreed with the alternative explanation that humans evolved, but with God guiding the process as in the case of intelligent design while 9 percent to 14 percent have chosen a pure secularist evolution perspective that humans evolved with no guidance by God.” the Gallop Poll survey states.
These new standards in Texas School curriculums are meant to last over the next ten years and will have a great impact on the classroom education in Texas, its test materials and content of science textbooks.