The textbook, “Biology,” written by Kenneth R. Miller, a biologist at Brown University, and Joseph S. Levine, a science journalist, is published by Pearson Education, one of the country’s largest publishers of school textbooks.
The decision is significant because Texas is the second-most populous State, and has more than 1,000 public school districts, so decisions made in Texas affect the textbook publishing industry across the entire country.
Approval of the textbook for use in Texas classrooms was delayed for months because the book includes lessons on both evolution and climate change.
Now those are not radical claims in the 21st Century, unless you happen to live in Texas.
In Texas, a 28-member panel is responsible for reviewing textbook submissions from publishers. Unfortunately, six members of the panel are staunch creationists who reject evolution because it disagrees with the biblical accounts.
- Karen Beathard, a nutritionist who believes that, “Creation science based on biblical principles should be incorporated into every biology book.”
- Ide Trotter, a chemical engineer who is listed as a “Darwin Skeptic” on the Web site of the Creation Science Hall of Fame.
- Raymond G. Bohlin, a biologist and fellow of the Discovery Institute, which preaches that the Bible is “without error in the original manuscripts.”
Last month, the Texas Board of Education on Friday delayed final approval of the widely used biology textbook because of concerns raised by Ide Trotter that it presents evolution as fact rather than a theory.
Until the panel ruled on the acceptability of the textbook, Pearson Education was not able to market the book to school districts in Texas.
Karen Beathard, Ide Trotter, Raymond G. Bohlin, and their fellow Creationist in Texas seem to be stuck in the year 1831.
At the time, Darwin was greatly influenced by Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology, published in 1830. Lyell used his powers of observation to show how geologic features, evolved gradually because of the shifting and rising or falling of the land.
Lyell's version of geology is known as uniformitarianism, because of Lyell's fierce insistence that the processes that alter the Earth are uniform throughout time. Lyell’s view the history of life was no different. In his Principles of Geology, Lyell totally rejected the evolutionary theories of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829).
During the reign of Terror following the French Revolution, Lamarck worked as a naturalist at the Musée National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris. In 1793, he was appointed to the position of professor of the natural history of insects and worms (all invertebrates), a subject he knew nothing about.
At the time, the word "invertebrates" did not even exist. Lamarck invented the word invertebrates as a result of his intense study of the huge collection of invertebrates in the museum. In short, Lamarck created an entirely new field of biology.
As a result of his work with the museum’s collection, Lamarck published a series of books on invertebrate zoology and paleontology, including Philosophie Zoologique (1809), which clearly states Lamarck's theories of evolution.
For Lamarck, species evolve by inheriting the traits acquired or modified through the use or disuse of body parts.
In Principles of Geology, Lyell devoted a lot of space to discrediting Lamarck’s theory, and it was by reading Lyell in detail during the voyage of the Beagle, that Darwin was exposed to the theory of evolution.
Lyell was obsessed with the implications of Lamarck’s the evolutionary theory, because in Lyell's view, if Lamarck was right then the Bible was wrong.
Like Lyell, Darwin rejected Lamarck’s version of evolution, but he used it as the basis for his The Origin of Species and The Descent of Man.
Lyell was a staunch Creationist who did not share Darwin’s belief in evolution, but the publication of The Origin of Species in 1859 changed all that.
In 1863, Lyell published The Geological Evidence of the Antiquity of Man, in which Lyell tentatively accepted evolution by natural selection.
Then in 1865, Lyell published a major revision of the Principles of Geology, in which he fully accepted Darwin’s theory of evolution.
So there is still hope for the Creationist in Texas. If staunch Creationists, like Charles Darwin and Charles Lyell were willing to accept the value of scientific observation, then maybe someday the Creationists in Texas will too.