April 28, 2017
Robert Lattimer Eagle Forum Science Issues Chairman reported the Texas Board of Education retained language in the state’s science standards for the critical analysis of life’s development on April 21. In particular, the “streamlined” standards call for analysis of cellular complexity, the origin of DNA, and abrupt appearance and stasis in the fossil record. These welcome additions should help students evaluate the feasibility of evolutionary processes, and they may provide an opening for alternative hypotheses to be considered.
All is not well, however. The Texas standards never mention methodological naturalism (or scientific materialism, which is clearly a foundation for the document), and the possibility of purposeful design in nature (teleology) is never considered. Moreover, materialistic language is retained in standards on biological evolution, the origin of the universe, and the origin of life.
To be fair, the Texas science standards are better than those of most other states (and the Next Generation Science Standards). But nevertheless, no state standards have broken the barrier to explicitly recognize intelligent causation as a possibility in the origin and development of the universe and of life. Thus, while the Texas Board’s revisions are encouraging, the U.S. has a long way to go in developing truly objective standards.