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Darwin knocked off pedestal in high school textbook


Broward selects biology text with watered-down passages on evolution

A review by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel found that on one edited page, Holt agreed to give Darwin less credit for shaping modern biology…..

Previous editions of the textbook said Darwin’s theory “is the essence of biology.”

In the Broward edition, students will read instead that Darwin’s theory “provides a consistent explanation for life’s diversity.”

Holt also added one section that introduced students to the “Cambrian Explosion,” a period in early earth’s history that suggests species aren’t the result of gradual change over time, as Darwin thought.

“That was a key change,” Discovery Institute spokesman John West said. “We want to keep the textbooks honest.”

John West however, points out inaccuracies in the article:
Here. A portion of West’s response letter:

Dear Reader’s Representative:
The definition of intelligent design given in Chris Kahn’s article, “Broward selects biology text with watered-down passages on evolution” (Feb. 24), bears no resemblance to the definition actually used by the scholars and scientists who have proposed the theory. It also bears no resemblance to the definition I discussed with your reporter. Why is that? Why does the Sentinel refuse to allow the proponents of intelligent design to define their own theory, and instead substitute a highly inaccurate definition of its own?

Contrary to your article, the scientific theory of intelligent design makes no claims about “god” or a “guiding force.” Instead, it merely proposes that there is good evidence that some features of nature–like the intricate molecular motors within cells and the finely-tuned laws of physics–are best explained as the products of an intelligent cause, not chance and necessity. Whether this intelligent cause identified through the scientific method is (or is not) “god” cannot be answered by the science alone and is therefore outside the scope of the theory of intelligent design. The issue addressed by intelligent design is a limited one: Is there evidence in nature that many key features are the products of an intelligent (goal-directed) process rather than an undirected process? Put another way, are there empirical indicators for intelligent activity in nature?

Your article also engages in blatant editorializing by insisting that Discovery Institute has tried to “water down” the teaching of evolution. In fact, we want to improve how evolution is taught by making sure students are exposed to the best evidence for and against Darwin’s theory. Regarding the textbook changes we have achieved, I fail to see how correcting documented factual errors (like bogus embryo drawings, false statements about peppered moth research, overstatements about origin of life experiments, and inaccurate statements about the fossil record) constitutes “watering down” the coverage evolution–unless one believes that it is good science education to teach students falsehoods. The “watering down” label is pejorative, not impartial, and has no place in what was supposed to be a news story, not an opinion piece.


John G. West, Ph.D.

How much does 40 million years weigh in terms of evolution? Check out the newest Fossil found in China: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/02/0223_060223_beaver.html "This discovery has pushed fur-bearing nearly 40 million years further into the past," Maybe someone wants to open a new thread about it. tb
“Darwin’s theory provides a consistent explanation for life’s diversity.” Diversity in finch beak size and the like, but that's about it. All else is extrapolation that can't be tested or observed -- extrapolation based on an a priori assumption that the theory must be valid. The textbooks should mention this. GilDodgen
Jasonng, how can we tell them apart? And ultimately what difference does it make in the argument? danb
I don't know if I'm right, but to me a "guiding force" sounds like an intelligence that's consistently watching over the organism, controlling each step in its evolution. An "intelligent cause" could be an intelligence that front-loads the information into an organism and leaves it alone to develop. jasonng
I know this is semantics, but what is the difference between a "guiding force" or an "intelligent cause"? West clearly thinks they are different. Any insight? danb
Is the "cambrian explosion" inconsistent with "relatively fast gradual change over time"? After all, the "explosion" took many millions of years (i.e. several orders of magnitude more than 6 days). Raevmo
Does this mean God will tell Martha Wise to move to Florida and file a lawsuit? jacktone

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