Don McLeroy, Confused Again
by Steven Schafersman, Ph.D.
Texas Citizens for Science
2009 March 14
Our dear but quite confused Chair of the Texas State Board of Education, Dr. Don McLeroy, has just written a review that recommends Sowing Atheism, a book that attacks the National Academy of Sciences for its support of evolution and criticism of Creationism and claims it promotes an "evo-atheist religious philosophy." I don't know what else the NAS could have done...after all, it is a science organization, not a Creationist organization. What the NAS promotes, of course, is not atheism (how could it, when 40% of U.S. scientists are not atheists but theists) and certainly not "evo-atheism," but methodological naturalism, which Sowing Atheism's author, Bob Johnson, ignorantly conflates with atheism.
Many American theists, a number that includes many scientists, willingly accept methodological naturalism (or procedural materialism) as a scientific principle, and this principle is no doubt implicitly taught in colleges, universities, and K-12 schools, and there is nothing wrong with that. The alternative would be to implicitly or explicitly teach either ontological naturalism or supernaturalism, and these would be illegal to teach in public K-12 schools (but not post-secondary institutions, of course, especially private ones). Johnson and McLeroy, of course, want supernaturalism to be implicitly taught in public schools (by denigrating evolution and similar natural processes that deal with origins) and McLeroy is additionally willing to use the power of his public office as an elected education official and appointed board chair to accomplish that illegal goal.
I thank Texas Citizens for Science vice-president Paul Murray for bringing McLeroy's latest caper to my attention.
The March 6 Texas Observer published a letter of mine that further documents Dr. McLeroy's profound ignorance and willingness to accept absurd Biblical Literalist and Christian Fundamentalist tenets without adequate intellectual reflection, and he is not timid about stating them. The original letter is available at http://www.texasobserver.org/comments.php?aid=2965 in reply to the February 20 Texas Observer article about Don McLeroy, "The Curious Faith of Don McLeroy" available at http://www.texasobserver.org/article.php?aid=2965. Yet another interesting article about Don McLeroy, "Education board leader set to challenge evolution" available at http://www.statesman.com/search/content/region/legislature/stories/03/08/0308mcleroy.html, was just published March 8 in the Austin American-Statesman. Both of these articles provide insight into Don McLeroy's thinking processes.
Our State Board of Education Chair has become quite a celebrity, since he has no qualms about explaining his amazingly sectarian, misinformed, and pseudoscientific religious beliefs to journalists. As SBOE chair, Don currently represents the Texas face of science education to the outside world, and the science blogs are delighted to publicize him. I wish to participate in this laudatory activity, since McLeroy's political superiors in the Texas Legislature will shortly be asked to confirm his nomination by Governor Rick Perry, and we science bloggers want them to be as well-informed as possible about the mockery of science and education that regularly continues in Austin at the State Board of Education. Don McLeroy, his six Biblical Literalist and Creationist colleagues on the State Board of Education, and their opposition to accurate and reliable science education in our state's public schools are an embarrassment to both Texas and humanity.
Update, March 15: Mr. Robert Johnson sent me a copy of his press release capitalizing on Dr. Don McLeroy's endorsement of his book. Mr. Johnson says,
McLeroy extols Johnson’s succinct demonstration that natural selection, the vaunted lynchpin of evolutionist reasoning, is not a scientific principle at all, but rather a mere figure of speech that adds nothing to our understanding of nature. McLeroy has said he plans to raise this issue in the March 26-27 meetings.
I’m delighted with Mr. McLeroy’s endorsement of ‘Sowing Atheism,’ and hope all the board members read it thoughtfully before they vote. Our nation cannot progress morally, spiritually, or politically so long as we permit the NAS to teach our children that they are descended by chance from worms.
I guess it is too much to hope for that either Mr. Johnson or Dr. McLeroy (who thinks we claim humans are descended from a banana) realize that their knowledge of evolution is completely incompetent. Evolutionary scientists say humans and worms (and bananas) share a common ancestor, not that we are descended from them. Also, evolution is not solely a chance process; if it were, the biological diversity we have today would be essentially impossible. The natural selection component of evolution does not operate by chance, but by mechanistic and deterministic processes that are devoid of chance and operate by statistal laws. Natural selection operates on genetic variation, which provides the random or chance element necessary for evolution to proceed, but natural selection, the non-chance component, is equally essential. Modern scientists are fully convinced that these two components explain the diversity of life.
Saturday, March 14th, 2009
1 February 2009
Sowing Atheism Recommendation
In the current culture war over science education and the teaching of evolution, Bob Johnson’s Sowing Atheism provides a unique and insightful perspective. In critiquing the National Academy of Science’s (NAS) missionary evolution tract—Science, Evolution and Creationism, 2008, he identifies their theft of true science by their intentional neglect of other valid scientific possibilities. Then, using NAS’s own statements, he demonstrates that the great “process” of evolution—natural selection—is nothing more than a figure of speech. These chapters alone are worth the reading of this book.
Next he shows how the NAS attempts to seduce the unwitting reader by providing scanty empirical evidence but presented with great intellectual bullying—both secular and religious. He actually embarrasses the NAS with a long list of their quotes where they make the obvious claim that evolutionists believe in evolution. He then shines light on the Clergy Letter Project, again showing the obvious—theistic evolutionists believe in evolution.
Again, Sowing Atheism brings a unique perspective to an always interesting debate; advocates for both sides should find the book intriguing. The questions it raises are important; they deserve a hearing.
Chair, Texas State Board of Education
College Station, Texas
Free PDF Download
Robert Bowie Johnson, Jr., who holds a general science degree from West Point, wrote SOWING ATHEISM in response to the book published by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in January of this year, Science, Evolution, and Creationism. The NAS sent its book to educators, school boards, and science teachers throughout the United States, falsely affirming that molecules-to-man evolution is a "fact" when in reality it does not even meet the minimum conditions for a valid theory. The words from the NAS's own book and quotations from its associates reveal that:
* The NAS has no bona fide evidence for the spontaneous chemical general of life from matter, for the "evolution" of the sexes, or for what they call "speciation," the alleged evolution of one species into another over vast eons of time.
* The leaders of the NAS do not embrace open-minded, objective science, but rather, an evo-atheist (evolutionist-atheist) religious philosophy of science which grossly distorts their perceptions of nature, and the perceptions of those they indoctrinate.
* The NAS insists upon imposing its atheistic religious philosophy of science on all public school science students in violation of the religious establishment clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
* The leaders of the NAS hierarchy show themselves to be incompetent as scientists in that they repeatedly demonstrate that they cannot tell the difference between saying something is true and proving it is true.
* Absent any real evidence for its evo-atheistic brand of science, the NAS book employs forms of illogic, enchantment, and outright deception in order to mislead and manipulate its readers into believing that they are actually descended from reptiles and worms
Texas Citizens for Science Last updated: 2009 March 15