TEA Science Advisor Fired for Having an Opinion on Intelligent Design

The news today reinforces that the battle to have intelligent design taught in science classes, rather than evolution, is going strong. Strong like a big, angry, drunk rhinoceros in a shopping mall.

The head of the Texas Education Agency’s science curriculum alleges she was forced to resign because of memo about a talk on intelligent design.”

That’s the word on the street today, and by street I mean the following publications, and probably many more:




Comer “resigned” over a memo that suggested she might have an opinion about intelligent design (particularly that it should not be taught in science curriculum). Here’s the run-down: the Texas Education Agency is claiming that it is supposed to be UNBIASED or HAVE NO OPINION EITHER WAY about the issues of intelligent-design and evolution. (Give yourself a pat on the back if this already sounds not quite right) So, when word got out that their head science advisor actually had an opinion on the matter, she was suddenly in a position to resign early. I have to wonder what the hell a Science Curriculum Advisor is doing all day if not having an opinion about what science (or non-science) is being taught in schools?

There’s plenty I could write on this topic, but it’s almost too much. More than discussing the issue of intelligent design, I choose to focus on the idea that intelligent design and evolution are two ends of the same spectrum. Lets get one thing clear: Just because you are in the middle of two extremes does not mean you are unbiased, nor does it mean you are in the middle of the road.

Take this snippet from an editorial in Caller.com:

“Christine Castillo Comer, who was until recently the state’s director of science teaching, made the mistake of telling the truth. That is, she intimated that intelligent design is not on the same level as evolution as a natural science. In fact, intelligent design is not science at all, but a stalking horse for an assault on evolution by religious conservatives. Now Comer is out of a job.” (http://www.caller.com/news/2007/dec/04/official-forced-out-for-telling-the-truth-on/)

Angry. Clearly angry. Can you imagine the uproar if the government insisted that there be a chemistry lesson on the likelihood of bread transforming into flesh before every Catholic sacrament? I’d be angry because I believe in freedom of religion. It’s time we enforced freedom of science. You have the choice to believe it or not, but you cannot be persecuted for doing so, and science classrooms are included.

It’s true that (for the most part) if you believe in Evolution, you don’t believe in intelligent design. And vice versa. So for a lot of people that causes a problem. Most Christian denominations have their own methods for determining what truth is, including various ways to interpret the Bible. If something doesn’t fit with that method of determining truth, that something is not included in the doctrine of that religion. Similarly, whether or not you believe in it, science has its own method for determining what truth is. To say that one doesn’t believe in current theories of evolution may, in fact, have some scientific ground. But teaching intelligent design should not be thrown in with science because it does not fit with the method that science has for determining truth. If you don’t agree with the scientific method, don’t hire a science advisor. Just be honest, Texas: you never intended to teach science and you never will.

Just because crackpot in a cabin in Vermont thinks we can defeat global warming by throwing Skittles at it, doesn’t mean I’m middle of the road if I take his/her idea into account with fuel cells. I would never stop him/her from believing it, but I won’t teach it to my kids.

In some weird twist of fate, look what ELSE the news cat dragged in:


There is suspicion that a professor at Iowa State University was denied tenure because he has said in the past that he supports the idea of intelligent design. Reading the article, the school has a pretty good case for why their decision was based on other factors, but someone left a really good comment that I’ll include here:

“When a member of a science department declares they are both a scientist and a believer in intelligent design (AKA Creationism) that strikes us an intellectual conflict, not one of science and religious beliefs. I can be an evolutionary biologist and believe in God as creator of natural laws or the process of evolution. I cannot be an evolutionary biologist and believe in creationism.

Besides, how does a physicist teach his class that the universe in only 10,000 plus years old?”

This article does pose the question of whether or not it’s OK for scientists to believe in GOD and still believe in SCIENCE. As stated by another comment to the above article:

“As a scientist, I care whether knowledge is acquired using the objective and empirical process of science—not what someone believes might have begun the process. It would not bother me to have a physician who believes in God or creation, as long as he understands medicine. I would rather that s/he understand something of evolutionary biology and humans in their context as primates and mammals, but s/he does not have to. I do not mind if a physicist or astronomer believes in God or intelligent design or is gay or has had an abortion (or wouldn’t) if that does not get in the way of how s/he teaches science or astronomy, and if s/he is a productive scientist and scholar and teacher. But, if any of those issues do interfere, that becomes a problem.”

Very well said. Then again, how can someone not be influenced by what they believe or where they come from? The idea of being an “unbiased” human being is contradictory and nearly impossible. Which is why we need to set up distinct dividing lines (i.e. separation of church and state) and abide by them.

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