No Intelligence Allowed

Surveillance: NCSE – The National Center for Science Education

Background:
In the early 1970’s, a high school textbook, Biology: An Inquiry Into the Nature of Life, written by teacher Stanley Weinberg, was submitted for adoption in Texas, a vanguard state for textbook publishers as its purchasing power influences decisions for much of the country. Weinberg’s book, which strongly emphasized evolution, encountered opposition but was ultimately accepted. A few years later, the Institute for Creation Research published a resolution encouraging school districts and state legislatures to promote a “balanced presentation of evolution and scientific creationism.” It specifically clarified that “this is a suggested resolution, to be adopted by boards of education, not legislation proposed for enactment as law.”

Nevertheless, Weinberg began to organize “Committees of Correspondence.” Taking the name from Colonial American groups established to maintain contact among like-minded communities, Weinberg aimed to keep interested parties informed about what he saw as troublesome interventions into scientific matters. In 1983, the loosely connected network incorporated into the non-profit National Center for Science Education (NCSE), and in 1987, anthropologist Dr. Eugenie Scott, who describes herself as “Darwin’s golden retriever,” became executive director.

Wanted For:
According to its website, the NCSE provides “information and resources for schools, parents and concerned citizens working to keep evolution in public school science education.” The mission is “vital,” it says, because evolution is “fundamental to a comprehensive understanding of all biological disciplines.”

But no one is attempting to eliminate evolution from the curriculum. Some are simply asking, Shouldn’t students also learn about other scientific theories that dissent from Darwinism? In 2004, Dr. Stephen Meyer of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture published a peer-reviewed article arguing that materialistic theories cannot account for the origination of new biological forms – one of a number of weaknesses in evolutionary theory – and suggested Intelligent Design (ID) as an alternative theory. Dr. Meyer and the Discovery Institute were not recommending mandatory teaching of ID. Instead they advocate teaching the controversy – that is, simply informing students about both the strengths and weaknesses of evolutionary theory.

Nevertheless, the NCSE cries, Creationism! (Anathema!) This constitutes antievolution! “‘Intelligent design’ theory,” writes NCSE board member Barbara Forrest, is “the most recent – and most dangerous – manifestation of creationism.” Dr. Scott’s warning is more nuanced, cautioning of “closet creationism being introduced through wording not obvious to those unfamiliar with the history of the controversy.”

Nearly two decades after the introduction of ID, the NCSE has yet to countenance it as an alternative theory. Instead it continues to maintain that asking about other theories undermines the goal of science education. “There is no competing scientific theory for the pattern of diversity of life on earth.” They might as well have said, “Don’t ask that question.”

Most Recent Offense:
In August of 2009 Eugenie Scott, graying, grandmother-like, and still executive director, advised scientists to choose their words carefully when discussing evolution. Labeling anyone who critically examines evolution a creationist, Dr. Scott explained, “Creationists have done a splendid job of convincing the public that evolution is weak science ….” Instead of saying you “believe” in evolution as one might “believe” in God, Dr. Scott suggested, “you might say you ‘accept evolution.’”

To keep evolution safe, she called on scientists and people who care about science to pay attention to local elections and vote for the right people. “Ultimately the solution to this problem is not going to come from pouring more science on it.”

Apparently, for evolution to predominate, something other than science will be required.

This article first appeared in Salvo 11, Winter 2009.

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One Comment on “No Intelligence Allowed

  1. Pingback: Science, Stephen Hawking, and Free Minds « The Dartboard

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