Three of the six reviewers of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) are recommending that students apply less, rather than more, critical thinking when studying evolution. In Part 1 I discussed the recommendations of David Hills, and in Part 2, I discussed the recommendations of Ronald Wetherington. Like Wetherington and Hillis, TEKS reviewer Gerald Skoog wants the TEKS to include many more standards on evolution which dogmatically only present the evidence for evolution. Here are some of the new standards he wants the TEKS to include:
“EXPLAIN HOW NATURAL SELECTION AND ITS EVOLUTIONARY CONSEQUENCES PROVIDE A SCIENTIFIC EXPLANATION FOR THE FOSSIL RECORD OF ANCIENT LIFE FORMS, AS WELL AS FOR THE STRIKING MOLECULAR SIMILARITIES OBSERVED AMONG LIVING ORGANISMS.”
“EXPLAIN HOW CERTAIN ANATOMICAL STRUCTURES ON FOSSILIZED VERTEBRATES AND COMPLETE OR NEARLY COMPLETE FOSSILS ARE USED AS EVIDENCE OF THE EVOLUTIONARY HISTORY OF VERTEBRATES.”
But as Stephen C. Meyer observed in his report, by focusing only on the molecular and fossil data that supports Darwinian evolution, this standard would misinform students about the evidence for common descent. As Meyer wrote:
For those who insist that there are no “weaknesses” in the traditional case for universal common ancestry, let me cite a few examples: (1) The fossil record shows a pattern of explosions of new life-forms that contradicts the predictions and expectations of universal common descent and suggests the possibility of a discontinuous (polyphyletic) view of the history of life, rather than a continuous (monophyletic) view of the history of life. … (2) … there are numerous cases where conflicts exist between different types of gene-based evolutionary trees, thus challenging the very evidence and methodology used to infer common descent from “molecular homologies.”
Finally, Skoog wants students to “DESCRIBE THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE CONCLUSION THAT THE MILLIONS OF DIFFERENT SPECIES OF PLANTS, ANIMALS, AND MICROORGANISMS THAT LIVE ON EARTH TODAY ARE RELATED BY DESCENT FROM COMMON ANCESTORS.” What exactly might those “implications” be? Are they the sort of “implications” that Stephen Jay Gould wrote of when he said:
First, Darwin argues that evolution has no purpose. . . . Second, Darwin maintained that evolution has no direction. . . . Third, Darwin applied a consistent philosophy of materialism to his interpretation of nature. Matter is the ground of all existence; mind, spirit, and God as well, are just words that express the wondrous results of neuronal complexity
Or are they the consequences that William Provine had in mind when he wrote,
Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent.
Of perhaps they’re the kind of “implications” that Ken Miller wrote about in his textbook when he said, “Darwin knew that accepting his theory required believing in philosophical Materialism…”
Skoog isn’t clear, so we’re left to wonder exactly what kind of “implications” he wants students to learn about.