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What’s Wrong with the Miller & Levine Biology Textbook?

Casey Luskin

biologycover09_155.jpgAfter a contentious review process that attracted nationwide media attention, Kenneth Miller and Joseph Levine’s new edition of their textbook, Biology, has been adopted for use in Texas. Given the outsized influence that Texas has on textbook-selection across the country, this result will have a significant impact on science education elsewhere as well. In a series of posts here at Evolution News & Views, I have been analyzing and evaluating the scientific claims about evolution in the book, which is published by Pearson.

Analyzing and evaluating is exactly what Texas’s science standards supposedly require students to do — to “analyze and evaluate” core evolutionary claims, including “common ancestry,” “natural selection,” “mutation,” “sudden appearance” of animal forms, the origin of the “complexity of the cell,” and the formation of “long complex molecules having information such as the DNA molecule for self-replicating life.” Despite this requirement by the state’s own educational standards, the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), Miller and Levine’s textbook consistently overstates the case for Darwinian evolution as an explanation for the origins of complex life, while failing to discuss evidence that challenges the standard Darwinian narrative.

I invite readers, including parents, teachers and students, to consider the results of my review of the textbook. As we have seen, its major errors and omissions include:

It isn’t too surprising to learn that Miller’s textbook misinforms students about scientific controversies over evolution. After all, when Texas adopted its strong science standards in 2009, he announced his intent to write a textbook that wouldn’t follow the law. Dr. Miller is welcome to write whatever kind of textbook he likes. But students who use his work will be systematically misinformed about the scientific evidence.

The Miller & Levine textbook withholds from students much of the scientific evidence that challenges conventional theories of biological and chemical evolution. The good news is that it’s a free country, so schools that want to teach evolution objectively aren’t obligated to use this book.

Casey Luskin

Associate Director, Center for Science and Culture
Casey Luskin is a geologist and an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution. He earned his PhD in Geology from the University of Johannesburg, and BS and MS degrees in Earth Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied evolution extensively at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His law degree is from the University of San Diego, where he focused his studies on First Amendment law, education law, and environmental law.



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