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As January 17 Cabinet Appointment Hearing Approaches: Advice for Betsy DeVos on Evolution

David Klinghoffer


CNS News was kind enough to publish this from me, “Trump’s Education Secretary Nominee DeVos Should Challenge Darwinism.” I’ve speculated that among all of Trump’s Cabinet picks, Mrs. DeVos may face some of the most acid questions — specifically on the subject of evolution and science education.

If she’s challenged on these topics, the three key points, already shared here at Evolution News, to keep in mind for a reply to critics are as follows:

First of all, it isn’t the role of the Secretary of Education to dictate science education policy to states or localities….However, one hopes for an Education Secretary with some vision to impart, beyond merely setting policies.

Therefore, second, Mrs. DeVos could note the benefits of teaching students to think and write critically about a complex, fascinating scientific issue like evolution. Again, this is not about intelligent design, much less Biblical literalist creationism. As the world’s most distinguished science journal, Nature, has observed, “[S]tudents gain a much deeper understanding of science when they actively grapple with questions than when they passively listen to answers.”

The unsolved problems of Darwinian theory include those highlighted by Gerd Müller: among them, how to explain phenotypic complexity, phenotypic novelty, and dramatic discontinuities in the fossil record.

Finally, Mrs. DeVos could note that academic freedom laws are called that because they are meant to ensure freedom for instructors to engage in creative pedagogy rather than merely regurgitating the same evolutionary talking points year after year. The aim is to protect excellent teachers from career retaliation, a threat always in the air when evolution is challenged.

Her confirmation hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, January 17. We’re keeping an eye on this one. See here for Discovery Institute’s Science Education Policy.

Photo: Cabinet Room, by White House photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

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