Texas textbooks: the creation side

Nick Lally weighs in on the Texas textbook controversy, or why there should be one.
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The Texas State Board of Education will vote this fall on new biology textbooks for government high schools in Texas. Texas schools buy more textbooks than do most States, so as goes Texas, so goes the rest of the country. Yesterday The New York Times ran a piece about a controversy about the process. Six of twenty-eight members of a panel reviewing biology textbooks are, according to that article’s headline, “creationists.”

The author, Motoko Rich, quoted from reviews by some (not all) evolution critics who might or might not sit on that panel. Rich also interviewed evolution advocates and two or three “concerned parents.” Rich did not interview any creation advocates. To redress this lack, CNAV interviewed Nick Lally, a retired science teacher and President of the Creation Science Hall of Fame.

An ex-science teacher speaks

Nick Lally weighs in on the Texas textbook controversy, or why there should be one.

Nick Lally, President, Creation Science Hall of Fame. Photo courtesy of the Creation Science Hall of Fame.

Nick Lally holds a BA in Education with a concentration in Health and Physical Education. According to this short bio, he embraced creation science after realizing the textbooks he had to use in his science classes were full of mistakes. And not just mistakes: “fakes, frauds and misinformation.” In his interview today, he describes some of these.

Nick Lally was especially eager to speak after realizing that Mr. Rich had done him a favor he never expected. Mr. Rich led with a description of three of the six “creationists” on the Texas textbook panel. Rich included this line:

Another is a chemical engineer who is listed as a “Darwin Skeptic” on the Web site of the Creation Science Hall of Fame.

That man is Ide Trotter, PhD, Professor of Chemistry at Dallas Baptist University. (CSHF lists its “Darwin Skeptics” here.) More to the point: Rich linked directly to the home page of the Creation Science Hall of Fame (CSHF). As a result, the home page saw 698 visits yesterday. 408 of these were direct follow-throughs from the Times article.

Mr. Lally appreciated the mention. He did not appreciate what he called the biased tone and one-sided reportage of the article. Biased reporting in the media has been a “pet peeve” of Mr. Lally and CSHF since its founding in 2009. Today he welcomed the chance to answer it directly.

Specific faults in the Times Texas textbook article

Mr. Rich, in describing the “controversy,” mentions panelists who “do not accept evolution and climate change as scientific truth.” Lally asked back:

Why would they mix climate change with creationism? I don’t get that part….Why associate creationism with [climate] change? Why do that, unless you have preconceived notions, without even knowing what creation is all about?

Mr. Rich used five photographs by Drew Anthony Smith, a staff photographer. Four of these were of pro-evolution demonstrators and speakers. Smith took one photograph of Dr. Trotter (see above). Lally’s take:

Why does [Mr. Rich] portray [almost] only those who are demonstrating against creationists? Isn’t that bias in reporting?

He went on:

What those pictures [and their captions] fail to [capture], is that creationism is based on science. And if that science leads to a Creator, so be it.

Lally would return to that theme often. “Creation science is science,” he said. He contrasted this with “philosophical evolutionary naturalism.” Lally did not define this phrase. But others have, including this site that specifically advocates for that concept. From their home page:

There is[/are] no god(s).  Now what?  Do you want to live up to your fullest potential? That’s going to take some thinking.  We’ll have to learn some modern science and philosophy, and see how that deals with the big questions in life, such as “How do I make meaning for my life” and “What is the right thing to do (morality)?”  Meet with us and we’ll all learn together.

The Times article, furthermore, quoted evolution advocates only. One was a mother who said her now-fourteen-year-old daughter, six years ago, suffered shame when her third-grade teacher asked for a show of hands from those who “believe in evolution.” Rich did not say in his article whether that scene played out in a public school, a private school, or a church or other religious school. Lally denounced that quote as “unfounded hearsay.” He went on to say:

Mr. Rich fails to realize that evolution has become nothing more than a belief system, not a science-based system. It is a belief system of no-God. It is a belief system against a Creator Who has designed and created. All that information can be easily seen within living organisms. Most have been designed simultaneously to work as a whole.

Why didn’t he ask a creationist?

Lally said further:

Since Mr. Rich has not interviewed any creationists, to get their side of the controversy, perhaps I can enlighten him. As a retired science teacher I have seen more textbooks, having false evolutionsry information, that has been proved false, and has never been removed, year after year, from the textbooks. THis can be supported by Dr. Charles G. Jackson who [holds] a doctorate of education in biology.

Lally could refer here to the “Dr. Charles Jackson” who writes this blog at the Creation Truth Foundation.

Lally cited five examples:

  1. The Ernst Haeckel comparative-embryo drawings, and
  2. The misrepresentation of alleged Hominid relatives of human beings.
  3. The fossil record as a record of “change over time.”
  4. Abiogenesis.
  5. Information in a cell

Lally cited Australopithecus, “a chimpanzee misinterpreted as an early man,” and at least five other examples of misrepresented “Hominids.”

I could name about a dozen problems with calling ‘Lucy‘ an early man. I can point it out biologically and structurally. I even went to England, to see the natural museum in London. Their ‘Lucy’ exhibit is a joke. And the one in Chicago is the biggest joke of all. It [consists only of] artistic renditions!

On the fossil record:

I have never [seen] demonstrated change over time, only change within the genus!

On the origin of life:

How can they demonstrate that life came from non-life? We didn’t come from a rock, or the elements inside a rock.

On information in a cell:

The huge amount of information that runs a cell are more complicated than in a huge city. It requires communication within the cell. And communication requires a language. And that cannot come from neo-Darwinian theory. It can only come from a Designer with intelligence.

The Creation Science Hall of Fame placed a link to the New York Times article on its home page, to “welcome” readers of the Times article who follow the link.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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