March 8, 2010

Evolution is hooey…

So quoth James McLeroy, the now lame duck member and former Chair of the Texas State Board of Education. McLeroy has led the charge to insert revisionist history and denialist science into Texas school textbooks since appointed to his position in September 2008, by our revisionist, secessionist, religionist governor, Rick Perry.

In an interview with Mariah Blake, writing for Washington Monthly, McLeroy spoke of the way he evaluates textbooks, saying “The secular humanists may argue that we are a secular nation, but we are a Christian nation founded on Christian principles… The way I evaluate history textbooks is first I see how they cover Christianity and Israel. Then I see how they treat Ronald Reagan—he needs to get credit for saving the world from communism and for the good economy over the last twenty years because he lowered taxes.

The panel McLeroy headed remains a stacked deck. According the Texas Freedom Network, christianists began a concerted effort to take control of the state board beginning in 1992. Targeting first Democrats and then Republican incumbents, the board's far-right faction has grown in power since that time. In 2006 the faction grew to seven members. Another creationist, Gail Lowe, is now chair.

The TxSBOE lurches from one divisive "culture war" battle to another on issues such as teaching creationism in science classes, abstinence-only policies in sex education, and downplaying or denying the contributions of minorities and different cultures in history.

McLeroy was soundly defeated by a moderate Republican challenger in this, his first attempt to be elected to his appointed position. McLeroy's blind determination to insert "intelligent design" into Texas science textbooks caused the Legislature to refused his reappointment as chair of the board, but he remained a board member. When this term is up, he is out. It is his willful ignorance and blind denial that caused the voters in McLeroy’s district to reject him.

To address McLeroy's assertion that the U.S. is a Christian nation, that myth has been disproved in so many ways only blind denialist can both ignore the evidence and brag about the ignorance. While many of the Founding Fathers were religious, and some were undeniably Christian, the foundation of this nation was not built upon the sands of Christianity. Our founders, having seen firsthand the intolerance and oppression of state-sponsored religion, were determined that ours should be a secular government.

Thomas Jefferson was the author of the Virginia Bill of Religious Freedom, the major author of our Declaration of Independence, and was second only to James Madison in the construction of our Constitution. The verbiage of the First Amendment is nearly verbatim that of the Virginia's Religious Freedom bill. Jefferson’s writings leave no doubt that he was deist in thinking, as were most of our founders, and that he would have little to do with Christianity.

To form his philosophy of religion, Jefferson drew extensively from the ideas of three major enlightenment thinkers: Francis Bacon, John Locke, and Isaac Newton... none of whom were practicing Christians, and Locke was the era's greatest critic of Christianity.

From Bacon, Jefferson learned inductive reasoning to be superior to Aristotelian thinking and deductive reasoning. He learned to rely on personal experience, to base belief upon evidence, to look forward for understanding and not rearward for dogmatic direction.

Locke’s writings taught Jefferson that truth had to be learned through experience and experimentation, that nature loved balance and equality... and that liberty prevailed in the natural world.

Newton’s science and mathmatics demonstrated to Jefferson the idea that the world was orderly, dependable, regular, and predictable... and that by observation man could learn the ways of nature.

The only references to religion in our Constitution are prohibitive. Article 6 states that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust." The First Amendment states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

The Treaty of Tripoli (Treaty of Tunis), clearly states "the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion." This treaty was drafted in 1796, during George Washington's presidency. It was read before the Senate on June 7, 1797, was unanimously approved, even by the Christians of the time.

Once ratified, the treaty was signed by our second President, and arguably one of the more Christian-leaning of our founders, John Adams. In spite of his religious beliefs, Adams recognized the imperative of secular government.

The evidence is clear. The United States is not a Christian nation. It never was, and no amount of creationist revisionism will alter that fact.

The battle over reason, science and fact in Texas schoolbooks is far from over though, as this week the TxSBOE votes on the Social Studies curriculum that will be employed in Texas classroom for the next decade, and the revisionists still maintain a majority.



Anonymous said...


jbrock said...

To nitpick just a little, it might be more accurate to say that Isaac Newton was not an orthodox Christian.

As far as I know, he was an Arian.

Excellent post, though. It's pretty hard to call the US a Christian nation after reading the opinions of its founders.

Mule Breath said...

Thank you JEG.

JB, Newton was also an occultist to some degree, but I won't argue his orthodoxy vs. his non-trinitarian status, as I'm just not that well schooled on the subject. If he followed the teachings of Arius, I haven't heard of it.

I do know that Newron was born and raised Anglican, but by the time that he was in his 30's he had developed doubts about Christianity.

Old Weird Libra said...

You have not yet commented on the final results of the textbook committee. Or did you find the outcome so eminently predictable as to make comment redundant?