Center for Inquiry Experts Comment on Texas Science Education Standards
Amherst, N.Y.-Experts at the Center for Inquiry (CFI), America’s largest think tank defending reason, science, and freedom of inquiry, were dismayed to learn that Texas has forced a distinguished educator out of her job because she spoke favorably of evolution and forwarded messages about lectures on evolution. Christine Castillo Comer, with more than three decades of experience as an educator, was forced out of her position recently after she forwarded an e-mail message about a talk to be given at CFI-Austin by Dr. Barbara Forrest, a critic of intelligent design. Forrest, a philosophy professor at Southeastern Louisiana University, is a fellow at the Center for Inquiry. A copy of the forwarded e-mail that cost Comer her position is available upon request.
CFI’s director of research and legal affairs, Ronald A. Lindsay, believes that Ms. Comer may have a cause of action against the state. “The facts are not entirely clear yet, but if Comer was forced to resign because she expressed a view on a matter of public concern, she may well have had her legal rights violated,” Lindsay observed. “Moreover, regardless of the legality of the state’s actions, it is incredible that in the 21st century an educator would be punished for saying something favorable about evolution. Does an educator have to be silent about the existence of pathogens or about the truth that the Earth revolves around the Sun and not vice-versa? It appears that the Texas Taliban now controls education in that state.”
Forrest authored a position paper titled “Understanding the Intelligent Design Creationist Movement.” The paper was released by CFI this past July. In the paper, Dr. Forrest provided an insightful analysis of the intelligent design (ID) movement. She demonstrated convincingly that the ID movement is simply a continuation of creationism. Experts at CFI warn that Ms. Comer’s recent experiences with authorities from the Texas Education Agency may indicate an insidious agenda on the part of certain parties within the Austin educational system to introduce students to Intelligent Design via the science curriculum. Ms. Comer pointed out to the New York Times (December 2, 2007) that “.state education officials seemed uneasy lately over the required evolution curriculum.”
Paul Kurtz, chairman and founder of the Center for Inquiry and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, says that the foundations of our democratic society are now under attack. “The social and scientific progress we take for granted has been advanced by a basic scientific philosophical point of view: scientific naturalism,” said Kurtz. “The methods of the sciences, and the assumptions upon which they are based, are being challenged culturally in the United States today as never before. Despite its success in providing us with unparalleled benefits, religious fundamentalists seek to inhibit free inquiry and to misrepresent the tested conclusions of scientific naturalism. This is a highly charged political issue – both science and secularism are under political attack. We seem not to have come far culturally since the Scopes “monkey” trial if educators risk their jobs promoting academic lectures on scientifically uncontroversial topics.”
Interviews with CFI experts Paul Kurtz and Ronald A. Lindsay are available by contacting CFI’s director of communications Nathan Bupp at (716) 636-4869, ext. 218, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Center for Inquiry is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization, comprising the Council for Secular Humanism, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), and the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion (CSER). Headquartered in Amherst, New York, the Center for Inquiry strives to promote rational thinking in all aspects of life. The organization’s Web site can be found Center for Inquiry.