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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

It's 9:00 a.m.: Do you know what your children are reading in biology class?

What do biology texts bought with tax money teach (or preach) regarding the origin of life?

Most parents do not bother to read the texts their teens study from. Many might be surprised if they did. Today, I want to offer a peek into some of the stuff you can learn from a major US science text about the much-contested origin of life.

In Chapter 4 of McGraw-Hill's Biology, Sixth Edition, "The Origin and Early History of Life," we are told that one of the changes from previous editions is that "The discussion of ideas about the origin of life is now much more open-ended, stressing competing hypotheses and the key role of assumptions for which there is little data."

My first thought, of course, was, well - that's a relief. So they are going to come right out and admit that origin of life is a baffling problem, as OoL researchers have often admitted. Because I have edited a book chapter on the origin of life, and therefore read up on some of this stuff, I know that such observations are mainstream rather than "pseudo"-science.

Now, how does McGraw-Hill's Biology address the problem? For the most part, the authors admit the difficulties. However they do something else, which I think should be a source of concern to parents/students/taxpayers. In the Concept Outline, we are informed,

There are both religious and scientific views about the origin of life. This text treats only the latter - only the scientifically testable.

That sounds like a logical approach to me. The mere fact that the authors are knowledgeable about current science theories, however unsatisfactory, does not qualify them to address religious theories. So far so good. Cobbler, stick to thy last.

But the authors promptly break their promise, as we shall see ...

Read the rest here
If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

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