Dispatches from the evolution wars

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This is my transcript of a portion of a radio debate that took place in Bryan last week between State Board of Education candidates Don McLeroy, the incumbent, and Thomas Ratliff in the Republican primary race for SBOE district 9. The district runs north from the Bryan-College Station area through the eastern Dallas suburbs to the Red River. Most of the votes will come from two counties, Brazos and Collin. The debate was carried on KEOS 89.1FM in Bryan. The moderator was Michael Alvard. Moderator: Tom says on his Web site you believe the earth is only a few thousand years old and that dinosaurs and people lived at the same time. Is that something you believe? McLeroy: Yes sir, it is. I consider myself a Young Earth Creationist. You know, I didn’t put any of that into [science curriculum] standards. When we adopted science standards, I think we won a great victory for scientific integrity. If you look at the science standards that were adopted, they were very specific. They do question what I consider the weaknesses to evolution. That’s the stasis of fossils in the fossil record and the complexity of cells, what’s the scientific explanation for things in the cell, it’s amazingly complex. I am a Young Earth Creationist, but I never let that guide me in [making policy for] the public schools. Note to readers: The issue of stasis in the fossil record is this: No fossils exist that show a species in transition — that is, evolving from one stage to another. This is a common criticism of evolution. If evolution were a viable theory, the argument goes, there should be evidence in the fossil record of a species evolving. * * * * I also came across another comment by McLeroy in a debate with Ratliff that took place in Allen: “One of the first real breaches of limited government was public education.” This is a very strange statement to be coming from the former chairman of the board that oversees public education. Is it better to have limited government and uneducated people, or a government that considers educating the people its foremost responsibility? (McLeroy did send his children to public schools.)

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