Reference to Creationism “Myth” Creates Textbook Controversy

A new science textbook controversy in the USA; from The Tennessean:

The father of a Knox County public school student wants the school board to get rid of a high school biology textbook that he calls biased against Christians.

…The Knoxville News Sentinel reported [Kurt] Zimmerman wants a change of textbooks because the honors biology course book used at Farragut High School describes creationism as a “biblical myth.” He is asking that what he termed non-biased textbooks be used.

…The newspaper reported Zimmerman’s documentation included a quotation from page 319 on which the authors describe creationism as “the biblical myth that the universe was created by the Judeo-Christian God in 7 days.”

Inevitably, Fox News is making a meal of it.

The textbook is entitled Asking about Life, by Allan Tobin and Jennie Dusheck. The above quote from the book is indeed quite misleading: Biblical literalists believe that the universe was created in six days, not seven. But from his complaints form, it seems that the school is still using the 2001 second edition; the 2005 third edition has corrected the point, now on page 299:

…In the 1970s and 1980s, antievolutionists in Arkanas, Tennessee, and Louisiana passed ididentical bills calling for “equal time” for teaching evolution and creationism, the biblical myth that the universe was created by the Judeo-Christian God in six days.

The quote forms part of a discussion of the historical controversy over evolution. But of course, six or seven days is not Zimmerman’s complaint; he objects that the book will “mislead, belittle and discourage students in believing in Creationism and pointedly calls the Bible a myth”, and he commends the school authorities to read a review by a certain Charles H Voss – by which he almost certainly means this 21-page document, which includes the following:

…The statement “…and creationism, the biblical myth that the universe was created by the Judeo-Christian God in 7 days” has not been proven. Such a statement is not science but an opinion of the textbook authors and reveals a decided bias. Such statements do not belong in a science textbook.

…The statement “But creation ‘science’ is not science” is very m isleading in that by context it implies that evolution is science. The truth is that neither the term “evolution” as commonly used or “creation science” is science. Neither can be tested, falsified or repeated because they are concerned about happenings in the past that no one person observed. A special definition of science must be formulated in order to assert that “evolution” is science unless it is broken down into its two parts as discussed in the next chapter and in the section on the next page labeled “What is evolution.” Any definition of science that can label the term “evolution” as commonly used as science will also include creationism a s science.

The author then goes on to expound the usual Creationist fare. Voss is a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Louisana State University, and he is vice-president of the Origins Resource Association. According to a second report:

Karen Carson, of the West Knox County 5th District, tried to find middle ground with an amendment that would have upheld the school committee’s recommendation but also offered to biology teachers a critical analysis of the textbook submitted by Zimmermann and written by Charles Voss… But Carson’s amendment satisfied no one, especially after she revised it to make it subject to review by school system science staff, and it failed on a 3-6 vote.

(Hat tips: Bulldada Newsblog; Media Matters for America; Little Green Footballs)