Creationists’ Last Stand at the State Board of Education

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Will anti-evolutionists be able to adapt and survive in a new textbook market?

Raymond Bohlin holds a doctorate in molecular biology. He received his master's degree in population genetics, the study of how adaptation and speciation is expressed by DNA. In other words, he possesses more than a passing knowledge about the theory of evolution. At the University of North Texas, he participated in research revealing that colonies of pocket gophers in Oklahoma and Texas, once indistinguishable, had diverged somewhere along the way into two identifiably distinct species.

In a way, so had Bohlin. He never accepted the hypothesis central to his discipline, hardened in the crucible of 150 years of experimentation, validated by the advent of modern genetics. He could not believe that evolutionary mechanisms could account for the dizzying complexity he saw in the living world. It was easier for him to detect the work of some unseen force — a designer's hand guiding a spontaneous appearance of species — behind the rise of complex life. It's the sort of completely untestable idea that doesn't gain much traction among the editors and reviewers of scholarly journals.

And so, according to his own list of published work, Bohlin's name was never attached to another peer-reviewed scientific study after his paper on gophers in 1982. Faith in a theory for which there is no experiment turned out to be a dead end. Yet he may be the only creationist to have participated in naming a new species, which is exactly what makes him so valuable to a movement that has worked for decades to scrub Charles Darwin from Texas public schools.

On a recent morning in Plano, Bohlin stood beneath a chandelier made of antlers, roughly the size of a small truck, in theHope Center — some 185,000 square feet of hunting-lodge style, rough-hewn rock façade, rustic leather furniture and exposed wooden beams. It houses more than 40 separate Christian organizations in a complex on Plano Parkway, including Bohlin's own Probe Ministries. On the second floor, Probe fights for the everlasting souls of American youth from a warren of offices, balustered by rising stacks of science textbooks and Christian literature.

Bohlin looks like a college biology professor, pale, square-jawed, peering out through glasses beneath an Indiana Jones fedora emblazoned with the words "Grand Canyon." It's actually the subject of one of his trademark lectures. He takes his audience on a virtual tour of our national testament to unfathomable geologic time and offers explanations for how the biblical flood may have created it far later than mainstream science would have them believe.

Written By: Brantley Hargrove
continue to source article at dallasobserver.com

32 COMMENTS

  1. Why are there still paper textbooks? They are heavy, quickly obsolete, expensive, fragile.

    Going to e-texts may help break up text book monopolies. That might help discourage this creationist nonsense, then again it might make it worse.

        • In reply to #22 by msloane:

          In reply to #3 by Kim Probable:

          In reply to #1 by Roedy:

          Why are there still paper textbooks? They are heavy, quickly obsolete, expensive, fragile.

          Easier to read, though.

          … and more durable.

          The binaries are durable. The physical readers are not, as I discovered to my dismay when I stepped on one borrowed from the library.
          I would hope electronic search would beat out scanning a paper text. Is that a standard feature?

          After I read a book, I search for quotations. That is very tedious with a paper book if I did not mark them first time through.

          The main thing I did not like with an ebook was having to flip to the next page so often, and it taking far more time than I thought reasonable.
          The main thing I liked was the light weight. There is no effort to hold it up to read on your back.

    • Roedy,
      You will be pleased to know that the “paper book” culture is changing. The district where I work has forgone the purchase of future paper textbooks and sunk the savings into the purchase of an iPad for every student. While we endure the “learning curve” an teachers and students acclimate to the utility of the devices, we are employing the old paper textbooks. However, there is a timetable for implementation that includes a shift from the paper texts to digital texts within the next three years.

      The way text book purchasing occurs in school districts is on a rotating schedule. Each department is on a staggered schedule so that science buys this year, math next, the social studies, the foreign language…. and it repeats. For the paradigm shift to be completely implemented, we need a few years.

      I taught chemistry last year and we run a program called “Modeling Chemistry” that is Nationally renowned. It has no text book. At first it was extremely daunting. NO BOOK!

      Anyway,

      In reply to #1 by Roedy:

      Why are there still paper textbooks? They are heavy, quickly obsolete, expensive, fragile.

      Going to e-texts may help break up text book monopolies. That might help discourage this creationist nonsense, then again it might make it worse.

      • In reply to #5 by crookedshoes:

        Roedy,
        You will be pleased to know that the “paper book” culture is changing. The district where I work has forgone the purchase of future paper textbooks and sunk the savings into the purchase of an iPad for every student. While we endure the “learning curve” an teachers and students acclimate to…

        That move might end up biting you on the backside. A book still works if dropped and damaged, how hardy do you think those iPads are going to be? Add the expense of all those IPads together with the cost of a liscence for the texts and you’ve just spent vastly more cash than for the actual text books.

    • In reply to #1 by Roedy:

      Why are there still paper textbooks? They are heavy, quickly obsolete, expensive, fragile.

      There was an article I read, I think in Sci. Amer., where there were studies that showed people learn significantly better with paper books than ebooks. I like to casually read using ebooks, but it’s physically much harder for me to tackle complex learning on them.

      • In reply to #7 by Skeptic:

        In reply to #1 by Roedy:
        There was an article I read, I think in Sci. Amer., where there were studies that showed people learn significantly better with paper books than ebooks. I like to casually read using ebooks, but it’s physically much harder for me to tackle complex learning on them.

        I would like to see a reference to that article because I call BS. eBooks are infinitely better for doing serious reading for so many reasons:

        You can do text based searches. Here is a real example, in a book I only have in hardcopy form I was trying to find a reference to the “Frame Problem” in AI. I knew it was there because I had read it a month ago but couldn’t remember where and its a huge book. I naturally tried the index but no luck. I tried paging through it but had to give up. With an eBook I would have found it right away.

        The capability for adding notes is infinitely better. My hand writing is illegible. Plus I have something of a fetish for books, I can’t stand the idea of marking them up with long notes that I may come back to in a month and think are all wrong. With eBooks I can type my notes rather than write in long hand. I can hide/delete notes. I can see a list of all my notes and search the notes for text strings. The same with highlighting, much more flexible and searchable with eBooks.

        Then there is the issue of quoting from a reference. Copy/paste beats retyping both for accuracy and ease.

        Multiple things open at once. When I do technical work I have a programming manual, a database manual, books about whatever it is I’m programming, etc. It’s so much easier to manage multiple sources like this on a big desktop screen.

        Also, having a dictionary built-in can be really useful when reading books by people who use less familiar words or words that have a rigorous meaning in disciplines you may not be familiar with (another real example in my case Scot Atran loves the big words). The other day I was reading a hard copy book and came across a word I didn’t know. I instinctively moved my finger to tap the word before I realized that doesn’t work on paper. (funny how quickly we adapt to new mediums)

        And just the ability to have a big library. With my eBooks I have hundreds of books all at my disposal. When I was going to school it was always a decision do I bring the compiler book or the calculus book with to class. They were huge books and took up a lot of space but they were also the kind of books you wanted to have at your fingertips.

        In short, as much as I do love paper books I think for serious research eBooks are infinitely better.

          • In reply to #9 by Skeptic:

            In reply to #8 by Red Dog:

            I would like to see a reference to that article because I call BS.

            OK

            Fascinating reading. Much as I like hard copies of texts, I have to concede computer-based text is probably the way of the future, given its versatility. Yet, is it too atavistic of me to admit I feel a frisson of hope that the beloved book might still have a place in the technological future, and that this article might hint at its saving grace?

      • Skeptic, there are several awesome apps that allow kids to read and annotate the text as they read. Our English department has started using them. At this point they only work with books and text that are part of the public domain, so there is limited use. However, if the district owns a site license for a text book, kids will be able to interact and manipulate the text and annotate it in ways that have really never been possible before. It is very very exciting and I really hope it works.

        I do better with paper books as well, so I initially was hesitant and would always want to have a paper book or two stashed as a safety net for a child who would do beter with them. But, kids live digitally now and giving them tools and ownership over their materials and ultimately their educational destiny is the “next big thing”.

        In reply to #7 by Skeptic:

        In reply to #1 by Roedy:

        Why are there still paper textbooks? They are heavy, quickly obsolete, expensive, fragile.

        There was an article I read, I think in Sci. Amer., where there were studies that showed people learn significantly better with paper books than ebooks. I like to casually read usin…

        • In reply to #10 by crookedshoes:

          But, kids live digitally now and giving them tools and ownership over their materials and ultimately their educational destiny is the “next big thing”.

          I believe the article did mention that perhaps we or at least the young-uns will adapt to it.

          • Lots of people are invested in it working, so it is at least going to be tried…

            In reply to #11 by Skeptic:

            In reply to #10 by crookedshoes:

            But, kids live digitally now and giving them tools and ownership over their materials and ultimately their educational destiny is the “next big thing”.

            I believe the article did mention that perhaps we or at least the young-uns will adapt to it.

    • In reply to #1 by Roedy:

      Why are there still paper textbooks? They are heavy, quickly obsolete, expensive, fragile.

      Going to e-texts may help break up text book monopolies. That might help discourage this creationist nonsense, then again it might make it worse.

      To read a book you need eyes, to read e-texts you need a device and eyes. And the text will be corrupt in short time, historically speaking. A book can last for hundreds of years. Soon, our technology will leave nothing for future generations to study.

      Can you highlight e-texts and write notes in the margin or flag pages? I’ve never read one.

      • In reply to #14 by aquilacane:

        And the text will be corrupt in short time,

        What does that mean? eBooks don’t “go bad” after a certain time and they aren’t editable. If anything they have the potential to last far longer than a paper book since they aren’t dependent on atoms but bits, paper wears out, bits can last indefinitely.

        Can you highlight e-texts and write notes in the margin or flag pages? I’ve never read one.

        See my previous comments. Not only can you but you can do so in far more powerful and flexible ways than you can with paper books. E.g., you can search all your comments for a specific text string.

        • In reply to #16 by Red Dog:
          eBooks don’t “go bad” after a certain time

          Viruses, corrupt files, changes to “standard” file types, degrading/changing storage hardware (discs and memory chips don’t last forever, can be damaged). Also eBooks require power (not much, typically). I agree that eBooks are more versatile, but they are just as fragile as a real book. Data needs to be looked after, whatever its form.

  2. He teaches them about “current problems with evolution” like the “sudden appearance” of species and the “gaps” in the fossil record, all better explained, he says, by the supernatural, by a “design motif.”

    It’s a mystery how he has managed to get a doctorate in molecular biology without understanding the basics of the theory of evolution. These things he mentions are not problems for someone who understands biology. I guess “religions poison…” and all that.

  3. He teaches them about “current problems with evolution” like the “sudden appearance” of species and the “gaps” in the fossil record, all better explained, he says, by the supernatural, by a “design motif.”

    It’s a mystery how he has managed to get a doctorate in molecular biology without understanding the basics of the theory of evolution. These things he mentions are not problems for someone who understands biology. I guess “religions poison…” and all that.

    • In reply to #2 by Aztek:

      He teaches them about “current problems with evolution” like the “sudden appearance” of species and the “gaps” in the fossil record, all better explained, he says, by the supernatural, by a “design motif.”

      It’s a mystery how he has managed to get a doctorate in molecular biology without understandi…

      If you can take in information and regurgitate it later, you can get a doctorate in anything. I passed calculus without even knowing what the hell I was taking. Couldn’t tell you, to this day, what calculus is… no idea, but I got a 70 in it.

    • In reply to #2 by Aztek:

      He teaches them about “current problems with evolution” like the “sudden appearance” of species and the “gaps” in the fossil record, all better explained, he says, by the supernatural, by a “design motif.”

      It’s a mystery how he has managed to get a doctorate in molecular biology without understandi…

      I am not a psychologist but it seems to me that intelligence combined with religion produces a form of megalomania (doing god’s work) that reinforces one’s religious indoctrination. This creates a following of the misguided and gullible whose admiration in turn reinforces the megalomania (sort of vicious cycle much like drug addiction). Sadly, he may just be in too deep to change his mind or admit his error which might cause his admirers, as well as family and friends, to turn into enemies. He also receives a paycheck for the work he does and, like most of us, has bills to pay, but that too can come to an end if his supporters ever decide to cut their losses and run from a lost cause. Such insanity! All this to gain entrance to an exclusive North Korean Club in the suburbs that does not exist… heaven! The debate itself is hell!

  4. In reply to Aztec…

    “It’s a mystery how he has managed to get a doctorate in molecular biology without understanding the basics of the theory of evolution.”

    You would be amazed at the amount of people coming through university with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in biology, biochemistry, genetics even; who simply have no idea as to how evolution might work and what the body of evidence supporting it might look like. Not that those individuals are stupid. Far from it. In many science degree courses like biology and molecular biology, evolution is simply taken as a given. The publication of Jerry Coyne’s book, Why Evolution is True, as well as Prof Dawkins’ tome, The Greatest Show on Earth both tried to address that problem.

    Whilst many of those degrees already mentioned require intellectual ability in understanding complex cellular mechanisms (metabolism, DNA replication, cell division, apoptosis etc.), they do not require an understanding of evolution by natural selection in order to answer exam questions or complete essays and assignments relating to such subject matter.

    It does strike me as paradoxical that those completing such degrees are in a position of seemingly blissful ignorance in relation to the facts of evolution. After all, those complex cellular mechanisms (as well as everything else in biology), only make sense in the light of evolution. Maybe over time, thus will change and a greater emphasis will be put on the basic understanding of evolution before moving on to what processes were actually selected for over evolutionary time.

    • In reply to #6 by Degsy:

      In reply to Aztec…

      “It’s a mystery how he has managed to get a doctorate in molecular biology without understanding the basics of the theory of evolution.”

      You would be amazed at the amount of people coming through university with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in biology, biochemistry,…

      That’s true. There are many people who fail to understand evolution despite having a degree which deals with things that heavily rely on the theory. But Bohlin isn’t just any run-of-the-(degree)mill graduate. He hasn’s only gotten a degree in, say, medicine and started working as an oncologist without thinking about evolution. He has taken his degree with the very intention of understanding evolution!

      The article says: “If I’m going to be a critic of evolution, I have to make sure I understand in detail how it’s supposed to work” and “Bohlin invested years of his life in the graduate program at North Texas and the molecular biology doctoral program at the University of Texas at Dallas, absorbing everything he must refute.” If he has dealt with evolution so extensively as a part of his process to understand it, it is impossible that he hasn’t read the simple answers to the questions he is wondering about. The only reason he is opposing the theory of evolution is religion and denial. Because he cannot have missed the explanations to his questions.

  5. This explains the situation. He embarked on the courses with a closed mind and was only interested in cherry-picking information to dispute the scientific evidence. He clearly ticked enough boxes to continue with the course, but always had a prerequisite agenda of evolution denial.

    @OP In 1975, he connected with Probe Ministries, a group of campus evangelists who hoped to challenge secularism on its home turf. Bohlin desperately wanted to join them, to spread the gospel of evolution’s fallacies. But to take his place in that fight, he needed to understand what he hoped to disprove. “They said, ‘You just have a bachelor’s degree.‘ When I got to Probe, my education began immediately. If I’m going to be a critic of evolution, I have to make sure I understand in detail how it’s supposed to work.”

    The silly muppet thought that creationist indoctrination was “education”!

    Bohlin invested years of his life in the graduate program at North Texas and the molecular biology doctoral program at the University of Texas at Dallas, absorbing everything he must refute. While his fellow students accepted a theory that had stood unchallenged by science for more than a century, Bohlin believed he alone was capable of assessing evolution with a critical eye.

    A TRRRrrroo and dedicated liar for Jebus, with a TRRRrrroo faith-head’s “critical eye”. – If it’s not consistent with biblical nonsense, criticise it and deny it!!!

    He admits, though, that his conclusions may already have been deeply entrenched. To alter his view of creation, he says, “would have required a major shift in personal and professional connections with people.”

    So! Pure circular thinking! – No scientific approach there then! Just bigoted ignorance seeking scraps of information to enable him to present nonsense in a more credible form to the uneducated – and like all “goody”creationists – finding some badge of false authority to pin on to it!

    He grew up a Catholic boy on Chicago’s south side, destined for the priesthood. He ended up a zoology undergrad at the University of Illinois, where he daydreamed about becoming a park ranger and living a life of solitude. That all changed when he befriended a group of evangelical Christians. Bohlin was fascinated by this passionate strain of belief.

    It seems he started out as a Catholic and then went down-hill into evangelism! I can’t see any jobs likely to offer park rangers “lives of solitude” working with the public, or any jobs as field research biologists, writing papers on creationist twaddle!

    In the school library one day, he struck upon the answer to the questions that deviled him. He picked up a book written by Henry Morris, a Rice University civil engineering professor credited for being the “father of modern creation science.”

    Ha! ha! ha! – An engineer posing as an expert on biology!! Which idiot put that junk in a school library???

    Morris opened Bohlin’s eyes to what he says was the only scientific rationale he’d ever seen for the six-day creation of earth.

    Ignorant schoolboy with evangelical tendencies – conned into wasting years of his life by a YEC pseudo-science engineer befuddled by biology! Sad really!!! – But that’s what RC and other “faith-thinking” does for people!

  6. From the article:

    To beat back creeping secularism, Bohlin now ministers to Christian high school students, putting on seminars to “arm” them for the godless worldview that will pervade their college education. He teaches them about “current problems with evolution” like the “sudden appearance” of species and the “gaps” in the fossil record, all better explained, he says, by the supernatural, by a “design motif.”

    A man who thinks the “supernatural” is a better explanation of how species developed, than the theory of evolution is, deserves to be put it the stocks and pelted with rotten fruit. At least metaphorically ! And he is the creationists’ last hope ?

    Couldn’t the YECs bring in some heavyweight intellectuals like Ray Comfort or Sarah Palin ?

  7. I’m not sure I’m following all this.

    Creationists and ID folks are direct blood cousins of the UFO clan. You are not going to convince any of them of anything you say to them.
    That’s because they are absolutely positively certain that you are part of a Satanistic conspiracy. Music up, fade out, finis.

    Now is there anythIng that we should fear? Yes, that they should gain real political power and try and shove their wacky theories / faith down anyone’s throat. Indeed, we should fear them exactly as we fear Muslim fundamentalists. In fact just as we do any other religion fundalmentists.
    Evan as we treat other extremists. Common factor: commonly willing and even eager martyrs.

    So the Texas fight is extremely important. But why are you arguing with them? It’s fruitless. We need to alarm rational people and even persons expressing commom sense.

    But it’s important we remember that IN THEIR OWN UNIVERSE OF LOGIC AND EVIDENCE they are generally (and ferociously) right. Think of it as a sci-Fi alternative parallel world (I like to dub it “Bizzro World”. So lynch ‘em or like then but, dear god, please don’t argue with them.

    • I think things like YEC are something like an infection, enabled by a peculiar chain of events. Possibly rooted in childhood religious exposure, and triggered in later life. I’m not sure that it’s safe to assume that anyone would not just as easily fall prey in the right combination of circumstances. Eradicating the virus is an impossible task. So the obvious strategy is to develop herd immunity. But there will always be a few that succumb.

      If it had happened to me I’d hope that others might demonstrate a sense of charity and attempt to set things straight. Such efforts may only offer a slight hope for true salvation, but it’s better than nothing.

      In reply to #26 by GregR:

      I’m not sure I’m following all this.

      Creationists and ID folks are direct blood cousins of the UFO clan. You are not going to convince any of them of anything you say to them.
      That’s because they are absolutely positively certain that you are part of a Satanistic conspiracy. Music up, fade out,…

  8. In reply to #6 by Degsy:

    In reply to Aztec…

    “It’s a mystery how he has managed to get a doctorate in molecular biology without understanding the basics of the theory of evolution.”

    You would be amazed at the amount of people coming through university with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in biology, biochemistry,…

    That’s true. There are many people who fail to understand evolution despite having a degree which deals with things that heavily rely on the theory. But Bohlin isn’t just any run-of-the-(degree)mill graduate. He hasn’s only gotten a degree in, say, medicine and started working as an oncologist without thinking about evolution. He has taken his degree with the very intention of understanding evolution!

    The article says: “If I’m going to be a critic of evolution, I have to make sure I understand in detail how it’s supposed to work” and “Bohlin invested years of his life in the graduate program at North Texas and the molecular biology doctoral program at the University of Texas at Dallas, absorbing everything he must refute.” If he has dealt with evolution so extensively as a part of his process to understand it, it is impossible that he hasn’t read the simple answers to the questions he is wondering about. The only reason he is opposing the theory of evolution is religion and denial. Because he cannot have missed the explanations to his questions.

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