The Next Episode of the Evolution Wars in South Carolina

In our last episode, the South Carolina State Board of Education (SBE) had elected a creationist as chairperson-elect and was beginning the process of trying to deny the use of textbooks that contained… you guessed it, evolution. One of the textbooks under scrutiny was coauthored by Ken Miller, and Miller was gracious enough to speak at the SBE meeting held yesterday in which the adoption (or rejection) of the books was to take place. Also attending were numerous members of the SCSE to speak on behalf of the books. These were books, by the way, that were strongly approved by the Department of Education’s evaluation committee and are very popular among teachers in the state. Members of the evaluating committee and teachers were also on hand to express their disapproval with the Board’s shenanigans.

The main instigator of these shenanigans, aside from certain members of the board, is a retired Clemson professor by the name of Horace Skipper. Skipper apparently makes no bones about his young-earth views, and the objections he has are your standard, badly misleading anti-evolution nonsense. But lest anyone allow their opinion of Clemson to be tarred by the likes of Skipper, biologist Jerry Waldvogel was on hand to present a list of 130 signatures from Clemson faculty rejecting Skipper’s claims and supporting Miller. Go Tigers!

Thankfully the board voted 10-6 to adopt the Miller-Levine text. It’s sad that there are even that many board members who voted against what is widely regarded as an excellent textbook simply because it incorporates evolution, as does every other legitimate biology text. But at least for now, we have textbooks that were adopted on the recommendation of competent professionals. That’s far better than having them rejected due to the hangups of religious extremists.

The full story on all of this is at the SCSE website in two parts, plus – and this is really cool – videos of the whole meeting. These include Ken Miller’s presentation and various wacky stuff from the creationists. Well worth watching.

So that apparently does it for this episode. Until the next one.