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Texas Textbooks Battle Is Actually an American War

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the molding-young-minds dept.

Education 1252

ideonexus writes "I've been lackadaisical when it comes to following stories about Texas schoolboard attempts to slip creationism into biology textbooks, dismissing the stories as just 'dumbass Texans,' but what I didn't realize is that Texas schoolbooks set the standard for the rest of the country. And it's not just Creationism that this Christian coalition is attempting to bring into schoolbooks, but a full frontal assault on history, politics, and the humanities that exploits the fact that final decisions are being made by a school board completely academically unqualified to make informed evaluations of the changes these lobbyists propose. This evangelical lobby has successfully had references to the American Constitution as a 'living document,' as textbooks have defined it since the 1950s, removed in favor of an 'enduring Constitution' not subject to change, as well as attempting to over-emphasize the role Christianity played in the founding of America. The leaders of these efforts outright admit they are attempting to redefine the way our children understand the political landscape so that, when they grow up, they will have preconceived notions of the American political system that favor their evangelical Christian goals."

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A Christian's take (1, Interesting)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117190)

Creationism does not in anyway detract from evolution. Some people on both sides think creationism and evolution can not exist together, but they can with the long day theory [goodnewsjim.com] .

As for interpreting the constitution, I agree that it should stay in its current form unless it gets ammended. I think the focal point is that Christian enemies are arguing for,"Seperation of Church and State" while Christians argue that the Constitution says this nowhere in it. The only thing the Constitution says is the first ammendment where it says,"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech," Yet, there this is interpreted that clergy may not talk about a political candidate from the puplit. To me, this is a law abdridging freedom of speech.

Re:A Christian's take (5, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117242)

One is science the other is religion. Guess which one does not belong in a schoolbook?

Re:A Christian's take (0, Troll)

BuR4N (512430) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117326)

I 'm guessing "Depends who's paying for the books"

Re:A Christian's take (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117458)

Tax dollars.

Re:A Christian's take (1, Funny)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117332)

The one that has never been proven.

That would be BOTH.

Also most of the scientists I've meant in three separate colleges believed in a Creator of some kind. After all, the initial singularity from which the universe sprung had to come from somewhere. Science and belief in intelligent design are not incompatible.

Re:A Christian's take (4, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117418)

"After all, the initial singularity from which the universe sprung had to come from somewhere. "

Nice asserted conclusion. Asserted conclusions are not proof, but thanks for trying!

Re:A Christian's take (2, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117444)

Intelligent design is a misnomer, either it was idiotic design or none at all.

For examples look no further than your hips or your knees, they are ill adept at walking upright.

One can be tested the other cannot. One is a scientific theory the other philosophy.

Re:A Christian's take (5, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117560)

Also most of the scientists I've meant in three separate colleges believed in a Creator of some kind. After all, the initial singularity from which the universe sprung had to come from somewhere.

And why is that precisely? And if the Universe requires a prime mover, then why doesn't the prime mover? And if you're going to assert that the prime mover is exempt from the very logic you claim makes the prime move necessary, then why can't I apply Occam's Razor and declare the universe can have that property you claim for the prime mover, and thus declare the prime mover unnecessary?

Or, more to the point, why would this posited singularity be bound by causality?

Re:A Christian's take (4, Interesting)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117576)

So let's remove gravity, most of physics, and genetics from the science classroom as well. Those are all theories. You don't prove a theory. You find evidence either for or against it. As soon as you find some evidence against Evolution, we can reconsider it. But being as ALL of the evidence gathered since Darwin was pontificating points to Evolution being the mechanism by which life changes, science (and the science classroom) should stick with that.

It doesn't matter what an individual scientist believes. That's immaterial, an argument from authority which is of no worth. I can point to priests who believe in evolution. Shit, the CATHOLIC CHURCH [wikipedia.org] is ok with evolution. That is NOT a reason to accept it. The reason to accept it is that the facts we have about genetics and fossils and such all point to Evolution.

The only reason you would have even posted this is because you're ignorant of science, which makes your opinion of it uninformed and therefore worthless.

Re:A Christian's take (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117620)

Wow, you fail at your own logic.

First, the scientific evidence heavily supports one at the expense of the other. (FYI, creationists argue things happened just like it says in the bible).

Second, that "initial singularity" you put up as the start of the universe hasn't been proven either. Its just where the evidence points, for now. But as you said about evolution, its not proven, and there may have been no singularity. So stop pushing one theory when it supports you view and disparaging another when it doesn't.

Re:A Christian's take (0, Flamebait)

toastar (573882) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117400)

One is science the other is religion. Guess which one does not belong in a schoolbook?

Science can't explain how the universe was formed from. At one point it couldn't explain how the earth was formed, or why the rain fell, what was lightning.

Why is a concept like Zues' lightning bolt sound more absurd then 'a big bang'

are you saying because something is not well understood it should be ignored?

Re:A Christian's take (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117524)

No, one offers testable theories the other just magic. The fact that something cannot yet be explained is not reason to start assuming magic, fairies, unicorns and the sky wizard are all real.

Science is not the search for truth, just facts. If you want truth you should seek out philosophy.

On not throwing out babies with bathwather (4, Insightful)

davide marney (231845) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117610)

Religion has a huge impact on many aspects of society: language, culture, politics -- even science. Religion could certainly be a legitimate topic of academic study, done properly. For example, I doubt it is possible to truly understand the history of the United States without understanding the role of religious belief. It's just too intertwined.

Your point about people trying to pass religion off as if it were science is well taken, however. Bugs me when people try to pass humanism off as science, too.

Re:A Christian's take (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31117250)

Yet, there this is interpreted that clergy may not talk about a political candidate from the puplit. To me, this is a law abdridging freedom of speech.

Fine, then no more tax exemptions for churches.

Re:A Christian's take (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31117374)

Yet, there this is interpreted that clergy may not talk about a political candidate from the puplit. To me, this is a law abdridging freedom of speech.

Fine, then no more tax exemptions for churches.

Actually the language was to prevent Congress from enacting any laws which favored one religion over another, so as long as all religions get the same tax exemptions then your statement is ignorant. State run religion such as the Church of England is what they where trying to prevent.

Re:A Christian's take (2, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117270)

Creationism does not in anyway detract from evolution.

That's true and great (says the Christian), but that just means there's zero reason to have Creationism (or its bullshit offspring, Intelligent Design) taught in science class. So, not what they're trying to do.

Yet, there this is interpreted that clergy may not talk about a political candidate from the puplit. To me, this is a law abdridging freedom of speech.

Wait, what fucking law are you talking about?

Re:A Christian's take (2, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117336)

He is whining about the fact that you can either be a political organization or a tax-exempt nonprofit; but not both.

Can't endorse candidates and remain tax-exempt (2, Informative)

Dr. Manhattan (29720) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117340)

The GP was incomplete. The actual state of things is that "clergy may not talk about a political candidate from the puplit [sic]" and retain their tax-exempt status.

Re:A Christian's take (1)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117278)

Well, if creationism is to be taught in schools, why not pastafarianism? At least evolution can be backed up by more than just faith.

Don't belittle one persons faith because it seems silly to you. But also don't shove one faith down people's throats because you think it's the only correct one. Either teach what's based on fact, or teach every competing theory with equal weight and let the students decide...

Re:A Christian's take (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31117296)

God came to me last night and told me Christianity is a lie that he puts forth to tempt the weak. This post is divinely inspired the the One True God, and is now canon law for the One True Religion.

Can anyone prove me wrong? No, good then. How can I get this religion included in text books? Does it need a name? Would the One True Religion really need a *name*???

Re:A Christian's take (1)

kappa962 (1583621) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117312)

I'm not sure what this has to do with free speech. Clergy are free to say anything they please. The only danger is that their churches may lose their tax-exempt status. Unless you think political organizations should be tax exempt, I don't see what the problem would be.

Re:A Christian's take (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31117330)

Creationism does not in anyway detract from evolution. Some people on both sides think creationism and evolution can not exist together, but they can with the long day theory [goodnewsjim.com] .

As for interpreting the constitution, I agree that it should stay in its current form unless it gets ammended. I think the focal point is that Christian enemies are arguing for,"Seperation of Church and State" while Christians argue that the Constitution says this nowhere in it. The only thing the Constitution says is the first ammendment where it says,"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech," Yet, there this is interpreted that clergy may not talk about a political candidate from the puplit. To me, this is a law abdridging freedom of speech.

The problem with promoting creationism isn't just Constitutional. Creationism effectively ends discussion where as Darwinism promotes discussion. Creationism's response to every issue is effectively God made it that way. Darwinism can be refined as a theory creationism simply makes the argument that God did it. This is an issue of Texas evangelicals using the government to promote their specific ideas and try to create a new generation of kids that follow their beliefs. They already have tax free churches for that but they want more power and control than the Constitution allows.

Re:A Christian's take (-1, Troll)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117488)

Evolutionism effectively ends discussion where as Creationism promotes discussion. Evolutionists' response to every issue is effectively it evolved that way. Creationism can be refined as a theory evolutionism simply makes the argument that evolution did it.

See? I can do that too.

Lazy creationists’ response to every issue is that God did it. Inquisitive ones who aren’t afraid of “science” know that if God created science, then science will never contradict their faith. They believe that, since God is all-powerful and all-knowing, there must have been a good reason for why God did it that way, and they want to know what that reason is and how God made it work.

Re:A Christian's take (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117350)

Some people on both sides think creationism and evolution can not exist together, but they can with the long day theory

No... if you dismiss the account of creation, the idea of a literal “original sin” goes with it. Without a literal idea of original sin, a literal sacrifice for sin is unnecessary. Without a literal sacrifice for sin, Christianity is meaningless.

Re:A Christian's take (1)

kappa962 (1583621) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117546)

No. The long day theory doesn't dismiss the account of creation, so "original sin" can stay. Furthermore, "original sin" isn't really necessary to Christianity.

Re:A Christian's take (2, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117378)

Some people believe that the world is flat, too. The 'some people' rubric flatly flies in the face of the fact that faith-based (Genesis-based) creationism doesn't agree at all with evidence that science has found. Trying to mosh the two contrasting theories together makes little sense. What these Texans are trying to do is to blithely shove their 'faith' down other people's throats as fact. What are the facts? I'm happy to have presented, both sides of the evidence to children and let them understand both. Their parents can teach them which version of the faith-based versions they believe, and let the schools present the rest of the evidence. Let the storm begin.

Re:A Christian's take (3, Interesting)

Nexus7 (2919) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117466)

CrazyJim said:
> Creationism does not in anyway detract from evolution.

What? If sit here all day and come up with an explanation of how Hansel & Gretel can coexist with evolution, it still doesn't make it true.

Oh, and in your "long day theory" you have a fundamental misunderstanding of "24 hours". The 24 is mere convention.

> As for interpreting the constitution, I agree that it should stay in its current form unless it gets ammended.

Sure, as long as things aren't changed, they stay the same.

And the people wanting separation of church and state are not "Christian enemies." It is this siege mentality that keeps the fundamentalists afraid to venture outside the flock, and engenders such divisive language.

And the point being covered up is that the US Constitution has well-defined mechanisms to change it. Some people consider that to be its genius.

Re:A Christian's take (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31117472)

Pure semantics, the only thing that any prosperous person should hold dear is skepticism and a hope for a better future. Is it really worth the time to argue if science and religion are compatible philosophies? They have both been around for a few thousand years and aside from the christian dark ages they have both endured, which is to be praised. Many ancient scientific texts were preserved in the monasteries and mosques of the faiths. Many members of the faiths defended them to the death. The true issue that stems from the article is the attempt at mass manipulation of the future generations of Americans. As much as you and Christians like you argue that evangelical Christianity is not a threat to science and the future, the people that are actively attempting to push these sort of societal changes are exactly arguing anti-intellectual viewpoints which will do nothing to help make this country a better place. While unbiased education brings with it doubt, skepticism, and a desire for increased knowledge; the faith-based biased education the lobbying groups are pushing for brings with it the claim that faith has all the answers, your preacher will tell you whats really happening and the truth about the world. We must acknowledge that we as humans do not have all the answers, so we must search for them through science and modesty. Without doubt, we will have no drive to ensure humanity's survival in the long term.

Re:A Christian's take (5, Insightful)

calibre-not-output (1736770) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117496)

Creationism means that people descend from a dude missing a rib who was sculpted from mud. It's not only incompatible with evolution, it's incompatible with rational thought.

Re:A Christian's take (2, Insightful)

jayveekay (735967) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117544)

The only thing the Constitution says is the first ammendment where it says,"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech,"

Article VI:
"no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

Why wouldn't The Founders want religous tests for public office?

Why is The U.S. Constitution thought by some to be an infallible document, when The Founders themselves recognized its imperfection and defined a process for amending it to fix bugs?

Why would a rational person argue with a person who simply "believes" stuff without any basis in reason?

Re:A Christian's take (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117556)

No, our founders clearly did want to separate church and state:
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/ed_buckner/quotations.html#II [infidels.org]

I'd like to ask you, since you're obviously a quack. How exactly would you combine church and state while having the state not endorse a particular religion? Seems to me that a combination is exactly an endorsement.

Re:A Christian's take (2, Insightful)

hduff (570443) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117624)

Yet, there this is interpreted that clergy may not talk about a political candidate from the puplit. To me, this is a law abdridging freedom of speech.

That freedom is only abridged by the choice of the church. Churches may speak all the politics they want from the pulpit and enjoy the full benefits of the Constitution as long as they pay taxes on their revenue like the rest of us (Matthew 22:21, Mark 12:17). One could argue that by indulging in tax-exempt status, any church is ignoring the teachings of Jesus to acknowlege the earthly government that God has put in place (1 Timothy 2:1-2). I believe that, in order to help churches thrive financialy, an institutional ban on politics is reasonable in exchange for tax-exepmt status as this in no way impacts the church members from exercising their full individual Constiutional rights. You can't have it both ways and be consistent with your beliefs.

Down with Texas (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31117192)

It's time to mess with Texas.

How bad could it be? (5, Funny)

Mechagodzilla (94503) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117218)

How much damage could a poorly educated man from Texas actually cause? It's not like he could become President or something...

Re:How bad could it be? (4, Funny)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117316)

Lyndon Johnson was not a poorly educated man.

Re:How bad could it be? (1)

toastar (573882) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117478)

+1 funny

Re:How bad could it be? (2, Interesting)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117392)

George W. Bush spent most of his academic career in private schools in New England.

Re:How bad could it be? (0, Offtopic)

mi (197448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117412)

George W. Bush was born in Connecticut [wikipedia.org] . Although he went to elementary school in Texas, his high-school years were spent in Massachusetts. He then went to study in Yale and, interestingly, had a slightly better GPA [blogspot.com] , than John Kerry — his opponent during 2004 elections, who kept his academic record hidden, while his followers mocked Bush's.

Re:How bad could it be? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31117566)

And yet with all that lovely education he still struggles to string together 3 sentences that actually make sense.

At least the new guy knows how to speak. A step up from the last if you ask me.

Re:How bad could it be? (1)

keithpreston (865880) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117454)

As someone who did not attend Yale and Harvard, I'm glad we can agree those who graduated from those schools are poorly educated. It sure makes my Alma mater look better!

People weren't aware of this? (4, Insightful)

rugatero (1292060) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117230)

...dismissing the stories as just 'dumbass Texans,' but what I didn't realize is that Texas schoolbooks set the standard for the rest of the country.

I knew this and am not even American. Every piece of coverage I've seen on this issue has explained how wide reaching the ramifications are. How can anyone have missed it?

Re:People weren't aware of this? (0)

$1uck (710826) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117302)

It's KDawson.

Re:People weren't aware of this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31117360)

Exactly. Just more KDawson FUD

Re:People weren't aware of this? (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117542)

Actually, it's ideonexus. As in: "ideonexus writes"

Now granted, kdawson is pretty dumb too...

Re:People weren't aware of this? (1, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117462)

- They are busy with other things (jobs, kids) to read the stories.
- American media sucks, and never mentioned that Texas books are used nationwide.
- They have no interest (don't have kids and thus don't care about textbooks).
- Some other reason I can't think of right now.

>>>This evangelical lobby has successfully had references to the American Constitution as a 'living document,'

The Constitution is not "alive" in the sense most people use it, where the words have no meaning and the Congress ignores what it says, such that the Constitution might as well not even exist. That's why they (and I) find the reference objectionable. In reality the Constitution is a piece-of-paper with some Laws scribbled upon it, and it remains fixed for a long long time (two decades so far), until an amendment is added to it. Then it changes.

Also some people forget what the Democratic Party's founder (Thom. Jefferson) called the most important part of the Constitution: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

And in my opinion, this is second most important part: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." For example: The right to not have your cellphones monitored by Monkeyhead Dubya Bush or Barak Corpseman Obama via the Unpatriotic Act.

Re:People weren't aware of this? (1, Flamebait)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117486)

Other than a very tiny minority, Americans are viciously relgionist and many of those who aren't, don't read the news. With the manipulation of textbooks, the willfully ignorant are further masturbated in their ignorance.

That is why the US is becoming a decreasingly competent and increasingly toxic country. We are getting what we collectively deserve, though some of us individually don't deserve it.

Re:People weren't aware of this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31117572)

You're an idiot and have never been to America if you think that.

Re:People weren't aware of this? (0, Flamebait)

coaxial (28297) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117614)

I knew this and am not even American. Every piece of coverage I've seen on this issue has explained how wide reaching the ramifications are. How can anyone have missed it?

Because they're American.

Refreshing! (2, Insightful)

hduff (570443) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117236)

Re-writing history to inure a political viewpoint? This is nothing new. At least these folks are being honest about their goals; that's a refreshing approach from narrow-minded zealots.

Re:Refreshing! (0, Troll)

keithpreston (865880) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117372)

But where are you learning about the wrongs of these narrow-minded zealots? Other narrow-minded zealots on the opposite extreme? I can agree that there are a lot of crazy christian narrow-minded zealots, but I think there are just as many anti-religion narrow-minded zealots. Why can't we just have education books just present multiple popular theories along with the pros and cons of each?

Re:Refreshing! (3, Insightful)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117582)

Why can't we just have education books just present multiple popular theories along with the pros and cons of each?

Do you expect students to carry the new 10,000-page science volume entitled "Things That Aren't Science" home and back each night?

Because there are thousands of popular theories about thousands of things that Aren't Science. Bothering to mention any of them in a science class distracts from the limited time where students are able to learn about . . . science.

"Living Constitution" (5, Insightful)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117260)

I asked a lawyer who believed in this, pre-market crash, if they believed in a "living mortgage." Why is the Constitution the only legal document we do that to?

Anyone who wants to teach that is going for a particular point of view. Why is the opposite view nefarious but this one all sweetness and light?

This whole summary is ignorant. Everyone is pushing a point of view. It has to be somebody's.

Re:"Living Constitution" (5, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117342)

Yeah, "living document" was definitely a rhetorical fraud or at least a rhetorical mistake made at some point. The constitution is valueless if it can be simply interpreted into the mores and norms of whatever the current age happens to be rather than debated and amended into the modern age as the framers intended.

Re:"Living Constitution" (5, Insightful)

Rene S. Hollan (1943) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117346)

The constitution is not the only legal document subject to modification. In fact many legal judgments and court orders are subject to modification.

The key is that the terms of how and to what degree things can be modified are either part of the document itself, or established by statute.

As with all things, there's often room for subjective interpretation of the terms of modification, and that's where case law and precedent come in.

What distinguishes a constitution is that it is intentionally difficult to modify.

Re:"Living Constitution" (0, Flamebait)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117354)

Wow! Your family has been paying off a mortgage for 220 years? Can you still pay in slaves?

Re:"Living Constitution" (3, Insightful)

$1uck (710826) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117358)

What's living in the interpretation of the Constitution. Any sufficiently vague legal document is going to be open to interpretation which is going to change as society goes on. I guarantee your mortgage is not as open to interpretation as the constitution.

Re:"Living Constitution" (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31117440)

There is no vagueness at all. The constitution is very simple and easy to read. Anyone and their mother can read the constitution and know exactly what it means.

Re:"Living Constitution" (1, Flamebait)

jdgeorge (18767) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117548)

There is no vagueness at all. The constitution is very simple and easy to read. Anyone and their mother can read the constitution and know exactly what it means.

I'm not sure if this deserves a "+1 Funny", or a "-1 More retarded than Sarah Palin" mod.

Re:"Living Constitution" (1)

mhajicek (1582795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117482)

What's living in the interpretation of the Constitution. Any sufficiently vague legal document is going to be open to interpretation which is going to change as society goes on. I guarantee your mortgage is not as open to interpretation as the constitution.

What's open to interpretation about "shall not be infringed"?

Re:"Living Constitution" (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117442)

Perhaps because factually the constitution is a living document.

You can agree or disagree with whether or not it should be, but that is separate from accurately describing its history.

Re:"Living Constitution" (2, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117512)

A mortgage isn't a living document because it is a contract between to organizations, a lender and a lendee. You could argue that the constitution is likewise a contract between the government and the governed, so where's the difference? The constitution lays out in it's contract exactly what needs to take place in order for the contract to be amended. Most notably, the contract can be amended without the support of, or indeed in opposition to, the government (realistically this would never happen but it is never the less allowed by the contract. Mortgages have no such clause and are therefore not living documents, you might be able to exercise a different part of the contract but unlike the constitution you can't rewrite the contract after it has been accepted by both parties.

The single most important part of the constitution are the rules for changing it, without those rules we would never have had the bill of rights, never been able to give women and minorities the right to vote, or been able to end the threat of slavery. The flexibility of our system of government is what has allowed it to survive and prosper for over 200 years, you can't just pretend that that flexibility doesn't exist because it is only exercised in extreme situations, you also can't pretend it doesn't exist just because you personally happen to like the state that it's currently in.

If only we could speed up time (1, Troll)

omnibit (1737004) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117264)

It's just a shame that the processes of evolution will take way too long for this rubbish to devolve or become extinct.

There is no god (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31117268)

Get over it already

Nothing new here. (5, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117272)

It's worth revisiting the lesson of the sixties that the Hippies got right, such as not to trust the government and that the purpose of public education is to lie to you.

Students should regard any political lesson taught in school as propaganda, should never trust their teachers, an in general fucking hate the government. Bible Thumpers have always sought to rule by infiltration and dominionism.
Know this, fight back, agitate others to fight back, and above all disregard anything any religionist says to defend their superstition. We don't respect Scientology for obvious reasons, and there is no reason any other superstition should get a pass, especially on a geek site. We are modern people, and modern people don't need gods.

Re:Nothing new here. (-1, Troll)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117344)

Lemme guess. You just read Chomsky or Zinn and want to impress the boy in the cool plastic frames at the campus bookstore.

Re:Nothing new here. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31117480)

That worked fine until the Hippies now run the government. so we are now told oh wait you can trust us.

Re:Nothing new here. (1, Interesting)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117554)

Bible Thumpers have always sought to rule by infiltration and dominionism.

Public education has always been used by those who wish to change society by reaching the children. Many of the early proponents of government run education saw it as a way to overcome the religious influence of parents so that atheism could prevail. So, the fact that religious people are attempting to do the same thing in the opposite direction is not subversive.
Relative to your comment about superstition, several studies have indicated that people who hold do not believe in a god are more likely to hold to superstitious beliefs (Bigfoot is real, UFO's are aliens, the number 13 is unlucky, etc) than those who are strongly Christian (this may extend to Jews and Muslims, but I do not recall for sure).

Establishment clause smackdown (4, Interesting)

Rene S. Hollan (1943) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117284)

All it will take is a suit that the school board violates civil liberties.

I wish it could go further. I wish that provably willful violations of civil liberties were treated as treason.

Re:Establishment clause smackdown (1)

snmpkid (93151) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117506)

So when the POTUS tracks cellphone users via GPS in their phones with no warrant you think he should also be prosecuted for Treason

Well, 'fair dos' to them (1, Insightful)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117298)

Whilst I personally do not agree with their standpoint, at least they are mounting a vigorous, forward-looking defense of their beliefs.
No worse than state-sponsored Madrassas in Pakistan and elsewhere.
It's up to the rest of society to fight their corner equally well, in the interests of balance; unfortunately only the fanatics seem to have the energy to do this...

Re:Well, 'fair dos' to them (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31117420)

Of course, it all depends who the fanatics are. Reacting with outrage, anger and scaremongering that the Constitution is described as 'enduring' rather then 'a living document' certainly seems quite fanatic to me.

I'm from one of the Scandinavian countries. Would the same people explode with rage if I happened to describe to a child that "'The Monarchy is a traditional part of X", instead of "The Monarchy in X is an institution which SOME people a long time ago chose to institute but which in no way means that it must ALWAYS be that way or is in any way unchangeable as soon as people dislike it", in every sentence?

Can I do the same with racial sensitivty laws? Some people choose; It has in the past been; we could change it but for now it's like; the constantly evolving laws are at the moment at; etc?

Re:Well, 'fair dos' to them (1)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117602)

Just why is the parent flamebaiting?

from out of middle-field... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31117300)

Sounds to me like they're taking a page out of the Progressive Left's playbook. Great. Right-wing fundamentalists and left-wing Bolsheviks vying for the young skulls full of mush.

Here's an idea: let's make revisionist history a capitol offense.

Re:from out of middle-field... (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117368)

I'll get right on that. I'm sure I left my Absolutely Objective History of America in the pocket of my other coat, we can just compare textbooks against it...

Taas (1)

toastar (573882) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117304)

Why did they rename the TAAS test again?

Anathem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31117320)

Being 700 pages in, and it's disturbing how much alike this sounds to the "collapse" state of civilization in the book. Stop looking into the future Stephenson, your scaring me!

That's just one problem with American education (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31117364)

We have a system where education consumers have little or no control. Where we get dictated to by the system rather than make demands of it. And funded with an abominable property tax that makes renters of us all and leads to all kinds of eminent domain abuse and doesn't do anything for the poor sods that have the misfortune of living in a crappy neighborhood.

And the social engineering on the left is equally scary.

In general the schools seem great a preparing little johnny for state worshiping a zero-tolerance surveillance state and teaching a decidedly post-new deal version of constitutional rights.

The sad fact is the whole thing is fucked. Fucked on the left. Fucked on the right. Fucked by design.

Lies my Teacher Told Me... (1)

lyapunov (241045) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117380)

James Loewen's books, are some of the best that I ever read. Lies my Teacher Told Me starts off with the story of him and a few school districts suing to get his book on the history of Miss. adopted. Fascinating and disheartening stuff.

It is amazing the damage that a few phuqtards with ignorant beliefs can have. I always shake may head in amazement at the evolutionary naysayers. I have found that asking them how antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria have come about so quickly usually shuts them up.

Seeing a problem and missing the point. (3, Insightful)

J. T. MacLeod (111094) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117408)

Regardless of "academic qualification" (Most people with the paper don't have the ethical or logical capability to be truly considered qualified), the Texas school board was responding to its own concerns about the insertion of bias into textbooks.

Textbooks are already biased. How many people are around that are willing to stand against bias in ALL directions? I'm sick of bickering between defining "unbiased" as "suiting my own personal bias".

So Ignorant It Hurts (5, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117422)

While the article is a bit biased as well as the people it covers, a lot of the things these people tout amount to plain ignorance.

More elementally, they hold that the United States was founded by devout Christians ...

True.

... and according to biblical precepts.

False. The founding fathers (especially Thomas Jefferson) read so much philosophy and ethics that The Christian Bible was one of a hundred sources. One could easily argue that the nation was founded on principles of the League of Five Nations [wikipedia.org] as much as anything else. Yes, the founding fathers most likely borrowed from heathen savages that populated a land where everyone went to hell before the Europeans got here.

If the people in the article think the founding fathers didn't intend for a separation of church and state, let's visit what documentation we have [loc.gov] from them:

Gentlemen

The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist association, give me the highest satisfaction. my duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, & in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.

I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection & blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves & your religious association, assurances of my high respect & esteem.

Th Jefferson
Jan. 1. 1802.

All men and women are created equal. Everyone has a right to practice what religion they so choose. So keep your religious crap out of our public schools.

This is an International War over education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31117428)

I work for a large textbook company and you're just kidding yourself if you think the battle over how our children are taught is an American thing. The large textbook companies want to impose an American way of education - three-color, exceptionally expensive textbooks. We dream up ways of making our books REQUIRED that have nothing to do with making them relevant.

Afraid of Creationism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31117434)

My God! What are people so afraid of? That there is another widely believed explanation of how life on earth started? Oh wait, evolution does not explain how it started. Has anyone here witnessed evolution? Isn't a requirement for science that something is first observed? Should we skip that first step? From the observation we create a hypothesis. Then we test the hypothesis. This was attempted with evolution but given up on as none of the tests confirmed it. So instead of observing and testing, let's just call evolution fact and not let anyone debate it. That's how science works, right?

Why are people so afraid of scientific debate? Isn't that what science is all about? Show the evidence and follow where it leads, right? Can't evolution hold up against creationism? If so, let creationism be heard. If not, get rid of evolution.

Re:Afraid of Creationism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31117514)

Because your so-called creationism has zero scientific basis behind it, no evidence, no anything.

When religion has ANY kind of evidence supporting it, we'll take a look. Until then, we're going to ignore it for things that DO have evidence, like evolution. And yes, it's been observed.

What are theists so afraid of? Oh yeah, "god". Grow up.

children at risk (5, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117452)

Here is my favorite thing Texas has done in the name of promoting christianity. Adding "under god" to the Texas pledge that all Texas public school children are forced to say every day. Now, I have not problem with a pledge. It is a fetish thing when people want to show allegiance without have to do anything uncomfortable to demonstrate allegiance. I do have an issue with adding the notion of god, because that make it more a religious prayer than a country thing.

Here is the problem. The bible, and jesus, pretty much considered the worst thing one can do it be a hypocrite. A hypocrite is one who does things in a crowd to make others believe he or she has faith. Here is a famous verse of prayer.
Mathew 6:5-6"When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you."

We also know the verses on giving money to be seen. The idea is that one does these things because they are in our heart, not to gain profit. And we are putting our children in jeopardy when we ask them to do these things we know are wrong, such as acting like hypocrites.

The problem with these nut cases in Texas is they have no faith. No amount of science will sway me from what i feel to be true. No amount of world religions will change my mind what I know to be right. This does not mean I am inflexible, but that flexibility comes with experience, not cult brain washing. And because these people have not faith, how can they build faith in their children. They can't. So they limit their exposure to the world knowing the false faith could never withstand the truths in the world.

In some ways I agree with this. If one is not able to build faith in a child, then ones options are limited. What I disagree with is making all the rest of us suffer. Sure, a parent may have a right to screw up their own child, but that does not mean they have the right to screw up everyone else's. The parent can home school, turn off the TV, but there is no reason that those of us who are responsible should have to suffer because a few are irresponsible. It would be like saying I can't buy a beer because some children weren't taught discipline, or because genetically they can't have beer, and haven't been trained to stay away from it.

Second millennium Muslim civ, quit following (4, Insightful)

dpilot (134227) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117498)

Two immediate responses are prompted by this article...

First is to call to mind the fate of the Muslim civilization in the second millennium. The Muslims kept the lights on during the Dark Ages. They're the reason we know about the ancient Greeks. In those days, science was considered good, because it was discovery of God's world and ways. Somewhere about the middle of the second millennium the Muslim civilization encountered other pressures (like invasions) and turned their backs on science in favor of religious dogma. (Don't know if there was cause and effect there, coincidental timing, or some other relationship.) They've never been at the forefront of civilization since. We're starting to do the same thing here in the US. One key part of science is to face the world truthfully, whatever it tells you, and deal with it. Religion can help you deal with it. But when you impose religion as a "truth filter" between you and the real world, you've lost it.

Second, a more tactical response, is to quit following Texas' lead on textbook purchases. Is there any reason we have to let them set the standard, or is it a combination of laziness and their purchasing power?

Get "Evolution for Everyone" into the curriculum (1)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117508)

There's a great book by David Sloan Wilson called
"Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin's Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives"
http://www.amazon.com/Evolution-Everyone-Darwins-Theory-Change/dp/0385340214 [amazon.com]

It explains how and why religion and god-concepts evolved in human culture.

It is very well written in plain-spoken language, and the author is an accomplished
evolutionary biologist.

If we could get that one on to the Texas high school science curriculum, or into their high school
libraries, it might go a long way in putting this debate in the proper perspective for
confused Texan students.

old promises.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31117522)

Texas needs to make good on the old promise and secede already...

you will lose this argument every time. (4, Insightful)

skydude_20 (307538) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117534)

you refer to people as "dumbass Texans".. if you're so smart, why not reason with them and fight the good fight instead of dropping below their level and resorting to name calling. those "dumbass Texans" are winning...

The irony is this... (3, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117538)

Is that, some would argue that the present "living document" and history as given in textbooks from the 1970s and later was done by a concerted left wing effort to make the country swing left.

Instead, it backfired miserably.

My 1970s textbooks in grade school and high school went out of their way to define progress as a big march to the nanny state.. and as I remember flipping through pictures of poor people doing nothing, along came Ronald Reagan, to say that, well, it was all a bunch of crap.

Propaganda for kids doesn't work, because, the truthful documents are there. The truth is this: The wingers have this much of a point: The constitution is a strict document that defines powers given to the government, not, giving people rights, and the framers did base their ideas on Locke, that, because we've all got souls, we've all got rights. But what wingers also neglect to mention is that the framers were decidedly against much of their agenda too.

The founding fathers, in particular, want a standing army or a standing military at all. Indeed, up until the 1900s, the USA was barely a 2nd rate military power and looked on European military spending as a colossal sort of stupidity.

The founding fathers envisioned no federal power to regulate drugs or marriage or anything else. They would tax whiskey, and that was about it, and that was only to pay down the debt from the revolutionary war.

Bottom line is this, if you believe in the Constitution as it is written, there may not be any federal right to entitlements making, but there's no right to having a big army or any of the stuff the right wing wants, either.

The founding fathers were libertarians.

Yet another reason... (0, Troll)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117558)

that "We the People..." should take up arms against those who would destroy us from the inside. It is not only my right; my responsibility; it's my obligation to my fellow countrymen, and future generations of US Americans.

I happen to believe in God. However, I respect, and understand the reasons for keeping God out of education (one exception I would make is for private schools, which are opt-in).

History is history because it took place in the past. The past is unchangeable, and thus, re-writing history is the same as lying. In this case I would call the people re-writing the history of our once great country's politics one thing: tyrannical. Their motivations are clearly oppressive.

Everyone in the US should know that it's completely legal to kill tyrants. Everyone should know that it's their responsibility. The more we let the tyrants do this to us, the less we deserve the rights to freedom and liberty that they are stealing from us.

You can have my guns, my freedom, my rights, and my liberty AFTER you pry them from my cold, dead hands.

The European lesson. (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117564)

Is that religious education is often compulsory, and look at how many of them go to church : zero.

Most publishers make two different editions (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117568)

Part of my job entails uploading publisher content into our learning management system. They provided you with two different sets of content in most books, one a national edition, the other a Texas edition. This is done mostly in science, history & political science courses, but there have been many others as well. We simply use the national edition, problem solved.

On another note, describing the Constitution as a "living document" is basically the way for some people to say "The Constitution means whatever we want it to mean". In other words, the Constitution doesn't mean anything unless it helps them to further their political agenda. It is true that the constitution can be amended, but that doesn't make it a "living document".

Not just science, history as well. (1)

VeeCee (693453) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117586)

Keep in mind that it's not just creationism that Texas educators are trying to get into their textbooks. There is a strong push to rewrite current history textbooks to paint conservatism in a sympathetic light as well as to downplay the importance of the civil rights movement. Read more about it here http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/01/conservative_vision_ascendant_in_latest_texas_hist.php [talkingpointsmemo.com]

Profiting from Education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31117590)

I didn't realize is that Texas schoolbooks set the standard for the rest of the country. And it's not just Creationism that this Christian coalition is attempting to bring into schoolbooks, but a full frontal assault on history, politics, and the humanities that exploits the fact that final decisions are being made by a school board completely academically unqualified to make informed evaluations of the changes these lobbyists propose.

Dr. Richard Feynman wrote about his experiences that followed after he accepted the invitation participate in the committee responsible for selecting the math texts in his children's California school. It's not only Texas where the uneducated and the unqualified have the responsibility of determining how what materials will be used to lay the foundation for kids' futures. Feynman wrote that in the end it was the company with the most effective sales tactics, i.e. the one that most effectively bribed and coerced the committee members with freebies, that won the contract. Most of these concerned citizens didn't even take the time to read the texts, yet they submitted their vote, regardless of this fact.

It's the American way, just like Jersey Kozinsky wrote about in Being There. We are subject to the most effective leadership that people with power will allow which determines which way the dice are cocked.

Sorry to be such a cynic... wait, not I'm not. I truly believe we are doomed to repeat history because it's the victors that write, and they glorify victory. Ergo, it is no wonder that war-mongering, logic-challenged, self-serving Christians select textbooks. Just last night, I was recounting how, during my public school education, I was introduced to one of the fundamental concepts that, it was explained to me, defined free market capitalism, the freedom to fail.

And now, years later, here's the proof...

Just an observation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31117598)

...this evangelical lobby has successfully had references to the American Constitution as a 'living document,' as textbooks have defined it since the 1950s, ...

I would assert that the Constitution exists as the 'supreme law' of the land in American Federalism. Further, I would assert that the concept of "rule of law" is incompatible with the idea that the 'supreme law' is open for whimsical interpretation. Just because textbooks have defined the constitution as a 'living document' for 50+ years is not de facto proof that the interpretation is correct. Obviously, I do not personally subscribe to that theory.

On the other side, I would prefer if textbooks focused more on observation, hypothesis, and theory... and less on wild speculation. I am sure if you looked, you could find people that feel disenfranchised because no textbook offers the theory that the universe came from a giant chocolate egg pooped out of an eternal Easter bunny. We should be less concerned about whats 'possible' and more concerned about what we can see, measure, and test.

They Already Lost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31117600)

The Internet is here, and it isn't going away. The materials in textbooks had better match reality. Kids will start with the textbook and then move to the internet and library for their reports. If the two don't match it will only cause the kids to do more research. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if teachers start giving assignments for kids to fact-check the textbook!

Either the textbook companies are this stupid (to threaten their own business), or they are merely complicit with the religious zealots. Either way, they've already lost.

fact based (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31117608)

This has been going on in Texas for years. Creationists always try, and they always fail. We have a little criteria our courts use that's called "Fact based". It's saved us time & time again from the rampant stupidity of Evangelicals.

If they are going to (1)

dbcad7 (771464) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117616)

Have creation theories, then they need to have several others for context.

In the beginning there was an empty darkness. The only thing in this void was Nyx, a bird with black wings. With the wind she laid a golden egg and for ages she sat upon this egg. Finally life began to stir in the egg and out of it rose Eros, the god of love. One half of the shell rose into the air and became the sky and the other became the Earth. Eros named the sky Uranus and the Earth he named Gaia.

To compare what people once believed without evidence, to what they now believe is relevant. The above was documented by people who existed before the people who wrote the bible, that doesn't make it what actually happened.. The fact that people said or wrote things, does not make them facts.

It's okay (1)

e2d2 (115622) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117618)

I expect my child to learn from many sources and question those sources regardless of how they are viewed by others. If I thought she would simply read a text book and question her own core beliefs because of that then I would be worried. But I'm not because I'm raising a person that can discover her own truth through self-education. I can help her by pointing her to the information, but only she can turn it into knowledge.

And that being said she's an atheist and I'm a Christian. I have no problem with that. Life (through God IMHO) offers us choices. It's my job to as an American citizen and also as a global citizen to ensure those choices will always be available to whoever may want them. Through any means necessary I will defend the right to dissent from religion but I will also defend the right to partake in it.

The "problem" is some people aren't okay with other people having a different viewpoint. On both sides this is happening. Those people need to be told to shut up and sit down. For too long the extreme right and left have meddled with the rest of us. This must end. Let other men be.

They're fueling the fire (1)

orient (535927) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117626)

If american "christians" are right to fight to put into law (public education is governed law, right?) their religious beliefs, then this makes muslim's fight to impose the sharia law equally legitimate. Christians have no moral authority to impose their faith on others and, by doing so, they incite the other religions to do the same. And, oh, these texans aren't even christians; Jesus told his followers to spread the word, not to force the people into worshiping. Also, christians are supposed to turn the other cheek and die for their belief, not to bully others into joining their churchly organisation..
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