After intense debate, the Texas State Board of Education voted on Thursday to approve textbooks that teach evolution. Although scientists and educators argue that the theory of evolution is generally regarded as “a cornerstone of modern scientific research,” according to the Associated Press, members of the religious community sought a version of evolution that allows one to factor in the possibility of unexplainable forces.
According to the Los Angeles Times, after California, Texas is the nation’s second biggest buyer of textbooks. Texas, along with California and Florida, helps to make up more than 30 percent of the nation’s $4 billion public school book market. This massive buying power often prompts publishers to edit their proposed texts according to the requirements of the Texas State Board of Education to win consideration in one of the largest textbook market – affecting the education of students across the nation, the Times reports.
The 11-4 vote by the board is seen as a win for the scientists, educators, and activists who feel that religious messages should be kept out of science classes. Samantha Smoot, the executive director of the Texas Freedom Network, a coalition of activists and clergy active in the Texas debate, claimed the attempts by groups, such as the Discovery Institute, to argue that they simply want to present evolution as a possibility is “quite clearly” an attempt to teach “religious theories.” They further argue that by poking “enough holes in evolution, students would be hard pressed to understand biology without incorporating the work of God,” according to the Times.
Others feel that the heated debate over how to teach students science results from the growing influence of religion in politics. Mark Hester, an Austin resident an retired teacher, observed to the Times that “it’s expected that good sense can prevail, but in this day and time, with politics being what it is, you can never be sure until its over.”