Posted tagged ‘epigenome’

Eugenie Scott, Villain of Science Education?

September 26, 2013
Rather than promote good science in Texas textbooks, the so-called Texas Freedom Network throws dinosaur costume parties instead. While they party on, an entire generation of Texas students will be left in the dark regarding 21st Century Science.

Rather than promote good science in Texas textbooks, the so-called Texas Freedom Network throws dinosaur costume parties instead. While they party on, an entire generation of Texas students will be left in the dark regarding 21st Century Science.

The Anti-Science League of America

Pretending to be the new superheroes of science, the National Center for Science misEducation (NCSE) and their “Science League of America” are really the superheros of anti-science, and Eugenie Scott is their leader. Working together with the so-called Texas Freedom Network, they disguise themselves in dinosaur costumes while doing virtually nothing to promote science or its language, mathematics. In an amazing display of anti-science heroism, Dr. Scott recently blogged that the scientific concept called epigenetics “isn’t a topic for beginning biology learners.” But that’s not true!

Epigenetics is easy for children to learn!

A 5 year-old can understand that a ship needs a captain, and that is a great way to understand the interplay between genetics (the ship) and epigenetics (the captain). The genome is your DNA, which each cell has an identical copy of. The epigenome is the set of biological information that directs the DNA, causing it to turn on and off at different times and locations. Even Volume VII of Jonathan Park, a creation adventure audio series for children, talks about epigenetics! Only villains of science education would make the ridiculous claims Dr. Scott makes.

Right now, Texas is deciding on content for new biology textbooks. This content will influence the next generation of students not just in Texas, but all over America. During public testimony last week (Sep. 17), I encouraged the board to make sure the subject of epigenetics is properly presented in the new textbooks.  Unfortunately, the science education villains were out in force. NCSE’s Josh Rosenau was in attendance, and echoed the same false claims of Eugenie Scott, that epigenetics was “too hard.”

Epigenetics most certainly is part of the TEKS

Another false claim of Eugenie Scott’s is that epigenetics is not part of Texas standards for biology, called TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills). Actually, any place genetics is discussed, epigenetics really needs discussion as well. Not only that, several TEKS specifically mention “gene expression”. What does Dr. Scott think causes genes to be expressed? Well, it’s the information in the epigenome!

Epigenetics is the reason why humans can start as one fertilized egg cell that develops into over 200 different cell types! And all these cell types have identical DNA, yet radically different epigenomes. It is the reason why recent speculations that most of our DNA is “junk” were so entirely wrong, as the ENCODE project has revealed. Epigenetics is also another mechanism of inheritance, and is the reason why the health of parents can effect their offspring, even if no genetic mutations occur.  It can also cause big heritable differences in physical traits, with no change to the DNA. As I outlined in my testimony, TEKS 4-7, and specifically 6D, 7F and 7G, are all basically saying epigenetics is mandatory content for a 21st Century high school biology textbook.

In superhero stories, the villains always lose

These days, it is actually quite easy to spot science education villains, because, like Eugenie Scott, they make their anti-science agenda so obvious. As dogmatic Darwinists, they, like Darwin, insist on a simple cell filled with one-dimensional (linear) DNA that randomly mutates to somehow generate new information. But 21st Century science reveals that the cell is anything but simple, and DNA actually works in 3-dimensions (4 if you include time), not one!

Unlike Charles Darwin, the science villains express no doubts about their version of history, dogmatically asserting Darwinism, even at the expense of giving an entire generation of students an intellectual handicap.

Is there any good news in this? Of course! For creationists like myself, real science and “creation science” are the same thing. By God’s grace, and in spite of the science villains, we will teach students about 21st Century Science, including epigenetics. And if you’ve seen any recent superhero movies, like The Avengers, Man of Steel, or Iron Man 3, you know the evolutionists are always portrayed as the villains. And what always happens to the villains? Eventually, they lose. But since we know they will lose, it’s all the more reason to apply some salt now and expose their foolish thinking, while at the same time being prepared to extend grace and mercy (Colossians 4:5-6).

Will TFN Stand Up for Science?

September 12, 2013

TFN range rider dino photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Probably not.  Next Tuesday (Sep. 17, 2013), the Texas State Board of Education will hear public testimony regarding new textbooks for Texas’ state-run schools. Unfortunately for some, promoting quality science materials for all children will take a back seat to TFN-sponsored anti-creationism and global warming hysteria. TFN will lead the charge, with yet another irrational dinosaur history protest scheduled for noon outside the William B. Travis building in Austin, TX.

Anti-creationism hysteria

Many people do not know that a basic principle of the scientific method is repeatability. If you can verify a claim through repeated experimentation, then it is a scientific claim. But think about the “battles”. The creation/evolution battle is not over scientifically verifiable claims, it is a battle over how to interpret unrecorded history. The last time I checked, most thinking people define the study of the past as history, not science! People have different interpretations of the past, but so what? Why do we need to protest that? Can’t we just discuss it? All indications are that TFN and their allies are not interested in standing up for science, they are interested in defending their dogmatic interpretation of history, at all costs. How irrational and misleading!

Global warming hysteria

And think about global warming hysteria. Meteorologists can still barely produce a decent 10-day weather forecast, yet many have been suckered into “believing” long-term climate models that are not easily verifiable. Global warming hysteria is really fueled more by “futurology” than anything scientific. Fortunately, now that the hysteria has been around for a while, we have real observations to compare to speculative models. The verdict is in: the models overwhelmingly predicted higher-than-actual temperatures over the last 30 years.

A disregard for real science

But what about testable repeatable science? What about the study of epigenetics, a field that is revolutionizing all of the biological sciences? If you think of the genome (set of all your DNA) as the “ship”, it doesn’t do anything without a captain. And what is the “captain”? It’s the epigenome, a separate set of information stored in a variety of forms inside cells. Epigenetics has implications for everything from cancer to the effects of diet on human health.

Recently, I reviewed some of the Texas biology textbooks up for adoption. Amazingly, not one of the textbooks I reviewed contained information on epigenetics! In 2011, when I reviewed online materials for Texas schools, I had to go against my entire review team just to get one lousy paragraph on the epigenome into the curriculum!

Why the disregard for teaching 21st Century Science? Well, it doesn’t come from scientists, but from dinosaur history protesters. You see, epigenetics has been proposed as “an outright counterpoint to purely Mendelian inheritance” and as “the study of heritable changes in cellular phenotype, or gene expression that is initiated by factors other than changes in the DNA sequence.” (from The Epigenetic Landsape, an article in the Spring 2012 issue of In Vivo, published by the University of Texas Department of Biological Sciences). For close-minded Darwinists, “change” comes from DNA mutations alone, which is why epigenetics “raises hackles” for the irrational, unscientific horde.

Will 21st Century science be suppressed in Texas textbooks? Time will tell. All scientists would agree that 21st Century biology students should learn about epigenetics. But what about political activists, shouldn’t they agree, too? Yesterday, I called and emailed Texas Freedom Network (TFN), asking them to support teaching epigenetics in Texas textbooks. I have not heard back from them, and am not too optimistic that I will. I think they would rather spend time photoshopping dinosaurs riding horseback than pushing for better math and science education in Texas.

Pray for TFN and their allies, that they would see their folly and turn from it.  Pray that they would repent and promote liberty through Christ alone, the Author of all knowledge, and the #1 Advocate of good education for all children!