Texas rabbis speak out on evolution


WASHINGTON (JTA) – Three Reform rabbis urged the Texas State Board of Education to reject a science curriculum that could allow the teaching of creationism and intelligent design in the schools.

The rabbis joined dozens of others at a hearing in Austin on Wednesday to oppose language which would require the teaching of the "strengths and weaknesses" of scientific theories such as evolution.

“On the surface, teaching about the ‘strengths and limitations of scientific explanations’… may not seem like teaching religious beliefs. Yet…when science teachers answer questions about evolution and origins of life by pointing to the divine or supernatural, they are incorporating religion into science classrooms," testified Rabbi Ana Bonnheim, assistant director for education at the Union of Reform Judaism’s Greene Family Camp.

"While there are still things to discover about how life evolved and continues to evolve, the questions that challenge current understandings are part of the scientific process itself, and should not be categorized as ‘strengths and limitations’ in the interest of raising doubt about widely accepted scientific method and promoting specific religious views," Dallas Rabbi Nancy Kasten told the board. Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker of Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville also testified.

The Texas board is scheduled to vote on the curriculum in January.

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