As I’ve discussed before, the Texas School Board approved all the biology textbooks submitted for public-school use save one—Biology by Ken Miller and Joe Levine (“M&L”), published by Pearson. Apparently one reviewer, Ide Trotter (one of the six creationists among the eleven individuals invited to review the books for the school board), objected to some of Miller and Levine’s statements about evolution. Trotter also quibbled about the time in the past when liquid water appeared on the Earth, which he flagged as an “error”.
Ken kindly sent me the 13-page list of Trotter’s criticisms and the authors’ responses, which I’ll be glad to send as a pdf file to anyone who inquires. But even before the authors had responded, a professor of anthropology at Southern Methodist University, Ron Wetherington, had written a devastating rebuttal of the “errors” supposedly appearing in M&L, a rebuttal you can find here.
At any rate, you can look through the Texas edition of M&L here if you want to see the pages referenced by Trotter.
His comments concentrated largely on two areas: punctuated equilibrium or “sudden appearance,” whose frequency, Trotter said, was underemphasized in M&L, and on Trotter’s contention that natural selection cannot explain the origin of evolutionary novelty. You’ll recognize both of these comments as common tropes of both intelligent design and garden-variety Biblical creationism, and they show Trotter’s true motivations.
I’ll simply give you an example of the famous age-of-Earth’s-water “error” along with an example of each of the two classes of criticisms given above—along with M&L’s responses. It’s funny to see Trotter taken apart by two good biologists. As I said, the entire document includes 13 pages of these statements and rebuttals.
In the following, Trotter’s comments are in boxes, and M&L’s responses are below them:
Age of the Earth’s Water:
The origin of novelty:
The frequency of stasis:
Miller and Levine don’t give an inch, and they shouldn’t have. Trotter’s comments pretend to be scientific but are obviously motivated by creationism, and an attempt to inject it into public schools by pushing “sudden change” and “no novelty through selection” into the public-school curriculum. I’m 100% confident that the review board appointed to adjudicate this dispute will rule in Miller and Levine’s favor.
Again, email me if you want a copy of M&L’s responses, which he’s given me permission to not only post here (they’re in the public domain) but to distribute. But don’t ask me unless you’re gonna read the document!