updated 11/6/2003 12:18:06 PM ET 2003-11-06T17:18:06

The State Board of Education voted Thursday to approve biology textbooks, despite criticism from some scientists and religious activists who say the books fail to present criticisms of evolution.

THE 11-4 VOTE was preliminary and the board was expected to give final approval Friday.

Some religious and alternative science groups had argued that weaknesses in the theory of evolution weren’t adequately presented in the books. But scientists and educators argued that the theory of evolution is widely believed and is a cornerstone of modern scientific research.

Texas is the nation’s second-largest buyer of textbooks, and textbooks sold in the state are often marketed by publishers elsewhere. Texas, California and Florida account for more than 30 percent of the nation’s $4 billion public school book market. Three dozen publishers invest millions of dollars in Texas.

‘SCIENTIFIC DOGMATISM’?

Some board members had asked to vote on the books one by one, but the motion was overturned and all were approved with one vote.

“I wish we’d had the opportunity to vote on each book because they’re not the same,” said board member Don McLeroy, one of the four board members who voted against adopting the books.

McLeroy called the presentation of evolution in most of the books “dogmatic.”

“People don’t realize the threat of scientific dogmatism,” he said. “They’re not looking for the truth.”

‘NO QUESTION’?

Samantha Smoot, executive director of the Texas Freedom Network, commended the board. Smoot had been one of the most vocal supporters of presenting evolution in the textbooks.

“The voices of the science community have been loud and unified,” Smoot said. “This is not a theory. There’s no question about what whether evolution exists at all.”

Critics had urged publishers to revise some of the books and wanted the board to reject others outright, saying they contain factual errors about the theory of evolution.

Board members can reject books only for factual errors or failure to follow state curriculum as mandated by the Legislature.

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