I woke up this morning to a wonderful realization just now washing over the science-blogosphere: that the creationists protesting Florida’s new educational science standards appear to have made a tremendously goofy tactical error.
In what creationists believed to be a compromise, they approved changing any mention of “evolution” in the standards to the “theory of evolution” or the “scientific theory of evolution.” Given that calling evolution “just a theory” is a staple of creationist know-nothingism, they apparently thought that this was victory. Instead, it’s simply redundant (science classes don’t teach any body of explanation that isn’t a scientific theory, after all) and worse, the standards also mandate that children learn what scientists mean when they call something a theory: that it is a coherent corpus of explanation, and not at all a synonym for “speculation.”
So, in other words, creationists essentially tricked themselves into a compromise which concedes nothing at all to their position. Their ignorance of scientific terminology simply backfired on them. Creationists like Terry Kemple are going to be livid when they realize the gargantuan mistake they’ve made. Their slightly more scientifically literate allies over in the Intelligent Design think-tanks are already hopping mad.