The status of biological instruction, especially in the high schools, disturbs Woese. "Biology is poorly taught in general at the high school level," he says, referring to the polarization of evolution by the scientifically heterodox. "Scientifically, the matter is simple. The essence of biology is evolution, and biology should be taught from an evolutionary perspective. Yet, although evolution is covered to some extent in high school biology courses, it bears the scarlet letter and is taught in a guarded fashion, embalmed in caveats. The reason for this is obvious, as are the pressures on textbook publishers."
Woese removes himself from the "politically cathected" evolution vs. creationism issue. "I like my science pure. I don't see any fundamental contradiction between science in the big view and religion in the big view."
Woese believes biology itself has ironically locked arms with the creationists in putting negative pressure on biologic instruction. "It comes from within the core of biology itself," he says. "Biology today is structured about the molecular paradigm. Molecular biology, which derives from classical physics doesn't see evolution as basic, that it's an almost trivial collection of 'historical accidents'.
"I am not at peace with the state of biology today," he says. "It is in a revolutionary mode, and the revolution needs some guidance of the kind it is not receiving. The way we teach biology is not right. Evolution should be the centerpiece."
I mean, its appeaserery, but its fine. So why the weird switch? Maybe someone else has, erm, 'Flew' over the cuckoos nest? Or maybe Brandon Keim didnt report, ah, accurately?
In any case, you all really should read the rest of the article the above quote came from. Its a lesson in how paradigm shifts in biology really occur (PARADIGM!!!!). Woes had an idea. He was shunned for his idea. He didnt found a 'think tank.' He didnt push to get his ideas in high school textbooks. He didnt go on country-wide-church speaking tours telling radical Christians that microbiologists were Nazis who hate Jesus.
He kept doing research anyway, building evidence to support his claims.
Scientists are slaves to data. We must go where the evidence leads us. And Woeses data smacked biologists over the head: Archaea are real*.
* Archaea have their own viruses too, but thats a whole nother story :P