Last Word on Establishment (I Hope)

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Just in case you aren't as tired with the whole NCSE-violating-the-Establishment-Clause thing as I am. . .

First, let me reiterate that my views as expressed on Panda's Thumb are entirely my own, and not the views of my employers, fellow employees, donors, or clients, and are not intended to be taken as such.

When last we left off, I had explained (twice) that Francis Beckwith's argument is based on an incorrect understanding of Establishment Clause law, and pointed out that conservatives have been at the forefront of attacking just this incorrect understanding--that, were his views to become the law, much that conservatives advocate would go by the wayside. I then asked for his response to this.

First, Prof. Beckwith says that his allegation that the NCSE website violates the Establishment Clause is "based on my understanding of contemporary Supreme Court jurisprudence. I would prefer that the Court not hold that view. But given that view, it seems reasonable to conclude that there are establishment concerns." Now, as I've explained, Prof. Beckwith's "understanding of contemporary Supreme Court jurisprudence" is faulty. But consider for a moment what he is saying. He 1) takes an extreme separation view of the Establishment Clause whereby it is an "establishment of religion" any time the government gives someone the impression that they're outsiders based on their religious views, and whereby government dollars may never--no matter how many neutral, secular criteria they are filtered through--go to someone who makes a religious statement; 2) argues that this is required by the cases, despite the existence of Zelman, and Rosenberger, and Witters, and Helms, and the fact that Justice O'Connor's Lynch opinion is not "the test" for establishment; 3) argues that this extreme separation view ought not to be the law, presumably because he believes that a correct understanding of the Establishment Clause would permit government funding of religious education; and finally, 4) argues that his extreme separation interpretation of the cases (which he does not personally believe in) should apply, to bar the NCSE website as a violation of the Establishment Clause.

Parts 1, 2, and 3 just about set up the archetype of a straw man argument. Merely because government funds go to a private organization which makes a statement on religious matters--even if that statement is advocacy of a particular religious view--does not necessarily violate the Establishment Clause. Nor does a mere feeling of "exclusion" on the part of some people constitute Establishment. (Although I admit, some cases have confused this issue, like Santa Fe Independent School Dist. v. Doe, 530 U.S. 290 (2000), which I believe was wrongly decided.) But part 4 is even stranger. Prof. Beckwith says that government ought to be able to fund religious education or advocacy--but not when it's (supposedly) religious education or advocacy with which he personally disagrees. He would, I imagine, defend very strenuously the right of a Catholic student in a public high school to publish an article in her school newspaper about her faith, even though it is published with government funding--but if the student published an article explaining why she doesn't think the fact of evolution is contrary to her Catholicism, he would say that this violates the Establishment Clause. But see Panarella v. Birenbaum, 32 N.Y.2d 108 (1973) ("Taxsupported colleges may provide financial assistance for a student newspaper publishing an occasional article attacking religious beliefs, so long as the nature of the attack is arguably within constitutionally protected publication." Id. at 112).

Indeed, if a teacher started telling her class that life was created by a supernatural Designer, he would, I presume, fly to her defense--but if she started telling her class that many people believe that the process of evolution is compatible with a belief in God, he would object that this violates the Establishment Clause. Such a position appears to lack logical consistency. He attempts to evade this inconsistency by saying "I may not agree with all of contemporary SC jurisprudence, but that's not the point." But if he believes that the cases (as he interprets them!) ought to be overruled, and therefore believes that the NSF should to be allowed to make grants to groups that make religious statements, then he certainly didn't make that clear in his original article!

Prof. Beckwith then asks, "is it the role of the state to fund a project that propagates a particular definition of what constitutes ‘religious knowledge' as the correct one?" The answer to that is that once we have conceded the government's authority to run an educational program at all--which I personally do not, but for reasons unrelated to this discussion--then we have also conceded the government's right to fund quality education. Doing so will necessarily embody an epistemological bias--that is, a preference for accuracy over inaccuracy, or for literacy over illiteracy--but that is entirely legitimate, given the concession that government may teach. When one concedes that government has the right to protect public health, one must also concede its authority to require people to get vaccinations, despite the fact that some might wrongly believe them to be ineffective, (See Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905)). When one concedes that government may teach students about World War II, one must concede that it may teach them about the Holocaust, despite the fact that there are people who deny that it occurred. When one concedes that government may teach students geography, one must also concede that it may teach them that the world is round, despite the fact that there are probably people who do not believe this. If one concedes that the government has the right to give grants to private organizations that teach science, including science which some people consider controversial for religious reasons, then one must concede that the government may choose to give grants to private organizations that make accurate statements about both the science and the religious controversy (See Crowley v Smithsonian Institution, 636 F.2d 738 (D.C. Cir. 1980)).

One case that is instructive is Smith v. Board of School Com'rs of Mobile County, 827 F.2d 684 (11th Cir. 1987). There, the court rejected a challenge brought by parents who objected to the use of textbooks in classes like home economics, on the grounds that these books taught "secular humanism." For instance, the parents complained that "the books ‘imply strongly that a person uses the same process in deciding a moral issue that he uses in choosing one pair of shoes over another,' and teach that ‘the student must determine right and wrong based only on his own experience, feelings and [internal] values' and that ‘the validity of a moral choice is only to be decided by the student.'" Id. at 690-91 (quoting Smith v. Board of School Com'rs of Mobile County, 655 F.Supp. 939, 986 (S.D. Ala. 1987)). The Court of Appeals rejected this:

Examination of the contents of these textbooks, including the passages pointed out by Appellees as particularly offensive, in the context of the books as a whole and the undisputedly nonreligious purpose sought to be achieved by their use, reveals that the message conveyed is not one of endorsement of secular humanism or any religion. Rather, the message conveyed is one of a governmental attempt to instill in Alabama public school children such values as independent thought, tolerance of diverse views, self-respect, maturity, self-reliance and logical decision-making. This is an entirely appropriate secular effect. Indeed, one of the major objectives of public education is the "inculcat[ion of] fundamental values necessary to the maintenance of a democratic political system." It is true that the textbooks contain ideas that are consistent with secular humanism; the textbooks also contain ideas consistent with theistic religion. However, as discussed above, mere consistency with religious tenets is insufficient to constitute unconstitutional advancement of religion.
Id. at 692 (citations omitted).

Even more pertinent is Crowley, supra. In that case, the plaintiff challenged the use of government funds by the Smithsonian to set up an exhibit on evolution. He argued that this violated the Establishment Clause because it spent government funds to promote what he called a "religion" of secular humanism. The court rejected this; it sought to "balance between appellants' freedom to practice and propagate their religious beliefs in creation without suffering government competition or interferences and appellees' right to disseminate, and the public's right to receive, knowledge from government, through schools and other institutions such as the Smithsonian. This balance was long ago struck in favor of diffusion of knowledge based on responsible scientific foundations, and against special constitutional protection of religious believers from the competition generated by such knowledge diffusion." 636 F.2d at 744. It noted that the "solid secular purpose of ‘increasing and diffusing knowledge among men'" id. at 740, was sufficient to permit the expenditure of federal funds despite the fact that some people might interpret the display as having religious connotations:

Nor does it follow that government involvement in a subject which is also important to practitioners of a religion becomes, therefore, activity in support of religion. For example, birth control and abortion are topics that involve both religious beliefs and general health and welfare concerns. Many religious leaders have vigorously opposed government support of the teaching and practice of birth control and government support, or even toleration, of abortion. Controversy, including litigation, about these subjects has been prolific and spirited. No court, however, has finally held that government advocacy of or opposition to either birth control or abortion violates the establishment clause of the first amendment.
Id. at 742 (citations omitted). See further Cornwell v State Board of Education, 314 F Supp 340 (D.C. Md. 1969), aff'd 428 F2d 471 (4th Cir.), cert. denied 400 US 942 (1970); Civic Awareness of America, Ltd. v Richardson, 343 F Supp 1358 (E.D. Wis. 1972); Smith v Ricci, 446 A.2d 501 (N.J. 1982), app. dismissed, 459 US 962; Gregory G. Sarno and Alan Stephens, Constitutionality of Teaching or Otherwise Promoting Secular Humanism in Public Schools, 103 A.L.R. Fed. 538.

Prof. Beckwith has expanded his response somewhat on his own weblog. His response cites no cases, replies to none of the points made in my original two posts, and most notably, does not mention Rosenberger. Just to make sure we're clear on this, in Rosenberger, "(1) direct government funding to a private organization (Wide Awake Productions) (2) to advance a particular view of religious knowledge as correct (the validity of Christianity) and (3) to advance the view that all other options are incorrect (e.g., atheism is not true), and (4) to do so on government property (the University of Virginia campus) and (5) under the direction of a government actor (UVA)." This was held not to violate the Establishment Clause, and Prof. Beckwith would appear to agree with that holding. (By the way, I should point out that the reasons for which the NCSE website does not violate the Establishment Clause are the same reasons that I have argued that textbook disclaimers do not constitute establishment, either. I give myself five points for consistency.)

Government has the power--indeed, the duty--to do secular things. It has the power, conceded at least for purposes of this discussion, to educate the public through NSF grants. It has the power to choose reason over unreason, and truth over fiction. It has the authority, therefore, to do all of these things put together.

26 Comments

Hi folks! Happy Easter. I’m working on a reply to Timothy and hope to have it posted on Tuesday or Wednesday sometime. Tonight’s our last full day in Vegas and tomorrow we’re travelling.

I also to hope to out-cite Timothy. :-)

Frank

Frank

I do not look forward to what I’m certain will be an incomprehensible *reply* to Timothy’s (unfortunately) verbose and all-too-kind answer to your allegations regarding the unconstitionality of the NCSE website.

On your website, Frank, you state that:

“Everyone affiliated with The Panda’s Thumb would understand this if we kept the SAME elements but replaced the cast of characters and ideas with ones TPTers find repugnant: (1) direct government funding to a private organization (Discovery Institute) (2) to advance a particular view of religious knowledge as correct (God’s actions in history can be tested and proven through empirical investigation including scientific investigation) and (3) to advance the view that all other options are incorrect …” (EMPHASIS ADDED)

Frank, I can only speak for myself, but what I find “repugnant” is lying and hypocracy. FRANK YOU ARE A LIAR. As Timothy has pointed out, you say whatever suits you at the moment, but back away from those statements when they do not suit you.

The “view” that “God’s actions in history can be tested and proven through empirical investigation including scientific investigation” is only that, Frank: a “view.” Our government might also recognize “views” such as the existence of UFOs and the tiny green man that lives behind the heads of all disillusioned Christ-worshippers such as yourself – you know the green man I’m talking about, Frank, he’s the one that disappears without a trace whenever you try to detect his presence but who reappears whenever you aren’t looking. He has an enormous green diamond studded phallus, too, and he likes to stick it in your ear, Frank, when you sleep. Occasionally you cry out in pleasure when that happens. I know this is true, Frank, and someday you will, too, because I have a TV set which allows me to watch the video feed from a camera that the little green man has strapped to his phallus. You just have to have faith in the little green man, Frank. Until then, he will always evade your detection, as pointed out by Paul LeBaron in his book, “Will Wonders Never Cease: Post-Futural Recognition of God Within the Christ/Darwin Dichotomy.”

But I digress. As I said, our government might choose to “recognize” such “views” as the following “view” which you provided to us: “God’s actions in history can be tested and proven through empirical investigation including scientific investigation.” But someone might point out to the government, perhaps in a court of law, that there is ZERO evidence to support this view. ZERO, as in NADA. ZILCHO.

Is there a distinction to be drawn therefore between your hypothetical website and the NCSE’s website, Frank? Surely you admit there is some empirical scientifically testable evidence for evolution and natural selection … right? You do admit that Frank, don’t you, even if you aren’t persuaded by the evidence, which you can hold in your hand and caress and study at your leisure? Is the distinction between the views regarding the scientific evidence for evolution and the “view” that you related to us a distinction that an HONEST person would make, Frank? Would an HONEST person with your “intelligence” have pointed out such a distinction when making such an “analogy”? What say you, Frank?

Let the world know now what was plain to many of us before:

Francis Beckwith is a LIAR.

And remember, Frank, to mind that little green man behind your head(remember, as soon as you try to detect him, he will disappear without a trace, not even his green phallus will remain. I know this for a fact, Frank, and someday I hope you’ll join me so our little green men can mate and begin populating the world for the next wave, as discussed in Mark L. Snyder’s essential, “Muons, Quarks and Dialectical Transmaterialism: the Hidden Relationships Between Deterministic Theism and the Argument by Design” (Crowley Press, 1999))

Not to be prissy, but I would much prefer not to be called by my familiar name by people I don’t know.

He Who Shall Not be Called by His Familiar Name By People He Doesn’t Know mentioned in passing that he would

“much prefer not to be called by my familiar name by people I don’t know.”

No offense, HWSNBCBHFNBPHDK, but if you’d prefer to not be called by your familiar name by people you don’t know, perhaps you should remove your ‘familiar name’ from your posts!

Just a thought.

For the record, I don’t recall seeing this ‘familiar name’ prohibition on a blog before. Nevertheless, I would request that you refrain from using my familiar name as well in any replies to this post, at least until we get to know each other better.

He Who Shall Not be Called by His Familiar Name By People He Doesn’t Know mentioned in passing that he would

“much prefer not to be called by my familiar name by people I don’t know.”

No offense, HWSNBCBHFNBPHDK, but if you’d prefer to not be called by your familiar name by people you don’t know, perhaps you should remove your ‘familiar name’ from your posts!

Just a thought.

For the record, I don’t recall seeing this ‘familiar name’ prohibition on a blog before. Nevertheless, I would request that you refrain from using my familiar name as well in any replies to this post, at least until we get to know each other better.

My apologies for the double post.

Dr. Quaradial-

Please try to restrain your vitriol while you’re on this page. I know this is subjective and there’s no clear place to draw a line, but for all of our disagreements with Frank, he’s been a gentleman in all of our exchanges with him. There’s no point in responding the way you have and we’ll kindly ask you to tone it down a bit. Thanks.

Mr. JRBrzekiewichiowskatchenorgastovinskii III–and so forth–I did not imagine it necessary to add an additional disclaimer to a weblog, merely to assert what any decent person knows to be the proper etiquette with regard to forms of address in any sort of conversation, written or otherwise. It would be inappropriate to refer to a person one doesn’t know by his first name whether the medium happens to be spoken language, written letters, written email, blogging, or skywriting. Nor ought it to be necessary for me to use initials or other clever signatures to force people to abide by the forms of address which are, as I said, proper regardless of the medium. For example, although I know Prof. Beckwith’s first name, I haven’t presumed to call him by it, because I have never met him and do not know him. (Nor would it even be appropriate then, since on a weblog, one is speaking to an audience, in which case it is improper to refer to a professor by his first name even if one is familiar with him.)

But enough of this subject.

I guess law has more formalities than science.

‘Mister’ Sandefur wrote:

“It would be inappropriate to refer to a person one doesn’t know by his first name whether the medium happens to be spoken language, written letters, written email, blogging, or skywriting.”

I disagree. Like JRB (above), I had not heard of this quaint ‘formality’ applied to blogging until now and, I must say, I find it surprising that such a request be posted at a site which is reputedly “scientific” and forward-looking. Didn’t Renoir direct several movies about the dissolution of social castes after World War I?

Regarding “skywriting,” I suppose we might as well ask whether the Wicked Witch “knew” Dorothy. Let’s face it: aren’t we all just a little bit anxious to hear what Frankie’s going to dish out next?

“Dr. Quaradial- Please try to restrain your vitriol while you’re on this page. I know this is subjective and there’s no clear place to draw a line, but for all of our disagreements with Frank, he’s been a gentleman in all of our exchanges with him. There’s no point in responding the way you have and we’ll kindly ask you to tone it down a bit. Thanks.”

–Posted by: Ed Brayton at April 12, 2004 06:07 PM

Hooray. I, for one, appreciate this.

I will chime in here. The Panda’s Thumb is a place for civil, informed discussion. It is not a place for trolling or uncivil venting. There are plenty of places where people can participate in discussion forums where that type of thing is more tolerated. I appreciate Ed’s moderating here.

I will chime in here. The Panda’s Thumb is a place for civil, informed discussion. It is not a place for trolling or uncivil venting. There are plenty of places where people can participate in discussion forums where that type of thing is more tolerated. I appreciate Ed’s moderating here.

Wow! That’s an eyefull. Dr. James has perhaps not run into too many people with my sensibilities. So, I will tell him a little bit about me. I am a typical pointy-head intellectual who is also a Christian. I very much enjoy the challenge (and sometimes friendship) of those who disagree with my point of view, whether it is on matters of faith or on philosophical and legal questions, some of which overlap and some of which do not. I’m not easily intimidated by name-calling and character assassination, for such tactics reveal two things to me: (1) the person who employs them has deeper issues that arguments and reason cannot remedy; and (2) the person who employs them lacks the intellectual discipline to have a sustained and respectful discussion by which we can learn from one another. I am confident that I have made my case with pure motives and with an honest and sincere effort. I think you may confuse my attempt at clarification with duplicity. I am, of course, prone to error, since I am finite in being and intellect. So, I welcome correction, and I also welcome the sort of response offered by Timothy, for it allows me to clarify my initial argument in light of his counter-arguments. A dialogue in which each party engages in conceptual clarification in response to questions by the other is not “lying”. It is intellectual engagement.

Frank

Frank says:

“I am confident that I have made my case with pure motives and with an honest and sincere effort.”

I am also confident that I have made my case withone pure motive – to show that you are not honest and that, in fact, your only goal is to stick your Christian faith into as many aspects of our public life as possible. Will you not admit that this is what motivates your desire to change the Constitution of the United States (or at least your interpretation of it). As a Christian, I find your behavior appalling.

“So, I welcome correction, and I also welcome the sort of response offered by Timothy, for it allows me to clarify my initial argument in light of his counter-arguments.”

I’ve no doubt you welcome Timothy’s long winded response because it will allow both of you to blow hot air on each other forever. If that’s what you two want to do, enjoy. Maybe Condoleeza Rice will chime in. I’d rather, Frank, see you answer just one question at a time, like this one:

There is some evidence to support the evolution of life on earth. True or false?

or this one:

There is no way that you can prove that the little green man with the camera attached as to his arm (see how I’ve toned down my “vitriol”?) who disappears without a trace whenever you try to detect him does NOT exist. True or false?

Your answers to these questions, Frank, will allow us to judge your (1) reasonableness and (2) your willingness to play ball and (3) your ability to answer questions directly.

Timothy may be interested in your philosophy lectures or your knowledge of what Thomas Aquinas’ favorite sausage brand is. I’m not. Both of you are free to ignore me (really, not a problem) or Ed can block my posts. So be it. In the meantime, I will call ‘em as I see ‘em. Right now, Frank, you strike me as dishonest and Timothy you’re just a tad uptight.

This post 99% phallus free (I’m subtracting 1% for the sausage reference, sorry).

The 1950s called. They want their logical postivism back. :-)

Formalized references and greetings allow people to disagree without being disagreeable. Lawyers and politicians get more practice at that than biologists, but the point to note is that it works. So Mr. Sandefur’s comments should get some serious consideration. He’s trying to do you people a favor. Weblogs are too informal to always play this formal game, but if you are *disagreeing* with someone and you know their proper name, you should use it.

There’s also a “how to win friends and influence people” point worth noting. Obnoxious habits like name-calling, nicknaming, and profanity (even cleverly done) can lose sympathy even for a winning argument. The fact the Mr. Beckwith is twice as considerate as any other poster here goes a long way toward explaining why biologists lose some policy arguments to ID advocates.

Frank informed us that:

“The 1950s called. They want their logical postivism back. :-)”

Good one, Frank! But that’s not an answer to my questions (at least not as far as I can tell!) Feel free to delve further into logical positivism, Frank, as I’m sure you’d rather talk about logical positivism than the utility of intelligent design theory (which no one on the planet has been thus far been able to articulate).

Dave chimes in with this chestnut:

“The fact the Mr. Beckwith is twice as considerate as any other poster here goes a long way toward explaining why biologists lose some policy arguments to ID advocates.”

This statement makes no sense (and is based on a false premise anyway). The Frankster’s alleged politeness has nothing do with why biologists lose policy arguments to ID advocates. Based on what I’ve seen here and elsewhere, biologists lose policy arguments to ID advocates not because they are impolite but rather because they are TOO polite. That is, rather than call a spade a spade (or a lying dishonest b.s. artist a lying dishonest b.s. artist) some of these pinheads (Frank’s term, not mine) fly up into the metaphysical stratosphere to debate the non-merits of the ID advocate’s arguments, i.e., to show that the ID advocate’s metaphysical and philosophical arguments are weak.

The problem scientists face is that the people who matter and who are making the POLICY decisions with respect to the teaching of garbage like ID creationism are NOT metaphysicians (we can be grateful for that) but rather politicians who are responding to Mom and Pop’s concerns in Suburbiaville. And guess what? When Mom and Pop in Suburbiaville see these extended debates, all they see is that the ID advocates must have a point. I mean, look at all that paper! If ID creationism were so wrong, why would it be so difficult to refute the advocates? The answer, of course, is that ID advocates lie. Is it necessary to point out every instance where ID advocates distort Karl Popper’s writings? No. Do some people nevertheless enjoy engaging in such arguments?

Obviously yes.

Are these “intewectuwals” moving the ball forward faster than people like me who aren’t willing to engage them on that lofty ivory tower plane but are willing to point out a myriad other distortions and dishonesties which ID advocates (and evangelicals generally) foist on us? I don’t think so. I don’t think they are moving the ball at all. They are merely passing the ball back and forth. Meanwhile, Frankie Boy collects pages and pages of “considerate” postings so he and others can prove to like-minded Christians how “robust” the debate is.

Everything “Mr. Considerate” said about himself in his post above is true of nearly everyone (except we don’t go around bragging about it).

But look at the pile Frank left for us at the end of his post:

“A dialogue in which each party engages in conceptual clarification in response to questions by the other is not “lying”.”

Now, can we all go back and read Frank’s cumulative postings on this subject and then ask ourselves whether, taken as a whole, what Frank is doing constitutes “conceptual clarification” by any reasonable definition. If it’s not conceptual clarification, then what what do you want to call it? I know what I want to call it. I want to call it what it is: lying. Am I too full of vitriol if I call Frank on his crud? What if I say it twice in bold caps? I know I need to leave the phallus out, thanks.

Finally, I love the old trick that Frank uses above where he “politely” suggests that people who call him a liar are either emotionally or mentally ill or too stupid to have a discussion with him. Lovely. Just don’t forget number (3) Frank: I might be right about your lying in which case you might want to apologize. At least you can admit that you are sorry for allowing yourself to be caught.

To appease the Silly Doc:

“There is some evidence to support the evolution of life on earth. True or false?”

True.

“There is no way that you can prove that the little green man with the camera attached as [sic] to his arm .…who disappears without a trace whenever you try to detect him does NOT exist. True or false?”

False. (If I am the little green man I don’t need proof; I know from first-person experience that I exist. In order to get me to say “true” you should revise the question to say “assuming that you are not the little green man.” With that caveat, the answer is True).

Here’s a couple of questions for you:

1. In order for a belief to be rational it must be based on evidence. True or False.

2. All human beings are morally required to accept the truth if they are able to do so. True or false

Good luck.

Frank

First of all, Frank, I dig the nickname. Now we have to come up with one for Timbo.

With respect to your answer to my question number (2) as ‘True,’ that is good news. We both agree that it is simple to create something that can not be proven to not exist.

Although my Green Man theory is in its infancy, it is already at least as powerful as ID theory when it comes to explaining the physical appearance and properties of life forms on earth. I will be happy to help you incorporate references to Green Man in your articles from this point forward. This is going to be huge, Frank – HUGE. The kids are going to love it (the Green Man is easier than all those equations they currently teach in science class, plus he’s easier and more fun to draw than Jesus, Moses, etc. and it’s always weird when you are asked to draw God, I mean, man or woman? I don’t know what’s politically correct nowadays).

If you are reluctant to start learning about the Green Man or for some reason don’t wish to encourage teaching about the Green Man’s irrefutable role in explaining, e.g., the fossil record, I’d love to know why (and please – don’t be a bigot about it).

Regarding your questions:

“1. In order for a belief to be rational it must be based on evidence.”

At this level of abstraction, Frank, you’re going to have to define “belief” “rational” and “evidence” for us. The simple answer, of course, is “True.” But judging from the “caveat” you added to my Green Man question, I doubt there’s anything simple about this one.

“2. All human beings are morally required to accept the truth if they are able to do so.”

I can’t speak for all human beings, Frank. Are you asking me if I like honest people more than dishonest people? Sure. Do liars annoy me? Yes. Do questions like this annoy me, coming from someone who believes that true statements about a useless “theory” and its proponents somehow violates the Establishment Clause? Hell yes.

My question: “2. All human beings are morally required to accept the truth if they are able to do so.”

Doc’s answer: “I can’t speak for all human beings, Frank. Are you asking me if I like honest people more than dishonest people? Sure. Do liars annoy me? Yes. Do questions like this annoy me, coming from someone who believes that true statements about a useless “theory” and its proponents somehow violates the Establishment Clause? Hell yes.”

Answer the question. I’m not asking what you like. I’m asking what is right. You reject ID because it’s wrong, not because you dislike it. Am I correct? And if I were to reject your questions because they “annoy me,” you would consider it sub-rational, and rightfully so. So, tell me, Are “all human beings morally required to accept the truth if they are able to do so”? I’m not asking you to speak for all you human beings. I’m asking you whether this normative judgment is in fact correct. You seem to promisciously issue normative judgments all the time without a concern of whether you are speaking for “all human beings.” After all, when you judge someone to be a “liar,” you’re not saying the wrongness of it is based on your disliking liars. You are saying that lying is wrong for everyone, not just me or you or ID advocates. What if Mr. Jones liked liars? Wouldn’t we say that Mr. Jones lacks judgment, character, etc.? What would you think if Mr. Jones’ retorted: “You can’t speak for all human beings like me, Mr. Jones”?

I’m comfortable answering those questions.

1. False. With the caveat that to be rational, it shouldn’t contradict the evidence.

2. False. I don’t think God, for instance, is a truth, but if someone wants to believe in him and Santa Claus, OK. No harm done. If they want to believe in something repugnant like blood atonement, on the other hand…

1. is a silly question. I think it is eminently rational to believe the physical world exists, and that our senses give us a fair representation of it (at our scale), but I’ll be damned if I can prove I am not living in one of Nick Bostrom’s computer simulations, or in the Matrix.

2. depends on what “morally” means. I think people should, for their own good, accept what reason and evidence tell them is true, mindful of the limitations of both. Bad info leads to bad actions - ask the Prez.

My Final Response to T. Sandefur

Sandefur offered a critique here in reponse to my April 7 American Spectator piece, which can be found here, an earlier version of which appeared on my blog, “Government-Sponsored Theology.” (See here). I replied to Sandefur’s first reply here. Sandefur replied to that reply here. My final reply to Sandefur is posted on my website here. I promise that will be the end of it. I need to get back to several writing projects. Sigh!

I am sorry that I didn’t write when I first saw James Quadradial’s post. It was deeply offensive. I am thankful to see that others (men) responded appropriately to his remarks. I deeply disagree with Frank Beckwith’s views, but I can’t imagine responding to him in the manner James Quadradial did. What if I agreed with Frank Beckwith? What exactly would James Quadradial refer to in his remarks to me? (I’m a woman.)

Thank you for moving the discussion on to a more mutually respectful plane. Can someone in the future block such offensive references before they are posted?

To Clare and others:

I apologize for offending any of you with my sense of humor. My attempt was not to be revolting or childish. I was only trying to respond to dull surrealism with colorful surrealism. I was a bit TOO colorful, as I learned from the responses to my posts (tho’ I suspect that somewhere out there SOMEBODY chuckled in spite of his or her self – stand up and let your voice be heard!).

I am a full grown adult, as hard as that may be for some of you to believe. In my view, being an adult means NOT being “deeply offended” when one reads an obviously silly and hyperbolic metaphor reciting a “diamond studded green phallus” on a computer screen. That said, I recognize that some people here are not as grown up as I am and I will do my best to limit my references to sex organs to those circumstances where it’s clearly appropriate.

As to your question, Clare:

“What if I agreed with Frank Beckwith? What exactly would James Quadradial refer to in his remarks to me?”

That depends. I might first recommend you spell my name right. :) Frank and I got into it because I accused him of playing slip and slide with the English language and he snidely suggested that my problem was that I didn’t understand the terms he was using. I admit that I flamed up a bit too hard but to Frank’s credit, he doesn’t seem to hold it against me. I certainly hold no grudges against him, in spite of his implicit suggestion that I am emotionally disturbed. My psychiatrist assured me that is not the case. ;)

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This page contains a single entry by Timothy Sandefur published on April 10, 2004 8:15 PM.

Where purpose and function meet was the previous entry in this blog.

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