More bad legal analysis

| 119 Comments

A new article in the Wake Forest Law Review provides a shoddy legal which is, alas, all too common in the religion context. Beginning with a deeply flawed understanding of the roles of the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses, the article ends up making foolish statements about creationism in the classroom.

Patrick M. Garry, Inequality Among Equals: Disparities in The Judicial Treatment of Free Speech And Religious Exercise Claims 39 Wake Forest L. Rev. 361 (2004), argues that courts tend to pay too much attention to freedom of speech, as opposed to other freedoms, and that they ought not to do this. Now, broadly speaking, this is true.

In the past seventy years, courts created a "double standard" by which so-called "fundamental" rights (speech, press, and so forth) are given far more protection than supposedly non-fundamental rights, like the ownership and use of property, or the right to earn a living, which receive almost no legal protection at all. As Justices Scalia and Thomas have correctly noted, this "unquestionably involves policymaking rather than neutral legal analysis." United States v. Carlton, 512 U.S. 26, 41 (1994) (Scalia and Thomas, JJ., concurring in judgment).

But that's not what Garry has in mind. He argues that "in connection with religious liberty. . . the courts have been far more inconsistent and far less protective." Garry, supra at 362. Then he lists some examples, and you see that he's already starting off on the wrong foot. For instance, he cites Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, 530 U.S. 290 (2000), as an example of the court turning its back on the freedom of religious exercise. But Doe--which held that a school district could not begin its football games with a student-led prayer--was not a free exercise case at all; it was an Establishment Clause case: the court held that the prayer violated the religious liberty of dissenting students not to be "psychologically coerced" into a prayer with which they disagreed. Although the majority of students, who voted to hold the prayer, may have believed that the Court's decision was insensitive to their religious freedom to hold a public prayer at the school's football games, the plaintiffs in the case saw it as vindicating their religious freedom. (I've said before that I think Doe was wrongly decided, because I don't buy the "psychological coercion" rationale. But if one grants that peer pressure can qualify as a form of coercion, then the Doe decision certainly was a victory for religious freedom.)

But Garry believes Doe and other cases indicate that

courts have applied the Establishment Clause, in a way that has often muted or negated religious liberty. . .. [F]ree speech issues are given a more favorable standard of review. Most governmental restrictions on speech are judged under a strict scrutiny standard, whereas many religious exercise issues receive a much lower standard of review. And though viewer or listener sensibilities are rarely considered in free speech cases, even when the speech is highly offensive, the reactions and impressions of objecting viewers and listeners are sometimes accorded a near veto-power in religious expression cases.
Supra at 363. It's hard to know where to begin with this. First, it is just not true that religious issues are given a "lower standard of review" at all. Garry cites Employment Division v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990), for this claim. Yet Smith simply holds that when it comes to a generally applicable law which is religiously neutral, a person's religion doesn't give him a free pass. In that case, a person argued that he should be allowed to ingest an illegal drug for religious purposes, and the Court held that, the anti-drug law was not targeted at his religion, and that the Free Exercise Clause didn't allow him to escape that law.

But in cases where the law does discriminate on the basis of religion, the Court employs the same strict scrutiny analysis that it employs in speech cases. The classic example of this is Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520 (1993), in which the Court struck down an anti-butchering ordinance that was just a pretext for curtailing religious animal sacrifice. Hialeah came after Smith and shows that religiously discriminatory laws do receive strict scrutiny still. Yet Garry doesn't even cite the case. (He does, however, acknowledge in one parenthesis that Smith applies only "(as long. . .as the laws infringing on that conduct are neutral laws of general applicability)." Supra at 372.)

As for "listener sensibilities," these matter more in the religion cases because of the Establishment Clause. There is nothing analogous to it in the speech context. The Establishment Clause prohibits government from taking a position on an issue, so some Justices have held that audience perceptions are relevant to analyzing whether the government has violated this rule. The government is allowed to make statements on other issues, however--like, that smoking is bad, or that you should vote. Audience perceptions are therefore less relevant. See, e.g., National Endowment for The Arts v. Finley, 524 U. S. 569 (1998).

The flaws in his analysis then lead him to inaccuracies when discussing cases involving creationism. In a footnote, he writes

under the reasoning of Lee [v. Weisman, 505 U.S. 577 (1992)], public school instruction which offends a child's religious beliefs should constitute a violation of the Free Exercise Clause. And yet, in the school setting, the free speech-related doctrine of academic freedom takes precedence over the rights of religious exercise. If some nonreligious students are coerced by religious expressions of the type occurring in Lee or by the posting of the Ten Commandments, then it seems logical that religious students are coerced by some of the secular values they are taught in school (to the exclusion of religious ones). See Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578, 589 (1987) (striking down Louisiana's "Balanced Treatment" statute which required that wherever evolution is taught scientific creationism also be taught as a competing theory of origins). In other words, the coercion theory of Lee should go both ways, including the protection against government engaging in secular indoctrination that undermines a believer's religious principles. . ..
Supra at 374 n. 85. Now, again, I agree that the "psychological coercion" argument embraced in Lee is wrong, and in part precisely because if mere personal offense constitutes coercion, then nobody can say anything. But that is not the only issue involved here.

First, the Establishment Clause prohibits government from putting its imprimatur on a religious view--it does not prohibit the government from putting its imprimatur on things other than religion. Schools may teach students that smoking is bad for them, even if that might offend parents who smoke--and even if it offends people who smoke for religious reasons, like the plaintiffs in the Smith case!

Second,* personal offense is relevant to Establishment Clause cases because such offense is often indicative that an establishment is occurring. But personal offense is irrelevant in cases involving, say, non-smoking, because the government is not prohibited from taking such a position. In the same way, personal offense is not relevant to cases involving evolution, because while government is prohibited from taking a position on religious issues, it is not prohibited from teaching the facts. And so long as government is in the teaching business (which I don't think it should be, but that's for another day) then it is, by definition, going to "indoctrinate," in the sense of teaching students facts they and their parents may find unpalatable. That's what teaching is. So, while it may seem "paradoxical[ ]," to Garry that "pro-religious speech can violate the Establishment Clause, but anti-religious speech, or speech that denigrates or belittles religious beliefs, does not violate the Free Exercise Clause," id. at 378--but it only seems that way to Garry because he misunderstands the issues involved.

This misunderstanding continues in another footnote, when Garry writes

In Lee v. Weisman, Justice Kennedy argued that the state may not use the coercive power of government to enforce a particular religious or antireligious orthodoxy. But since school attendance is mandatory, then the teaching of viewpoints antagonistic to religion, according to the reasoning of Lee, can rise to the level of government coercion and "an attempt to employ the machinery of the State to enforce a religious [or antireligious] orthodoxy." 505 U.S. at 592. Furthermore, the forbidding of the teaching of creationism or Intelligent Design in public schools because "it lends support to a religion, while exclusively permitting or requiring the teaching of evolution, might be construed by a court as viewpoint discrimination." Francis J. Beckwith, Public Education, Religious Establishment, and the Challenge of Intelligent Design, 17 Notre Dame J.L., Ethics & Pub. Pol'y 461, 489 (2003).
Id. at 377 n. 99.

But, once again, the government is allowed to engage in viewpoint discrimination in most areas of life. All of teaching is "viewpoint discrimination" in some sense, since it prefers knowledge to ignorance, literacy over illiteracy, cooperation and peacefulness over bickering with one's classmates. We expect schools to engage in such discrimination. Government may teach students facts, such as that the world is round, that 2 + 2 = 4, that smoking causes cancer, and that the human species evolved through a process of non-random selection among randomly mutating genetic variables. The only time the Constitution prohibits government from engaging in viewpoint discrimination, is in basing benefits or burdens on religion. Now, it is certainly true that for some people, the fact of evolution runs counter to their religious views. But this is true of any number of facts that schools may teach students, and although it is certainly a problem--indeed, I believe an insoluble problem, if one grants the existence of public education--it does not mean that the Free Exercise or Establishment Clause prohibit government from teaching students evolution, or require the teaching of creationism.

For Garry,

[t]he more favorable judicial treatment of free speech claims (over free exercise claims) can also be seen in the area of school curriculum. Academic freedom, which is an offshoot of free speech, almost always takes precedence over free exercise rights. Take, for instance, the subject matter of evolution. When students who believe the biblical account of creation are required to treat evolution as true, they are in a sense being compelled to express views hostile to their faith.
Id. at 377. But, again, all government education necessarily does this. If Garry wishes to argue that all government education should be eradicated, that would be great--but he cannot argue that schools should be able to "in a sense" compel students to believe that smoking causes cancer, while simultaneously saying that the should not "in a sense" compel students to believe in the fact of evolution.

Garry misunderstands the issue of evolution education because he wants government to teach--just, not things he disagrees with. He attacks the Lee theory of psychological coercion (and rightly so) but at the same time, relies on it when arguing that schools violate the Establishment Clause by "coercing" students into believing in the fact of evolution. He doesn't seem to realize, among other things, that if the Lee case were overruled, his argument for "equal time" would evaporate with it. I get the sense that Garry's analysis suffers from a persecution complex that causes him to lash out at the courts for whatever reasons he can think of at the moment.

But to me, Garry's most upsetting error is his ignoring the difference between being forced to do something and being free to do something. He believes that Doe was wrongly decided because he thinks that free exercise of religion includes the right to compel or pressure others into a religious exercise. He criticizes the so-called "anti-accomodationist" position (that is, the position of Employment Division v. Smith, supra) because "[a]lthough the anti-accommodationists view their position as neutral, it is neutral only ‘for those who believe that full religious practice can occur in the "private" realm.' Mark D. Rosen, Establishment, Expressivism, and Federalism, 78 Chi.-Kent L. Rev. 669, 676 (2003). But there are many who believe that a full religious life is possible only if one's religious beliefs infuse every aspect of one's life, both private and public." Id. at 365 n.26. But the Establishment Clause limits the degree to which public officials may allow their religious beliefs to infuse their public lives. It prohibits them, for instance, from compelling a person to support a religious view, even if the public official believes that his religious duty is to institute such compulsion.

In a famous speech, Abraham Lincoln said that there were essentially two kinds of people in the world: wolves and sheep. The sheep believed that "liberty" meant the right to live their lives free from interference, while the wolves believed that "liberty" meant the right to eat sheep with impunity. Clearly, he said, the wolf and the sheep are not agreed on a definition of the word liberty. In this case, Garry believes that freedom of religion includes the right to compel people to support religious views they disagree with, while I believe that religious freedom means the right to worship as you please--to, as a famous person once said, pray in your closet--without government bossing you around. Clearly we are not agreed upon a definition of free exercise.

*-Update: I meant to add, another and very compelling reason, for disestablishment is that one should not be compelled to pay for the support of religious views with which one disagrees. This goes beyond the "psychological coercion" rationale, because there is genuine coercion involved: having to pay your tax dollars to support evangelism. This goes beyond mere personal offense at seeing a state imprimatur on religious views, and this would be alone enough to justify the outcome in Aguillard.

119 Comments

First some background: I am a Christian and a deacon in an evangelical church, but thanks mostly to places like this and talk.origins, I have abandoned my denomination’s position on the origins question. As an insider, I thought I would offer my perspective.

First, I would agree with the author that the real issue here is government involvement in education. Those debating that issue 150 years ago warned of exactly the situation we are facing today. Education cannot be value-neutral. Unfortunately, Christians in the US seem to think it is the government’s job to force everyone to act like Christians so we can go back to pretending we are a “Christian nation.”

Second, there is deep paranoia in the Christian community. From arguments over “under God” in the pledge to the removal of manger scenes in front of city hall, there has arisen a deep sense that “they” are out to get “us”. Feeding this is the fascination in evangelical Christianity with “end-times” events described in Revelation. Movies, books, websites, talk radio, etc. are flooded with talk of the “end times”. Every news story is mined for indications that the end is near. The removal of prayer from schools and public events is seen as the pivotal event that has sent us sliding down the slope to Armageddon.

My view: First, if we assume that there is some “they” out there trying to get “us,” my view is we have it coming. Compulsory education was created largely to indoctrinate Catholic children in Protestant Christianity. If the tables have turned against us, like many Christians at the time warned they would, then well…

Second, I’m perpetually confused as to why Christians assume that when they meet with opposition, they should look first to the government for redress. I’ve read the Gospels a number of times and have yet to find a time where Jesus appealed to Roman authority to enforce His right to free speech. Any Christian parent that doesn’t like what is happening in the government schools has a simple choice: pull their kids out. This, of course, involves time, money, and effort on their part. In other words, they will be required to be Biblical parents instead of breeders.

Which leads into number three: this whining is really getting on my nerves. At no time in human history and at no place on earth have Christians had an easier time of it than right now in Western culture. I doubt any Christian could read, say, Fox’s Book of Martyrs, and then claim Christians are being persecuted in the US.

So I guess my point, which I need to get to here real quick, is that whether Mr. Garry’s legal analysis is correct or not is, from the Christian perspective, completely beside the point. We have been given a job (Matthew 28:19-20) that does not depend on judges or lawyers or politicians. If half the resources expended in researching and writing this book (and a few hundred like it) were focused on doing what God told Christians to do, the impact would make this discussion moot (see Acts 2:40-47).

If there’s an award for Most Reasonable Christian, I hereby nominate Ric Frost. Bravo.

I appreciate Ric Frost’s Comment. In conversations with evangelicals in my community who proposed that IDNet’s “Objective Origins Science Policy” be adopted by the local schools, I’ve learned that a significant source of the ‘paranoia’ is fear for their salvation, and more important, fear for their children’s salvation. If one genuinely believes that so-called ‘Darwinism’ (a catch-all term typically referring to scientific explanations of everything from the Big Bang to evolutionary biology) is inherently and necessarily atheistic and metaphysically materialistic – as many evangelicals do – then to allow one’s children to be exposed to it is to risk their immortal souls. What parent would do that without a fight?

RBH

I am a Christian and a deacon in an evangelical church, but thanks mostly to places like this and talk.origins, I have abandoned my denomination’s position on the origins question.

Hmmm. First of all, I do appreciate the sincerity in which you made your comments, Ric. I’m not saying I agree with you, nope, but I do express appreciation.

Not to distract from the topic thread, but it is the occasional unexpected comment like yours that causes me to pause for a moment.

Anyway, I want to ask you this:

Would you be willing to go ahead and say out loud what your denomination’s specific position on the “origins question” is? I hope you’ll agree to do so.

For me, knowing what your specific denominational position is, would help me understand more clearly what you areand are not abandoning.

FL

I am a Christian and a deacon in an evangelical church, but thanks mostly to places like this and talk.origins, I have abandoned my denomination’s position on the origins question.

Hmmm. First of all, I do appreciate the sincerity in which you made your comments, Ric. I’m not saying I agree with you, nope, but I do express appreciation.

Not to distract from the topic thread, but it is the occasional unexpected comment like yours that causes me to pause for a moment.

Anyway, I want to ask you this:

Would you be willing to go ahead and say out loud what your denomination’s specific position on the “origins question” is? I hope you’ll agree to do so.

For me, knowing what your specific denominational position is, would help me understand more clearly what you areand are not abandoning.

FL

Danger, Will Robinson! Insincerity alert, level 5.

I, for one, think that the specific information “FL” requested from Mr. Frost would be irrelevant to the discussion here, and I suggest that if the two of them care to debate theology and creationism that they take it to the Bathroom Wall.

FL Wrote:

For me, knowing what your specific denominational position is, would help me understand more clearly what you areand are not abandoning.

Certainly. My denomination is fully in the YEC/Flood camp, meaning I’m a bit of a fish out of water right now. When my term is up as a deacon, my wife and I will be doing some serious reconsideration.

FL Wrote:

For me, knowing what your specific denominational position is, would help me understand more clearly what you areand are not abandoning.

Certainly. My denomination is fully in the YEC/Flood camp, meaning I’m a bit of a fish out of water right now. When my term is up as a deacon, my wife and I will be doing some serious reconsideration.

Andrew Wrote:

I, for one, think that the specific information “FL” requested from Mr. Frost would be irrelevant to the discussion here, and I suggest that if the two of them care to debate theology and creationism that they take it to the Bathroom Wall.

Agreed. I offer the above as context for my initial comments only. I have no intention (nor the time) to turn this into a full-scale debate on theology.

Tim writes:

In this case, Garry believes that freedom of religion includes the right to compel people to support religious views they disagree with, while I believe that religious freedom means the right to worship as you please—to, as a famous person once said, pray in your closet—without government bossing you around.

Interesting. So, are you suggesting that school vouchers are a good idea so that Christian parent, X, is not forced to pay through her taxes for a public education that teaches things which are inconsistent with her theological views (e.g., homosexuality is okay, let’s say) as well as the private education she pays for out of pocket?

Ummmm, I didn’t say anything about debating anyone, Andrew. My question for Ric, and the reason for asking, were both quite specific. I honestly question why you even felt it necessary to jump in at all.

Did you not already nominate Ric for “Most Reasonable Christian”? If so, why did you not trust Ric’s ability to reasonably answer the question for himself? (I have to suggest, maybe you should stop worrying so much about others’ sincerity level, and simply look to your own for a while.)

Ric, thank you again for your upfront answer. It ~does~ make a difference what kind of Christian “origins position” we’re talking about, because there’s obviously more than one to consider. Thanks for narrowing it down, and thereby offering additional clarity to your previous comments.

If we were privately communicating by email or in person, I’d probably risk exploring an additional question: whether or not you still believed in Genesis’ specific historical claims (Adam and Eve, The Fall, Noah’s Flood, etc. etc.) at least as a matter of biblical faith, despite evolutionists’ historical claims to the contrary.

But in this forum, I am very much content to stop at this point, and thus I close with a simple “thank you again” for the comments and responses you have given.

FL :-)

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Francis, just fyi:

Homosexuality is okay in the United States. Oh, and black people and white people are allowed to have sex with each other, too.

American taxpayers can not be burdened with ensuring that the obnoxious religious beliefs of its citizens are continually propogated, particularly when those beliefs are legally recognized as discriminatory in nature. Vouchers for private religious education which espouses bigotry mock the Establishment Clause as well as the Equal Protection Clause.

The trouble runs more deeply than I had feared.

1. While the growth of public schooling occurred during a period when there was a great influx of Catholics and there were Protestant/Catholic disputes, the Jeffersonian model was still the working model. Jefferson and Madison argued that a democratic republic is impossible without an educated populace from which to draw people to run the government, and to make decisions. Public education is a tool for democracy in America, not a tool against Catholics. The educational purposes of our public education system have always been more important than any religious indoctrination purpose. Theology has never been a great or significant topic for public schooling, while geography, writing, reading, math, history and science have been staples.

2. Because public schools are set up to provide good citizens, funding for public education is not a right given to any one student (exept in some states), but is instead an obligation of all citizens. Vouchers that take money from public education are based on the idea that education is a right to a transfer payment, and not an obligation of the payer of the tax. Litigation based on such fuzzy notions of how and why we have public education will only fuzz up the issues more.

3. Claiming Doe to be a free exercise case is bizarre. People keep forgetting the facts of the case. To get around the First Amendment issues, the local school district sponsored an election at the high school to determine whether prayers would be said. That selection being in favor of prayers, they sponsored an election to select a “chaplain” to pray. In the contest year, the daughter of the local Baptist minister won a landslide over a Mormon kid. (If your establishment violation radar is not all atingle, you need to get it adjusted.) Then, when Catholics and Mormons sued to stop the prayers, the district instead wrote out detailed rules for prayers. The prayers were to be said at a set time and place, etc., etc.

I’ve often noted a shorthand way to determine whether there is an establishment clause violation: There is a violation if any governmental entity tells one whether to pray, or when to pray, or where to pray, or how to pray, or what to pray for, or to whom or what to pray.

This case has no relationship to the teaching of evolution in science class.

4. It’s troubling to see legal scholars citing Beckwith’s error-prone analysis. I find it interesting, in the cited section, that Beckwith claims that learning about evolution, which is just gathering knowledge, is religiously offensive to some. Not even fundamentalist Christians in the U.S. are usually so bold as to admit they are pro-ignorance. That is the root of the noxious weed creationists have planted on our education and legal systems.

We just had a post by a “Barney Frank” complete with email address that suggests that he really is in Congress and hense really is the Rep. Frank (D-Ma).

If it really was Rep. Frank then I apologize in advance. It must be hard to be famous and then have everyone doubt that you are who you say you are. Welcome to the Panda’s Thumb and please feel free to invite all 434 of your fellow members of the House to read it.

Can someone in managment here check to see if this person is coming from a ISP that Rep. Frank might be using? Two hours after a comment on homosexuality appears in a reader’s comment in a minor blog a reply comes from a congressman who is well known in regards to this issue! I suspect an impersonation which is a violation of policy here.

– Anti-spam: replace “usenet” with “harlequin2”

Mr. Frank says that “[v]ouchers for private religious education which espouses bigotry mock the Establishment Clause as well as the Equal Protection Clause.” I disagree. Public education inherently involves spending taxpayer money on the propagation of ideas which are offensive to some. It offends me greatly, for example, that my tax dollars are spent to teach California students certain leftist political doctrines. But personal offense is therefore not enough to “mock” the Equal Protection Clause.

It is true that the Establishment Clause is different—there, the state is prohibited from putting its imprimatur on religious doctrines. (It is not prohibited from putting its imprimatur on all espousing of bigotry, however. Racial bigotry, maybe,* but schools may teach students, for instance, that France sucks, even though that may not be true.) The reason, however, that school choice programs do not violate the Establishment Clause is that they do not put such an imprimatur on the religious doctrines taught at religious schools: parent exercise their own choices in where to send their children to school, which cuts off any potential signal of government endorsement. “[P]eople know that the government doesn’t necessarily endorse private choices that people make with government funds, any more than it endorses cabbage by letting people use food stamps to buy the food of their choice, which may include cabbage. The government doesn’t endorse Catholicism by helping GIs go to Notre Dame . …” Eugene Volokh, Equal Treatment Is Not Establishment, 13 Notre Dame J.L. Ethics & Pub. Pol’y 341, 357-358 (1999).

Mr. Darrell makes two points with which I disagree, although they are not really germane to my post. First, it is certainly true that the concept of public education is based on what he calls “the Jeffersonian model,” that the success of republican government depends on an educated populace, and therefore that public schools are a “tool for democracy in America.” But I don’t think one can say that “[t]heology has never been a great or significant topic for public schooling, while geography, writing, reading, math, history and science have been staples.” In fact, religious instruction was historically considered just as important as science, history, or math, in effecting the “tool for democracy.” I personally disagree with that position, but that’s the historical record. Indeed, one of the first public education laws in America was Massachusetts’ “Old Deluder Satan Act,” which declared that the “old deluder, Satan” profited by spreading ignorance, and therefore the state should create schools to prevent the moral destruction of Our Children. Again, not something to which I’m sympathetic, but them’s the facts.

Second, Mr. Darrell says that “funding for public education is not a right given to any one student (exept in some states), but is instead an obligation of all citizens. Vouchers that take money from public education are based on the idea that education is a right to a transfer payment, and not an obligation of the payer of the tax.” Now, I would think a tax is itself an obligation, for one thing, rather than a privilege for which one has to pay by going to a government school. For another, all of government is, inherently, wealth transfer. Public education is no exception. When a state declares that a student has a “right” to a taxpayer-funded education, as California has, it is saying that the student has a right to take money from other people to pay for his own education. I certainly do not agree with this, but, again, them’s the facts. Once a state determines that a student has the right to force taxpayers to buy him an education, there is no reason it may not also decide to force taxpayers to buy him an education at the school of his parents’ choosing—which is all that school choice programs do. In making such a decision, however, the state retains—and, as Justice Breyer pointed out in his Zelman dissent, has already exercised—the authority to regulate the schools at which the vouchers are spent.

Mr. Darrell sees education as a duty we owe to the state. This is deeply troubling for one who believes, as I do, in individual liberty, but I must concede that he has a point. As Hayek said,

The very magnitude of the power over men’s minds that a highly centralized and government-dominated system of education places in the hands of the authorities ought to make one hesitate before accepting it too readily. Up to a point, the arguments that justify compulsory education also require that government should prescribe some of the content of this education. As we have already mentioned, there may be circumstances in which the case for authority’s providing a common cultural background for all citizens becomes very strong. Yet we must remember that it is the provision of education by government which creates such problems as that of the segregation of Negroes in the United States—difficult problems of ethnic or religious minorities which are bound to arise where government takes control of the chief instruments of transmitting culture.

The Constitution of Liberty 379 (1960). See also Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams 78 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1961) (1918) (“All State education is a sort of dynamo machine for polarizing the popular mind; for turning and holding its lines of force in the direction supposed to be most effective for state purposes.”)

*-The Thirteenth Amendment prohibits badges and incidents of slavery, which, along with the Equal Protection Clause, might prohibit the state from endorsing racial bigotry in the same way that the Establishment Clause prohibits the state from endorsing a religious view. See, e.g., Hamilton v. Alabama, 376 U.S. 650 (1964), rev’g Ex parte Hamilton, 275 Ala. 574 (1963).

“Mister” Sandefur says

Mr. Frank says that “[v]ouchers for private religious education which espouses bigotry mock the Establishment Clause as well as the Equal Protection Clause. It offends me greatly, for example, that my tax dollars are spent to teach California students certain leftist political doctrines. But personal offense is therefore not enough to “mock” the Equal Protection Clause.

Ah, Mister Sandefur, but it’s not your “personal offense” which is the Constitutional problem. It’s the encouragement of discrimination. Do you believe that I would have no standing to bring an Equal Protection case against a tax-payer (voucher) funded teacher who home-schooled children in my school district that blacks were mentally and physiologically more primitive than whites? Or that they deserved to be treated or viewed differently from others because of who they are?Substitute women for blacks: What do you think? Substitute gays for blacks: what do you think?

I know it’s a bit OT but seriously: this isn’t just taking my tax money to blow up Muslims on the other side of the planet. Nor is it a failure to teach the details of evolutionary theory. This is blatant encouragement of discrimination. I am not aware of a standing case that is directly on point here (although I am aware that equal protection cases are subject to the general principles re standing). I think at the very least such a case would get to the Supremes and it would be given serious consideration. I’d be sure to use the Hamilton case you cited as a backup, and I’d bootstrap the equal protection args in there. Somehow. ;)

Note to Mr. Hopkins: I believe if I was the Mr. Frank you imagined I was, I would have a “.gov” address. I apologize to the PT community if anyone was misled by my tongue-in-cheek choice of ID. Why is it that Mister Sandefur’s posts seem to bring out the cop in all of us? ;)

Came across “barney frank” on another chat/blog site (maybe evangelical outpost?) and decided he wasn’t “the” Barney Frank

As Mr. Frank says, this has diverged from the topic. But I will respond to his points on my own weblog, Freespace.

*-Update:Here is my response.

Mr. Sanderfur urges the original Massachusetts act requiring villages and towns to educate kids as evidence of theological indoctrination. However, I think a fair reading of what that 1647 law actually says supports my point: It calls for the establishment of schools to teach kids to read, and it requires no theological education. The American consensus (prior to 1954, as best I can determine) was that ignorance was dangerous and close to a sin, if not a sin outright. Laws prior to the Constitution frequently cited promotion of good morals as a reason for the laws, but none that I can find call for education in theology (see the various Northwest Ordinances, for examples; after calling for religious freedom, they note that morality is important, and urge education as a precursor to morality – they do not call for theological education). Instead, they call for education in reading. Few go so far as Jefferson did when he said it was essential to get the Bible out of the schools, and then urged teaching morality instead. I have not found evidence that theology was ever a major component of education in publicly-supported or government schools. Allegations that early schools were more theologically inclined were found lacking evidence for the school prayer cases in the 1960s. We need to be careful not to confuse occasional calls for a Bible verse or a prayer here and there for real theology study.

Consequently, arguments that are based on an assumption that we have a long history of favoring Christian ideas in all phases of curricula in public schools tend to lead us astray. Schools were not intended to indoctrinate kids in religion (especially in western Massachusetts in the 18th century, where Congregationalists faced the reality of diversity among Christians). Consequently, creationist/intelligent design claims that teaching science (such as evolution) in schools is intended to counter their faith are historically in error.

Second, I think it’s important to understand that most kids have no legal right to a public education. That was part of the point I was trying to make on vouchers, and I think it affects the evolution discussions significantly. If kids have a right to an education, that right could easily find expression in a suit demanding that schools NOT teach creationism except in its errors. A right to education would be a right to correct information, not folderol. I think that creationists and other religisously-motivated people who start from the assumption that the state has a duty to educate their kids as they see fit, miss the point. Jefferson wanted to amend the Constitution to provide education rights, but that proposal never made it to paper. There is no federal right. States, like Texas, sometimes mention a duty of the state to provide schools, but I don’t think any state has established a right to education for any citizen.

Education is not a right, nor is it a duty the kid to be educated owes anyone. The provision of education to preserve our republican democracy is a necessity, and therefore it is an obligation tax-paying citizens owe to the rest of our citizens. Because there is no right to education at stake, creationists don’t have a right to avoid confrontation with the great ideas of western civilization. We’re a diverse nation, and we can tolerate a great deal of ignorance among our fellow citizens – but that does not require that we inculcate such ignorance, nor does it establish a right for people to be ignorant.

The minority of creationists is louder than Christian Scientists, but still a minority. What would be the effect of Christian Scientists claiming a right to have inserted into biology books all the arguments against germ theory? If creationists have a right to get anti-evolution materials inserted into courses to avoid offense to their religion, why wouldn’t Christian Scientists have the same right against much of the rest of biology?

Perhaps if the fundamentalists started taking exception to the religious teachings of Pythagoras, and called for the Pythagorean Theorem to be deleted from math books, we might put the issue in its proper focus. Knowing an idea is not the same as endorsing it – but ignorance is a serious problem. Avoiding ideas can be dangerous, and there is no duty the government has to protect delicate religious sensibilities from the facts of life.

Ignorance isn’t a free speech right, and calls to protect ignorance under the guise of avoiding offense to religious sensibilities of religious minorities are not free exercise or free speech issues – they are establishment issues, and so far the courts have dealt with them pretty well. There is no free speech or free exercise right to be ignorant, even ignorant of ideas one wishes didn’t exist for whatever reason.

Mr. Darrell makes some interesting points with regard to teaching of Christianity in schools in early America, although I don’t find it as easy to distinguish theology from religious morality education as he does.

However, he’s not quite right to say that “most kids have no legal right to a public education.” It’s true as a philosophical matter that nobody has a right to an education, because educations are provided by others, and nobody has the right to compel another person to provide him with an education, any more than a person has the right to compel another person to provide him with a car or a television set or any other transfer of wealth. All coercive transfers of wealth are violations of rights. But as far as a “legal right” goes, many states, perhaps most states, have determined that such a right does exist. California’s Supreme Court, for instance, has determined that a public education is a “fundamental right.” See, e.g., Butt v. State of California, 4 Cal.4th 668, 686 (1992). The federal Supreme Court, fortunately, has determined otherwise as far as the Federal Constitution is concerned. San Antonio School District v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 1 (1973).

Does this mean that “[a] right to education would be a right to correct information, not folderol”? Well, there have been lawsuits against the state arguing that the right to an education means the right to a quality education, and arguing that the state has violated this right by providing the poor quality public schools that California has. I don’t know if these have been successful, but I don’t believe so. Courts tend to defer to the Legislature’s judgment, or the judgment of local school districts, as to how to fund and operate public schools. Nor do the courts intervene when it comes to poor quality teaching. Attempts to sue public school teachers for malpractice, for example, have not succeeded because Courts refuse to intervene to determine what constitutes a quality education. See, e.g., Brown v. Compton Unified Sch. Dist., 80 Cal. Rptr. 2d 171 (1998); see further Todd A. DeMitchell and Terri A. DeMitchell, Statutes And Standards: Has The Door to Educational Malpractice Been Opened?, 2003 B.Y.U. Educ. & L.J. 485. Once again, I disagree with this holding—I agree that if the state undertakes to educate, it ought to educate competently, but them’s the breaks. I highly doubt a court would entertain a suit against a creationist teacher on the grounds that he is violating the right to a quality education—but hey, why not try?

Mr. Darrell’s statement that “Education is not a right, nor is it a duty the kid to be educated owes anyone. The provision of education to preserve our republican democracy is a necessity, and therefore it is an obligation tax-paying citizens owe to the rest of our citizens”—makes no sense to me. I see no distinction between an unchosen “obligation” imposed on “tax-paying citizens” by “the rest of our citizens” and a “duty.” And I think it’s terrible to say that a person owes an obligation to the state to attend public schools in order to preserve the state. This is nothing less than a justification of government mind control, of which we ought to be extremely skeptical, if for no other reason, than because the public choice effect is unavoidable—such schools will be taken over by whatever political interest group is most adept at taking them over. As John Stuart Mill said, “A general state education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another and the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the predominant power in the government, whether this be a monarch, a priesthood, an aristocracy, or a majority of the existing generation, in proportion as it is efficient and successful and establishes a despotism over the mind, leading, by natural tendency, to one over the body.” (quoted in Hayek, supra at 376. Even if it were not for the public choice effect, government education is inherently contrary to the spirit of skepticism and individual thought necessary to making good republican citizens. See Karl Popper, 1 The Open Society And Its Enemies 135 (5th ed. 1966).

Nor do I agree that “There is no free speech or free exercise right to be ignorant, even ignorant of ideas one wishes didn’t exist for whatever reason.” Actually, I think the right to be ignorant is an absolutely essential part of these rights. I have the right, and I exercise it every Sunday, to be ignorant of the alleged blessings of Episcopalianism, which are taught a block away. Now, one’s right to be ignorant does not mean that he has the right to silence another person, but he certainly has the right to turn off his TV or choose not to read his junk mail. And parents do have the right to teach their children untrue things—troubling as this is to me. But that’s what “free exercise” means.

Finally, I have never heard that “Jefferson wanted to amend the Constitution to provide education rights, but that proposal never made it to paper.” I would be quite shocked if this were true. Could you provide me with more information on this, Mr. Darrell?

This conversation, too, has drifted, so I will post any further discussion at Freespace.

At the risk of taking this further off track, I will try to bring it back on track (if that makes any sense whatsoever).

1. Whether or not the “Native Americans” of the mid-19th century were successful in using the bludgeon of compulsory education laws to combat the spread of Catholicism says nothing about their intent, which is clear from editorials and debates in the state capitals at the time.

2. My main point was, like the “Native Americans” of the mid-19th century (and likely many other times and places), Christians today are quick to call on government to stop people from doing things they don’t like, whether it’s homosexual marriage, inter-racial marriage, alchohol, tobacco, or teaching “evil-ution.” Reliance on legal doctrines and judicial muscle to transform people rather than the life-changing power of the Gospel is, to put it bluntly, sin.

Although I am not a Christian, I absolutely agree with Deacon Frost’s second point. I can’t think of anything more obviously contrary to the actual teachings of Christ than the constant seeking of government aid, government protection, and government coercion.

I’m occupied trying to update my business law course, so my inability to communicate adequately may have an excuse. In any case I’m not making the necessary point to Mr. Sandefur. I apologize; I’ll make one more run.

Mr. Sandefur says, “And I think it’s terrible to say that a person owes an obligation to the state to attend public schools in order to preserve the state.”

I agree, and that’s not what I said. The obligation I’m talking about is the obligation of citizens (beyond the general ages of education, we may hope) to support schools. It is true that all states now have compulsory education laws, and like Jefferson I wonder whether a right to education wouldn’t be a better path – but when he structured a school system, Jefferson’s plan offered the right only to read and do basic math to all; the top 10 percent in selected fields were those who would win further education.

I’m asking that we regard public education from the other end of the scope we’ve been using: Money spent on a kid’s education is not a right the kid has, and the kid has no right to insist on a choice of how or where to spend that money; instead, money spent is an investment by the citizens who pay the money. Fittingly, in most of the more than 15,000 jurisdictions where local school boards rule education in America, the bulk of the money comes from property taxes. This system produces some unfortunate inequalities, such as those we struggle with here in Texas. But the simple fact remains that education is a duty of the citizen who pays for the next generation to learn, and not a right of the student, nor even necessarily a duty of the student to learn. Education is an obligation of the taxpaying citizen.

Yes, we may choose to be ignorant of the religious beliefs and persuasions of others; there are other things that it is crime not to know, which we expect kids in public schools (or any school) to get, such as basic rules of driving and some basic public health and safety rules. But this is the distinction: Anti-science, anti-evolution views are inherently religious, and therefore prevented by the establishment clauses of state and federal constitutions.

Finally, I don’t have at my fingertips the passage in which Jefferson discussed his plans to put a right to education in federal law. It was in correspondence with Madison or Rush as I recall, and it was not outlined well enough to know what he may have had in mind. I should have it more accessible and will continue to look through my library. We do know he regarded education as the foundation of morality in a person, however, and that he worked to keep religion qua religion out of the curriculum of schools throughout his life. Looking quickly to see if I could find the passage, however, I did run into Jefferson’s letter to the Philadelphia bookseller Nicholas Gouin Dufief, complaining of censorship of biology books (letter of April 19, 1814). The book in question was Sur la Creation du Monde, un Systeme d’Organization Primitive, authored by a fellow named de Becourt. The copy Jefferson ordered from Philadelphia was not delivered, appearing to have been intercepted by some local court in Pennsylvania as inappropriate for Christians to read. “I am really mortified to be told that, in the United States of America, a fact like this can become a subject of inquiry, and of criminal inquiry, too, as an offence against religion; that a question about a sale of a book can be carried before the civil magistrate. Is this then our freedom of religion? and are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? … It is an insult to our citizens to question whether they are rational beings or not, and blasphemy against religion to suppose it cannot stand the test of truth and reason. If M. de Becourt’s book be false in facts, disprove them; if false in its reasoning, refute it. But for God’s sake, let us freely hear both sides, if we choose…” This offers clues for where Jefferson would stand on a law such as that which snared John Scopes, or which angered Mr. Aquillard.

If creationists insist their faith and their children cannot stand the test of truth and reason, should we listen to them?

the brillian Ed Darrell said

If creationists insist their faith and their children cannot stand the test of truth and reason, should we listen to them?

Wow. In a damn nutshell. I vote: “no.”

Can someone put this question permanently in gold letters at the top of the Pandas Thumb home page?

My response to Mr. Darrell is here.

Anti-science, anti-evolution views are inherently religious, and therefore prevented by the establishment clauses of state and federal constitutions.

A curious remark. Let me ask you something. Given the following 3-point ID hypothesis:

1. Specified complexity is well-defined and empirically detectable. 2. Undirected natural causes are incapable of explaining specified complexity. 3. Intelligent causation is the best explanation for specified complexity.

.…please show me where any or all of Dembski’s specific 3-point ID hypothesis is inherently religious, in and of itself. Thanks.

——————-

An (admittedly off topic) side question for Ric: Was Martin Luther King and other Christians wrong to pressure the government for the social changes they desired? They did NOT just rely on the “life changing power of the Gospel” (at least in terms of preaching and teaching alone). They also did a lot of public political action as well. Were they wrong?

FL

Duh. Point (3) is inherently religious. If Demsbski et al. were truly not making any assumptions about the identity of their designer, their hypothesis would be null on face.

“Any possible universe could be explained as the work of some sort of designer. Even a universe that is completely chaotic, without any laws or regularities at all, could be supposed to have been designed by an idiot.” (Steven Weinberg, Skeptical Inquirer, Sept. 2001).

Since ID purports on face to distinguish between “completely random” and “non-random” instances of design, it necessarily imputes certain characteristics to the designer, and THAT is a religious exercise.

*sigh* whack one troll, and five take his place.…

FL conflates a couple of points, and misses others. So I’ll take a shot at enlightening him, altho I fear he won’t buy this.

Notice that I used the word enlightenment; this was deliberate, because both science and American political theory are products of that period of history. The emphasis in both is on the use of reason and verifiable observation. So here goes:

.please show me where any or all of Dembski’s specific 3-point ID hypothesis is inherently religious, in and of itself. Thanks.

Let’s start with point 3:

3. Intelligent causation is the best explanation for specified complexity.

I commend to you Eliot Sober’s excellent essay “How not to detect design” (available on both his website, and reprinted in Pennock’s Intelligent Design and its Critics Here and elsewhere he points out that all judgements about design are made with a reference to known designers. So while we can scientifically infer the existence of designers for analogues of design processes we know (e.g., in anthropology) there is no independent evidence for a designer for Biology, because the process is unobserved. Evidence from revelation isn’t scientifically allowable, because it can’t be verified or modeled. So, notwithstanding the creationist screeds of Dembski’s other writings, he is asking the wrong questions and barking up the wrong tree. Whether it’s true or not, ID just isn’t science, and won’t be until there is a verifiable observation of it in action.

Regarding the MLK mal mot. I am really getting tired of fundamentalists, most of whose churches were institutionally opposed to Dr. King while he was alive and working, invoking his memory as they mount their favorite theocratic hobbyhorse. King saw and used religion properly, as strength and motivation, not as a literal view of science and life. His motives were much more complex than simple religion (e.g., the influence of Gandhi and through him, Thoreau). Furthermore, what about the non-religious people in the Civil Rights movement, including political leftists? Does their involvement mean that we ought to adopt a socialist economy? The Civil Rights pioneers appealed to the nearly universal sense of justice in Americans, and were successful for that reason primarily.

FL sets a hypothesis, as a response to my note that anti-science in science classes is inherently a religious position:

A curious remark. Let me ask you something. Given the following 3-point ID hypothesis:

1. Specified complexity is well-defined and empirically detectable.

2. Undirected natural causes are incapable of explaining specified complexity.

3. Intelligent causation is the best explanation for specified complexity.

. …please show me where any or all of Dembski’s specific 3-point ID hypothesis is inherently religious, in and of itself. Thanks.

Were #1 true, and #2 were true, and #3 had not already been disproven by 5,000 years of animal husbandry, crop breeding and observation in nature, there would be no problem except for the fact that Dembski’s 3-point ID hypothesis still doesn’t seem to be able to distinguish between an object designed by an intelligence and an object designed by any other natural influence.

Without any research to back up the claims, however, “belief” that Dembski has a case is based on faith alone.

If there were firm evidence that Jesus walked on water – photos, videos, footprints on the water – teaching that Jesus walked on water would not be religion. Absent such evidence, it is faith. ID is no different. To ask that we accept “intelligent design” without hard evidence from the lab bench, or even a generalized theory that incorporates verifiable science, is to ask a leap of faith. Such requests are religious requests, not science.

Dr. Beckwith (who, despite the fact that he does not know me, rudely insists on using my first name) asks my views on school choice. I favor school choice, and helped write briefs to that effect in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, 536 U.S. 639 (2002), the case which upheld the constitutionality of school choice programs.

I have never used your first name. I’ve always used my own, though in different variations: sometimes “Frank,” “Frankie,” “Francis,” or “Francois.” In high school I was called “Goat” during my sophomore year because of a permanent gone bad. As a result of an incredible blocked-shot against Western High School (Las Vegas) in 1978 (My 5’11” self pinned on the backboard an attempted dunk by the legendary Willie Hicks), I was called “Sudden ‘Ank” or the “Hankmonster” for a while. Though I never used either name to introduce myself, others used them. In sum, I have never used your first name.

Warmly, Frank

Ed might have missed my point.

Can I get an expert on ID? Yes, Jed Macosko, a Ph.D from Berkeley with other advanced degrees. He quaifies by training education and experience. So does Behe. However, just becaue you’re an expert doesn’t mean you get to testify. Also, do I believe that both are prejudiced, subject to attack for bias and would ultimately be discounted. Yes, but that wasn’t the question.

Can they testify that ID is accepted scietific theory?

That’s the step 2 dicussed above and I would argue that the answer is, “no.”

My apologies to Mr. McFaul – yes, I missed the point. When I said “expert” I meant someone who could qualify to testify about it.

I’m still puzzled. Jed Macosko has training in I.D.? There is not a class offered in I.D. at any American university or college, nor any foreign institution I’ve found – no seminar, no graduate or undergraduate class. There is no lab doing research in I.D. Where did he get training and experience? There will be an interesting tale.

Ed writes: Overton mentioned Ruse in the opinion, once, yes.  But the ruling is not hinged on Ruse’s opinions.  Judge Overton found that creationism meets no standard of science.

That’s misleading. In fact, I can’t think of one commentator on the McLean case, from either side, who does not say that Ruse’s testimony on the nature of science was accepted by the Court. There is a good reason for this. Here’s Ruse’s testimony (the germane portions are in bold):

Ruse: …[if] I was going to extract one essential characteristic, is that it be predominantly brought in the law. In other words, what one’s trying to do in science is explained by law, whereby “law” one means unguided, natural regularities.

Q: When you say “law”, you mean natural law?

Ruse: I mean natural law. I mean Boyle’s Law, Mendel’s Law, Cook’s Law.

Q: Doctor, is there any one single definition of science?

Ruse: I wouldn’t say there is one single definition of science, but I think the philosophers today would generally agree on that point.

Q: Are there other attributes of science that philosophers today would generally agree are important in defining what is a science and what is not?

Ruse: Well, you say philosophers. Let’s broaden it. I hope we can include historians. And I’d like to think that scientist agree with what we say.

Yes. I think what one’s got to do now is start teasing out some of the attributes of science, starting with the notion of law.

Particularly, science is going to be explanatory.

Another thing there, another very important aspect of science is it’s going to be testable against the empirical world. Another characteristic, and perhaps we can stop with these, is that it’s going to be tentative. It’s going to be, in some sense, not necessarily the final word.…

Q: .… In connection with the attributes of science and this issue of testability, does the concept of falsifiability mean anything to you?

Ruse: Yes. The concept of falsifiability is something which has been talked about a great deal by scientists and others recently. It’s an idea which has been made very popular by the Austrian-English philosophist, Karl Popper. Basically, the idea of falsifiability is that there must be, as it were, if something is a genuine scientific theory, then there must, at least, conceivably be some evidence which could count against it.…

Q Doctor Ruse, in addition to those four characteristics, natural law, explanation, testability and tentativeness, are there other characteristics of science, methodological characteristics of science which serves to distinguish science from non-scientific endeavors?

Now, here’s Judge Overton’s definition: More precisely, the essential characteristics of science are: (1) It is guided by natural law; (2) It has to be explanatory by reference to nature law; (3) It is testable against the empirical world; (4) Its conclusions are tentative, i.e. are not necessarily the final word; and (5) Its is falsifiable.

The only difference–if you can say there really is one–between Overton’s criteria and Ruse’s is that Ruse seems to see falsifiability as a species of testability. So, Ruse, a philosopher of science, was an expert witness in a case involving science and his testimony was employed as a standard by which to hold that a statute was unconstitutional. Ruse’s understanding was the finding of the Court. It doesn’t get any clearer than that.

Frank

I guess the issue, Frank, is whether there is something unusual or controversial about the “characteristics” of science suggested by Ruse. I don’t think there is. Therefore, it is accurate to say that the case did not hinge on Ruse’s testimony any more than it hinged on the definition of “public school” which the judge relied on. You could come up with a similar list of characteristics of science, I imagine, by consulting any number of reputable resources where the characteristics of science are discussed (e.g., an encyclopedia, a dictionary, etc.).

Dear GWW:

I’m pretty familiar with this case–McLean v. Arkansas–and the books and articles it spawned. I can’t think of one of them that discusses Ruse’s testimony that does not say that it was employed almost wholesale by Overton in his opinion.

Ruse’s definition of science was, and is, controversial, as Larry Laudan argued soon after the case. Laudan, a Darwinist, was quite critical of Ruse, as was Notre Dame’s Phil Quinn, a Christian Darwinist who opposes Creationism. A nice resource in this regard is Ruse’s edited volume, But Is It Science? (Prometheus, 1988), which includes an abridged version of the McLean opinion as well as articles by Ruse, Laudan, and Quinn.

It seems to Ruse has had second thoughts about his testimony. See, for example, the article by Thomas Woodward: http://www.leaderu.com/real/ri9404/ruse.html. See also the talk of Ruse’s from which Woodward cites: http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/arn/orp[…]mr93tran.htm.

Dr. Beckwith’s answer is maddening.

How is anything I said misleading? I noted only that the evidence in the McLean case carried the day, and that Ruse’s testimony was hardly the hinge of the case. Important? There were others who testified on just what science was, as well. Nowhere does Judge Overton say he relied on Ruse alone, and Great White Wonder is absolutely correct in saying the definition is hardly unique.

Controversial? No. There have been nits picked with Ruse’s definition even by Ruse, but most of it is not controversial in the slightest. Science is what is done on the lab bench (or observed in the field), that which can be tested, has been tested and is known, to paraphrase Feynman.

And that’s the problem. Ruse offered only a test by which a rational person might determine whether a discipline that claims to be science might be measured as science. Dr. Beckwith ignores the substance of my observation, that creationism in no way met any of the tests.

If we accept Ruse’s later refining of his definition, creationism still can’t meet any of the tests. And if we put the test to “intelligent design,” it doesn’t meet the tests, either.

Dr. Beckwith goes to great lengths to question the details of the witnesses’ testimony, and the philosophical underpinnings of everything they say and whether Western Civilization might hang in the balance of all they say is true; but he does not focus on the substance of the issue, the evidence.

At deposition, and at trial, creationists testified that they had no science to back creationism. Whether Ruse’s definition of what science is hits the mark exactly is completely beside the point – creationism, and ID, can’t even come within range of the target. Ruse’s having second thoughts cannot change those facts. Ruse’s second thoughts still leave modern creationism and intelligent design in the category of crank science. (Creationism, we must recall, was the science model extant circa 1809, the year of Darwin’s birth; technically, we should call creationism dead science, or disproven hypothesis; continued efforts to make creationism walk like a zombie are crank science, however, in my opinion.)

Creationists got skunked at trial. Even their expert witnesses offered testimony that helped disassemble their case. Judge Overton wrote:

The Court is at a loss to understand why Dr. [Chandra] Wickramasinghe was called in behalf of the defendants. Perhaps it was because he was generally critical of the theory of evolution and the scientific community, a tactic consistent with the strategy of the defense. Unfortunately for the defense, he demonstrated that the simplistic approach of the two model analysis of the origins of life is false. Furthermore, he corroborated the plaintiffs’ witnesses by concluding that “no rational scientist” would believe the earth’s geology could be explained by reference to a worldwide flood or that the earth was less than one million years old.

The proof in support of creation science consisted almost entirely of efforts to discredit the theory of evolution through a rehash of data and theories which have been before the scientific community for decades. The arguments asserted by the creationists are not based upon new scientific evidence or laboratory data which has been ignored by the scientific community.

I have been particularly struck by one sign of crank science that Judge Overton notes in the decision. Creationists had complained that bias keeps them out of science journals. The creationist side was given the opportunity to present any science papers backing creationism which had been submitted to peer-review journals and rejected. No such material could be found:

Without using creationist literature, Ms. Wilson was unable to locate one genuinely scientific article or work which supported Section 4(a). In order to comply with the mandate of the Board she used such materials as an article from Readers Digest about “atomic clocks” which inferentially suggested that the earth was less than 4 1/2 billion years old. She was unable to locate any substantive teaching material for some parts of Section 4 such as the worldwide flood. The curriculum guide which she prepared cannot be taught and has no education value as science. The defendants did not produce any text or writing in response to this evidence which they claimed was usable in the public school classroom.

The participants in the ID protests (I’m not sure it’s a movement) have the same myopia that creationists had in the Arkansas case. They keep claiming there is a philosophical difference and that is all – when there is in reality a minimum bar of science up to which creationism and intelligent design cannot measure. Judge Overton ruled that creationism was religion, not because he was entranced by Michael Ruse, but because of the overwhelming evidence from letters, testimony, statements in the Arkansas legislature, and news accounts of proponents saying they were advancing the measure to further their religious beliefs. Whether Ruse is right or not is almost immaterial to the case in the light of the actual evidence.

I want to know how to cure cancer. I have a personal stake in the issue: My father, mother and oldest brother all died with various cancers. Evolution science, applied, has offered a few cures, a lot of treatments, and promises more. Dr. Beckwith argues that the pursuit of a cancer cure should be questioned by high school texts as either religiously or philosophically flawed.

Well, if this be religious error, make the most it. Give us evolution theory, or most assuredly we will have death.

Judge Overton’s decision in McLean v. Arkansas could be viewed as a road map on how to get creationism, intelligent design, or any other science that presupposes an intelligent intervenor, into the classroom. But the case offers a choice of two routes, one honorable and do-able if there is merit to the claim that creationism/ID should be considered science; the other dishonorable, but required if there is no merit to the case for science in creationism/ID. The first path is to go into a lab, do some research which either calls into question one or more of the pillars of evolution by natural and sexual selection or which establishes intelligent design/creationism as a preferred or alternative model, and publish that research. Such publication would, without the operation of any law, insert the science of creation into textbooks automatically in the next edition as publishers scramble to present the most up-to-date editions.

The second path is to claim that our definitions of science are all in error, that science is all in error, and conduct a public relations campaign to hammer at the reputations of science and scientists in the hope that doubt may be sown with the public and with policy makers.

Which path do ID advocates take?

It is a moral failing of the ID movement that in any given year they spend roughly a million times on press releases and the equivalent of photo ops what they spend on hard research. Consider, Einstein’s revolution of physics was proposed in 1905 in a series of papers that proposed several experiments or observations, and by 1919 was partly confirmed by observations made during an eclipse of the sun. 14 years from proposal to confirmation. A true science revolution can occur in less than a generation, if the data are there (or, as we Christians might put it, if God’s creation supports the case). I noted earlier that creationism is disproven science; “Intelligent Design” has been around since at least 1991, and there has been organized work to advance it since a meeting of most of the ID principals at SMU in that year. In 13 years, ID has failed to put forth a single testable hypothesis, has produced not a single paper in a recognized juried journal of biology, and has failed to persuade a single scientist to dedicate a laboratory to ID research – even a laboratory operated by an ID principal. Since William Paley, what other science ideas have survived so long without even a hypothesis?

The contrast is sharp, and is consistent with intelligent design’s being lumped in with other crank science.

Ruse’s philosophy, even if wrong, still leaves intelligent design as crank science. If we stacked every philosopher in the world in favor of intelligent design (with Leiter protesting all the way, of course), that still leaves not a shred of research data to support it.

Intelligent design is the scientific and moral equivalent Oakland that Gertrude Stein warned us about: “There is no there there.” It may be, as Dr. Beckwith argues, that if one could hoodwink a court into ruling, ID could be given time in a public school science classroom, under the Constitution. I hope the legal profession never falls that far. But even if such a legal argument could be made, it would be morally repugnant to teach that ID is what it has not shown itself to be: Science. Similarly, it is morally repugnant to question the science foundations of evolution, when the science is so clear and so useful in so many ways.

Excellent post, Ed. My compliments and thanks - it’s definitely a keeper.

Ed Darrell surely must recall his claim that only scientists could be expert witnesses in a court case involving whether a public school teacher may engage in the Socratic transgression of offering non-sectarian and thoughtful questions about the evolutionary paradigm. Here’s what he said:

Could a philosopher of science qualify as an expert witness, Dr. Beckwith wonders? Not on these issues, no, not under the rulings in McLean and Aguillard. They don’t have experience researching and publishing in intelligent design.

I pointed out that in fact Michael Ruse, a philosopher, was instrumental in shaping the McLean Court’s definition of science, as everyone who has ever written seriously on this case, including Ruse, knows to be true. Ed replied:

Judge Overton ruled that creationism was religion, not because he was entranced by Michael Ruse, but because of the overwhelming evidence from letters, testimony, statements in the Arkansas legislature, and news accounts of proponents saying they were advancing the measure to further their religious beliefs. Whether Ruse is right or not is almost immaterial to the case in the light of the actual evidence.

Ed is partly right and partly wrong. There were, of course, several reasons that went into Overton’s holding. But one of those reasons, Ruse’s testimony, was a necessary condition. For the Court had to show that creationism was “not science,” combined with the religious motivations of the statute’s supporters, along with the text of the statute, in order to show the statute’s religious purpose. If, for example, the Court was not convinced that creationism was not science, the statute would have a secular purpose as well as a religious purpose, which, as some of you know, is not fatal under the Lemon test. This is all documented in great detail in both my Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy article (which is on my website) as well as in chapter 2 of my book. Please read it and call me in the morning. ;-)

Ed writes: Controversial? No. There have been nits picked with Ruse’s definition even by Ruse, but most of it is not controversial in the slightest. Science is what is done on the lab bench (or observed in the field), that which can be tested, has been tested and is known, to paraphrase Feynman.

Ed is simply wrong here. For Laudan and Quinn as well as scores of other philosophers of science, most of whom are not sympathetic to ID let alone creationism, Ruse’s problems were not nit picks. You could drive a truck through them. Take for example, his claim–and Overton’s claim–that scientific explanations are lawful. What do we do then with historical sciences, such as archaeology or anthropology in which non-lawful accounts of phenomena are common and have explanatory power? Even “testability” has its difficulties. Suppose one believes, correctly, in some form cosmic uniformitarianism–that the laws of nature are the same everywhere. This is a background belief of science. How would you test it? Suppose an anomaly occurs, something contrary to what is predicated based on scientific theory X that seems to violate some fundamental law of nature? Has uniformitarianism (U) been tested and failed, or does the scientist ad hoc it by postulating theoretical entity Y (or law Z) because U is a fruitful heuristic in scientific research and not worth abandoning? I suspect you would accept the latter, as would I. But in what sense can we really test U? It is scientific, but it really is not testable on any lab bench. In fact, the entire notion that science must be testable presupposes U as one of the background beliefs that makes testing possible, for it relies on notions about the nature of the universe, the rationality of the minds of the scientists who conduct the research, and the adequacy of our conceptual notions fitting the universe, all of which are not “falsifiable” or explicable in terms of any natural law. And yet, we could not do science without them.

Interestingly enough, Del Ratzsch’s book, that Ed frequently cites, brings these sorts of problems up. Ratzsch, though critical of Dembski, offers an extended argument for why design cannot be a priori prohibited in science as either a heuristic concept or the basis by which one may infer agency from natural phenomena. I agree with Ratzsch that there is much work to do in this area (especially in the area of biology).

I document some of the problems with Ruse-Overton definition in the article and book mentioned above. As far as Ed’s grievances with ID and its academic stature, that’s not my fight. I’ve documented some of it in my book in its introduction, and I stand by what I’ve written.

A PLEA FOR CIVILITY

I don’t mind having civil discussions, and even heated ones, but Ed has told two falsehoods about my work and me and has implied another. I will not tolerate falsehoods about me. I have restrained myself in calling Ed on it. But after the last bit of poison, my silence may be interpreted as acquiescence. So, here it goes.

(1)One: f Dr. Beckwith feels no moral twinge at advocating, before serious policy arms of governmental entities, that ID might be teachable (albeit with the qualifications he lists above), should he not also tell the whole truth about astrology and coffee colonics?

I have spoken before one government body in my entire life and it was last July in Texas. I was invited by a member of the Texas State Education Board to address it on the matter of my book and law review articles. I was honored to be asked by a member of a government body to testify on my area of expertise. I consider it my civic duty do so.

The reason why I turned down an invitation to return the following September was because I did not believe that my work really touched on the issues debated in the textbook hearings. So, I declined. Thus, I have not testified before serious policy arms of government entities. I testified before one for 3 minutes one day in July, 2003. The impression Ed gives is that I go around the country as part of some dog and pony show.

As far as coffee colonics, my only comment is this: with friends like that who needs enemas.

(1)Two: Discovery Institute pays no homage, monetary or titular, to advocates of coffee colonics. Is there a connection? No churches pin their hopes on cold fusion or any of the others.

Yes, that’s it. I was bribed by Discovery to speak before the Board of Education. (heavy sarcasm). Actually, I paid for the whole trip out of my own pocket: gas, parking meter, and the crappy cafeteria food in the Austin Federal Building. I received no financial remuneration for what I did.

I have been a gentleman during my discussions on this site. I don’t think I deserve to be treated in this manner. I have never challenged Ed’s integrity, and yet he implies that I would defend virtually anything given enough money. Sorry Ed, but I am a thoughtful person and only defend what I believe I am justified in believing. If you read my book, you will recall that I am pretty hard on my fellow Christians when I go over some of the post-Edwards cases. I criticize Ed Gaffney’s assessment of Frieler in First Things, for example.

(1)Three: I want to know how to cure cancer. I have a personal stake in the issue: My father, mother and oldest brother all died with various cancers. Evolution science, applied, has offered a few cures, a lot of treatments, and promises more. Dr. Beckwith argues that the pursuit of a cancer cure should be questioned by high school texts as either religiously or philosophically flawed.

I suppose if I were untutored in the fine art of reasoning I could say in reply to Ed that materialism, applied (dialectically or morally), has offered us the Iron Curtain, Gulags, eugenics and the gangster-statesmen of the 20th century. The “Boys from Brazil,” after all, was not about Menudo.

However, that would be a caricature of Ed’s position and an unfair guilt-by-association tactic. That’s why I do not use it, unless it is a needed reductio ad absurdum to show my opponent, by analogy, the perversity of his reasoning (as I believe I showed above).

Of course, if Ed had read my book, he would know, as he no doubt does know, that “evolution” is a slippery term, one that includes the adaptations and “natural selection” scientists rely on in their search for cancer cures and life-extending therapies. But evolution also may mean common descent or cosmic evolution (i.e., the grand materialist story, as it is sometimes called).

In any event, it is as false to say that “Dr. Beckwith argues that the pursuit of a cancer cure should be questioned by high school texts as either religiously or philosophically flawed” as it is to say that “Ed Darrell exploits the suffering and deaths of his deceased parents and sibling in order to score a rhetorical point on an internet weblog.”

I would no sooner diminish in the eyes of high school students the value and promise of cancer research dependent on the veracity of a particular understanding of evolution as Ed would diminish the love for his family in order to make a point in a contentious debate over constitutional interpretation.

This is a line that should not have been crossed on this weblog, and I regret that Ed did so. I will not bring it up again. But I had to defend myself.

I apologize if I offended anyone with my pointed comments, but they had to be said.

Warmly, Frank

I find the question of whether a philosopher could be qualified as an expert witness more than a bit tangential (and perhaps intentionally so). The real question is whether such a witness would be able to offer intelligent design theory as expert testimony under the Supreme Court’s (fairly lenient) standard as set forth in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993).

Does anyone dispute that ID would be inadmissible under Daubert? Dr. Beckwith? Anyone?

I think ID’s indadmissible under Daubert, for some of the reason I posted above. Although the standards are considered a relaxation over earlier interpretations of the Evidence Code Section 702, the Code itself and the gatekeeper language in Daubert along with later Supreme Cases supports excluding evidence on any form of “junk science” (I am not using that term as shorthand not as a full philosophical discussion of the nature of ID).

I believe Dr. Beckwith would disagree with me, however.

I doubt he would, actually, since Dr. Beckwith appears to be reluctant to miscast actual judicial precedent. As far as I can tell, there are zero cases that would support even the most aggressive argument that ID would fall under Daubert. I’m not saying that someone who introduced an ID expert would necessarily be subject to Rule 11 sanctions; however, I would hate to defend a lawyer in a malpractice suit who hinged his client’s case on the admissibility of ID testimony.

I doubt he would, actually, since Dr. Beckwith appears to be reluctant to miscast actual judicial precedent. As far as I can tell, there are zero cases that would support even the most aggressive argument that ID would fall under Daubert. I’m not saying that someone who introduced an ID expert would necessarily be subject to Rule 11 sanctions; however, I would hate to defend a lawyer in a malpractice suit who hinged his client’s case on the admissibility of ID testimony.

one of those reasons, Ruse’s testimony, was a necessary condition

I think we all agree that *someone’s* testimony about what constitutes science was probably needed for the judge to make his decision (or, alternatively, he might have relied on a dictionary or encyclopedia definition offered by the parties). But it doesn’t seem likely that Ruse himself or his particular characterization of science played an irreplaceable role in the trial.

I can not believe that a legally binding opinion is ever going to emerge which engages in the kind of gaseous metaphysical analysis of science that would lead to a conclusion which you favor, Frank (i.e., a definition of science that would include quackery like ID).

I also find that when otherwise seemingly intelligent and overly educated individuals such as you or Casey Luskin or some of the other colorful characters on the ID apologist side of the aisle continue to believe – in the face of so much clearly articulated evidence to the contrary – that ID creationism is “science,” then eventually it’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that your motivations are, well, “sinister” and have nothing to do with science. I think that I (and possible Ed and others) find themselves in this state of shock from time to time, which explains the exasperated tone of some of our posts.

I’ve never claimed that ID is “science” or “non-science,” although I can certainly see why Great White Wonder would think that I would be affirming the former. For so much of these discussions are rooted in deep assumptions about what counts as knowledge. So, for example, if I say X is science, that carries with it epistemological gravitis. I, frankly, don’t care whether something is “science” or not. What I care about is whether the arguments for it work. That’s all that should really matter. If I have an argument for theory Z, and my premises are reasonable and the premises provide good support for the conclusion (assuming it is an inductive argument), the fact that my conclusion may be a defeater to a materialist construal of the world is so much the worse for materialism. If someone wants to say, “But that’s not science,” they are saying that something can be good science but not justified. I don’t think anyone wants to say that.

All I’ve argued is that attempts to demarcate science from non-science with a bright-line have failed, and are unlikely to succeed in the future. I agree that if the ID arguments fail on their merits–regardless of whether their proponents are Presbyterians, Catholics, or Zulus–then they fail and ought to be treated as such. But if they succeed–regardless of whether their proponents are Prebsyterians, Catholics, or Zulus–and their success is contrary to our understanding of what counts as science, then we have to adjust our understanding of what counts as science.

For me, it’s just a matter of arguments. Metaphysical and epistemological litmus tests, or attempts to unearth hidden motives or engage in religious-affiliation blacklisting wastes an enormous amount of time and needlessly offends people who would be willing to listen if these card weren’t played like a condom machine at the Playboy Mansion. (Talk about your “Trojan” horses! Hee hee!)

Frank

I would like an answer: is ID admissible under Daubert?

Beckwith Wrote:

For me, it’s just a matter of arguments. Metaphysical and epistemological litmus tests, or attempts to unearth hidden motives or engage in religious-affiliation blacklisting wastes an enormous amount of time and needlessly offends people who would be willing to listen if these card weren’t played like a condom machine at the Playboy Mansion. (Talk about your “Trojan” horses! Hee hee!)

Frank, do you agree that the DI/ID utilize the argument from authority via the statement-implication combo I described above? Do you agree that pointing out that people support DI/ID from religious reasons and not scientific reasons undercuts this popular argument?

I think Francis Beckwith and Ed Darrell making be missing each other’s points. I think Ed is correct that a philosopher of science cannot testify as an expert on whether or not a particular point of science is accurate. That includes ID. However, if the expert is testifying on how science in general operates and what is “science,” a philosopher could testify and that’s what Michael Ruse did. I think Ed Darrell is making the point that Michael Ruse didn’t say anything extraordinary so Judge Overton didn’t rely on Ruse per se, Ruse was just expressing and summarizing vast literature which says the same thing. Francis Beckwith, I think, holds a different opinion, detailed in his book, that demarcation issues are more difficult than Ruse stated at the trial and this might have affected the outcome. Ed Darrell doesn’t think it would have affected the outcome ( I agree with that) In summarizing the respective positions I hope I didn’t simplify so that they are inaccurate, if so, I apologize.

Ed does not believe that ID is an intellectually dishonest movement and this perhaps carries over to anyone who seems to support the issue in any way. I read the recent Touchstone (a conservative Christian Magazine) articles on ID by Philip Johnson, William Dembski, Jonathan Witt, et al (the usual suspects), and I can sympathize with Ed. In those articles Darwinism was explicitly linked with the Nazi extermination, complete with photos of crematoria (p. 32). Darwinism was blamed for the holocaust as well as all other 20th century evils including communism, eugenics and the collapse of morals in western civilization. Ed’s reaction to ID is not surprising because that is standard argumentative fare, especially before sympathetic audiences, and it does threaten good science, including the cure for cancer. I don’ think he’s questioning Mr Beackwith with falsehoods regardign the Discovery Institiute’s position on coffee colonics, but he is asking a valid question: Why doe ID provoke Discovery Istitute’s interest when there’s so much junk science out there?

Meanwhile, I’m intrigued by Francis Beckwith’s position because he apparently concedes that there is a lack of empirical scientific support for ID at this time to the extent that ID should not be taught in schools. Now, I don’t know why philosophers should be in any special position to determine the scope of science or any other discipline. Who make philosophers kings? (OK, Plato did, but what did he know?) But seriously, why aren’t scientists themselves in the best position to determine the scope and define their own field of study? Certainly as a lawyer, I expect to have a say in distinguishing “law” from “pseudolaw.”

Especially interesting is Laudan’s position. As Mr. Beckwith notes, Laudan rejects the Ruse demarcation model, but also rejects ID because it’s empirically false. If so, what’s the realdifference between Ruse and Laudan. Is it any more significant than an argument between gradualism and punctuated evolution which are just alternate means to the overall truth of evolution? And if you accept Laudan or anything other than Ruse’ model, how do you distinguish between quantum mechanics and, e.g., astrology, coffee colonics, ufo’s or geocentrism? The demarcation issue may be significant for philosophers in the far margins but, on an everyday situation, it doesn’t seem to be difficult to distinguish between science and non-science. I don’t need the expertise of a philosopher of science for this the same way I don’t need an ER surgeon when I get a paper cut. I personally don’t see why it would require advanced philosophy to determine why it’s difficult to determine the status of ID in particular, but I’m open to persuasion.

Francis

All I’ve argued is that attempts to demarcate science from non-science with a bright-line have failed, and are unlikely to succeed in the future.”

In what sense have they “failed”? Success or failure depends on the goal of the demarcation effort. If the goal of the demarcation is to keep quackery, superstition, and religious beliefs from being presented as anything but quackery, superstition or religious beliefs in courtrooms or classrooms, then it seems to me that the attempts to demarcate science from non-science have succeeded.

No offense, but at the risk of repeating myself, the metaphysical wheezing of a few “philosophers” is never going to blur the line between science and non-science sufficiently to allow ID to be taught as “science.” This is not to say that the line, however vague, hasn’t been or won’t continue to be ignored by certain officials in certain forums. I maintain that, absent some pre-existing bias (e.g., a belief that “materialist” or “naturalistic” philosophies threaten the social fabric of humanity), no reasonable person with knowledge of the facts about ID can conclude that ID is “science,” unless “science” is defined to include any conjecture about anything.

I would like an answer: is ID admissible under Daubert?

Lawyer’s stock answer: “It depends.”

my serious answer: “I hope not but it could be a close call.”

No, ID is not admissible under Daubert. As I’ve noted earlier, there is no school an ID advocate could attend to become an expert. There is no laboratory where one might work to gain experience to be an ID expert. There is no body of publications which lay out a science that others may follow.

Perhaps more important, I don’t think there is a single issue upon which any ID advocate claims to provide insight, beyond the notion of whether a greater or supernatural intelligence had a role in creating or diversifying life on Earth.

An ID DNA expert, for example, seems a contradiction in terms.

I should have a longer answer to Dr. Beckwith’s post later.

If I have an argument for theory Z, and my premises are reasonable and the premises provide good support for the conclusion (assuming it is an inductive argument), the fact that my conclusion may be a defeater to a materialist construal of the world is so much the worse for materialism.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t one of the premises of ID that an “intelligence” existed which could have “designed” every one of the billions of life forms which ever existed on earth and the molecular mechanisms they use to grow and reproduce?

What is “reasonable” about this premise, Mr. Beckwith? How does this premise differ from a premise which assumes that a powerful being might have created all the fossils and stuck them into the ground so that scientists might find them later?

GWW: isn’t one of the premises of ID that an “intelligence” existed which could have “designed” every one of the billions of life forms which ever existed on earth and the molecular mechanisms they use to grow and reproduce? What is “reasonable” about this premise…?

It is with huge trepidation that I wade into these waters, but isn’t this one of those “what the definition of is is” things?

If “reasonable” means “rational, logical, feasible” or something like that, the answer would be “no”. But if most Americans believe in God, and assigning all kinds of magical powers to God is more common among believers than not, and if “reasonable” is taken to mean something like “not extraordinary”, perhaps the court would have to agree with Francis.

A slight digression, but not, I think, completely irrelevant: Here in Ohio, after much heated debate, the courts decided that the state motto “with God, all things are possible”, was constitutional. (Despite the fact that the motto is taken directly from the Christian bible). So if in Ohio, if a court wrestles with GWW’s question, it either has to broadcast the fact that the state motto is meaningless (which, of course, it is, but I don’t think they like to advertise the fact) or agree with Francis.

So, what IS the operative definition of “reasonable”?

Great White Wonder writes:

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t one of the premises of ID that an “intelligence” existed which could have “designed” every one of the billions of life forms which ever existed on earth and the molecular mechanisms they use to grow and reproduce?

What is “reasonable” about this premise, Mr. Beckwith? How does this premise differ from a premise which assumes that a powerful being might have created all the fossils and stuck them into the ground so that scientists might find them later?

You can call me “Frank.” “Mr. Beckwith” is my Dad. :-)

To answer your query, ID per se does not have premises, but the arguments offered by its proponents do. As far as the premise you are suggesting as a part of an ID argument, I have not come across it. (But I would not be surprised if there is one like that). Some of the ID arguments–especially the fine-tuning ones or the ones that are more causal than design-related, e.g., the kalam cosmological argument–offer an omnipotent agent as a conclusion rather than a premise. Given that these arguments are inductively strong or deductively valid, their soundness ultimately depends on the veracity of the premises. If the premises fail, the arguments are unsound. But they are not unsound because the conclusion conflicts with a particular understanding of ontology, naturalism. They are unsound because their premises are either implausible or false.

What I was saying in the portion of my comments that GWW quoted was a conditional statement about the nature of arguments qua arguments. I was not referring to any particular argument per se.

I agree with GWW that the acceptance of ID as a plausible account of natural phenomena should not turn on how one some clever philosopher defines science in order to sneak ID in under the tent, so to speak. ID should be rejected (or accepted) because it fails (or succeeds), whether or not it fits someone’s definition of “science.” This was Laudan’s point in his critique of Ruse (on creationism), one that I echo in my analysis of McLean in both my book and in my Harvard L&PP piece.

So, Ed is correct that Ruse’s bottom line is the same as Laudan’s: this stuff should not be taught (referring to the Creationism in the Arkansas statute). But their reasons are different. Ruse wanted to say it isn’t science; Laudan wants to say its the result of bad reasoning. Laudan’s approach has the virtue of not hinging on applying a metaphysical litmus test and needlessly marginalizing citizens by declaring their religious beliefs as a priori not knowledge (since science is thought to be the paradigm of knowledge in our culture).

I think Joe’s right about Daubert: it depends. As Joe knows, trying to predict these things is as difficult as predicting when Michael Moore will miss a meal.

I think this is going to be my last post for a while. I have a book manuscript I need to complete: a massive revision of my 1993 monograph on the abortion controversy, which will be published sometime early next year by Eerdmans under a new title. I have just one more chapter to complete, but I have been putting it off for too many weeks and would like to have the whole thing done by August 1.

Take care, Frank

Frank hit the nail on the head when he said

If the premises fail, the arguments are unsound. But they are not unsound because the conclusion conflicts with a particular understanding of ontology, naturalism. They are unsound because their premises are either implausible or false.

As I and many others have shown that the foundations of ID (in other words, its premises) are false. It’s not that science rejects ID because of its ‘conclusions’ but because of its faulty premises.

Frank hit the nail on the head when he said

If the premises fail, the arguments are unsound. But they are not unsound because the conclusion conflicts with a particular understanding of ontology, naturalism. They are unsound because their premises are either implausible or false.

As I and many others have shown that the foundations of ID (in other words, its premises) are false. It’s not that science rejects ID because of its ‘conclusions’ but because of its faulty premises.

Okay, just one more before I go (I’m pulling a “Roger Clemens”).

Joe McFaul writes: I’m intrigued by Francis Beckwith’s position because he apparently concedes that there is a lack of empirical scientific support for ID at this time to the extent that ID should not be taught in schools

As a point of clarification, I did not say that ID lacked empirical scientific support; I said that the case for ID in biology had not produced enough peer-reviewed published work to warrant inclusion in science textbooks.

Frank

Frank Wrote:

As a point of clarification, I did not say that ID lacked empirical scientific support; I said that the case for ID in biology had not produced enough peer-reviewed published work to warrant inclusion in science textbooks.

So in youre view, does ID have empirical support in some other science besides biology, where they have produced enough peer-reviewed published work to warrant inclusion in that science’s textbooks?

FJB: As a point of clarification, I did not say that ID lacked empirical scientific support; I said that the case for ID in biology had not produced enough peer-reviewed published work to warrant inclusion in science textbooks.

I wouldn’t want to distract Francis from his important anti-choice mission, but he does raise an interesting point I’d never thought about.

Is there a component of “ID” that is independent of biology? It always seemed to me that ID was another in a long series of anthropocentric (mis)perceptions of the natural world. The inherently biological ontogeny of anthropoi has to be key to a worldview that is essentially anthropocentric, no?

Dembski’s “calculations” - at least that I’m aware of - all purport to deal with biological processes. Behe’s musings certainly are all in the realm of biology. Though he’s never contributed an original idea to the discussion, Jonathan Wells would certainly be considered one of the Icons of ID, and his agitprop is all in the realm of biology.

Is there any “intelligent design theory” to consider that is not inherently biological?

Fyi –

More bad legal analysis on the way!

http://www.cnn.com/2004/EDUCATION/0[…]p/index.html

ROANOKE, Virginia (AP) – The Rev. Jerry Falwell will open a law school this month in hopes of training a generation of attorneys who will fight for conservative causes.

“We want to infiltrate the culture with men and women of God who are skilled in the legal profession,” Falwell said in a telephone interview Tuesday with The Associated Press. “We’ll be as far to the right as Harvard is to the left.”

[snip]

Classroom lectures and discussions will fuse the teachings of the Bible with the U.S. Constitution, stressing the connections between faith, law and morality, said law school Dean Bruce Green, who has experience in civil liberties litigation.

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This page contains a single entry by Timothy Sandefur published on June 28, 2004 11:56 PM.

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