Chris Comer loses appeal

| 42 Comments

We received the following announcement from the National Center for Science Education and reproduce it with permission:

In a decision issued on July 2, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld a lower court’s decision that the Texas Education Agency’s policy requiring “neutrality” of its employees when “talking about evolution and creationism” is not unconstitutional. The case, Comer v. Scott, was filed by Chris Comer, the former director of the Texas Education Agency, who was forced to resign from her post in November 2007 after she forwarded a note announcing a talk by Barbara Forrest. In June 2008, Comer filed suit, arguing that the agency’s neutrality policy violates the Establishment Clause. Her lawsuit was dismissed in March 2009, but she appealed the decision, and oral arguments were heard in April 2010.

Writing for a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit, Fortunato Benavides explained (pp. 11-12), “Upon review of the record and applicable law, we cannot conclude that TEA’s neutrality policy has the ‘primary effect’ of advancing religion. The fact that Comer and other TEA employees cannot speak out for or against possible subjects to be included in the curriculum … does not primarily advance religion, but rather, serves to preserve TEA’s administrative role in facilitating the curriculum review process for the Board. … Thus, we find it hard to imagine circumstances in which a TEA employee’s inability to publicly speak out for or against a potential subject for the Texas curriculum would be construed or perceived as the State’s endorsement of a particular religion.”

For the Fifth Circuit’s ruling (PDF), visit: http://ncse.com/webfm_send/1390

For NCSE’s collection of documents from the case, visit: http://ncse.com/creationism/legal/c[…]s-comer-docs

Dave Thomas has previously reported on the Comer case here, here, and here.

I have not read the full decision yet, but it escapes me how “neutrality” with respect to evolution versus creationism can be anything but an indirect endorsement of religion, primarily because opposition to evolution is purely religious and there are no valid scientific reasons for opposing evolution.

42 Comments

That’s what happens when you allow any state, like Texas, to be a one-party state, like the Texas Republican Party under the heavy influence of the perverted Religious Right.

Sorry, John Kwok, but if you were a Texan like me, I suspect you’d be a Libertarian, not a Republican. The state Republican Party here is a joke, and I’ve lived here all my life!

“(I)t escapes me how “neutrality” with respect to evolution versus creationism can be anything but an indirect endorsement of religion(.)”

The Texas Education Agency does not have a policy of neutrality on evolution alone; it has a policy of neutrality on ALL matters related to the K-12 curriculum. The K-12 curriculum is the responsibility of the Texas State Board of Education. Since the policy concerns all matters of curriculum, the argument (as I understand it) is that the policy mainly has a secular purpose that served to delineate the different responsibilities of the TEA and SBOE.

Endorsement of a particular religion? What about endorsement of religion?

The judge is a fundamentalist christian so, to him, anything that does not directly support religion is automatically an attack on christianity and, therefore, not neutral. To him neutrality is defined as advancing religion.

Expect more of the same. Most do not care to hear it but we are LOSING the battle for the human mind. Living in Central Indiana as I do, I can tell you Creationism is a quiet, growing cancer here and in other parts of the Midwest.

I have spend most of my adult life battling it in my own “layman” way, not being a scientist. I spend a lot of time on the net where I am usually known as “Blue Indy” on Yahoo Buzz, and various Conservative sites whenever and wherever Evolution, Science, Religion, etc are debated and I often find myself going it alone.

The level of Scientific ignorance is a national disgrace. I actually had a poster tell me the other day all of the “Deep Field” photos taken by Hubble must be faked because we had “Nothing that could fly out millions of Light Years and take those pictures and bring them back to Earth.”

He had no idea how a telescope worked. For real. None.

And just let Evolution come up. If I have one more person ask me, “If men come from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?” - I’m probably going to have a FIT, and get really nasty.

The sad thing, though, is I truly believe we are losing the Cultural Wars.

The judge is a fundamentalist christian …

There were 3 judges – you mean Benavides? Can you tell us anything about the others?

I finally read the decision, and it did not seem wholly unreasonable to my unlawyerly eye, but it would be interesting to know something about the other disciplinary actions cited. It is hard to believe that Ms. Comer would have been disciplined (or disciplined so severely and summarily) if the topic had not been evolution, but who knows?

“Thus, we find it hard to imagine circumstances in which a TEA employee’s inability to publicly speak out for or against a potential subject for the Texas curriculum would be construed or perceived as the State’s endorsement of a particular religion.”

Right. So either, creationism is considered a potential subject for the Texas curriculum, something that would be blatantly unconstitutional, or evolution is considered a potential subject, in which case it is not currently part of the curriculum. Either way, there is something fishy in Texas.

In any event, to fire someone for mentioning a scientific presentation to colleagues is unconscionable. For shame Texas. Where did they get these judges? Can they really be this clueless? Can they really be this biased?

Comer should start going through employee e-mails, (provided under the freedom of information act), and documenting every instance of speaking out for or against any potential policy. I’ll bet there are many actively advocating creationism along with many other things. That would certainly expose this witch hunt for the farce that it is. At least they didn’t burn her at the stake.

jswise said:

What about endorsement of religion?

If I understand the Lemon test (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemon_test), a government policy that incidentally has the effect of promoting religion is okay, if:

- The policy has a mainly secular purpose (in this case, separation of responsibilities between TEA and SBOE would seem to qualify)

- Doesn’t have as its main effect promoting or inhibiting a religion (which this policy arguably did not, because it was concerned all curricular matters)

- Doesn’t create excessive government entanglement in religion (difficult to see what such entanglement in this case would be).

DS said: So either, creationism is considered a potential subject for the Texas curriculum, something that would be blatantly unconstitutional, or evolution is considered a potential subject, in which case it is not currently part of the curriculum.

The point is, it’s not the job of the Texas Education Agency (which is where Comer worked) to decide what’s in the curriculum. That’s the State Board of Education’s (SBOE) job. The policy Comer violated (and which she admitted violating) is for the TEA to be neutral on everything in the curriculum. Comer’s lawsuit went after the general policy, not her specific case.

The SBOE has evolution in the curriculum. It’s not as strong as it should be, but it’s in there. Creationism is not.

If the SBOE tried putting creationism into the K-12 curriculum, they would be the ones to have to defend it against the legal attacks that would undoubtedly come.

It strikes me that the requirement of (undefined) “neutrality” is rather vague, permitting obviously broad and perhaps whimsical scope for interpretation. Just as it’s “hard to imagine that the circumstances in which a TEA employee’s inability to publicly speak out for or against a potential subject for the Texas curriculum would be construed or perceived as the State’s endorsement of a particular religion”, it’s also hard to imagine someone like Comer saying almost anything about almost anything that’s NOT “un-neutral” if her bosses don’t like it or don’t want to hear it. Even saying “good morning” takes an advocacy position in favor of good mornings.

It’s pretty plain that what we have here is a case of political action for theological purposes. Also pretty plain that the judges could not help but notice this if they wished - except that they probably would not hold that position were they not part of the theocracy.

Zen wrote:

“The SBOE has evolution in the curriculum. It’s not as strong as it should be, but it’s in there. Creationism is not.”

Then the ruling is pure and utter nonsense. The policy is not that you cannot express an opinion about something that is part of the curriculum. The ship pretty much sailed when you decided to include it in the curriculum. And creationism cannot potentially be a part of the curriculum, that would be illegal, immoral and fattening. Besides, Comer did not provide any opinion one way or the other, she merely informed her colleagues about a presentation.

If the State Board of Education has already decided that evolution should be in the curriculum, then why in the world would defense of that decision be illegal? You cannot be “neutral” on everything that is already IN the curriculum. That implies that you do not know if it should be taught or not. If that is the case, then why are you teaching it?

It is obvious that these people are just out to get anyone who supports the teaching of evolution, even though it is already in their own standards. It makes you wonder exactly how evolution is being taught, if you can be fired for simply informing people about information concerning what is already in the standards. Are you able to actually teach anything that is already in the curriculum without getting fired? Is that considered to be “publicly speaking out”?

Has anyone come right out and said that creationism could potentially be included in the curriculum? Has that person read the Dover decision? Have they read any of the other legal decisions regarding creationism? If creationism is potentially part of the curriculum, could anyone ever express an opinion about voodoo, astrology and witchcraft? It seems as though those would have an even greater potential to eventually be included in the curriculum, since the supreme court has probably not yet ruled on them as it has on creationism.

Zen wrote:

“The point is, it’s not the job of the Texas Education Agency (which is where Comer worked) to decide what’s in the curriculum. That’s the State Board of Education’s (SBOE) job.”

Let me put this another way. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that it is illegal and unconstitutional to teach creationism in public school science classes. They are the ones who decide what can potentially be in the curriculum. The ruling in essence is a statement that The Texas State Board of Education does not intend to allow the United States Supreme Court to dictate public school policy to them. Perhaps Comer should appeal to the Supreme Court and see how they like them apples?

The policy as applied is blatantly unconstitutional and discriminatory. This decision should never be allowed to stand. It not only undermines the teaching of science in this country, but it sends exactly the wrong message to those who would defend science against religious zealots.

DS said: The policy is not that you cannot express an opinion about something that is part of the curriculum. The ship pretty much sailed when you decided to include it in the curriculum.

I not sure I follow the point here. I think it’s that, “You have to advocate what’s in the curriculum.” If so, there’s a difference between, “This is the policy,” and “This is the policy, and it’s a great policy we agree with entirely and love to pieces.”

Comer did not provide any opinion one way or the other, she merely informed her colleagues about a presentation.

Apparently Comer’s legal team conceded she violated the policy, choosing to attack the policy itself, rather than how it was applied in this case. This also goes to Flint’s point that almost anything could be deemed not neutral: that may very be, but they chose not to argue that.

Zen wrote:

“I not sure I follow the point here. I think it’s that, “You have to advocate what’s in the curriculum.” If so, there’s a difference between, “This is the policy,” and “This is the policy, and it’s a great policy we agree with entirely and love to pieces.”

The point is that if the policy states that you cannot express an opinion about something that is potentially part of the curriculum then that specifically excludes everything that is currently in the curriculum and everything that cannot possibly be part of the curriculum in the future. Evolution is apparently officially part of the curriculum. You cannot prohibit someone from expressing an opinion about something that is already in the curriculum. That is the job of every teacher. Creationism cannot ever legally be part of the curriculum. The Supreme Court has already ruled on that issue. Exactly what was she not supposed to express an opinion about that could potentially be part of the curriculum?

She did not give the talk. How could she not even know what was going to be talked about? How can she be held accountable for the opinions of others? She never expressed an opinion and she never even endorsed an opinion, at least as far as I understand it.

In any event, the policy itself is indefensible. Comer did not express an opinion in the classroom and forwarding a notice is not expressing an opinion. The real policy is apparently “get rid of anyone who supports evolution”. That is not a legal policy. If an Education Agency employee attended a church where a sermon was given about creationism, would that constitute expressing an opinion publicly? If they ever publicly stated that they had attended the church, would that be a violation of the policy? If they ever invited anyone to the church would they be fired for that? A policy this vague is worse than useless. If it were applied fairly then everyone would be fired.

Perhaps if she had not resigned, this would be going differently. However, since she stepped down, she has the uphill battle to show how “neutrality” is unconstitutional. While she may have taken the high road in resigning, being fired for the email would have made for a nice wrongful termination suit.

“Neutrality” is as obvious a code word for Xian dishonesty as the current demand requiring “critical analysis” (i.e. allowing right-wing specious nonsense to dominate or even completely displace any science [history, literature, whatever] in the classroom).

It obviously, and essentially openly, will never be used against anyone supporting the Texas Boards’ own prejudices.

These people will need many eons to evolve to match the level of scum.

Chunky, I’m sure you think so. But you’ve just screwed the pooch even worse than your usual effort.

What’s at issue here is not some airy lawyer’s concept of what policies may or may not be advancing religion in the State of Texas. The issue is that creationism is being advanced, de facto, by those policies, and you’ve just admitted it.

Way to go, you moron.

Dave Luckett said:

But you’ve just screwed the pooch even worse than your usual effort.

There are people, of course, who enjoy screwing pooches.

July 2nd, 2010. The day our nation ceased to have any legitimate scientific standing.

Farcall said:

If I have one more person ask me, “If men come from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?” - I’m probably going to have a FIT, and get really nasty.

How about, “If man was made from dirt, why is there still dirt?”

rossum

rossum said:

How about, “If man was made from dirt, why is there still dirt?”

rossum

Nice.

Zen Faulkes -

This is a disgrace, because, as we should all recall, all Comer did was make fellow employees aware of a talk about evolution, by Barbara Forrest.

I note from above that Comer and/or her attorneys surrendered prematurely on a number of points.

Nevertheless, she was not fired for passing judgment on the curriculum, nor even for advocating mainstream science, but merely for making fellow employees aware of an event that was not related to the Texas high school curriculum.

Would she have been fired if she used her job email to make them aware of a Christian event? If the answer is “no”, and even if it’s “yes”, but especially if it’s “no”, this is transparent religious discrimination.

She was essentially fired for implying that she is not a fundamentalist.

The Texas Paradox.

I’m in Texas right now, on business, and have been for a while.

Granted, I’m in the Houston area, but I’ve been in other parts of Texas before, and known people from other parts.

When I’m in Texas, it seems like a pretty nice place, oil spills and hurricanes notwithstanding.

It just doesn’t seem like a state full of jerks. Almost the opposite.

I’ve also always thought of it as a bastion of high quality science and technology - which it is.

It’s a challenge to put the pleasant, friendly place that I experience day to day together with all of the bad things that come out of this state.

I don’t want to diss anyone, but some in some other red state areas, tension between groups of people, in-your-face nastiness, and defensiveness when faced with “outsiders” are encountered. Texas doesn’t seem that way - yet stuff like this is happening.

Heard about the Comer decision a few days ago over at NCSE’s FB page. Dreadful, but not surprising. Should be an acute source of embarassment to every credible, rational Texan (In my case, I can certainly think of one, an aunt who claims descent from the original Anglo colonizers of what was once known as Tejas.).

As for me being a Libertarian, not a Republican in Texas, I can only draw upon my own memories as to how I voted when I lived in Arizona. While I was registered there as a Republican, I frequently voted more often for Democratic or Independent candidates, especially since so many of the Arizonan Republicans were as far right loony as McElroy and his compadres on the Texas State Board of Education.

Farcall said:

Expect more of the same. Most do not care to hear it but we are LOSING the battle for the human mind. Living in Central Indiana as I do, I can tell you Creationism is a quiet, growing cancer here and in other parts of the Midwest.

I have spend most of my adult life battling it in my own “layman” way, not being a scientist. I spend a lot of time on the net where I am usually known as “Blue Indy” on Yahoo Buzz, and various Conservative sites whenever and wherever Evolution, Science, Religion, etc are debated and I often find myself going it alone.

The level of Scientific ignorance is a national disgrace. I actually had a poster tell me the other day all of the “Deep Field” photos taken by Hubble must be faked because we had “Nothing that could fly out millions of Light Years and take those pictures and bring them back to Earth.”

He had no idea how a telescope worked. For real. None.

And just let Evolution come up. If I have one more person ask me, “If men come from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?” - I’m probably going to have a FIT, and get really nasty.

The sad thing, though, is I truly believe we are losing the Cultural Wars.

Let me know where these boards are that you frequent m… I’d be willing to help

Perhaps if she had not resigned, this would be going differently. However, since she stepped down, she has the uphill battle to show how “neutrality” is unconstitutional. While she may have taken the high road in resigning, being fired for the email would have made for a nice wrongful termination suit.

As far as I know, in most states you may legally be fired for a perfectly bad reason, as long as that reason does not include race, religion, sex, and various other reasons proscribed by Federal civil rights acts. But presumably Ms. Comer was a civil servant and therefore had certain protections against summary firing. It surprised me that she caved in so quickly and resigned. I have not followed the case in detail, however. Have I missed something?

The essential portions of the Court’s opinion are reproduced here for clarity’s sake:

Facts: Comer was employed as the Texas Education Agency’s (“TEA”) Director of Science; she directed the kindergarten through twelfth grade science program in Texas public schools. On October 26, 2007, Comer received an email addressed to her TEA account, advising her about an upcoming event in Austin entitled “Inside Creationism’s Trojan Horse.” The email explained that the featured speaker would give a presentation critical of teaching creationism in public schools. Comer responded to the email by promising to “help get the word out,” and on that same day, Comer forwarded the Branch email from her TEA email account to thirty-six science teachers in the Austin area and leaders of science teacher organizations. Comer’s direct supervisor determined that forwarding the Branch email violated TEA’s neutrality policy [and an earlier directive] issued to Comer based on past misconduct. Thus, on November 7, 2007, in response to Comer’s act of forwarding the Branch email, Martinez drafted a memorandum recommending Comer’s termination. After receiving this memorandum, Comer was told to “resign or be fired.” The next day she resigned.

TEA’s neutrality policy: As a result of the function TEA serves in relation to the Texas State Board of Education, TEA staff are “directed not to advocate a particular position on [curriculum] issues under deliberation, or participate in any way that could compromise the agency’s ability to fairly and accurately implement the policy choices made by the Board.” In accordance with this neutrality policy, TEA staff can describe the contents of Board policy to others in neutral terms, if their jobs call for it, but they may not express opinions on the wisdom of any particular policy option in their capacity as TEA employees.

Resolution of issue on appeal: Before the district court and now on appeal, Comer contends that TEA’s neutrality policy’s principal and/or primary effect is to advance and/or endorse religion. Comer asserts that TEA’s application of the policy to her forwarding of the Branch email is evidence that TEA’s “neutrality policy” considers creationism to be “substantive curriculum” and consequently, Comer argues, the policy violates the Establishment Clause. We do not agree. Whether TEA considers creationism to be real science or a religion is of no moment and entirely irrelevant to the necessary constitutional analysis at hand. No matter whether TEA considers creationism to be religion or science, nothing in the Establishment Clause forbids a State from considering it as substantive curriculum. Mere consideration of a requirement [that teaching and learning be tailored to the principles or prohibitions of any religious sect or dogma] does not trigger the Establishment Clause.

Appellate argument was limited: We note that Comer has not contested the conclusion that her forwarding of the Branch email actually constitutes a violation of TEA’s neutrality policy. Instead, she wholeheartedly accepts, and even asserts, that her conduct constitutes a violation of TEA’s policy. Accordingly, we accept it as such.

On appeal, Comer does not argue that the district court erred in dismissing her Due Process claim. Consequently, we do not reach any conclusions regarding the district court’s decision to dismiss her Due Process claim.

Noticeably absent from the present case are the common elements that ordinarily implicate a violation of the Establishment Clause. In First Amendment constitutional jurisprudence, TEA’s neutrality policy is much more akin to a policy regulating speech than a policy advancing any specific religion. We note that the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause protects public employees who exercise their free speech rights. As a public employee, Comer’s “speech is protected by the First Amendment when [her] interests … ‘as a citizen commenting upon matters of public concern’ outweigh the interests of the state ‘as an employer, in promoting the efficiency of the services it performs through its employees.’” (citations omitted.) Comer, however, has raised no free speech claims, and consequently, we decline the occasion to surmise her chances of succeeding on claims she has not raised.

Sojourner said: The essential portions of the Court’s opinion are reproduced here for clarity’s sake:…

Appellate argument was limited…

On appeal, Comer does not argue that the district court erred…

Noticeably absent from the present case are the common elements that ordinarily implicate…

Comer, however, has raised no free speech claims, and consequently, we decline the occasion to surmise her chances of succeeding on claims she has not raised.

Well, that clears that up: Comer apparently lost her appeal the moment she hired a Texas law firm that was in on the scam. It even looks like the court was surprised that some things that would have helped were not presented. This was a setup!

(But then IANAL; the above is my legally protected opinion; blah blah blah…)

“As a result of the function TEA serves in relation to the Texas State Board of Education, TEA staff are “directed not to advocate a particular position on [curriculum] issues under deliberation, or participate in any way that could compromise the agency’s ability to fairly and accurately implement the policy choices made by the Board.”

So obviously the board would at least consider including an illegal and unconstitutional pseudoscience in their science curriculum and they are so afraid that someone will point out the absurdity of this position that they are willing to fire them merely for mentioning that someone else also has that opinion. Great. Notice that it would be essentially impossible to “implement the policy choices made by the board” if they included adding creationism to the curriculum. Also, notice once again the Comer never expressed an opinion as to the wisdom of any particular policy option.

So now, if any any member of TEA ever publicly utters the word “creationism” outside of a State Board of Education meeting, it should be considered immediate grounds for dismissal. Every supposed transgression should now be prosecuted to the full extent of this foolish policy. After all, how can the Texas Board of Education possibly determine what should be included in the curriculum if someone has an opinion about it?

As I read the appellate court’s opinion in Comer, in its deliberations, the State of Texas may consider creationism to be substantive curriculum, but unless it acts on that consideration in a way which would make it become law, mere consideration of the matter (however wrong it may be) does not arise to a constitutional violation. So, the court appears to hold that even if the principal or primary effect of TEA’s neutrality policy is to permit the Texas State Board of Education to consider creationism as “substantive curriculum,” such consideration in and of itself is insufficient to constitute the establishment of religion. And since Comer admits that forwarding the email constitutes a violation of TEA’s neutrality policy, that, as they say, IS THAT.

It is interesting that the Supreme Court has held in Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578, 583 (1987), that the debate between creationists and evolutionists could not be taught in public schools, but now the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals says that it is a fitting subject for debate among Texas State Board of Education members. Hmmmm. I’ll have to think about that one for a while.

“Chris Comer loses appeal”

Well, maybe to some. I still find her appealing. :-)

[ ducks ]

akg41470 said:

Farcall said:

Expect more of the same. Most do not care to hear it but we are LOSING the battle for the human mind. Living in Central Indiana as I do, I can tell you Creationism is a quiet, growing cancer here and in other parts of the Midwest.

I have spend most of my adult life battling it in my own “layman” way, not being a scientist. I spend a lot of time on the net where I am usually known as “Blue Indy” on Yahoo Buzz, and various Conservative sites whenever and wherever Evolution, Science, Religion, etc are debated and I often find myself going it alone.

The level of Scientific ignorance is a national disgrace. I actually had a poster tell me the other day all of the “Deep Field” photos taken by Hubble must be faked because we had “Nothing that could fly out millions of Light Years and take those pictures and bring them back to Earth.”

He had no idea how a telescope worked. For real. None.

And just let Evolution come up. If I have one more person ask me, “If men come from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?” - I’m probably going to have a FIT, and get really nasty.

The sad thing, though, is I truly believe we are losing the Cultural Wars.

Let me know where these boards are that you frequent m… I’d be willing to help

You’d be more than welcome. The primary one is Yahoo Buzz, and I’m really easy to find. In fact, you should be able to type - just like this - “Blue Indy” into either a Yahoo or Google search engine, and my home page on Yahoo is like 3rd from the top of the list.

If you happen to see this note, just let me know if you show up there.

Thanks! Farcall, AKA, Blue Indy.

A Canadian to help here. First its interesting how when a court case goes against evolution its fair to question the decision yet otherwise its settled for ever. Also its fair to question identity/motives/intelligence of the Judges. AMEN on that. Matt Young asks how the state can be neutral on evolution/creationism. Thats the point. The state can not officially say religious doctrines are false. You are saying creationism is religious. So how can the state comment on religious claims? Neutrality is the essence of church/state. Its how they claim the state can’t teach Christian doctrines, like GEnesis, as true or as a option.

The Judges are wrong about how the state can’t pick a particular religion over others. Its the others that is the point for not picking by the state. Yet in teaching evolution and banning creationism it is in fact picking over religion by its own measure. They all miss the point. Any actual law from the founders meant only not to choose sides on religion. Yet in censoring creationism and teaching exclusively evolution they are doing just that.

Robert Byers said:

A Canadian to help here. First its interesting how when a court case goes against evolution its fair to question the decision yet otherwise its settled for ever. Also its fair to question identity/motives/intelligence of the Judges. AMEN on that. Matt Young asks how the state can be neutral on evolution/creationism. Thats the point. The state can not officially say religious doctrines are false. You are saying creationism is religious. So how can the state comment on religious claims? Neutrality is the essence of church/state. Its how they claim the state can’t teach Christian doctrines, like GEnesis, as true or as a option.

The Judges are wrong about how the state can’t pick a particular religion over others. Its the others that is the point for not picking by the state. Yet in teaching evolution and banning creationism it is in fact picking over religion by its own measure. They all miss the point. Any actual law from the founders meant only not to choose sides on religion. Yet in censoring creationism and teaching exclusively evolution they are doing just that.

It wouldn’t matter what your nationality was, Byers - as usual, you are of no help whatsoever. Evolution is only a religion to you and other delusional crackpot creationists like you. In reality, however, modern evolutionary theory is as much science as organic chemistry, particle physics, or plate tectonics, as you have been told repeatedly - you simply choose to ignore it.

Mr. Young can correct me if I misunderstand, but I believe his implication is that the state can not and should remain neutral about evolution - because (try to comprehend this, Byers) evolution IS real science and that is what we should be teaching in a public school science class.

Robert Byers said:

A Canadian … doing just that.

2.1

Sojourner -

You lose anyway.

Your kind got one person fired for a ridiculous reason.

But here’s the thing.

You could take over the entire country and impose hard line right wing authoritarian theocracy, in theory. After all, that’s how Saudi Arabia is governed. That’s how Afghanistan was governed for quite a while.

But here’s the thing. Life was evolving billions of years ago, before there were any modern humans. Life was evolving for tens of thousands of years around modern humans, before we learned how to understand what was going on. Life evolves in Saudi Arabia.

Enforced ignorance of reality simply will not change reality.

You lose forever.

Mr. Young can correct me if I misunderstand, but I believe his implication is that the state can not and should remain neutral about evolution …

Yes, of course. Evolution is real science and simply must be taught in science classes; to remain neutral about that is the same as remaining neutral about the law of gravity.

Creationism by contrast (let’s be honest!) is abject nonsense. It has no place in science classes, except perhaps to be singled out as the bunk it is. Mr. Byers and others have the legal right to believe it if they want to, but they have no intellectual right to promote a wholly bankrupt philosophy, let alone seek its inclusion in a science class.

Matt Young said:

… let alone seek its inclusion in a science class.

I may add: “… a science class intended for consumption by the general citizenry.”

If creationists want to teach creation science in their own schools, there’s no legal basis for objection (though the giggle factor remains). However, they have no basis for then insisting that the secular educational system accredit such classes or recognize degrees awarded by such schools.

Robert Byers said:

A Canadian to help here. First its interesting how when a court case goes against evolution its fair to question the decision yet otherwise its settled for ever. Also its fair to question identity/motives/intelligence of the Judges. AMEN on that. Matt Young asks how the state can be neutral on evolution/creationism. Thats the point. The state can not officially say religious doctrines are false. You are saying creationism is religious. So how can the state comment on religious claims? Neutrality is the essence of church/state. Its how they claim the state can’t teach Christian doctrines, like GEnesis, as true or as a option.

The Judges are wrong about how the state can’t pick a particular religion over others. Its the others that is the point for not picking by the state. Yet in teaching evolution and banning creationism it is in fact picking over religion by its own measure. They all miss the point. Any actual law from the founders meant only not to choose sides on religion. Yet in censoring creationism and teaching exclusively evolution they are doing just that.

This woman was fired for merely forwarding an email informing people of a meeting. Not even for advocating any postion, but merely for letting people know that a discussion was taking place. If you think that’s a just decision, then your asinine posts here are worthy of the death penalty in comparison.

And while they fired Chris Comer for an alleged lack of neutrality, outright open creationists were allowed to undermine the Texas curriculum with impunity. There never was a policy of neutrality. It was just an excuse to fire anyone who wasn’t a brain-dead death-cultist like YOU, Byers. You don’t really want neutrality, you never did, you’re a liar and we all know it. You want your cult to be allowed to harass, opress, even murder anyone who dares support real science. You want to hijack the government and steal tax money to support your sick death cult. You are scum. You are a fraud. And you are insane.

Farcall said: The level of Scientific ignorance is a national disgrace. I actually had a poster tell me the other day all of the “Deep Field” photos taken by Hubble must be faked because we had “Nothing that could fly out millions of Light Years and take those pictures and bring them back to Earth.” He had no idea how a telescope worked. For real. None.

Ignorance of specific scientific facts is not so bad. These can be teaching moments for someone who is willing to learn. Even scientists have their areas of ignorance - biologists may know little about astronomy; physicists little about biology.

Unfortunately, people like your poster aren’t willing to learn. They think their opinion, based on ignorance, is on a par with a scientist who took 12 years to get his degree and spent 20 years in the field.

Shortly after I moved to the US (from Canada - no, we aren’t all as scientifically ignorant as Byer’s), I coined the aphorism:

“YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO YOUR OPINION. IT DOES NOT MAKE YOUR OPINION RIGHT.”

I made good points here and everyone avoids. Thats why legal decisions will step by step come our way.

By the way. I don’t agree with firing anyone for silly things like this. a persons job is their right to pursue happiness in America. in fact its the wrong and dumb ideas of separation of church/state being applicable to school subjects that is the problem. Any teacher bringing up creationism would be fired too. its just immoral and illegal by the constitution and precedent of American life to have origin subjects censored or a origin for punishment. No firings on such absurd concepts of state control of thought on origins. Evolution thumping is more to blame here then creationist thumping.

Robert Byers rambled:

I made good points here and everyone avoids. Thats why legal decisions will step by step come our way.

By the way. I don’t agree with firing anyone for silly things like this. a persons job is their right to pursue happiness in America. in fact its the wrong and dumb ideas of separation of church/state being applicable to school subjects that is the problem. Any teacher bringing up creationism would be fired too. its just immoral and illegal by the constitution and precedent of American life to have origin subjects censored or a origin for punishment. No firings on such absurd concepts of state control of thought on origins. Evolution thumping is more to blame here then creationist thumping.

The only thing that needs a thumping here, Byers, is a good metaphorical thumping of the back of your head – maybe knock some common sense into it through all the tin foil. Comer’s dismissal for her perceived defense of evolution in the public school science class is indeed a travesty, but it’s hardly a “legal step in your direction,” and if that is your implication you’re being stupid, as usual. And by the way, any teacher that brings up creationism\ID in a science class with the intent of promoting it as a useful scientific tool, should be fired (for wasting everyone’s time on nonsense and for violating the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment). Unfortunately, too often they’re not. And the state is not controlling anybody’s “thoughts” on origins; it is simply exercising its responsibility to teach kids good science. Evolutionary biology is good science, Byers, and it’s too bad that teachers generally give very little discussion time to it. But of course, you’ve demonstrated over and over that biology is well beyond your comprehension skills.

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on July 9, 2010 4:25 PM.

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