If Science and Religion Conflict, is it Unconstitutional to Teach Science?

In a post already noted by Mark Perakh below, Michael Ruse is floating an argument that those of us who argue against the compatibility of evolution and Christianity are endangering the constitutionality of teaching evolution. He writes:

So my question (and it is a genuine one, to which I don’t have an answer) to David Barash is this. Suppose we agree to the conflict thesis throughout, and that if you accept modern science then religion–pretty much all religion, certainly pretty much all religion that Americans want to accept–is false. Is it then constitutional to teach science?

The first amendment of the U.S. Constitution separates science and religion. (Don’t get into arguments about wording. That is how it has been interpreted.) You cannot legally teach religion in state schools, at least not in biology and other science classes. That was the issue in Arkansas and Dover. (I am not talking about current affairs or like courses.) But now ask yourself. If “God exists” is a religious claim (and it surely is), why then is “God does not exist” not a religious claim? And if Creationism implies God exists and cannot therefore be taught, why then should science which implies God does not exist be taught?

Interestingly, Ruse closes his post with this:

I should add that when I raised this worry with Eugenie Scott, her response was that I am just plain “dumb.” But while that may indeed be so, I am not sure that it is an argument.

Now, it seems very unlikely that Genie would have said any such thing. Far more likely is that she called Ruse’s idea dumb. And since she is pretty much omniscient on this issue that’s an assessment that ought to be taken seriously. In this post over at EvolutionBlog I have taken my stab at providing the argument Ruse overlooked. Comments can be left there.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Jason Rosenhouse published on December 24, 2010 2:15 AM.

Denisovans was the previous entry in this blog.

DI’s Klinghoffer undermines Behe, Luskin et al. on the origin of new genes is the next entry in this blog.

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