Law debate on ID in Kentucky

A law student, Colin, advises the following event at the University of Kentucky:

On Wed, Feb. 22, the UK School of Law is hosting a seminar on “Religion, the First Amendment, and the New Supreme Court” at 12:00 noon. The speaker at the event is Thomas Berg, a professor of law at the University of St. Thomas, and Co-Director of the Terrance J. Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law, and Public Policy. As the notice says, “Everyone is invited.” I assume that refers to the public as well. It’s in the College of Law Courtroom, and being presented by the Federalist Society.

Normally this would be a ho-hum affair, with a speaker and perhaps a few questions. The event the next week, however, is what would be of penultimate interest to readers of both the aforementioned blogs. It is entitled, “Intelligent Design: Question and Controversy in Law and Philosophy.” The speakers are Prof. Brandon Look (Philosophy, UK), and Prof. Paul Salamaca (Law - Constitutional and Federal, UK). They’ll be talking about the restrictions the First Amendment places on public schools, where Science and Religion end, and whether Intelligent Design is really Creationism re-labeled. It’s called a “discussion” where they’ll both talk about the facts, arguments, and theories of Intelligent Design. The flyer notes that “Everyone’s Welcome” and will also be in the College of Law Courtroom on Monday, Feb. 27 at 4:00 p.m. It is presented by both the Federalist Society and the American Constitution Society.

I would expect only the best of discussions from either of these professors. In fact, to take one side, and not objectively study the issue, would seem to contradict the entire method that we’ve built here in Law (Socratic) and also in Science (the basic nature of science is to question everything, even those things previously thought established). As a citizen in the camps of both I have a great desire to see there be some great discussion.

In full context, Ky. has a law on the books that allows the teaching of Creationism in Public Schools, but does not mandate it. In other words, it is not “against” the law to teach Creationism. It is KRS 158.177, and an interesting read. The notation is that it has been “repealed and superseded by the 1990 Ky. Acts” but to my knowledge it’s still published and law in Ky. Recently, Ky. Gov. Ernie Fletcher (who’s in the hospital with an infection right now, so let’s hope he’s going to be okay) also advocated the teaching of it recently in his “State of the Commonwealth” speech. The seminary where William Dembski teaches (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is in Louisville, and only an hour away so an appearance, I think, would not be out of the realm of possibility though not in a speaking role. Finally, the Ky. Law Journal has previously published a note, “NOTE: When May a State Require Teaching Alternatives to the Theory of Evolution? Intelligent Design as a Test Case.” It’s at 90 Ky. L.J. 743. It was published in 2003, and to my knowledge has never been cited.