Charles Kitcher, a law student at Columbia Law School, won the 2006 E. Allan Farnsworth Student Note Writing Competition with this article, Lawful Design: A New Standard for Evaluating Establishment Clause Challenges to School Science Curricula, which appeared in the Columbia Journal of Law And Social Problems (vol. 39 p. 451). It’s an excellent piece and deserves serious attention from anyone considering these issues.
I was particularly pleased with Kitcher’s proposal of how courts should evaluate whether a science curriculum really is a science curriculum or not. Adapting the test for scientific validity that the Supreme Court used in the Daubert case, Kitcher proposes that when a court is trying to decide whether a curriculum is really a science curriculum, or is just religion in disguise, it should not only take into consideration the sincerity of the school board’s purported reasons for adopting the curriculum, but also whether the curriculum includes material that is testable, reliable, and includes other features distinctive to science.
This is important because, as Kitcher acknowledges, the Intelligent Design movement has tried hard to disguise its religion as science, and sometimes it may be difficult for judges (who are, of course, not trained scientists) to tell the two apart. In the wake of Kitzmiller, it seems possible that ID proponents will only try harder to disguise their religious intentions. “In these cases, the purpose inquiry will become increasingly less effective, thereby creating a corresponding need to scrutinize the content of the proposed curricula to make determinations of scientific legitimacy.”
Congratulations to Mr. Kitcher for an excellent article and a well-deserved award.
Update: It turns out Charles Kitcher is the son of Philip Kitcher, author of Abusing Science: The Case Against Creationism.</em>