EDarr1776 at AOL.COM
Thu Mar 5 11:14:14 PST 1998
We probably need to revisit the premise that Rick Duncan started with. Rick
said a couple of days ago:
<< Gene has already provided some very plausible secular purposes for
such a law (e.g. avoiding the teaching of topics that are likely to
undermine support for public education). I would like to offer another
plausible secular purpose. As Phil Johnson has argued in his
thoughtful and rational work on this issue, "Despite all the inflated
and oft-repeated claims, science has not shown that biological
creation either can or did occur by the Darwinian mechanism, or by any
other unintelligent and unguided process." Suppose Johnson persuades a
state legislature that schoolchildren are being mislead by "inflated"
and misleading claims about the *fact* of Darwinian evolution. Would a
law prohibiting the teaching of Darwinism be without a plausible
secular purpose if it were based upon the legislature' belief that
Johnson is correct? Or is Johnson's work inherently "religious" and
thus not able to support a plausible secular purpose? >>
1. Johnson's argument assumes that evolution theory is dependent on life's
having arisen without supernatural help. Most biologists would say this is an
area for "We don't know; but here's some interesting experimental data."
Darwin himself attributed the original act of creation to a supernatural power
in *Origin of Species* (I have a copy of the first edition, but I do not think
the last two paragraphs were changed for the following five editions). The
origin of life is a sidebar study in biology, and has little to do with
This creates difficulty at trial for a legislative act that bans the teaching
of evolution, based on Johnson's statement of what evolution is -- which I
would call a misstatement. A court might be persuaded that the legislature
misunderstood what it was doing.
2. A state legislature that bans evolution but continues a requirement that
science be taught creates an impossible situation for educators. First,
unless another sufficiently large state such as Texas or California also
imposes such a ban, there will be no textbooks available that simultaneously
avoid evolution, adequately cover genetics and the history of biology, and
prepare students for college. And second, there is the difficulty of finding
published research that supports creationism in order to write a curriculum.
Philip Johnson, a law professor at Boalt Hall (criminal law), and Michael
Behe, a biochemist at Lehigh University, are probably the two best known
academically credentialled critics of Darwinian-based evolution theory.
Neither they nor any of their supporters have yet proposed a different theory
published in any peer review journal -- and Behe's criticisms of Darwinian
thought are limited to the inner workings of a cell, Behe not quarreling with
Darwin's observations on evolution of complex life.
So the only sources of creationism theory available to educators remain the
religious tracts that Judge Overton ruled on in 1982 in the Arkansas trial.
Should a court accept an argument that an anti-evolution education bill is not
religion-based, when the sources of the theory are no different now than they
were in 1982? The New Orleans court in Edwards ruled summarily against the
Louisiana law, and without any new research material proposing a theory of
creationism, should we expect a different result now? I would argue that
unless we find some new basis for allowing religious belief to challenge
curriculum, the results will be the same, since the evidence has not changed
for the benefit of creationism.
More information about the Religionlaw