Dissent from denial of cert in latest evolution case
Steven D. Jamar
sjamar at LAW.HOWARD.EDU
Wed Jun 21 17:34:28 PDT 2000
Disclaimers are a bad idea, especially those that the legislature
attempts to mandate.
But being a bad idea does not resolve the constitutional question, of
What is the aim of the disclaimer? To protect the religious freedom of
The propriety of a disclaimer seems to me to rest on the assumption that
teaching science is disfavoring religion. Only if you accept this
premise, it seems to me, does any sort of disclaimer make sense. But
there is no reason to constitutionally hold that schools cannot teach
math, physics, chemistry, geology, or biology because someone disagrees
with the underlying scientific premises of them on religious grounds.
To state the disclaimer inevitably favors religion as against
non-religion, inevitably favors the fundamentalists and creationists.
How can it be otherwise?
Some seem to be forgetting that one of the very premises of science is
to question all things - including the latest theories and
interpretations of all of the sciences. Current physics is very
different from what I studied 29 years ago. Same is true of geology,
chemistry, and, of course, biology. And math. The impact of fractals
on applied math is incredible.
Furthermore, to give such a disclaimer pushes a particular religious
world view that science and religion are separable. Not all religions
hold that view. Not all Christians hold that view. Many are of the
view that science is the handmaiden of God. But the disclaimers posited
all assume a separateness which may well not be justified.
Another irony is that one of the very core premises of science is the
need to question everything; this being so, what is the value of a
disclaimer that says question evolution?
How about adding to the disclaimer language that says "question
everything - including religious ideas." Now that might get closer to
Prof. Steven D. Jamar, Director LRW Program vox:
Howard University School of Law fax:
2900 Van Ness Street NW
mailto:sjamar at law.howard.edu
Washington, DC 20008
"I never worry about the future. It comes soon enough."
Albert Einstein (1945-46; Einstein Archive)
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