Saturday, June 18, 2005


Irigonegaray Closing Argument: ID Argument Wrong, Unsupported

In closing arguments at the anti-science hearings May 12, Pedro Irigonegary offered a glimpse of the legal strategy he might employ if the Kansas Board revises state science standards to include intelligent design criticisms of evolution. RSR has edited the remarks to remove line numbers and correct misspellings in order to make the excerpt more readable:

Counsel for the Minority has a formula. The formula is evolution equals atheism, atheism equals religion which equals State endorsement, therefore, because the State is endorsing religion we must be permitted to bring our theistic view into the school curriculum.

That argument is legally wrong, logically inaccurate, misleading and would not stand constitutional challenge, and here's why.

First of all, counsel makes the broad statement that atheism, is under the Constitution, considered a form of religion.

You are absolutely correct, but, but, and this is important, it is considered such in a limited scope.

For example, if we think of religion as taking a position on divinity then atheism is indeed a form of religion.

In cases, for example, involving the scope of employment discrimination an atheist is entitled to the same protection as a member of any organized religion.

Clearly certain protections are provided to individuals who assert that they're atheists, because freedom of religion is also the freedom from religion.

Courts have stated that a general-- a general working definition of religion for free exercise purposes is any set of beliefs addressing matters of ultimate concerns occupying place parallel to that filled by God in traditional persons.

Religion, therefore, does not have to be theistic in nature to benefit from constitutional protection, but what does that really mean as it relates to the issues here? It is important that we keep in mind that the right to a religious belief or opinion is very different from the way courts look science and science education.

The Constitution mandates that the government remain secular rather than to affiliate itself with religious beliefs or institutions precisely in order to avoid discriminated -- discriminating among citizens on the basis of their religious faith.

A secular state, you must remember, is not the same as an atheistic or anti-religious state.

A secular state establishes neither atheism nor religion as its official creed.

In County of Allegheny versus American Civil Liberties Union the Court stated that a secular state established neither atheism nor religion as its official creed to mean atheism meets religion.

Allegheny does not state religion includes and typically to religion.

The Circuit literally interpreted the U.S. Supreme Court in Wallace versus Jaffree, the Court places atheism in the correct context, adjacent to religion.

The Court states, just as the right to speak and the right to refrain from speaking are complimentary components of a broader concept of individual freedom of mind, so also the individual's freedom to choose his creed is the counterpart of his right to refrain from accepting the creed established by the majority.

At one time it was thought that this right merely prescribed the preference of one Christian sect over another, but would not require equal respect for the conscience of the infidel, the atheist or inherent of a non-Christian faith such as Islam or Judaism, but when the underlying principle has been examined in the crucible of litigation the court has unambiguously concluded that the individual freedom of conscience protected by First Amendment embraces the right to select any religious faith or none at all.

The First Amendment is broad enough to encompass both believers and non-believers as far as the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of religion.

The instruction of evolution, does it advance or inhibit any religion? It is one thing for the courts to recognize that an individual may not be discriminated because she or he does not carry any particular religious ideology, it is quite another for a jump to be made from preventing discrimination-- from preventing discrimination to a finding that evolution equates to atheism, and it is therefore the advancement of religion in violation of the Lemon test.

In McLean versus Arkansas Board of Education in which the defense argued that evolution was in effect a religion and that by teaching it school created an establishmentPage problem that could be redressed only by giving balance treatment to creation science.

The Court responded that if creation science was in fact science and not religion, it was difficult to see how teaching it could neutralize the religious nature of evolution.

Assuming that evolution was a religion or religious tenant, as the Minority would suggest, the remedy would be to stop teaching it, not to establish another religion in opposition to it, which is precisely the recommended that the Minority is suggesting the Board should apply. (emphasis added)

However, the MacLean court went on to say that it is established in the case law and perhaps also in common sense that evolution is not a religion and that teaching it does not violate the statement clause.

So the argument of the Minority is not only legally incorrect, it is illogical, for they suggest to you that mainstream science teaches through the process of methodological naturalism, atheistic view, i.e., atheism, and that the way to cure it is to bring their religious belief into the classroom.

That is simply wrong.

It is not supported by law.

And at the appropriate time I will provide both counsel for the Minority, as well as the Board, our formal brief with the citations.

But it should be made very clear evolution-- the teaching of evolution as it is taught in science curriculums all across this country has never been determined by the court to be theistic.

The science, the teaching of evolution is not an atheistic process.

It is merely a process of explanation of the natural world around us.

The jump that the Minority makes is to try to make that theistic, to argue that therefore in order to balance, their theistic view must be taught.

Clearly the court has stated the remedy, if, in fact, a theistic view is being taught, is not to bring additional religion, but to stop completely the teaching of theistic views in the science curriculum.

That is a very important distinction.


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