Thursday, January 12, 2006


Simply Disingenuous

Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday on behalf of 11 parents of students in the El Tejon Unified School District. The suit aims to stop the Frazier Mountain High School in Lebec, California from teaching "Philosophy of Design," a course that promotes a religious point of view about the origins of life.

Predictably, Casey Luskin of the Discovery Institute opposes the suit. Writing that dogmatic Darwinists have struck yet again, Luskin, first advances the feeble claim that the course is not really about intelligent design. It's misnamed says Luskin because it teaches about many non-ID things like young earth creationism or Genesis."

Moreover, according to Luskin, the Americans United suit reveals "the true heart of these Darwinists: they don't care about keeping religion out of the science classroom, their goal is to censor any non-evolutionary views in ANY venue regardless of whether or not it is religion or science!!"

While we heartily commend Luskin for the remarkable restraint he demonstrates in limiting himself to just two exclamation points and a single word in all caps, we nevertheless have a difficult time following the logic of his argument.

Luskin starts by admitting that the course will teach not just the controversy that is intelligent design, it will also teach young earth creationism from the book of Genesis. Then, shifting ground, he makes the contradictory claim that the parents who brought suit don't care about keeping religion out the science classroom, they just want to censor non-evolutionary views in any venue. It doesn't take a degree in philosophy to see the holes in this argument.

While most teachers, scientists, and supporters of science education oppose teaching intelligent design, or its country cousin, creationism, in science classes, they do not, by and large, oppose discussion or teaching about religious beliefs -- including intelligent design -- in philosophy, history, sociology, political science, or English classes.

What raises fierce opposition is using public money and public schools to proselytize students for a particular religious point of view, such as biblical literalism, under the guise of education. Clearly, the teacher who proposed to teach the "Philosophy of Design" class and the trustees who approved the course intended to do just that.

Consider a few facts utterly neglected by Luskin's rant:

There's more, much more, of course. Readers can start by taking a look at the story on Ed Brayton's Dispatches from the Culture Wars, PZ Myers' Pharyngula, and The Questionable Authority, among many others.

It's always hard with Luskin to know whether he's simply confused or just being disingenuous. RSR prefers to believe that no one can really be that simple-minded -- we'd just be too embarrassed for Luskin if that were the case -- so we'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he's not entirely sincere in what he writes in his Evolution News and Views posts.


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