A common tactic of today’s creationists, including the Intelligent Design variety, is claiming that Darwin’s theory of evolution, and “materialist” science generally, is based on — or at least leads to — atheism, which leads to all the horrors in the world. We’ve discussed this many times — see, for example, Atheism, Science, and Darwin.
A variation of the foregoing is often deployed in connection with public schools, which (in the US) aren’t allowed to promote religion. This enrages the creationists, who frequently insist that if the wicked evolutionists can sneak their “religion” into the schools with a trick like claiming to be science, why can’t creationists do the same thing? That’s the strategy of the Discovery Institute, which has failed spectacularly — see Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.
So all they’re left with is claiming: (1) science (especially evolution) is atheism; (2) atheism is religion; (3) therefore science (especially evolution) doesn’t belong in school. To advance their claim that atheism is a religion, creationists distort a line of court cases that say no such thing, but which can be quote-mined to give that impression. We’ve discussed this before — see WorldNetDaily: Cognitive Blowout!, where, speaking of atheism, we said:
Is it really a religion — with scripture, rituals, dogma, and all the usual trappings? Only an imbecile would think that atheism is literally equivalent to religion. The sort of case he refers to, in all likelihood, is Kaufman v Mccaughtry, from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which holds that a prison inmate’s religious liberties include allowing atheists to conduct study groups, just as religious prisoners are allowed to do. That case mentions a few US Supreme Court opinions that give atheism the same protection as religion, so they may be regarded as equivalent with respect to an individual’s freedom — but of course that doesn’t mean atheism is religion.
Aside from misrepresenting court cases, there’s a deeper problem that the most primitive creationists have, and it goes like this:
1. I know nothing other than what I’ve been told.
2. It’s the same with everyone else.
3. Everyone takes everything on faith, and faith is religion.
4. Therefore, science is just another religion.
That was a long introduction, but it leads us to what we found today at the website of Pat Robertson’s Christian News Network: Federal Court Rules ‘Secular Humanism’ a Religion, Extends Equal Protection Rights to Atheists. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
In a landmark decision last week, a federal judge in Oregon declared ‘secular humanism’ to be a religion, opining that those who profess to be atheists and secular humanists should be afforded equal protection rights under the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution and be allowed to enjoy the same liberties to practice religion that religious groups are able to enjoy.
[*Yawn*] The case they’re talking about was no “landmark decision.” It was a decision by a trial court judge in the US District Court of Oregon, and it follows well-established precedents.
Robertson’s website doesn’t link to the opinion, so we had to do some hunting. We found this information at the Justicia website: American Humanist Association et al v. Bureau of Prisons et al . And here’s the Opinion and Order signed on 10/30/2014 by Judge Ancer L. Haggerty. It’s long, so we only scanned it. It seems unremarkable. The judge followed precedent, as trial judges are supposed to do.
There’s no real news here. But Robertson’s website sees things differently. We’re not surprised. They say:
Senior District Judge Ancer Haggerty of the federal district court ruled in favor of Holden in order to exercise his constitutional right to form a humanist study group. Haggerty ruled that Holden’s constitutional rights were violated under the First and Fifth Amendments. In his ruling, he moved to recognize secular humanism as a religion for “Establishment Clause” purposes.
Yes, that’s right. But it’s no big deal. If there were a prison Donald Duck club, they might get the same treatment. Nevertheless, you can expect to see this “news” showing up on the usual creationist websites, ballyhooed with headlines like Atheistic Humanism declared a religion! Don’t be fooled. If atheism is a religion, then vacuum is an atmosphere.
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