This one is a bit esoteric, as one might expect from an exercise in apologetics, so we’ll have to take some care in going through it. Casey Luskin, our favorite creationist, has just written this for the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog: If Evolution Has Implications for Religion, Can We Justify Teaching It in Public Schools?
Casey’s title is guaranteed to make your eyes roll. Who is he talking about when he asks if “we” can justify teaching evolution? And why can’t the same bizarre question be asked about astronomy? Surely there are cults out there that don’t like the implications of astronomy, so can “we” justify teaching astronomy, or any other science that conflicts with the dogma of some sect?
After you recover from that nasty stumble at the threshold, you’re curious to know what Casey is babbling about. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
In my recent article on the constitutionality of teaching evolution, I discussed how courts have found that it is legal to teach evolution in public schools.
Yes, we wrote about that last week. After arduous research, Casey reached that conclusion — see Casey Makes a Startling Admission. But it’s not that easy. Today Casey is going to tell us about some difficult legal hurdles evolution must still jump in order to meet with his reluctant conclusion that it can be legally taught. He says:
Evolutionary biology is a science, so it can be legally taught in public schools when it’s treated as a science and isn’t promoted as a support for atheism or materialism.
Isn’t that precious? According to Casey, the courts will grudgingly allow evolution to be taught, provided: (1) it has to be treated as science; and (2) it can’t promote atheism or materialism. We don’t know what court imposed those rules, but Casey’s first condition is too absurd to discuss. What biology text teaches evolution as anything other than science? As for Casey’s second condition, we don’t know of any public school teacher who knowingly promotes atheism in a science class, so that too is absurd.
And then there’s Casey’s ambiguous reference to “materialism.” As we explained in Bring Me An Angel Detector!:
The wedge document literally equates the scientific method with the philosophy of metaphysical naturalism. That philosophy asserts that nothing exists except matter and energy — things which can be detected by natural means. It assumes that everything can be explained by natural causes, as no other causes exist. The philosophy of materialism is inherently atheistic, because it assumes that supernatural phenomena — gods, devils, angels, etc. — being physically undetectable, are therefore nonexistent.
The creationists — through ignorance or artifice — equate that philosophical materialism with something very different — methodological materialism. The latter is a procedure (not a philosophy) which is inherent in the scientific method. To be a competent scientist, no philosophical materialism is necessary, and many — perhaps most — do quite nicely without it. A scientist may even believe that a multitude of spirits inhabit this world, but being imperceptible, they are outside the scope of his professional work.
[M]ethodological materialism — the process of science — says nothing at all about the existence of spiritual matters, only their inability to be scientifically studied. Methodological materialism is an operational constraint of science, not a philosophical attack on theism.
Most of you already know that, but it’s necessary to state the obvious here in order to appreciate what Casey is doing. Okay, let’s read on:
That said, few would deny that Darwinian evolution has larger implications that aren’t friendly to theism. Even if those are not discussed in a public school science classroom, and the conversation focuses strictly on the science, the implications are still there.
Oooooooooh — the implications are still there! Yes, and the same is true for the teaching of astronomy and its implications for those who are devout astrology believers. What’s a science teacher supposed to do? Casey continues:
Do the larger religious (or anti-religious) implications of a scientific theory make it inadmissible for instruction in public schools? They shouldn’t.
They shouldn’t? Is Casey making yet another startling admission? Yes, but there are strings attached. Here’s more:
Sometimes when courts have declared the teaching of evolution to be legal, they have shown great insensitivity to the fact that it impinges upon the religious views of many Americans. However, just because we’re declaring the teaching of evolution to be constitutional doesn’t mean we that it has no connections to religion. Thus, while it may sound odd to hear that we can (sometimes) declare something constitutional to teach in public schools even though it touches upon religion, there’s good legal precedent for such a finding.
Then Casey discusses some court decisions which justify that “insensitivity.” He focuses on the Lemon case, which we discussed in Justice Antonin Scalia and the Devil. We’ll skip Casey’s analysis. Then he tells us:
Of course, a scientific theory like evolution does speak to ultimate questions about origins, which are also addressed by religion. So it certainly touches upon religious questions. But when we discuss Darwinian evolution strictly on a scientific level, any effects upon religion are “secondary” or “incidental” compared to their primary effect of advancing scientific knowledge. This is in fact precisely how sensitive courts have justified the teaching of Darwinism.
Ah, so in Casey’s view, the courts have reluctantly allowed the teaching of “Darwinism.” He talks about some other court decisions, and then says:
In this manner, one can legally justify teaching evolution while being sensitive to the fact that it has larger implications that touch upon the religious beliefs of many Americans. This reasoning offers the best of both worlds. It allows science to be taught in the science classroom while respecting the beliefs of people who have religious objections to evolution.
So it’s legally justifiable to teach evolution, but you’ve got to be “sensitive” to the fact that creationists find it offensive. Now brace yourself, dear reader, because here comes Casey’s conclusion:
Many evolutionists, however, would probably dislike this way of thinking. Why? Because the very same approach would justify teaching about intelligent design in public schools.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! How in the world can intelligent design meet Casey’s conditions? It has no scientific value whatsoever. It has no data, no possibility of ever being tested, and no coherent theory — other than a vague claim that a transcendent designer — blessed be he! — did something, somehow, to create the universe and all living things. In other words, intelligent design has absolutely no justification for being included in public schools — other than to support the religious beliefs of its promoters.
So there you are. In Casey’s post, we can see the shadowy outline of the Discoveroids’ next legal argument. It will fail, like all their earlier attempts, but it’s going to be fun watching them try.
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