Doesn’t Louisiana have enough on its plate?Posted by PH
I’m not sure this school board in Louisiana has thought this through.
Benton said that under provisions of the Science Education Act enacted last year by the Louisiana Legislature, schools can present what she termed “critical thinking and creationism” in science classes.
Board Member David Tate quickly responded: “We let them teach evolution to our children, but I think all of us sitting up here on this School Board believe in creationism. Why can’t we get someone with religious beliefs to teach creationism?”
Fellow board member Clint Mitchell responded, “I agree … you don’t have to be afraid to point out some of the fallacies with the theory of evolution. Teachers should have the freedom to look at creationism and find a way to get it into the classroom.”
Even though creationism in the minds of these school board members may not be the same thing as intelligent design, a Federal court already weighed in on this with a resounding verdict on the side of science, which in that instance fell on the side of evolution.
From The New York Times (Dec. 20, 2005):
A federal judge ruled today that a Pennsylvania school board’s policy of teaching intelligent design in high school biology class is unconstitutional because intelligent design is clearly a religious idea that advances “a particular version of Christianity.”
In the nation’s first case to test the legal merits of intelligent design, Judge John E. Jones III dealt a stinging rebuke to advocates of teaching intelligent design as a scientific alternative to evolution in public schools.
The judge found that intelligent design is not science, and that the only way its proponents can claim it is, is by changing the very definition of science to include supernatural explanations.
On p. 64 of the Court’s decision (pdf), the Court held that Intelligent Design (ID) was not science:
We find that ID fails on three different levels, any one of which is sufficient to preclude a determination that ID is science. They are: (1) ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation; (2) the argument of irreducible complexity, central to ID, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980′s; and (3) ID’s negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community. As we will discuss in more detail below, it is
additionally important to note that ID has failed to gain acceptance in the scientific community, it has not generated peer-reviewed publications, nor has it been the
subject of testing and research.
It also seem apparent that the Livingston School Board has not passed the “Lemon” test. (No. Not that kind of “Lemon Law”.) Quoting again from the Dover case:
As articulated by the Supreme Court, under the Lemon test, a government-sponsored message violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment if: (1) it does not have a secular purpose; (2) its principal or primary effect advances or inhibits religion; or (3) it creates an excessive entanglement of the government with religion. Lemon, 403 U.S. at 612-13. As the Lemon test is disjunctive, either an improper purpose or an improper effect renders the ID Policy invalid under the Establishment Clause.
The bigger catch here is that the there is something governmental that “inhibits” religion, namely, the First Amendment and the court cases that restrict religious education in public schools. But it’s not much of a snag. If the schools in question are parochial schools there’d be no issue at all. The smaller catch might be that if the school board does not encourage the teaching of other “scientific” views, they are harming their students. This is a clear secular purpose. But one would think the Dover case closed that avenue.
Doesn’t Louisiana have enough on its plate?