Friday, March 31, 2006

Establishment Clause Double Standard?

Casey Luskin comments on the dismissal of the lawsuit challenging the Understanding Evolution web site here.

I had previously commented on aspects of this web site with my post: Eugenie Scott's Strategy: To Convert Baptist Kids into Episcopalians in Science Class?

In another post about the same web site, I asked the question: Figuring Out Eugenie Scott: Is She Ignorant, Dishonest, Correct . . . Or None of the Above?

Regarding Phyllis Hamilton, the judge in the Caldwell case, she also decided this case, in which students were required to engage in a "simulation" of Muslim religious practices:
Requiring seventh-grade students to pretend they're Muslims, wear Islamic garb, memorize verses from the Quran, pray to Allah and even to play "jihad games" in California public schools has been legally upheld by a federal judge, who has dismissed a highly publicized lawsuit brought by several Christian students and their parents.

The article also contains this quote from the plaintiff's attorney:
"Public schools would never tolerate teaching Christianity in this way. Just imagine the ACLU’s outcry if students were told that they had to pray the Lord's Prayer, memorize the Ten Commandments, use such phrases as 'Jesus is the Messiah,' and fast during Lent."

Daniel Pipes' commentary on that case is here.

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I can hear the teacher now . . . "Class, next week we will be moving on to study early Canaanite religious practices and everyone will be required to participate in a simulation of temple prostitution. Don't forget your homework!"

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Some of my thoughts on whether there is a conflict between "evolution" and "religion" can be found here. My short answer: it depends on which definition (and/or aspects) of "evolution" you are using and, of course, which form of "religion" you are talking about. A simple "yes" or "no" answer will almost certainly be misleading and unhelpful. The US government should not be taking an official position on this issue, and it should not be supporting a web site that is promoting such a simplistic stance.

Monday, March 27, 2006

More on Ruse v. Dennett and Dawkins

There is a rather funny "comment" in the The Guardian today, in which Madeleine Bunting joins Michael Ruse in criticizing Dawkins and Dennett. However, Bunting apparently does not seem to realize that she is doing the very thing she criticizes in making this statement:
Dennett cites those who argue that faith improves cooperation within groups (though not between them). This argument raises the crucial question of whether, in an era of globalisation and limited resources, religion has outrun its evolutionary advantage.

So she suggests that a crucial question for us all to consider (including public school children, presumably) is whether religion is obsolete based on evolutionary theory. But she criticizes Dawkins and Dennett for promoting a "false conflict" between evolutionary theory and faith. Huh? I find her logical inconsistency quite humorous.

She makes the same mistake that many others do: not being clear and consistent in her definitions of terms. Theism is not inconsistent with some forms and aspects of evolutionary theory. However, it most definitely is in conflict with a staunchly materialistic version of the theory, which is the version promoted by most scientists, when they are not trying to fool the general public.

This also supports my contention that both intelligent design and macroevolutionary theory involve, to some extent, science and philosophy, and both have very obvious implications for religion. Bunting focuses on the "false dichotomy" question, but neglects the more important and subtle issue of the religious implications of evolutionary theory. Would it be constitutional to have a teacher in the mold of PZ Myers teaching public school students what he thinks the religious implications of evolutionary theory are?

In praising Ruse, she ignores something else that he says, which is that scientists have to be vigilant in keeping their evolutionism religion separate from their evolution science.

Hat tip to a comment on Uncommon Descent.