Thursday, March 08, 2007

That Assumption Laden NY Times Article

I have some further comments on the NY Times article that was the subject of my last post.

Note what questions the article simply avoids. For example, what is the evidence that belief in God evolved? How convincing is the evidence? Note how the writer bluffs past this question:
Lost in the hullabaloo over the neo-atheists is a quieter and potentially more illuminating debate. It is taking place not between science and religion but within science itself, specifically among the scientists studying the evolution of religion. These scholars tend to agree on one point: that religious belief is an outgrowth of brain architecture that evolved during early human history. What they disagree about is why a tendency to believe evolved, whether it was because belief itself was adaptive or because it was just an evolutionary byproduct, a mere consequence of some other adaptation in the evolution of the human brain.

Since these scholars agree on this one point, it must be true. No evidence is necessary. This harkens back to one of my favorite quotes from Richard Dawkins:
Not only is [evolution] a brilliant solution to the riddle of complexity; it is the only solution that has ever been proposed.

Now let's consider a likely scenario: a public school biology teacher assigns the article to her students and asks for an essay on the following topic: Which do you think is the best explanation for the evolution of belief in God- the adaptation theory or the byproduct theory? What if a student tells the teacher he cannot write the essay because he does not think that belief in God evolved? What if he tells her that his position is based on scientific evidence? What if he tells her that he believes the scientific evidence contains more support for an intelligent designer than for macroevolutionary theories, and requests the opportunity to explain this and present the evidence in class? What if she flunks the student and forbids any discussion of the evidence for intelligent design? Would this violate the Establishment Clause? What would Judge Jones decide?

Banning discussions of intelligent design, but permitting discussions of theories that obviously assume the non-existence or non-involvement of God shows a blatant double standard and is a gross violation of the Establishment Clause.


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