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December 31, 2005

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Kimball Corson

The different question arises in the Fresno case if what is being taught in the philosophy class is a Genesis styled creationism with other creation hypotheses being excluded, including non-deistic hypotheses believed in by agnostics or atheists. That would be prohibited by the Establishment Clause. The point is this: it does not matter what class – philosophy or biology – is used to teach what is being taught. The question is whether what is being taught violates the Establishment Clause in regard to religion or religious views. That is why comparative religions may be taught in the schools, with the caveat that attention and explanation must also be given to agnostic and atheistic beliefs systems as well. All or basically all may be included or none should be under the Establishment Clause.

KImball Corson

Another issue arises too in regard to the Fresno case. Are both the biology and philosophy classes requied of all students? If so, you might get around my last post, with some qualifications. If not, then what I wrote there should stand because a student might take only the philosophy course and not the biology course and for that student, the school has then violated the Establishment Clause. At least this an argument and aspect of the problem that should be addressed.

The Law Fairy

Kimball,

I see the problem differently. If the philosophy class is offered as an alternative to evolution, I'm unable to see even a possible Establishment Clause violation. The only thing it could possibly do is offer greater variety to the students -- if greater variety of viewpoints is a *problem* then we're likely already violating the Establishment Clause (in that, it's considered a problem because teaching certain theistic beliefs necessarily contradicts something they're learning in school -- in which case the school is inhibiting religion, which also violates the Lemon Test). I can't imagine that biology isn't a required course in school -- it's certainly far more likely to be mandatory than a philosophy course (wrongly, in my opinion, but that's a whole other set of arguments).

I suppose the struggle for me is that, unless the philosophy course amounts to sheer proselytizing, which I find unlikely, affirmative arguments against it need to be presented. If it is an "alternative to evolution," how can this possibly be unconstitutional? Just because something is non-evolution, does not make it a religion -- unless evolution itself is a religion, in which case we've already got the earlier alluded-to EC problem.

Kimball Corson

In response to Law Fairy:

Actually, I think we see the problem pretty much the same, if the philosophy class is not sheer proselytizing and students are required to take biology. I think the barrier of unconstitutionality can be avoided if proselytizing is abandoned in the philosophy class in favor of some tack similar to mine, to avoid conflicts with what is taught in biology and still be able to posit the possibility of deism as an alternative. That approach leaves open the possibility of deistic, atheistic and agnostic belief systems, each of which could also be taught in the philosophy class to further avoid Establishment Clause problems.

However, if the philosophy class is a wholesale "alternative to evolution," I cannot imagine how it can avoid conflict with the biology class and move hard in the direction of establishing religion in the school. But to strongly conflict with the biology class, the likelihood is the philosophy class would entail “sheer proselytizing” in the simple creationist or Genesis vein. The world created in six days would create serious conflicts, I think.

The Law Fairy

Kimball,

I think where we differ is the extent to which the philosophy class could contradict the biology class. I would say proselytizing is if they're actively trying to convert the kids to a certain viewpoint; if they're just presenting alternatives, I don't believe that's constitutionally problematic.

At the same time, it's a philosophy class. Given the bias we've seen displayed in the comments to these posts alone, I think it's a pretty safe bet that most kids are not going to take whatever they learn in a philosophy class, even if some of it is scientific, to trump what they learn in a biology class. And if they do, that's their right. In my opinion, any halfway decent philosophy class is necessarily going to conflict with science on a lot of levels. You'd have to teach about Aristotle's dubious views on the import of purported physiological differences between men and women. You'd have to teach about Descartes half-assed deontological argument for the existence of God. You'd have to teach the logical necessity of skepticism (which implies the fallacy of scientific "knowledge"). I don't see where offering alternatives that contradict evolution is any different or more problematic. It's just another way of viewing the scientific community from a philosophical perspective -- which is precisely what the kids ought to be learning in their philosophy course.

ctw

the post indicated in my last comment includes a course decription that resolves these questions. as I said, it's clearly a misnamed lemon, not a pearl.

The Law Fairy

I'm not sure it resolves them, ctw. From the sound of it this is an elective course. It is presented as philosophy, not science, so the science zealots can refrain from foaming at the mouth over misrepresentation. And it doesn't proselytize -- it's straightforward that it presents the problems with evolutionary science from this perspective. Students aren't graded on whether or not they agree with it -- they just have to support whichever side they choose.

I don't see a constitutional problem with this.

that one guy

Wouldn't introducing religious-themed courses into public school curriculum offend the "excessive entanglement" prong of the Lemon test, because the government would have to monitor such courses to ensure that various religions, sects, and agnotstic or atheistic belief sets were being treated equally and constitutionally benignly (which is of course impossible, since there are so many belief sets, some would have to be completely eliminated from study out of necessity)? If that is the case, then has the Lemon test made religion a taboo subject in public schools, as least in terms of making it a central focus of study in a course?

If so, this seems to me a shame. Whatever your views on religion, it is difficult to argue against its cultural, psychological, philosophical and historical significance. Religious-themed courses in public school could go a long way in understanding this significance, as well as engendering religous tolerance. If the Lemon test forestalls any religiously themed instruction in public schools, perhaps our First Amendment jurisprudence is off course.

It seems to me that our discussion on ID vs. Evolution raises a larger issue - what place, if any, should the study of religion, as an academic pursuit, have in our public schools?

Kimball Corson

Law Fairy wrote:

“Kimball, I think where we differ is the extent to which the philosophy class could contradict the biology class.”

I respond:

I think you are right here and I am probably too restrictive, as I think about it.

“I would say proselytizing is if they're actively trying to convert the kids to a certain viewpoint; if they're just presenting alternatives, I don't believe that's constitutionally problematic.”

I respond:

You are right here as long as what they do is indeed present alternatives and not dwell on one or two to the exclusion of others. That moves in the direction of proselytizing.

“In my opinion, any halfway decent philosophy class is necessarily going to conflict with science on a lot of levels.”

I respond:

Of course and it should, especially if it is a historical survey course. If we look more toward contemporary consensus, this can be less of a problem. People to adjust over time to what most perceive as “truth,” itself a troubled philosophical concept as you well know.

“You'd have to teach the logical necessity of skepticism (which implies the fallacy of scientific "knowledge"). I don't see where offering alternatives that contradict evolution is any different or more problematic. It's just another way of viewing the scientific community from a philosophical perspective -- which is precisely what the kids ought to be learning in their philosophy course.”

I respond:

As a romantic by nature and a skeptic by excessive education, I understand you here, loud and clear and think you are probably right on the latter point, as I think about it. I guess the real legal mandate is to present alternative ideas and theories and not have an agenda to narrow the focus to the teacher’s pet views. Philosophy can and should challenge contemporary perspectives and paradigms, including those of biology, but without dwelling on them exclusively.

ctw wrote about the Fresno course description:

“From the sound of it this is an elective course. It is presented as philosophy, not science, so the science zealots can refrain from foaming at the mouth over misrepresentation. And it doesn't proselytize -- it's straightforward that it presents the problems with evolutionary science from this perspective. Students aren't graded on whether or not they agree with it -- they just have to support whichever side they choose.
I don't see a constitutional problem with this.”

I respond:

Why pick on just evolutionary science. There are methodological and conceptual problems in many areas of science. Do we deal here with a latent religious agenda?

That One Guy then observes:

“Wouldn't introducing religious-themed courses into public school curriculum offend the "excessive entanglement" prong of the Lemon test, because the government would have to monitor such courses to ensure that various religions, sects, and agnotstic or atheistic belief sets were being treated equally and constitutionally benignly (which is of course impossible, since there are so many belief sets, some would have to be completely eliminated from study out of necessity)? If that is the case, then has the Lemon test made religion a taboo subject in public schools, as least in terms of making it a central focus of study in a course? If so, this seems to me a shame.” . . . If the Lemon test forestalls any religiously themed instruction in public schools, perhaps our First Amendment jurisprudence is off course.”

I respond:

The Lemon Test is I believe too restrictive and is indeed a lemon and badly in need of adjustment.

“It seems to me that our discussion on ID vs. Evolution raises a larger issue - what place, if any, should the study of religion, as an academic pursuit, have in our public schools?”
I respond:

That is a good question. My view is that if we deny any place to the study of religion in the schools we (a) foster ignorance in that area, (b) give atheism and agnosticism a leg up over other belief systems in the curriculum and thereby arguably create an Establishment Clause problem. A balanced and sensible course of presenting alternatives clearly is possible and is sure to be policed by parents sensitive to these issues. There is good oversight, a problem that mistakenly troubled the Lemon court.

Deborah Spaeth

Kimball

"I have received no explanations from you, only profanity, explitives, ad hominum slurs"

You're a lying axxhole, Kimball.

Learn to read. And learn to remember.

Prick.

Deborah Spaeth

Kimball the Lying Idiot

"Actually, I think we see the problem pretty much the same, if the philosophy class is not sheer proselytizing"

And fundies are going to promote such a class?

Dream on, you clueless retard.

Fyi -- do you recall the www.talkorigins.org link that I presented you with Kimball where your "fine-tuning" "science" (aka bullshxt) was debunked at the 4th grade reading level?

Do you remember that Kimball?

And remember how you hand-waved it away with a bunch of asinine quote-mining?

Remember that Kimball?

Well, you do now.

Deborah Spaeth

Kimball the Ultra-Retard Who is Just A Tad Arrogant, to Boot:

"In my proposal we either have happenstance in the form of hyper-improbable coincidence"

This is non-science bullshxt, but Kimball likes to pretends otherwise.

"or front-loading, non-interventionist deism qua ID if you will."

That's religion.

Bullshxt or religion. Isn't Kimball a great compromiser?

Or is Kimball just a two-faced moronic loser who can't pull his head out of his finely-tuned axxhole?

I believe the latter.

Let's teach the controversy.

After all, it's only "fair."

Right, Kimball?

Deborah Spaeth

Law Fair-to-Poorly:

"If the philosophy class is offered as an alternative to evolution, I'm unable to see even a possible Establishment Clause violation."

That's because you're a stupid tool, Law Fairy, as has been established already based on your inability to understand basic facts about the US legal system, coupled with your inability to ackowledge your own ignorance when your errors are pointed out.

I can imagine, oh, a dozen different embodiments of a philosophy in public school that would violate the Establishment Clause. If I felt like it, I could write them down in about five minutes.

But what is the point of teaching lying idiots like you, Law Fairy, or Kimball?

When your baloney is pointed out to you, you behave just like Prof. Alschuler: you dissemble and play stupid.

Doubt this is true? Don't. It's all archived here, shxtheads.

Deborah Spaeth

that one guy

"Is it unconstitutional for the school to simply permit ID to be discussed in a class, as opposed to the obvious (in my opinion) unconstitutionality of requiring it be taught in science classes?"

Is that what's happening in Fresno, dumbshxt?

Kimball Corson

Re Deborah Spaeth:

At this juncture, at Poster Child's suggestion, I am going to take a pass on Deborah Spaeth. Her incivility, profanity, incoherency and ad hominem slurs compromises anything she might have to say in civil discourse.

Deborah Spaeth

Kimball

"Her incivility, profanity, incoherency and ad hominem slurs compromises anything she might have to say in civil discourse."

Hahahaahah.

As opposed to your dissembling, refusal to admit error, refusal to admit inconsistency, refusal to address the direct deconstruction of your bogus arguments, your quote-mining, and your breathtaking arrogance? Is that right, Kimball?

You're truly pathetic. I'm sorry that you can't handle the truth, Kimball.

If you want civil discourse, Kimball, then show some willingness to be educated. You came into this forum seriously confused and now you run away with your hands over your ears.

Poor, poor baby. Mommy will dry your tears.

Just keep your pseudo-scientific "fine-tuning" bullcrap out of my school district, Kimball, and you won't have any trouble from me.

And fyi -- I know the difference between a school board meeting, a courtroom and a blog.

Unlike you.

Deborah Spaeth

Kimball the Liar

"Her ... incoherency ... compromises anything she might have to say in civil discourse."

Don't pretend to be even stupider than you are, Kimball. I'm writing at a well-educated high-schooler's reading level for your sake.

You're the twit who wants to waste 14 year old's time with rotted-through creationist philosophy and pseudoscientific cosmological mumbo jumbo.

Not me, Kimball. You.

Remember how you claimed that kids would rise up to the level of the discussion?

But then you showed how an alleged adult like yourself was unable to do so?

At the time, that was funny, as in "oddly hypocritical."

Of course, now it doesn't seem so odd ...

Deborah Spaeth

The Fresno school's "philosophy" class:

""This class will take a close look at evolution as a theory and will discuss the scientific, biological, and Biblical aspects that suggest why Darwin's philosophy is not rock solid. This class will discuss Intelligent Design as an alternative response to evolution. Topics that wlll be covered are the age of the earth, a world wide flood, dinosaurs, pre-human fossils, dating methods, DNA, radioisotopes, and geological evidence."

HAHAHHAHAAHAHAHAHHAHHAHAHAHAAHHAHAHHAHAHA!!

Yeah, that sounds REAL constitutional.

Law Fairy, here's your chance to be famous, just like the ass-hats at the Thomas More Law Center for Christian Idiots.

HAHAHHAHAHAHAHAhahhahahah!!!!!!

"Physical and chemical evidence will be presented suggesting the earth is thousands of years old, not billions."

What do you think, Kimball? Is that "plausible" ??? HAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!! Go ahead, Kimball. It's all about "fairness" right???? And Kimball -- did you notice that this school board shares some curious similarities with you, like relying on DEAD people to testify???? HAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!

Here's the instructor:

"Name: Mrs. Sharon Lemburg
Department: Special Education
Brief Biography: B. A. Degree in Physical Education, Social Science: with emphasis in Sociology, Special Education
Class Description: Special Education
Club Advisor or Coach? Soccer and Softball"

BWAHAAHAHAHAAHAHAAHAHAH!!!!!!!!!

Pay attention, Alschuler. Seriously. You could probably learn something from Ms. Lemburg.

"Hurst, who has children in 10th and 12th grades, said the class also interfered with his personal religious views as a Quaker and "reflects a preference for fundamentalist Christianity over all other religious and scientific viewpoints."

Just like Kimball's "compromise" pays lip service to the apologetics of fundies but ignores all the rest of the world's religions and the viewpoints of atheists who think fundies are pure shxt.

Are you starting to "get it" now, Kimball?

Kimball Corson

I Pass.

Deborah Spaeth

Kimball passes and so does El Tejon.

http://www.au.org/site/News2?JServSessionIdr006=a7oqy5kvo1.app13a&abbr=pr&page=NewsArticle&id=7795&security=1002&news_iv_ctrl=1241

Once again: my side wins!

Thank you very much.

Morons.

Kimball Corson

You don't win. You just loose your audience. So who is the moron?

Mike B.

The Vatican weighs in:

Vatican Paper Hits 'Intelligent Design'

By NICOLE WINFIELD
The Associated Press
Wednesday, January 18, 2006; 4:45 PM

VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican newspaper has published an article saying "intelligent design" is not science and that teaching it alongside evolutionary theory in school classrooms only creates confusion.

The article in Tuesday's editions of L'Osservatore Romano was the latest in a series of interventions by Vatican officials _ including the pope _ on the issue that has dominated headlines in the United States.

The author, Fiorenzo Facchini, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Bologna, laid out the scientific rationale for Darwin's theory of evolution, saying that in the scientific world, biological evolution "represents the interpretative key of the history of life on Earth."

He lamented that certain American "creationists" had brought the debate back to the "dogmatic" 1800s, and said their arguments weren't science but ideology.

"This isn't how science is done," he wrote. "If the model proposed by Darwin is deemed insufficient, one should look for another, but it's not correct from a methodological point of view to take oneself away from the scientific field pretending to do science."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/18/AR2006011801571_pf.html

jamie byrne

hi,
was just browsing the web, and happened on this blog. i'm a law student at adelaide uni,...soon to graduate. but anyway, i'm really surprised that arguments like this actually happen,....anyone heard of william of occam,...and the idea that theological argument is a misnomer,... and the fact that absolutes like faith and god are beyond the scope of this sort of examination and exist only in peoples minds? faith is faith, science another thing,...he was excommunicated around about 400 or was it 500 years ago,....maybe its time to go back and examine his thinking,....it might help,...and from the conflaguration,..it certaionly couldnt hurt,.....

Rudolf Rentzel

I enjoyed your comments on the case very much. However, I was wondering if you had any thoughts on how to resolve this problem, or how to move forward.

The problem as I see it, is that evolution by means of random natural selection is presented to students in public schools as the exclusive explanation for the manifest complexity of live and the cosmos all around us, and any alternative explanation is condemned and prohibited by the courts in the public school arena.

I would appreciate any thoughts about how to resolve this problem.

Mel Steffor

I could put this question to rest. I can prove that there is an intelligent designer. He talked to me in 2006 and 2007. I have proof too. Lots of proof. Volumns upon Volumns.

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