Casey Luskin, once again, shows us why he is not a person to take seriously. He, like his buddy Meyer, fails a very basic area of research in promoting his ideas. His latest article shows some oddly rational thinking, but his scholarship failure undermines his entire point.
The article is If Evolution Has Implications for Religion, Can We Justify Teaching It in Public Schools? (warning, link to creationist website).
In this article Casey actually makes some good points.
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.
So Casey admits that evolutionary biology is a science. That’s a pretty impressive admission for the ID crowd. The whole ‘materialism” thing is a bit confusing because no one has ever been able to provide evidence of something that was non-materialism. But that’s a whole ‘nother animal as my granddad would say.
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.
This is another pretty powerful admission. Evolution (and most of the sciences and mathematics fields) have confirmed statements that do touch upon the beliefs of various religions. There are no talking snakes. The Earth is not 6,000 years old. Heck, even the science of history disagrees with much of the Bible. But we still teach history.
Casey talks a bit about the Lemon test. It’s not a check at the supermarket to see if the fruit is fresh. It’s a legal test developed during the Lemon v. Kurtzman trial. It resulted in a three part test to see if a government program violated the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment.
- The statute must not result in an “excessive government entanglement” with religious affairs. (also known as the Entanglement Prong)
- Character and purpose of institution benefited.
- Nature of aid the state provides.
- Resulting relationship between government and religious authority.
- The statute must not advance nor inhibit religious practice (also known as the Effect Prong)
- The statute must have a secular legislative purpose. (also known as the Purpose Prong)
Teaching evolution has a strong secular purpose. It’s good science. It’s predictive, it’s repeatable, it is supported by dozens of independent fields. As Casey describes, while the implications of evolution cause a rejection of some parts of the Bible, that in and of itself is not enough to run afoul of the Effect Prong. And the Entanglement Prong is also a non-issue since this occurs in a school science course, which is intended to teach science.
Case cites a couple of legal cases that support these ideas. Then Casey screws up. Here’s his last two paragraphs.
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.
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.
That first paragraph is actually good. I’m honestly shocked by the reasonableness and validity of Casey’s discussion here.
But that last paragraph is a problem.
First of all, “many evolutionists” do think exactly this way. It’s not a problem. It’s what scientists and concerned citizens have been battling for over 50 years. I applaud Casey for supporting this.
Because the very same approach would justify teaching about intelligent design in public schools.
That’s where the problem is. Casey has done all of this work, supporting the idea of teaching evolution, but made a fatal mistake in his conclusion. Because he conflates a science with a religion. Because teaching science in science class is OK, Casey assumes that we should also teach his religion in science class.
Casey, Casey, Casey. Just because you keep saying that ID is science, that don’t make it so. ID is not predictive. ID does not have a mechanism. And ID is most certainly a religion. Here is where Casey’s scholarship failure comes into play.
While Casey cites 4 legal opinions. He fails to cite the one most relevant to this discussion. The results of the Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District trial. Let me quote some lines from Judge Jones’ decision.
- For the reasons that follow, we conclude that the religious nature of ID [intelligent design] would be readily apparent to an objective observer, adult or child. (page 24)
- A significant aspect of the IDM [intelligent design movement] is that despite Defendants’ protestations to the contrary, it describes ID as a religious argument. In that vein, the writings of leading ID proponents reveal that the designer postulated by their argument is the God of Christianity. (page 26)
- The evidence at trial demonstrates that ID is nothing less than the progeny of creationism. (page 31)
- The overwhelming evidence at trial established that ID is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory. (page 43)
- 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 1980s; and (3) ID’s negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community. …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. Expert testimony reveals that since the scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries, science has been limited to the search for natural causes to explain natural phenomena. (page 64)
Oops. ID is religious. ID is a religious argument. ID promotes God. ID is creationism. ID is a religious view. ID is not a scientific theory. ID fails to be a science at all.
Casey, like Meyer, when writing, you should use all of the references that are directly applicable to your argument. To do otherwise is cherry-picking at worst or a failure of scholarship at best. I know that Casey knows about the Kitzmiller case, he’s written about it before (another creationist site.
In conclusion, Casey makes a fantastic argument and shoots himself in the foot by failing to consider all the relevant cases.