Sunday, May 4, 2008

Evolution is secular religion, Teach Creationism!

There is a fairly common argument that is consistently launched against the teaching of evolution. Basically the claim is that evolution is either the atheist or Secular Humanist creation story being taught in schools in violation of the first amendment. This is unfair and is nothing more than religious indoctrination and therefore we need to allow equal time for creationism.

There are a number of obvious problems with this,

The legal remedy would not to be to teach creationism, the legal remedy would be to stop teaching evolution. Nobody should reasonably assume that to fight an injustice one needs to allow multiple injustices. This is biased against blacks! Make it biased against Mexicans too! Further, the same argument could be launched against many things in science and education which contradict certain religions or non-religion... that Big Bang Theory seemed pretty silly to Hoyle on the grounds that it was 'religion'. -- We'd need to stop teaching altogether.

There is no violation of the first amendment. Simply because certain groups of atheists and secular humanists believe the scientific truth and belief in the findings of science meshes well with what many atheists believe does not imply violate the Lemon Test as the primary goal of the activity is not to indoctrinate against religion, rather the fact that the universe is 13.73 billion years old and life on this planet arose out of purely naturalistic forces happens to contradict a ludicrous religious belief is a pity for people who want people to believe falsehoods but doesn't have the primary effect of inhibiting religion. The primary effect is teaching truth, the secondary effect is contradicting lies.

The Court's decision in this case established the "Lemon test", which details the requirements for legislation concerning religion. It consists of three prongs:

1. The government's action must have a secular legislative purpose;
2. The government's action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion;
3. The government's action must not result in an "excessive government entanglement" with religion.

Teaching evolution does not violate any prong of the lemon test.

Similarly the sword cuts both ways as the supreme court found in McGowan v. Maryland that blue laws which prohibit stupid things like selling liquor on Sunday are acceptable (sometimes). The law may have been initially religious, but so long as it primarily serves secular purposes and the original religious nature of the law does not make it unconstitutional.

1 comment:

C. David Parsons said...
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