09 I Got My Power Chair


In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy destroyed my power chair. After six months of paperwork for Medicare and waiting, I finally got a replacement on May 8, 2013. The above episode is my first impressions of the new chair. The chair is now over a year old, and it still functions like a new piece of equipment. It is nice to have my life back.

Chair02-05-08-13

06 The Problem with Intelligent Design

I  have written a lot, far more than I expected to, on the topic of Intelligent Design. The central question at issue: Is ID science? Some believe it is, some believe it isn’t, and some believe its debatable. I have come to the conclusion it is not science. The above episode and the links below explain why I have come to that conclusion.

Links

The Separation of Church and State

12/23/18: Links to sources in this post have been updated where necessary.


Introduction

Tuesday, December 20, 2005 in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania Judge John E Jones III handed down the Court’s ruling in the case Kitzmiller, et al. v. Dover Area School District, et al.1 The decision was a stunning defeat for Intelligent Design in the science classroom. The Court found that the Board’s Intelligent Design policy violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. William Buckingham former Dover Area School Board member and one of two who spearheaded the Intelligent Design policy was asked for his thoughts on the ruling. Buckingham said, “I’m still waiting for a judge or anyone to show me anywhere in the Constitution where there’s a separation of church and state…. We didn’t lose; we were robbed.”2

The Separation of Church and State

In my seven years as a teacher, I have never seen such a fundamental misunderstanding of a concept as I have with the separation of church and state. Therefore, I take up Mr. Buckingham’s challenge, and attempt to explain the concept. The phrase is not found in the Constitution, but the concept is. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….“ 3 The Bill of Rights applies to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. Thus, the state shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…. Basic to this concept is tolerance, as John Locke argued in his Essay on Toleration 1689, “all religions are worthy of respect, none priority”4 The United States was founded upon morality that is not exclusive of or to any religion; therefore, to protect the free exercise of religion no public agency funded by tax money can or should endorse any religion. The minute the state or any agency of it adopts one religion it prohibits the free exercise of all others, thus making any citizen who does not practice the state religion an outsider in their own community, and not entitled to its basic rights because they are different. The Founding Fathers called that Tyranny of the Majority.

Pluralism

Some would say the United States is not a pluralistic nation, but a Christian nation. If that is the case, there would be no need for the following clause in Article Six of the Constitution which states: “…no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”5 This would seem to support the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. But, some still would say that the United States is a Christian nation. If that is true, who then can become a citizen of this Christian nation? Only Christians is the answer. Where do the great numbers of non-Christians go in that case? The fact is the United States is a pluralistic nation. Congress has upheld this in the Immigration and Nationality Act that in general states:

  1. a period of continuous residence and physical presence in the United States;
  2. residence in a particular USCIS District prior to filing;
  3. an ability to read, write, and speak English;
  4. a knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government;
  5. good moral character;
  6. attachment to the principles of the U.S. Constitution; and,
  7. favorable disposition toward the United States.6

There is no religious test for citizenship; the most important of the requirements is an attachment to the principles of the Constitution. That is a political requirement. Who can become a citizen? Any person who has a commitment to the political principles on which this nation is based; none more basic than the separation of church and state. The requirement of good moral character speaks to good citizenship. Thus, the United States is a pluralistic nation. One that shows respect of all religions, and not one that shows the intolerance of Mr. Buckingham’s statement, “This country wasn’t founded on Muslim beliefs or evolution. This country was founded on Christianity and our students should be taught as such.”7

The Supreme Court in many cases: Lemon v. Kurtzman 1971, Edwards v. Aguillard 1987, and County of Allegheny v. ACLU 1989; to name three, has upheld the concept of separation of church and state. In Lemon, the Court set a three pronged test to determine if the government’s action is repugnant to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. It is the purpose of the Supreme Court to state what the law is. The concept of the separation of church and state started with John Locke. Then, it was expressed in Article Six of the Constitution, and The Bill of Rights. One need not be Christian to become a citizen, and one can be of any religion and become a citizen.

Conclusion

Some Christians do not like the idea of pluralism; they do not see pluralism as a national strength, but a national weakness. These Christians see a commitment to biblical truths as necessary for the nation. In that case, pluralism is repugnant to the Bible as they read it. Pluralism has led, in their view, to moral relativism, and an amoral society. They have the right to hold that view because of the First Amendment. By denying the separation of church and state, they hope to give Christianity priority over other religions and points of view, thus denying those citizens who do not believe as they do the right to be different. Justice Robert Jackson, in 1943, stated “The test of [freedom’s] substance is the right to differ as to things that touch at the heart of the existing order.”8 That would seem to make freedom of thought as much of a right as freedom of religion. The small number of Christians who do not like the idea of pluralism; either do not understand or do not respect the fact that this nation is made stronger by the separation of church and state, and the pluralistic nature of the First Amendment.

Notes

1 Kitzmiller, et al. v. Dover Area School District, et al, (2005), 1-2, https://jgkeegan.com/id/kitzmiller.pdf, (Hereinafter Kitzmiller).

2 Judge rules against ‘intelligent design’ ‘Religious alternative’ to evolution barred from public-school science classes’ accessed December 16 2018, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/10545387/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/judge-rules-against-intelligent-design/#.XBZUUOJOk2w.

3 Constitution of the United States Amendment One, https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/bill-of-rights-transcript#toc-amendment-i.

4 Quoted in Richard L. Greaves, Robert Zaller, and Jennifer Tolbert Roberts, Civilizations of the West The Human Adventure: Volume B The Renaissance to 1815, (New York: Harper Collins, 1992), 566; John Locke, “A Letter Concerning Toleration,” The Federalist Papers Project, accessed December 16, 2018, http://www.thefederalistpapers.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/John-Locke-A-Letter-Concerning-Toleration.pdf.

5 Constitution of the United States Article Six, https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/constitution-transcript#toc-article-vi-.

6 Naturalization, accessed January 11, 2006 http://uscis.gov/graphics/services/natz/. The page is no longer available and is not indexed at Archive.org.

7 Kitzmiller p 103.

8 Quoted in Paul E. Johnson, Gary J. Miller, John H. Aldrich, David W. Rohde, and Charles W. Ostrom, Jr, American Government: People, Institutions and Policies, 3rd ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1994), 103.


Links

Intelligent Design is a Social Theory

12/09/18: Links to sources in this post have been updated where necessary.


There are many school districts across the United States on their own or by law adding Intelligent Design to the high school science curriculum. The State Legislatures of Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Arkansas, South Carolina, Georgia and five others have hadantievolution bills introduced in 2005. The language of these bills, in essence, state “alternatives” to evolution must be given equal time. Many putforth Intelligent Design (ID) as such an alternative and William Dembski in 1998 declared ID a robust scientific theory.1 However, is Intelligent Design a scientific theory? In order to discuss this question, one must be clear about what a scientific theory is. For this article, a scientific theory is defined as follows: a scientific theory is a model that describes accurately a large class of observations and makes definitepredictions about the results of future observations.2 The theory of evolution describes accurately a large class of observations andmakes definite predictions about the results of future observations and has survived countless experiments. Intelligent Design, on the other hand, has not. Intelligent Design is the view that nature shows tangible signs of having beendesigned by a preexisting intelligence. It has been around, in one form oranother, since the time of ancient Greece.3 This is an interesting conjecture; but it is a long way from a scientific theory. The main postulate of Intelligent Design is a preexisting intelligence,which cannot be proved, nor disproved by observation or experiment. As such,any preexisting intelligence would be outside the hot big bang model of the universe, and any actions taken by such a preexisting intelligence would havebeen before the beginning of time. Therefore, according to the law of economy, a preexisting intelligence should be cut out of any model of the universe, for any actions taken by it cannot be observed.

Intelligent Design cannot be put onequal footing with the theory of evolution in the high school sciencecurriculum, for it is not a scientific theory. At best, Intelligent Design is a social theory. A social theory refers to the use of abstract and often complex theoretical frameworks to explain and analyze social patterns and large-scale social structures.4 Historically societies have used a preexisting intelligence to explain phenomena that have no clear explanation. Intelligent Design is, therefore, confined to the high school social studies curriculum.

Once in its proper place the discussion of Intelligent Design changes from should it be taught to—is it Constitutional? The answer to that depends on how one defines a preexisting intelligence. Is it God in the Judeo-Christian sense? Alternatively, is it a race of little green men from another star system or another universe? Intelligent Design is vague in this area. If it is God, then Intelligent Designis just another term for creationism, and thus is Unconstitutional as the Supreme Court has found:

First, the Court concluded that legal mandates to teach creationism did nothing to advance thecause of academic freedom because the open and unregulated field of academicscience already permitted consideration of alternative theories. Legal mandatesto include creationism were not necessary to protect academic freedom becausethe free market in scientific ideas had already considered creationism andrejected it on the merits. Second, the Court took note of the long history ofstrong links between creationist theory and certain fundamentalist religious sects. These two elements led the Court to conclude that the argument of asecular purpose for creationism was a “sham.”5

For Intelligent Design to be Constitutional the preexisting intelligence would have to be that of a race of little green men from another star system or another universe, and once that case is made, Intelligent Design loses 99% of its supporters. If the above case is made, then man is no longer the center of the universe, and Intelligent Design then would be no better thanthe theory of evolution in the eyes of the people that support Intelligent Design.

Intelligent Design is creationism by another name, for the supporters of Intelligent Design would not accept anypreexisting intelligence, but that of God in the Judeo-Christian sense that makes Intelligent Design a social theory and a political issue. If any science were behind the claims of Intelligent Design, there would be no need for State Legislatures to introduce bills calling for Intelligent Design to be placed inthe high school science curriculum. Intelligent Design would have made it into the curriculum on its own merits.

Why should there be bills promoting creationism in the public schools? If people want their children taughtIntelligent Design/creationism there are private schools that will do it. Science has its own problems in the United States without having to fight-off religion. Not enough students are interested in science. That is not to say itis the fault of science teachers; science is expensive (the really interesting stuff usually is) and when the budget needs to be cut the first slice is takenfrom science. A subject that needs the latest and best textbooks and equipmentat all times nationwide. American society is, has been, and always will be heavily dependent on science and the technology it provides for its survival. Thus, the teaching of science should be of the first importance. Yet, American society keeps getting sidetracked by debates that were or should have been settled over 200 years ago. The First Amendment states “Congress shall make nolaw respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….”6 This also holds true for the states. The above bills are repugnant to the Constitution and therefore cannot become law. Americans need to remember we, not only,  have freedom of religion; we have freedom from religion as well.


Notes

1 Nick Matzke, “Intelligent Design bill proposed in Pennsylvania,” NationalCenter for Science Education, last modified April 1, 2005, https://ncse.com/news/2005/04/intelligent-design-bill-proposed-pennsylvania-00663.

2 Stephen W. Hawking, A Brief History ofTime (New York: Bantam, 1988), 9.

3 “What is Intelligent Design?” Access Research Network, accessed December 8, 2018, http://www.arn.org/idfaq/What%20is%20intelligent%20design.htm.

4 “What is social theory?” Social Theory Applied, accessed December 8 2018, https://socialtheoryapplied.com/what-is-social-theory/.

5 Matthew J. Brauer, Barbara Forrest, and Steven G. Gey, “Is It Science Yet?: Intelligent Design Creationism and The Constitution,” Washington University Law Quarterly 83.1 (2005): 101-102, https://jgkeegan-my.sharepoint.com/:b:/g/personal/keegan_jgkeegan_org/EeqnTMoBt49IrE2B9dyQNsgBZ4QtRgF9X5j1pGxwR_V_8Q?e=FNjAhX.

6 Constitution of the United States Amendment One, https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/bill-of-rights-transcript#toc-amendment-i


Links