People of faith received an early Christmas present when the
Bush-appointed U. S. Federal Judge John E. Jones III ruled that
teaching Intelligent Design (ID) in the science classroom is
unconstitutional, and thus illegal. Judge Jones is a conservative
Republican and a worshipping Christian.
People of faith received an early Christmas present when the Bush-appointed U. S. Federal Judge John E. Jones III ruled that teaching Intelligent Design (ID) in the science classroom is unconstitutional, and thus illegal. Judge Jones is a conservative Republican and a worshipping Christian.
Judge Jones’ ruling in Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District has enormous significance in terms of the legal doctrine of church-state separation, and the ruling is a monumental victory for academic freedom and, more importantly, religious freedom. People of faith should rejoice for several reasons:
First, teaching ID has been illegal since the first efforts to put it into the science curriculum. The Dover case was simply a rehash of earlier court cases where the United States Supreme Court ruled that teaching non-science topics in science class was illegal and that teaching the controversy (“balanced treatment”) violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. So when Pastor Matt Valencia (Debating Design, Dec. 9) states that “you have to give both sides,” and Pastor Jim Achilles ( Intelligent Design Not an Issue in Local Public Schools, Aug. 25) believes students need to learn both theories, both are advocating that which is illegal. Other people in the 30 articles and letters to the editors published in the Free Lance since Aug. 18 have made the same mistake of advocating that which is illegal.
Second, most of the writers who have advocated teaching ID in the science classroom seem to be making the assumption that evolution is not compatible with religious faith in God. While some scientific knowledge, such as evolution, might be incompatible with their personal religious belief, to assume that other religions have a similar problem would be a false assumption. The following official religious organizations have made statements in support of evolution: Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, American Jewish Congress, Lutherans, Methodists, Mormons, Presbyterians, Unitarians and many others. Most of these groups were part of the pro-science side in previous creationist cases that made it to the Supreme Court. In addition, in survey after survey, scientists are just as likely to be faithful Christians or faithful members of other religious groups. As Judge Jones forcefully and correctly ruled, to believe that there is a necessary conflict between science and religion is a false dualism.
Third, teaching ID in the science classroom violates two tenets that people of all religions should support: separation of church and state and keeping politics out of the school system. The place for teaching religious beliefs is in our homes and religious institutions, not in a publicly-funded classroom. Religion in our science classrooms is just as inappropriate as the state of California dictating the contents of religious sermons at Christmas. More importantly, scientists need determine the content of the science curriculum. In my experience, we people of faith should do as one religious body stated, “Our mission is to bear the message of the restored gospel to the world. Leave geology, biology, archaeology and anthropology, no one of which has to do with the salvation of the souls of mankind, to scientific research while we magnify our calling in the realm of the Church.”
Fourth, we should not have a particular group’s religious views taught in our schools. Simply, I don’t want the religious views of those who are writing letters to the Free Lance taught in the science classrooms, and they probably would not want my religious views taught in those same classrooms. We need to strengthen the teaching of science in our classrooms, not spend time teaching religious belief.
I know that God created this earth and created man. And I am thankful that God inspired Judge Jones to rule that ID does not belong in the science classrooms in the United States.
Mel Tungate, Hollister