Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Beckwith v Laycock

Over at the Legal Affairs debate club, this week’s debate is over the question, Is Teaching Intelligent Design Illegal? The debate pits Frank Beckwith, DI Fellow and the associate director of the Dawson Institute for Church-State Studies at Baylor, against Doug Laycock, a church-state specialist at the University of Texas Law School. Having had friendly exchanges with both gentlemen over the last couple of years, I look forward to seeing how it develops. Beckwith will of course take the position that ID may lawfully be taught in school, as position he has developed in numerous scholarly articles and books; Laycock, presumably, will take the opposite position.


  1. #1 Mark Paris
    September 26, 2005

    In my view, arguing for teaching intelligent design in public schools in the US, absent a change in the Constitution, is like arguing for the existence of a perpetual motion machine: I do not have to hear the argument to know that it is wrong.

  2. #2 Josh
    September 26, 2005

    Seems like the question is ill-posed.

    Can IDC be taught? Yes.

    Can it be taught in science class? No.

    Can it be taught in a philosophy or history of religions class? Yes.

  3. #3 Mark Paris
    September 26, 2005

    If it is taught in a philosophy or history of religion class, it is not taught as such. IDC proponents want ID taught, not taught about.

  4. #4 Josh
    September 26, 2005

    I suppose. I think it’s a religious proposition, so teaching it in a religion class or discussing the process for inferring the action of a supernatural force in a philosophy class would be teaching it, but it wouldn’t be an attack on “Darwinism” (whatever that is). Since that’s the goal, IDolators don’t care about those options.

    The current creationist Kansas Board of Ed actually rejected a proposal for a philosophy course.

  5. #5 raj
    September 27, 2005

    Um, maybe they should teach it in Sunday school. That would eliminate any problem.

    Quite frankly, if they would get away from public financing of public schools, that would please me.

  6. #6 beajerry
    September 27, 2005

    I agree. It is something for sunday school. Are ID-ers against sunday school? Say, can teachers go into churches and teach about the Flying Spaghetti Monster? I’d love a law permitting that!

  7. #7 Josh
    September 27, 2005

    It seems like, in the interest of balance, Pastafarians should be obliged to go to churches and discuss FSM.

  8. #8 raj
    September 28, 2005

    Josh, just to let you know, I was rolling on the floor laughing at the “Pastafarians” reference.

    FSM=Flying Spaghetti Monster.

  9. #9 oolong
    September 29, 2005

    I’ve been reading along as this debate progresses and, if you ask me, I’d say that Beckwith is getting his posterior handed to him. I don’t even this Beckwith has landed a punch as of yet. He even pulled out the ol’ (parahrased) “science is committed to naturalistic explanations, but that’s not itself scientifically assessable as a criterion, so schools, in endorsing science conducted in such a fashion, are really endorsing (naturalistic) philosophy.” How lame. He’s really reaching into the talking points with that one.

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