Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Casey Luskin has an essay up on the Caldwells’ lawsuit against UC’s Understanding Evolution website, a suit that was dismissed a couple weeks ago. Luskin, like Caldwell, continues to make one glaring error in reasoning:

According to a Daily Californian article, attorney Larry Caldwell believes that by sponsoring the Understanding Evolution website “the state of California is taking a position on religious issues and advocating certain religious values, which is clearly a violation” of the Establishment Clause. Perhaps the most egregious example of such a violation is the title of a page which states, “Misconception: ‘Evolution and religion are incompatible.’”** By labeling this belief a “misconception,” the government is clearly taking sides on what is essentially a religious and not a scientific question: the question of whether religion and evolution are compatible.

Absolutely false, for one reason that should be glaringly obvious to anyone: they are confusing the general and the particular. The UC site merely describes the pro-evolution views of numerous religious organizations. The fact that many religious people accept evolution is enough, all by itself, to show that religion is not incompatible with evolution. Note that this is a different statement than saying that someone’s specific religion is not incompatible with evolution.

Those who believe that their religion and evolution are compatible obviously have different religious views than those who believe they are incompatible. But the former clearly do exist and surely it’s not unconstitutional for the government merely to reference their existence and to make the obviously accurate statement that some religious views are compatible with evolution. And if some religious views are compatible with religion, then there is no inherent incompatibility between religion and evolution, only between particular religious views and evolution.

The mere mention that other religious people hold a different view of evolution simply doesn’t mean that the rights of those who think they are incompatible have been violated. Nor does it mean that the establishment clause has been violated. As Sandefur explained months ago, the claim that some religious groups accept evolution as true “is not a theological claim at all, no more than it would be to say that ‘most Christians believe that Jesus Christ was the son of God,’ or ‘Most Jewish groups are made up of Jews.’ It is a descriptive statement, which is entirely appropriate in the context of taxpayer-funded education. No Court has ever suggested that the government cannot fund a statement which describes the beliefs of particular religious groups, even if they do so for a reason that parents do not want to hear.”

Comments

  1. #1 Sean Foley
    March 30, 2006

    According to a Daily Californian article, attorney Larry Caldwell believes that by sponsoring the Understanding Evolution website “the state of California is taking a position on religious issues and advocating certain religious values, which is clearly a violation” of the Establishment Clause.

    This argument keeps coming up in Creationist lawsuits and it keeps getting knocked down. Even if it weren’t thoroughly ludicrious, there’s precedent aplenty against it (Crowley v. Smithsonian etc.).

  2. #2 raj
    March 30, 2006

    I have a different take on Luskin’s comment and Caldwell’s lawsuit. Unless they can show that UC actually denied a faculty member to post an anti-evolution, pro-creation or pro-ID website on its computers, the state has not “tak(en) sides” on the issue.

    I say “faculty member” because usually university guidelines limit website hosting on its computers to faculty members and possibly some students. Universities usually don’t allow their computers to host websites proposed by any Tom, Dick or Harry who walks in off the street and ask them to.

  3. #3 Kevin W. Parker
    March 30, 2006

    Isn’t it amazing how these judges keep getting it wrong? That’s three times in a row now (adding in Dover and Cobb County) that they’ve screwed it up, according to the Discovery Institute. Obviously a Darwinist conspiracy….

  4. #4 Ginger Yellow
    March 30, 2006

    Not to mention the born again Christian president who keeps screwing up and nominating the judges who keep screwing up. And the born again Christian voters who screwed up and voted for him twice. That’s one powerful Darwinist conspiracy at work.

  5. #5 raj
    March 30, 2006

    Ginger, it appears that more people should be nominated for the Darwin Awards (www.darwinawards.com) than we would have imagined.

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