Dispatches from the Creation Wars

The Subject of Caldwell’s Suit

For the edification of my readers, let me show you the sum total of the text on the Understanding Evolution website that Larry Caldwell claimed in the lawsuit that the court dismissed earlier this year was unconstitutional:

Misconception:
“Evolution and religion are incompatible.”

Response:
Religion and science (evolution) are very different things. In science, only natural causes are used to explain natural phenomena, while religion deals with beliefs that are beyond the natural world.

The misconception that one always has to choose between science and religion is incorrect. Of course, some religious beliefs explicitly contradict science (e.g., the belief that the world and all life on it was created in six literal days); however, most religious groups have no conflict with the theory of evolution or other scientific findings. In fact, many religious people, including theologians, feel that a deeper understanding of nature actually enriches their faith. Moreover, in the scientific community there are thousands of scientists who are devoutly religious and also accept evolution.

For concise statements from many religious organizations regarding evolution, see Voices for Evolution on the NCSE Web site.

That’s it. That innocuous little snippet was what sent Larry into court claiming an establishment clause violation. Funny, most religious righters like him think there’s no establishment clause violation even if the school forces kids to say prayers against their will. Larry thinks it’s unconstitutional for a public university to even describe someone’s religious beliefs on a website. And now you know why Larry is viewed as something between a disgraced televangelist and a carnival barker.

Comments

  1. #1 Anuminous
    November 30, 2006

    I was not aware that there was much space between a carnival barker and any televangelist. Except pay scale perhaps.

  2. #2 Frank Marshall
    November 30, 2006

    Wrong, Ed — UC Berkeley’s Understanding Evolution website contains more about religion than just what you quoted above. For example, there is this —

    After one such initial brainstorming session, one teacher presented students with a short quiz wherein they were asked, “Which statement was made by the Pope?” or “which statement was made by an Episcopal Bishop?” and given an “a, b, c” multiple choice selection. All the statements from theologians, of course, stressed the compatibility of theology with the science of evolution. This generated discussion about what evolution was versus what students thought it was. By making the students aware of the diversity of opinion towards evolution extant in Christian theology, the teacher helped them understand that they didn’t have to make a choice between evolution and religious faith.

    A teacher in Minnesota told me that he had good luck sending his students out at the beginning of the semester to interview their pastors and priests about evolution. They came back somewhat astonished, “Hey! Evolution is OK!”

    — from http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/fosrec/Scott2.html

    In other words, the website explicitly calls on public-school teachers to use religion to promote Darwinism.

    Also, the suit lost on the basis of a ruling that Caldwell’s taxpayer status did not give him standing to sue and not on the basis of a ruling that his claims lacked merit.

  3. #3 kehrsam
    November 30, 2006

    Well, Mr. Marshall, let’s give him every benefit of the doubt. Suit dismissed for standing, and that the above-quoted language is on the website. Where is the Establishment Clause violation?

    How is it a violation to say on a website about science that science is compatible with most of the major religions in this country? Even if the statement is incorrect (it is not) where is the promotion of either religion or non-religion?

    And it does not “[E]xplicitly calls on public-school teachers to use religion to promote Darwinism.” First, the topic is Evolution, not Darwinism, whatever that may be. Second, Evolution is part of the curriculum, so it is not clear why it should not be promoted or taught. Finally, how is asking kids to research their own faith’s position on evolution tantamount to using religion to promote it? After all, the student may well discover that his faith sponsors YEC or something. Again, where does the Establishment Clause fit into any of this?

  4. #4 W. Kevin Vicklund
    November 30, 2006

    Frank, that link you provide does not appear to be part of the Understanding Evolution website – rather, it is part of the University of California Museum of Paleontology website.

  5. #5 G Barnett
    November 30, 2006

    Additionally, Ed never said that was the total references to religion on that site — what he said was that it was the total of the text that was claimed in Caldwell’s lawsuit as being in violation of the Establishment Clause. In other words, the lawsuit referred to that excert, only that excerpt and to no other parts of the site.

  6. #6 Ed Brayton
    November 30, 2006

    As others have noted, the snippet that Mr. Marshall provides is not from the Understanding Evolution site, it’s from the Museum of Paleontology’s website. And nowhere does it endorse the religious viewpoint being discussed, it merely points out the incontrovertible fact that many mainline Christian denominations accept evolution. There is nothing in the Constitution which forbids the government from describing what a religion or religious group believes.

  7. #7 Frank Marshall
    November 30, 2006

    Ed Brayton said,

    As others have noted, the snippet that Mr. Marshall provides is not from the Understanding Evolution site, it’s from the Museum of Paleontology’s website.

    UCB’s Museum of Paleontology is also a government entity. And the webpage I quoted might have originally been part of the Understanding Evolution site or directly linked to it.

    Here is part of the press release from Larry Caldwell —

    For IMMEDIATE RELEASE on October 12, 2005

    Contact: Larry Caldwell
    Phone: 916-774-4667
    lcaldwell@qsea.org

    Lawsuit Alleges that Federally-Funded Evolution Website Violates Separation of Church and State by Using Religion to Promote Evolution

    San Francisco, CA– A California parent, Jeanne Caldwell, is filing a federal lawsuit today against officials of the National Science Foundation and the University of California at Berkeley for spending more than $500,000 of federal money on a website that encourages teachers to use religion to promote evolution in violation of the First Amendment . . . . . .

    Called “Understanding Evolution,” the website identified in the lawsuit directs teachers to doctrinal statements by seventeen religious denominations and groups endorsing evolutionary theory. A statement by the United Church of Christ, for example, declares that evolution is consistent with “the revelation and presence of… God in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.”

    The website further suggests classroom activities that explicitly use religion to promote evolution. In one suggested activity, teachers are supposed to share with students statements by religious leaders on evolution, but only those “stress[ing] the compatibility of theology with the science of evolution.” In another activity, students are assigned to interview ministers about their views on evolution, with the purpose of showing students that “Evolution is OK!” Teachers are cautioned, however, that this particular activity may not work if they live in a community that is “conservative Christian.”

    “While the government has a legitimate purpose in educating students about the science of evolution, it’s outrageous that tax dollars would be spent to indoctrinate students into a particular religious view of evolution. There are many different religious views about evolution. How dare the government tell students which religious view is correct!” said plaintiff Jeanne Caldwell. “This is propaganda, not education.”

    – from http://www.uncommondescent.com/index.php/archives/396

  8. #8 Ed Brayton
    November 30, 2006

    Frank-

    It doesn’t matter whether it’s a government site or not, there is no constitutional violation there. The site makes the plain and simple statement that some religious groups accept evolution and it links to some statements from various religious groups saying so. That’s a description, not an endorsement. Caldwell is just plain wrong when he dishonestly claims that this is an attempt to “indoctrinate students into a particular religious view of evolution.”

  9. #9 Jason I.
    November 30, 2006

    Frank Marshall said:

    And the webpage I quoted might have originally been part of the Understanding Evolution site or directly linked to it.

    Might have been? The only links from the UE website to the UCMP website are in the sections detailing who contributed to the UE website. And those links just go to the main UCMP page.

    There is a section of the UE website about teaching evolutionary theory. None of the content there remotely suggests that teachers teach religion, engage in religious activities or debates, or suggest anything other than the possibility that religion is compatible with the Theory of Evolution. Most of the information provided tells teachers to let students know that learning about evolution isn’t a debate, and regardless of religious beliefs, is required.

    The lawsuit was frivolous and without basis. None of the content mentioned in the lawsuit is actually on the UE website mentioned. And some of the content mentioned in the lawsuit is not even directly linked from the UE website. Caldwell, went on a rather bizarre witch hunt, and had to manufacture “evidence” to do so.

  10. #10 Frank Marshall
    November 30, 2006

    Ed Brayton said,

    The site makes the plain and simple statement that some religious groups accept evolution and it links to some statements from various religious groups saying so. That’s a description, not an endorsement.

    The webpage that I quoted does not merely say that some religious groups accept evolution but also encourages teachers to tell students which religious views about evolution are “correct.”

    Jason I. said,

    Frank Marshall said:

    And the webpage I quoted might have originally been part of the Understanding Evolution site or directly linked to it.

    Might have been? The only links from the UE website to the UCMP website are in the sections detailing who contributed to the UE website. And those links just go to the main UCMP page.

    That is the way it is now, but I am saying that it might have been different back when Larry Caldwell filed his lawsuit. And that material should not be in the UCMP website, either.

  11. #11 Ed Brayton
    November 30, 2006

    Frank Marshall wrote:

    The webpage that I quoted does not merely say that some religious groups accept evolution but also encourages teachers to tell students which religious views about evolution are “correct.”

    Please quote me the portion that says those views are “correct”. And you’re still ignoring one very important distinction – even if the page did say that, it would not be unconstitutional. If a teacher does endorse a specific religious viewpoint while teaching, that would be unconstitutional; a webpage suggesting that they should do so would not be unconstitutional. A scholar at a public university can still publish his critique of constitutional doctrines without violating the constitution. This has been explained repeatedly and ignored repeatedly. So even if you were correct on the premise (and you’re not), you’re wrong on the conclusion as well.

  12. #12 W. Kevin Vicklund
    November 30, 2006

    The webpage that I quoted does not merely say that some religious groups accept evolution but also encourages teachers to tell students which religious views about evolution are “correct.”

    I call quote-mine.

    From the second paragraph of the very same page Frank linked to:

    Although it would be inappropriate for a teacherto encourage students towards or against any religious view, it is appropriate to inform them, in a comparative sense, of the existence of more than one religious perspective on creation and evolution. Because students are not tabulae rasae when they come to class, a constructivist approach is a useful way to help them build their understanding of this important fact.

    This is in fact the paragraph immediately preceding the text Frank quoted.

    And later on:

    Note that you are not to promote theistic evolution: the schools must be religiously neutral. The purpose of this exercise is to give the student some critically important information so that he or she will be more willing to listen to the scientific information you will present.

    and some more:

    It’s the job of the teacher to instruct, not to indoctrinate. All you are asking is that the student learn the subject.

    Thank you for playing.

  13. #13 Coin
    November 30, 2006

    That is the way it is now, but I am saying that it might have been different back when Larry Caldwell filed his lawsuit.

    “Might”, huh.

    Well, if that’s the case, then you should be able to find the previous state among the backups of various historical states of Berkeley’s website located at archive.org, which include regular archives of the “Understanding Evolution” site dating back to 2003.

    Do let us know if you find anything!

  14. #14 Ed Brayton
    November 30, 2006

    Kevin, you jumped the gun. I was waiting to hear from Mr. Marshall what part he thinks instructs teachers to say which view is correct. The reality, as you have shown, is that it very explicitly instructs them not to do so. Countering these constant lies is tiring, but at least it’s easy. Anyone think we’ll hear from Frank Marshall again on this? I’m doubting it.

  15. #15 W. Kevin Vicklund
    November 30, 2006

    Sorry, Ed, didn’t see your comment until after I posted.

  16. #16 Frank Marshall
    November 30, 2006

    Ed Brayton said,

    Please quote me the portion that says those views are “correct”.

    I was not quoting the Understanding Evolution(UE) or UCB Museum of Paleontology (UCMP) websites — I was quoting Larry Caldwell’s press release –

    “How dare the government tell students which religious view is correct!” said plaintiff Jeanne Caldwell.

    It is fairly obvious that the websites are encouraging teachers to tell students which religious views about evolution are “correct.” The websites go well beyond merely advising teachers to tell students that different religious groups have different views about evolution — these websites encourage teachers to violate the 1st Amendment by indoctrinating students in particular religious views about evolution.. The UCMP webpage that I quoted has a section titled “Defuse the Religion Issue.” This section suggests that teachers quiz students about statements that religious leaders have made about evolution — “Which statement was made by the Pope?” or “which statement was made by an Episcopal Bishop?” — and suggests that students “interview their pastors and priests about evolution,” adding that “[t]he survey-of-ministers approach may not work if the community is religiously homogeneous, especially if that homogeneity is conservative Christian . . .. ” Also, the UE website has an embedded link to a one-sided National Center for Science Education webpage titled “Statements from Religious Organizations” that has only pro-evolution and neutral statements and no anti-evolution statements, and the title of this embedded link is “Voices for Evolution” –

    For concise statements from many religious organizations regarding evolution, see Voices for Evolution on the NCSE Web site.

    – from
    http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/misconceptions_faq.php#d1

    Also, I suspect that the UE and UCMP websites were cleaned up a little after the lawsuit — for example, Caldwell’s press release said, “In one suggested activity, teachers are supposed to share with students statements by religious leaders on evolution, but only those ‘stress[ing] the compatibility of theology with the science of evolution,’” but I could not find that quotation in the current websites. Also, some material may have since been added, such as the material cited by Kevin Vicklund. To go back through the websites’ archives to see what and when stuff was deleted or added would be like searching for a needle in a haystack.

    If a teacher does endorse a specific religious viewpoint while teaching, that would be unconstitutional; a webpage suggesting that they should do so would not be unconstitutional.

    So are you conceding that these publicly-funded websites may be encouraging teachers to commit unconstitutional acts?

    Courts have ruled against public-school evolution disclaimer statements in the Selman v. Cobb County and Freiler v. Tangipahoa Parish cases, even though those disclaimers did not endorse any religious or other kind of viewpoint, and I have never seen you criticize those decisions. You just have a double standard, Ed.

    Kevin Vicklund said,

    I call quote-mine.
    From the second paragraph of the very same page Frank linked to:
    Although it would be inappropriate for a teacher to encourage students towards or against any religious view, it is appropriate to inform them, in a comparative sense, of the existence of more than one religious perspective on creation and evolution.
    And later on:
    Note that you are not to promote theistic evolution: the schools must be religiously neutral.

    Paying lip service to the principle of separation of church and state does not excuse giving advice on how to violate that principle.

    Thank you for playing.

    And thank you for losing.

  17. #17 gwangung
    November 30, 2006

    Also, I suspect that the UE and UCMP websites were cleaned up a little after the lawsuit –

    I doubt it. At least not beyond the usual maitenance.

    But please keep on smearing. It beats doing actual research. It’s clear reading comprehension isn’t your strong suit.

  18. #18 Ed Brayton
    November 30, 2006

    Frank Marshall wrote:

    It is fairly obvious that the websites are encouraging teachers to tell students which religious views about evolution are “correct.” The websites go well beyond merely advising teachers to tell students that different religious groups have different views about evolution — these websites encourage teachers to violate the 1st Amendment by indoctrinating students in particular religious views about evolution.

    Depsite the fact that you haven’t quoted a single statement from that website saying anything like that, and despite the fact that you have been shown numerous quotes from that website specifically telling teachers not to tell them that the views it describes are correct. Talk about having a position that is completely immune to the influence of evidence. For crying out loud, Frank, this is nonsense on stilts and it is incredibly dishonest. You’re claiming it says what it emphatically and eplicitly does not say and goes out of its way to make sure it can’t be read that way. But by all means, again, please cite one single statement from anywhere on that site where it says that teachers should tell students that the position of those religious groups that accept evolution is true. If you can’t do that, then you are simply engaging in deceit.

    The UCMP webpage that I quoted has a section titled “Defuse the Religion Issue.” This section suggests that teachers quiz students about statements that religious leaders have made about evolution — “Which statement was made by the Pope?” or “which statement was made by an Episcopal Bishop?” — and suggests that students “interview their pastors and priests about evolution,” adding that “[t]he survey-of-ministers approach may not work if the community is religiously homogeneous, especially if that homogeneity is conservative Christian . . .. “

    Nice try, but not even close. Reread what you wrote: Genie suggests that they encourage students to talk to religious leaders about their position. That is not an endorsement of the position they might take. Nor does quizzing them on what a religous group says endorse their position. If I ask you what the Pope thinks about evolution, or tell you that the Pope accepts evolution, does that in any way indicate that what the Pope says is true? Of course not. I can tell you the Pope’s position on any number of subjects and I disagree with all of them. Teaching someone about a religious viewpoint is not the same thing as endorsing that viewpoint. This is not sophisticated logic, Frank, it’s really simple use of language. It shouldn’t be this difficult for you to grasp.

    Also, the UE website has an embedded link to a one-sided National Center for Science Education webpage titled “Statements from Religious Organizations” that has only pro-evolution and neutral statements and no anti-evolution statements, and the title of this embedded link is “Voices for Evolution” –

    Yes it does, and that page lists – lists, not endorses – the positions of numerous religious groups that accept evolution. Now in some alternate universe where telling someone about someone else’s position is the same thing as endorsing their position, you might have a point. A perfect example: I can tell someone what your position is on this issue, but that certainly doesn’t mean I endorse that position. And I don’t endorse that position because it’s stupid and dishonest.

    So are you conceding that these publicly-funded websites may be encouraging teachers to commit unconstitutional acts?

    Frank, Frank, Frank. Your dishonesty is showing again. I very, very clearly posed my statement as an “if” statement – even if the webpage DID say what you dishonestly claim it says, your conclusion would still be wrong. Only a rank liar would now claim that I’ve conceded your premise when I said that even if one grants your premise, the conclusion would be wrong. You’re digging that hole deeper and deeper, and frankly, looking about as idiotic and disingenuous as Caldwell at this point. Do the two of you share a brain? Which one has it tonight?

    Courts have ruled against public-school evolution disclaimer statements in the Selman v. Cobb County and Freiler v. Tangipahoa Parish cases, even though those disclaimers did not endorse any religious or other kind of viewpoint, and I have never seen you criticize those decisions. You just have a double standard, Ed.

    But they did endorse a religious viewpoint, in both cases. They were written solely as a sop to religious groups who oppose evolution and they used language taken directly from the literature of those religious groups. Where do you think the “fact, not theory” language comes from? Directly from creationist writings. The only reason evolution was singled out for such a sticker was because creationists object to it, and the policy was passed solely to satisfy those creationists. The disclaimer in Freiler specifically mentioned the “Biblical version of creation”, for crying out loud. How explicit does it have to be?

  19. #19 W. Kevin Vicklund
    November 30, 2006

    Also, I suspect that the UE and UCMP websites were cleaned up a little after the lawsuit — for example, Caldwell’s press release said, “In one suggested activity, teachers are supposed to share with students statements by religious leaders on evolution, but only those ‘stress[ing] the compatibility of theology with the science of evolution,’” but I could not find that quotation in the current websites. Also, some material may have since been added, such as the material cited by Kevin Vicklund. To go back through the websites’ archives to see what and when stuff was deleted or added would be like searching for a needle in a haystack.

    Oh, I’m sorry! You are incorrect! (/game show host)

    A quick check shows that the language I quoted was present in the initial Eugenie Scott article way back at the beginning of 2001 and which was on the UCMP website the whole time. When the Understanding Evolution website was officially released, it did not have the article, and has not had the article since that point. The lawsuit was filed in October of 2005. Prior to September of 2005, the site consisted of solely the Teacher’s portion that is now located in the right side of the main page. In September of 2005, the website was expanded – since then, the changes have been news updates. The Eugenie Scott article is neither referenced nor quoted at any point during or after this time frame.

  20. #20 W. Kevin Vicklund
    November 30, 2006

    Sorry, meant to say that the UE website was released in early 2004 – three years after the Eugenie Scott article was written.

  21. #21 Frank Marshall
    December 1, 2006

    Ed Brayton said,

    But by all means, again, please cite one single statement from anywhere on that site where it says that teachers should tell students that the position of those religious groups that accept evolution is true.

    There is the statement, “[t]he survey-of-ministers approach may not work if the community is religiously homogeneous, especially if that homogeneity is conservative Christian . . .. ” — so obviously the webpage has an ax to grind. That statement strongly suggests that teachers not ask students to survey clergy if there is a strong possibility that the clergy would not endorse evolution. Also, Larry Caldwell’s press release said, “In one suggested activity, teachers are supposed to share with students statements by religious leaders on evolution, but only those ‘stress[ing] the compatibility of theology with the science of evolution.’”(emphasis added) That statement quoted from the website was probably removed because it is so incriminating. Also, the link to the NCSE website is embedded in the words “Voices for Evolution,” and there is no link to opposing views.

    Of course the websites are not going to blatantly come out and say that the teachers should flatly tell the students which religious views are true. But the bias of the websites is obvious.

    Genie suggests that they encourage students to talk to religious leaders about their position. That is not an endorsement of the position they might take. Nor does quizzing them on what a religous group says endorse their position.

    That is much too much emphasis on religion in science classes. And I thought that religion was not supposed to be discussed in science classes at all.

    Teaching someone about a religious viewpoint is not the same thing as endorsing that viewpoint.

    But teaching someone only about pro-evolution religious viewpoints is in effect endorsing those viewpoints.

    that page lists – lists, not endorses – the positions of numerous religious groups that accept evolution.

    But why nothing from religious groups or leaders who do not accept evolution? The Understanding Evolution website links only to that webpage and therefore obviously has an ax to grind.

    So are you conceding that these publicly-funded websites may be encouraging teachers to commit unconstitutional acts?

    Frank, Frank, Frank. Your dishonesty is showing again. I very, very clearly posed my statement as an “if” statement

    Ed, Ed, Ed. I very, very clearly treated your statement as an “if” statement — I asked if you are conceding that these websites may be encouraging teachers to commit unconstitutional acts.

    But they did endorse a religious viewpoint, in both cases.

    The evolution disclaimer in the Selman case said, “This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.” Now how anyone can get a religious viewpoint out of that is beyond me.

    The disclaimer in Freiler specifically mentioned the “Biblical version of creation”, for crying out loud.

    But the disclaimer in Freiler was not an endorsement of religion, for crying out loud. I’d bet that you didn’t know that Freiler came within one vote of getting an en banc (full court) appeals court rehearing and within one vote of a grant of certiorari by the Supreme Court.

    Anyway, I have shown that there was a lot more to Caldwell’s claims than what you showed in your original post.

  22. #22 Ed Brayton
    December 1, 2006

    Since I’m awake and can’t seem to get to sleep tonight, I might as well answer this now.

    There is the statement, “[t]he survey-of-ministers approach may not work if the community is religiously homogeneous, especially if that homogeneity is conservative Christian . . .. ” — so obviously the webpage has an ax to grind. That statement strongly suggests that teachers not ask students to survey clergy if there is a strong possibility that the clergy would not endorse evolution.

    No, that’s not on the Understanding Evolution website, it’s an article by Genie Scott offering her opinion on how to handle religious objections from students. It’s not part of any school’s curriculum. And you keep ignoring the context of the discussion, which is what teachers should do when a student says that if evolution conflicts with religious belief. And Genie says (rightly) that the teacher cannot endorse any religious belief but can suggest to the student that they go and talk to clergy about it. The truly ridiculous thing is that you actually think that would be unconstitutional. The fact that Genie has an opinion about whether evolution conflicts with evolution does not mean there’s a constitutional violation here.

    Also, Larry Caldwell’s press release said, “In one suggested activity, teachers are supposed to share with students statements by religious leaders on evolution, but only those ‘stress[ing] the compatibility of theology with the science of evolution.’”(emphasis added) That statement quoted from the website was probably removed because it is so incriminating. Also, the link to the NCSE website is embedded in the words “Voices for Evolution,” and there is no link to opposing views.

    You keep switching back and forth on which webpage you’re talking about. The Understanding Evolution site does link to the Voices for Evolution page, but it does not say anything at all about teachers telling students to visit that page. It’s merely an information page for teachers. But regardless of that, you’re still ignoring the context: there is no no need to link to opposing views because the statement is being made in response to those views. If someone already believes that evolution conflicts with religion, they don’t need to be told where to find the opinion that evolution conflicts with religion. And regardless of all of that, you still haven’t been able to point to any actual constitutional violation. Neither could Larry, of course.

    That is much too much emphasis on religion in science classes. And I thought that religion was not supposed to be discussed in science classes at all.

    Nowhere does the site suggest bringing up religion. It is speaking of how you should handle the situation if a student brings it up. And what does it suggest? It suggests that they not talk about religion but that they speak to their pastors about it. And somehow you think that is too much emphasis on religion. What the hell is the alternative then?

    But why nothing from religious groups or leaders who do not accept evolution? The Understanding Evolution website links only to that webpage and therefore obviously has an ax to grind.

    What the hell do axes to grind have to do with anything? Your argument is that it’s unconstitutional. You’ve done nothing at all to support that claim. Neither has Larry. Because you’re both completely full of shit.

    Ed, Ed, Ed. I very, very clearly treated your statement as an “if” statement — I asked if you are conceding that these websites may be encouraging teachers to commit unconstitutional acts.

    And if you cannot discern that the answer is clearly no, you have serious reading comprehension problems.

    The evolution disclaimer in the Selman case said, “This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.” Now how anyone can get a religious viewpoint out of that is beyond me.

    It’s quite simple. Where does the notion that evolution is “a theory, not a fact” come from? It’s a purely religious idea found in creationist material for decades. No scientist would ever speak in that manner about theories and facts, this is an endorsement of an explicitly creationist misconception of the nature of theories and facts. Moreover, the fact that evolution is singled out for such treatment is also evidence that this sticker is really just a bone thrown to creationists. Lastly, the legislative history of how the policy was adopted also shows that the sole purpose of the policy as to inculcate doubt about evolution in order to appease the sensibilities of creationists. All of that is in the public record and formed the basis for the lower court’s ruling.

    But the disclaimer in Freiler was not an endorsement of religion, for crying out loud.

    And the case was not based upon the endorsement test, so this is irrelevant.

    I’d bet that you didn’t know that Freiler came within one vote of getting an en banc (full court) appeals court rehearing and within one vote of a grant of certiorari by the Supreme Court.

    Actually I did know that, but only because several creationists like to make a point of it. I’ve never figured out why, though. What’s the point? So it almost got heard by the full court…and therefore what? Thousands of cases around the country every year have an appeal filed and almost get granted cert. That has precisely nothing to do with whether the ruling is valid or enforced. It’s a completely pointless argument. You might as well have said, “I bet you didn’t know that the attorney in Freiler was allergic to shellfish.”

    Anyway, I have shown that there was a lot more to Caldwell’s claims than what you showed in your original post.

    The only thing you’ve shown is that you are as capable as Larry is at making really, really bad arguments.

  23. #23 Frank Marshall
    December 1, 2006

    Ed Brayton said,

    And Genie says (rightly) that the teacher cannot endorse any religious belief but can suggest to the student that they go and talk to clergy about it. The truly ridiculous thing is that you actually think that would be unconstitutional.

    What would be unconstitutional would be making that suggestion to the student only when the clergy is considered likely to support evolution — Genie says, “[t]he survey-of-ministers approach may not work if the community is religiously homogeneous, especially if that homogeneity is conservative Christian . . .. ” And maybe Genie thinks that Moslem clergy should not be included in a survey because they appear to be less likely to support evolution.

    You keep switching back and forth on which webpage you’re talking about. The Understanding Evolution site does link to the Voices for Evolution page, but it does not say anything at all about teachers telling students to visit that page. It’s merely an information page for teachers.

    And it gives one-sided information for the teachers to pass on to the students.

    If someone already believes that evolution conflicts with religion, they don’t need to be told where to find the opinion that evolution conflicts with religion.

    That is an absurd excuse for presenting just one side of an issue.

    And regardless of all of that, you still haven’t been able to point to any actual constitutional violation.

    The constitutional violation is the use of government funds to support websites that advise teachers on how to use religion to promote evolution theory. If a government-supported website gave teachers advice on how to use religion to oppose evolution theory, you would go through the roof.

    Nowhere does the site suggest bringing up religion. It is speaking of how you should handle the situation if a student brings it up

    Genie’s site does not advise waiting for the students to bring up religion first. And the site suggests quizzing the whole class about religious leaders’ statements about evolution.

    It’s quite simple. Where does the notion that evolution is “a theory, not a fact” come from? It’s a purely religious idea found in creationist material for decades.

    That argument is just guilt by association. It could just as easily be argued that evolution should not be taught because it is associated with atheism.

    So it almost got heard by the full court…and therefore what? Thousands of cases around the country every year have an appeal filed and almost get granted cert. That has precisely nothing to do with whether the ruling is valid or enforced. It’s a completely pointless argument.

    No, it is not a pointless argument. Getting so close to either an en banc rehearing or a grant of certiorari is a rare distinction and Freiler got close to both. It shows that it was not an open-and-shut case. Also, denial of certiorari is usually made without an opinion but Justice Scalia wrote a long dissenting opinion opposing the denial of certiorari to Freiler. The dissenting appeals court judges also wrote a long opinion opposing denial of an en banc rehearing.

  24. #24 Ed Darrell
    December 1, 2006

    I see where Frank Marshall is going. Any exercise that encourages kids to talk to their own pastors is verboten in creationism land — creationists can’t maintain the discipline in the ranks that they need to deny reality, if kids are allowed to talk to their own pastors. Can’t trust those seminary-trained guys, you know . . .

    It’s not just science knowledge that threatens creationism, clearly.

  25. #25 Ed Brayton
    December 1, 2006

    Frank Marshall wrote:

    What would be unconstitutional would be making that suggestion to the student only when the clergy is considered likely to support evolution — Genie says, “[t]he survey-of-ministers approach may not work if the community is religiously homogeneous, especially if that homogeneity is conservative Christian . . .. “

    No, it would not be unconstitutional because it would be in response to a student who already knows the other side of the argument, and accepts it. It certainly is not unconstitutional to simply note the obvious fact that other clergy besides the ones he’s already talked to disagree on the matter. It’s especially not unconstitutional when the teacher, as suggested, makes clear that the school is not taking any position on which is correct but is merely pointing out that there are religious groups that do accept evolution. And you’re still missing the point that even if you were right about that action being unconstitutional, it would still not be unconstitutional to suggest that they do it, any more than it is unconstitutional for a scholar at a public university to suggest that Congress pass a law against flag burning. The fact that such a law could be unconstitutional does not make the suggestion that it be passed unconstitutional.

    And it gives one-sided information for the teachers to pass on to the students.

    Only as a response to the misconception that acceptance of evolution requires rejection of religion. Since that side is already present in the discussion, there is no need to describe those beliefs.

    The constitutional violation is the use of government funds to support websites that advise teachers on how to use religion to promote evolution theory. If a government-supported website gave teachers advice on how to use religion to oppose evolution theory, you would go through the roof.

    You’re still wrong. Government websites includes every public university website in existence, which includes the pages for every single professor at every single public website. But those professors have academic freedom to espouse any ideas they wish. If Frank Beckwith or David DeWolf were at public universities, their faculty pages could absolutely point to their writings that advocate the teaching of ID in public schools. The fact that it happens to appear on a public website does not mean the government is endorsing the content. This really is staggeringly obvious.

    Genie’s site does not advise waiting for the students to bring up religion first. And the site suggests quizzing the whole class about religious leaders’ statements about evolution.

    No, only Genie’s article does so, and that article is absolutely not part of the Understanding Evolution site that Caldwell sued. It’s an article representing one person’s viewpoint that just happens to sit on a public website. The government does not endorse that viewpoint just because it sits there, any more than they endorse the views of Ralph Seelke, an ID supporter, on the public university website of his school. The very fact that opposing views appear constantly on the sites of various scholars at public universities proves that there is no endorsement.

    No, it is not a pointless argument. Getting so close to either an en banc rehearing or a grant of certiorari is a rare distinction and Freiler got close to both. It shows that it was not an open-and-shut case. Also, denial of certiorari is usually made without an opinion but Justice Scalia wrote a long dissenting opinion opposing the denial of certiorari to Freiler. The dissenting appeals court judges also wrote a long opinion opposing denial of an en banc rehearing.

    Which means your argument comes down to “some judges disagreed with the ruling, but not enough to do anything about it.” Few cases are “open and shut” in the law; virtually none, in fact. And no disclaimer case of any kind is ever going to be.

  26. #26 Leni
    December 1, 2006

    Just a quite point for Lar- I mean Frank:

    That argument is just guilt by association. It could just as easily be argued that evolution should not be taught because it is associated with atheism

    No, it can’t. Atheism is only asscoiated with evolution in some peoples’ opinions. Whereas creationism is religious by definition.

    This is not really a subtle distinction. Although I understand how being a creationist might have caused you to overlook it.