Dispatches from the Creation Wars

The lawsuit filed by the Association of Christian Schools International against the University of California over the university system’s refusal to give credit for several classes taught in some Christian schools is now on appeal to the 9th circuit (the university won at the district court level) and our friends from Pepper Hamilton, Eric Rothschild and Steve Harvey, have filed a brief in the case on behalf of the California Council for Science and Technology.

Eric and Steve were the lead attorneys in the Dover trial and they did a brilliant job. And just as they were up against the mostly incompetent Thomas More Law Center in that case, they’re up against the equally incompetent Wendell Bird in this case. Bird is the same attorney who lost in Edwards v Aguillard, the 1987 case that got creationism out of public school science classrooms.

This brief deals primarily with the science classes that were rejected, classes that used one of two books: Biology for Christian Schools and Biology: God’s Living Creation. These books are both virulently anti-science, teaching that anything that contradicts a literal interpretation of the Bible must be false.

Beginning with the first page of its introduction, the third edition of Biology for Christian Schools makes absolutely clear that its perspective on the nature of science is irreconcilably at odds with that of the NAS and the scientific community in general. From the outset, the textbook instructs the student that everything in the Bible is literally true and that, therefore, any scientific observations or conclusions that conflict with the Bible are necessarily false “no matter how many scientific facts may appear to back them.”…Similar statements appear throughout the textbook, drumming home the message that, with respect to any “fact” contained in the Bible, empirical evidence is irrelevant. See, e.g., id. at 197 (“Because God is the source of all truth, all accurate scientific knowledge will fit into th[e Bible’s] outline. Anything that contradicts God’s Word is in error or has been misunderstood.”); id. at 201 (“God’s Word is the only true measuring stick of scientific accuracy.”); id. at 204 (“All scientific facts and the interpretation of those facts, therefore, must fit into the model prescribed by the Word of God. A scientific ‘fact’ that does not fit into the worldview outlined in the Bible either is in error (and therefore not really a fact) or is being misinterpreted.”); id. at 251 (“[T]he Bible is the source of all truth, and everything, not just science, must be
evaluated based on Scripture. If a hypothesis or scientific model seems to make sense and all of the evidence points to an answer that is contrary to the Bible, then the evidence, not the Bible, must be reevaluated and the conclusions changed.”).

And by the way, they’ve once again got Michael Behe testifying for the other side, but he didn’t fare too well in the district court trial:

Plaintiff’s expert, Michael Behe, purported to challenge UC’s determination by simply counting the number of times the textbooks make reference to certain basic scientific concepts, but he conceded that he did not address the detail, depth, or accuracy of the textbooks’ references to those scientific concepts. The District Court
concluded that Behe did not refute UC’s evaluation of the textbooks (as confirmed by Kennedy’s and Ayala’s testimony) or even raise any “genuine issue of material fact as to this issue.”

This is really a very easy case. This class doesn’t just present a Christian version of science, it is manifestly anti-science. Granting credit in science to such courses would be the height of absurdity.