I'm from Missouri

This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Close votes in Freiler case show shakiness of Selman and Kitzmiller decisions

A highly significant evolution-disclaimer case that preceded the Selman and Kitzmiller cases, Freiler v. Tangipahoa Parish Board of Education, 185 F. 3d 337 (5th Cir 1999), cert. denied, 530 US 1251 (2000), is virtually unknown today. However, the history of the Freiler case shows how shaky the Selman and Kitzmiller decisions really are. Despite the fact that the Freiler evolution disclaimer -- unlike the Selman and Kitzmiller disclaimers -- actually expressly mentions something religious, i.e., the Bible, the Freiler case fell just single votes short of being granted either an appellate rehearing en banc or certiorari (a rehearing en banc is a rehearing by all the judges of a court, except that 11-judge panels are used in the 9th circuit, and a grant of certiorari is acceptance for review by the Supreme Court). The overconfident Darwinists do not realize how close the Freiler decision came to being reversed.

A petition for a rehearing en banc of Freiler got seven yes votes from the 5th circuit appellate judges, just one vote short of the majority needed to grant the rehearing. The vote was so close that the 3-judge panel that decided the case did not dare report the actual tally. I determined from the records of service of 5th circuit appellate judges that there were 14 such judges in regular active service in 2000, so the vote was evenly split and there was no majority. A rehearing en banc is seldom granted. Also, the seven judges who voted yes submitted a long dissenting opinion. Furthermore, the Supreme Court fell just one vote short of the four votes needed to grant certiorari, and in a very rare action, Justice Scalia, joined by Justice Thomas, wrote a long dissenting opinion against the denial of certiorari -- normally denials of certiorari are made without comment. And Scalia did not mince words -- he said, "I would grant certiorari in this case if only to take the opportunity to inter the Lemon test once for all. Even assuming, however, that the Fifth Circuit correctly chose to apply the Lemon test, I believe the manner of its application so erroneous as independently to merit the granting of certiorari, if not summary reversal." These close votes and the accompanying dissenting opinions could be indications of how courts would vote in similar cases. The vote splits and dissenting opinions in court decisions are often considered to be of critical importance, as in Supreme Court abortion cases. The Kitzmiller decision will never be directly reviewed by a higher court, so speculation on how a higher court might rule on this case is moot, but the Selman case is still very much alive.

The Freiler case was cited six times in the Kitzmiller opinion (the name appeared eight times, but in two places the name appeared twice in one citation) and about seven times in the Selman opinion.

The disclaimer in the Freiler case was provided by the following resolution that was adopted in 1994 by the Tangipahoa Parish School Board:

Whenever, in classes of elementary or high school, the scientific theory of evolution is to be presented, whether from textbook, workbook, pamphlet, other written material, or oral presentation the following statement shall be quoted immediately before the unit of study begins as a disclaimer from endorsement of such [evolution] theory.

It is hereby recognized by the Tangipahoa Parish Board of Education, that the lesson to be presented, regarding the origin of life and matter, is known as the Scientific Theory of Evolution and should be presented to inform students of the scientific concept and not intended to influence or dissuade the Biblical version of Creation or any other concept.

It is further recognized by the Board of Education that it is the basic right and privilege of each student to form his/her own opinion or maintain beliefs taught by parents on this very important matter of the origin of life and matter. Students are urged to exercise critical thinking and gather all information possible and closely examine each alternative toward forming an opinion.
(emphasis added)

The last sentence above, which urges students to question ideas that are based on religion, can hardly be considered to be an endorsement of religion. In fact, it is the opposite.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, yes, Larry, we all know that fair number of conservative federal judges at the appellate and supreme court levels would be happy to allow religion to be taught in science class.

Yes, indeed.

This must be why Intelligent Design is science, not religion, right? Because you keep harping on the religious aspect of the debate ...

Sunday, May 28, 2006 12:27:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Anonymous said --

>>>>>Well, yes, Larry, we all know that fair number of conservative federal judges at the appellate and supreme court levels would be happy to allow religion to be taught in science class.<<<<<<

But religion was not being taught in science class -- not in Dover, not in Cobb County, and not in Tangipahoa Parish. All that was being taught in science class was Darwinism. The Cobb County disclaimer did not mention anything religious at all, the Dover disclaimer mentioned only intelligent design (arguably, the word "design" implies the existence of a supernatural "designer"), and the Tangipahoa Parish disclaimer mentioned the Bible. Nothing religious was being "taught" or even endorsed.

>>>>>This must be why Intelligent Design is science, not religion, right? Because you keep harping on the religious aspect of the debate ..<<<<

Who "keep[s] harping on the religious aspect of the debate"? It is the Darwinists who keep harping on the religious aspect of the debate by insisting that all challenges to Darwinism are just religion! I have been trying to avoid the religious aspect of the debate. I am very disturbed that people are abusing the establishment clause to suppress scientific ideas that they disagree with.

Sunday, May 28, 2006 1:22:00 PM  
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Saturday, July 22, 2006 12:34:00 AM  

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