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, July 02, 2006

Dover Ain't Over -- Darwinists now attacking criticism of Darwinism in private schools

It was bad enough that the Darwinists have in recent years been misusing the courts to prevent public schools from merely mentioning criticisms of Darwinism ( Kitzmiller v. Dover, Selman v. Cobb County, and Freiler v. Tangipahoa Parish), but now the Darwinists are even asking the courts to help discourage private schools from presenting criticisms of Darwinism. The University of California recently denied accreditation to some Christian-school courses because of the religious orientation of the textbooks, including biology textbooks. Some students from Calvary Chapel Christian School of Murrieta, Calif. sued UC, and the suit was joined by the Association of Christian Schools International.

In an op-ed piece in the Decatur Daily, Charles Haynes, a senior fellow at the First Amendment Center in Arlington, Va., wrote,

Solely on academic grounds, the most problematic textbook may be the one used in biology. If UC can show that the text presents inaccurate or misleading science, then the university may have a legitimate basis for not accepting the course. If, however, the textbook presents the core information students need to know about biology, then the additional religious content should not disqualify the course. In other words, if the science itself is sound, then the fact that the authors promise to "put the Word of God first and science second" should be irrelevant in the university's decision.

It is hard to find an unbiased opinion about the Christian-school biology textbooks. Is the textbooks' treatment of evolution the sole basis for UC's rejection? Ed Darrell says that he has read the textbooks and calls one of them "shoddy and inadequate," but he specifically criticizes only that book's treatment of evolution:

I’ve read the Bob Jones biology books. The A-Beka books are shoddy and inadequate in biology. They give short shrift to evolution, describing the theory inaccurately and incompletely, and ignoring the practical effects of evolution in genetics and population dynamics, and other places, throughout the book.

Of course, many Darwinists think that a biology textbook should be disqualified merely for raising questions about Darwinism.

I assert that knowledge of the main Darwinian concepts -- changes through time, common descent, and an evolutionary process driven solely by natural genetic variation and natural selection -- is not necessary for a general understanding of biology. And even if such knowledge of Darwinism is necessary, belief in Darwinism is not necessary -- people can use the concepts of Darwinism even while believing that all or part of it is untrue, in the same way that people can use complex-number math in AC circuit analysis while believing that the math has no physical relationship to the circuits.

An article titled "Should Some Students Be Denied College Entrance Because They Used These Textbooks?", by the Association of Christian Schools International, said the following about a meeting between UC personnel, Christian school personnel, and attorneys on both sides of the issue (page 3):

When asked whether poor college performance by students from religious schools prompted the rejection of the textbooks, UC representatives responded negatively. They also acknowledged that UC did not have any objective evidence that students from religious schools are deficient in science when they arrive for their freshman year of college .....

As the discussion continued about the biology books, it became evident that they were rejected because they appeared to state the perspective that the Bible is revelation and along with faith is more authoritative than the observations of science, especially if there were a conflict over a "factual scientific issue."


I am against associating ID and creation science with religion, but the plaintiffs in this case are unfortunately deliberately making that association in order to use the Constitution's free exercise clause as grounds for the suit. The general rule is that constitutional rights may be abridged only for truly compelling reasons, and I feel that UC has not shown any truly compelling reason for discriminating against these Christian-school students.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Chris Hyland said...

I can't make too much of a comment becuase I haven't read the books, but if they do say that the Bible should supercede evidence in science that's a pretty good reason for concern. Surely they have the right to decide what they think is good or bad science.

Sunday, July 02, 2006 1:07:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Chris Hyland said ( 7/02/2006 01:07:01 PM ) --

>>>>>I can't make too much of a comment becuase I haven't read the books, but if they do say that the Bible should supercede evidence in science that's a pretty good reason for concern. Surely they have the right to decide what they think is good or bad science. <<<<<

I will repeat part of my article's quote of Charles Haynes:
If .....the textbook presents the core information students need to know about biology, then the additional religious content should not disqualify the course. In other words, if the science itself is sound, then the fact that the authors promise to "put the Word of God first and science second" should be irrelevant in the university's decision.

Grounds for the suit, according to the National Center for Science Education, are infringement of "freedom of speech, freedom from viewpoint discrimination, freedom of religion and association, freedom from arbitrary discretion, equal protection of the laws, and freedom from hostility toward religion." I would like to be able to read the plaintiffs' official complaint, but it is a pdf file and it does not come up on my screen (I have a lot of trouble with pdf files). Recent information about the lawsuit is here.

All I can say is that these lawsuits move slower than the proverbial molasses at the South Pole in the dead of winter -- the complaint was filed about 10 months ago and the judge is finally just about ready to rule on whether the suit may go forward. In the Selman v. Cobb County textbook sticker case, the appeals court finally remanded the case about 16 months after it was decided.

Sunday, July 02, 2006 10:44:00 PM  

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