Dover Ain't Over II -- lawsuit against UC can go forward
The lawsuit's official complaint says that the UC rejected high-school biology textbooks from two Christian-textbook publishers, Bob Jones University Press and A Beka Book, on the basis of "both the 'way in which these texts address the topics of evolution and creationism' and 'their general approach to science' in relation to the Bible." (page 23 of the complaint). Unfortunately, many of the discussions of these two biology textbooks do not say which one is being discussed or if both are being discussed -- please keep this in mind in when reading the following discussions. BTW, it is noteworthy that the complaint listed only three plaintiffs' attorneys of record, compared to the 9-10 plaintiffs' attorneys of record in the Kitzmiller v. Dover case (with 5 volunteer attorneys from the Pepper-Hamilton law firm) and the 6 plantiffs' attorneys of record in the Hurst v. Newman case (which did not go to trial).
A description of a 2004 meeting between UC personnel, Christian school personnel, and attorneys from both sides said the following:
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." -- from Should Some Students Be Denied College Entrance Because They Used These Textbooks?", page 3
A Wall Street Journal article said,
The university sends out a form letter to any school that proposes to teach biology and physics using one of the two biggest Christian textbooks now in circulation. The courses that assign such books, the letter claims, will not be "consistent with the viewpoints and knowledge generally accepted in the scientific community." Students thus "may not be well prepared for success" in the university's science courses. Chris Patti, the university's general counsel, tells me that the textbooks have many "scientific errors" and the "biggest one is [the way they describe] evolution."
Such a statement is itself far from rigorous. The physics textbook is like any other -- with pure science in it -- except that a verse from Scripture stands at the head of each chapter. Barbara Sawrey, a chemistry professor at the San Diego campus, who advised the university on this matter, told Burt Carney, the school association's legal-affairs director, that the verse appearances alone were enough to disqualify the textbook. (Talk about biased.) [in original] As for the biology textbook, it is certainly true that it includes a presentation of creationism and intelligent design, but it presents evolution as well, straightforwardly.
At least some of the objection to the BJU biology textbook's "'general approach to science' in relation to the Bible" is based on the book's introduction, which says --
Those who do not believe that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God will find many points in this book puzzling. This book was not written for them . . . . .
The people who have prepared this book have tried consistently to put the Word of God first and science second . . . . . . . . . To the best of the author's knowledge, the conclusions drawn from observable facts and presented in this book agree with the Scriptures . . . .
The same encyclopedia article may state that the grasshopper evolved 300 million years ago. You may find a description of some insect that the grasshopper supposedly evolved from and a description of the insects that scientists say evolved from the grasshopper. You may even find a "scientific" explanation of the biblical locust (grasshopper) plague in Egypt. These statements are conclusions based on "supposed science." If the conclusions contradict the Word of God, the conclusions are wrong, no matter how many scientific facts may appear to back them.
The above statements would appear to disqualify the textbook, but the following issues should be considered:
(1) Do the textbooks accurately cover evolution theory and other disputed mainstream scientific ideas, even if the textbooks teach that those ideas are wrong?
(2) Because many areas of modern science were virtually unknown when the Bible was written, the Bible conflicts with modern science in relatively few areas -- mostly just in evolution theory, paleontology, the age of rocks in geology, and heliocentrism.
(3) Contrary to the absurd slogan that "nothing makes sense in biology without evolution," it is easy to study biology in general without knowing or believing evolution theory.
(4) There is nothing to prevent students from getting such religious indoctrination outside of science classes.
Based on what I have seen, the plaintiffs appear to me to have a very good case, both in regard to the science textbooks and the non-science textbooks.
Not surprisingly, Ed "It's My Way or the Highway" Brayton said, "Having seen the biology curriculum and text, I can tell you that at least in that particular instance, the UC is absolutely justified in rejecting those courses for credit."
Labels: ACSI v. Stearns