Fatheaded Ed misinterprets Epperson v. Arkansas
An article on Fatheaded Ed's blog says,
Back to the Future on Evolution
This time in Maine, where at least one resident wants to party like it's 1967:The decades-old controversy over the teaching of evolution in public schools is resurfacing in Somerset County.
A director of SAD 59 in the Madison area is urging the board to drop evolution from high school science curriculums on grounds that it's an unprovable theory that shouldn't be taught as fact.
Matthew Linkletter of Athens says neither evolution nor creationism belongs in a science curriculum.
Sorry, Matthew, the courts already ruled on this. Look up Epperson v Arkansas.
In a response to a comment, Ed says,
a lurker wrote:What does Epperson v Arkansas have anything to do with this.
In that case involved a law that made it illegal for a teacher to teach evolution and that a teacher could be charged with a crime if he did.
The court in Epperson did not rule that the law was unconstitutional because of the potential punishment, they ruled that it was unconstitutional because it was not religiously neutral. The court recognized that the only reason anyone wanted to prohibit the teaching of evolution was to give favor to their religious anti-evolution views.
For crying out loud, Ed, (his trademark expressions are "for crying out loud" and "batshit wingnuttery") the news article did not say that the SAD 59 director in Maine proposed prohibiting the teaching of evolution -- the article only said that he proposed dropping it from the curriculum.
Also, Ed misrepresented the Epperson decision. Of course the court's ruling was partly based on the potential punishment -- if the statute had been merely an advisory resolution with no potential punishment, then the statute would never have been challenged in the first place. And the court did not "[recognize] that the only reason anyone wanted to prohibit the teaching of evolution was to give favor to their religious anti-evolution views" -- the court only said that there was no "suggestion" of any other reason:
No suggestion has been made that Arkansas' law may be justified by considerations of state policy other than the religious views of some of its citizens. (page 107)
This is another example of Fatheaded Ed either misinterpreting the facts or not checking the facts. Furthermore, he censors comments that try to correct him about the facts or his interpretations of the facts. Yet he acts very offended when people don't consider him to be equal to a professional reporter, if not better. Fatheaded Ed is the poster child of unscrupulous BVD-clad bloggers.
BTW, Justice Black said in a concurring opinion in Epperson,
Under this statute, as construed by the Arkansas Supreme Court, a teacher cannot know whether he is forbidden to mention Darwin's theory at all or only free to discuss it as long as he refrains from contending that it is true. It is an established rule that a statute which leaves an ordinary man so doubtful about its meaning that he cannot know when he has violated it denies him the first essential of due process . . . .
The Court, not content to strike down this Arkansas Act on the unchallengeable ground of its plain vagueness, chooses rather to invalidate it as a violation of the Establishment of Religion Clause of the First Amendment . . . .
A second question that arises for me is whether this Court's decision forbidding a State to exclude the subject of evolution from its schools infringes the religious freedom of those who consider evolution an anti-religious doctrine. If the theory is considered anti-religious, as the Court indicates, how can the State be bound by the Federal Constitution to permit its teachers to advocate such an "anti-religious" doctrine to school children? The very cases cited by the Court as supporting its conclusion hold that the State must be neutral, not favoring one religious or anti-religious view over another. The Darwinian theory is said to challenge the Bible's story of creation; so, too, have some of those who believe in the Bible, along with many others, challenged the Darwinian theory. Since there is no indication that the literal Biblical doctrine of the origin of man is included in the curriculum of Arkansas schools, does not the removal of the subject of evolution leave the State in a neutral position toward these supposedly competing religious and anti-religious doctrines? Unless this Court is prepared simply to write off as pure nonsense the views of those who consider evolution an anti-religious doctrine, then this issue presents problems under the Establishment Clause far more troublesome than are discussed in the Court's opinion . . . . .
Certainly the Darwinian theory, precisely like the Genesis story of the creation of man, is not above challenge. In fact the Darwinian theory has not merely been criticized by religionists, but by scientists, and perhaps no scientist would be willing to take an oath and swear that everything announced in the Darwinian theory is unquestionably true. The Court, it seems to me, makes a serious mistake in bypassing the plain, unconstitutional vagueness of this statute in order to reach out and decide this troublesome, to me, First Amendment question. However wise this Court may be or may become hereafter, it is doubtful that, sitting in Washington, it can successfully supervise and censor the curriculum of every public school in every hamlet and city in the United States. I doubt that our wisdom is so nearly infallible . . . .
I would either strike down the Arkansas Act as too vague to enforce or remand to the State Supreme Court for clarification of its holding and opinion.
Dissenting and concurring opinions are often ignored because those opinions are not binding precedents, but those opinions often make more sense than the majority opinions.
IMO evolution should be taught because it is something people should know and because it is useful in biology even if it is a hokey idea. The use of evolution in cladistic taxonomy has increased since Justice Black wrote the above words in his concurring opinion published in 1968. However, I also believe that the weaknesses of evolution as well as the strengths should be taught or that there should at least be evolution disclaimer statements to reduce offense to those who for various reasons are opposed to the teaching of evolution. Also, IMO the courts should declare the evolution controversy to be non-justiciable.