Wednesday, January 11, 2006

DESIGNING A PHILOSOPHY

THE LA TIMES brings us an account of another lawsuit in the ongoing creation/intelligent design vs. evolution mud wrestle:

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-design11jan11,0,7737779.story?coll=la-home-headlines

The school board of Lebec, a small town in California about 50 miles north of LA, has approved a class curriculum, billed as a philosophy class, which “will take a close look at evolution as a theory and will discuss the scientific, biological and biblical aspects that suggest why Darwin's philosophy is not rock solid. The class will discuss intelligent design as an alternative response to evolution. Physical and chemical evidence will be presented suggesting the earth is thousands of years old, not billions."

The plaintiffs insist the intent of the class is to trump science with religion.

I have a few questions I think the Court should ask:

First, although I realize this is collateral to the normal framing of the issue, the Court should ask: Is this class an elective?

Second, is it being offered as an alternative to a more mainstream biology class? In other words, as a credit for credit substitute filling a core requirement?

If the class is an elective that does not substitute for a core requirement I think it should be allowed. Even though I think Intelligent Design is just plain silly, I can’t think of a good reason it shouldn’t be offered. Sillier things have certainly been taught in public schools…

I think that without realizing it, people who defend modern dogma on Evolution often defeat their own arguments by falling into the “belief trap.” In the pleadings, one of the parents, a doctor of geology working at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory stated the class "conflicts with my beliefs as a scientist…"

Beliefs as a scientist? The core belief of science is that beliefs exist to be challenged and tested. Science which relies on unchallengeable beliefs isn’t science anymore.

Maybe that’s part of the reason for the confusion…

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