Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Simple Definitions (A rant, intellectual-style).

Okay, here are some simple definitions to clear up some misconceptions. All of these definitions can be found at dictionary.com or the wikipedia.

Establishment Clause:

The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution states that:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

Frequently, the "Establishment Clause" is used to refer to the entire clause referring to religion, but the term is more accurately used to refer to the first part of the clause. The second part of the clause is commonly referred to as the "Free Exercise" clause.

Traditionally, this has been interpreted as the prohibition of the establishment of a national religion by Congress or the preference of one religion over another.

Religion:

1. a. Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.
b. A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.

Supernatural:

1. Of or relating to existence outside the natural world.
2. Attributed to a power that seems to violate or go beyond natural forces.
3. Of or relating to a deity.
4. Of or relating to the immediate exercise of divine power; miraculous.
5. Of or relating to the miraculous.

Intelligent Desgin (ID):

a theory that nature and complex biological structures were designed by intelligent beings and were not created by chance.

Natural:

1. Present in or produced by nature

Hmmm....it seems to me that for complex bioligcal structures to have been designed, that would mean they weren't produced by nature, which would mean that it violates natural forces, which would make ID supernatural, and since it's becoming institutionalized, that makes it a religion, which, in turn, means that if it's taught in a public school as fact, it violates the Establishment Clause!

Get a clue!

We cannot let creationism into a classroom in any way, shape or form, and ID is creationism of some sort. It might be Raëlian creationism, it might be Christian creationism, it might be this watered down, intentionally vague ID creationism. It doesn't matter. None of it is science. Calling it science doesn't make it science. Here's the definition of Science:


1. a. The observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena.
b. Such activities restricted to a class of natural phenomena.

Does that look like ID in any way, shape or form? Noooooooooo. And please don't bring up "teaching the controversy" to me. You don't teach controversy of this sort in a science classroom. You teach "the Earth's core is iron/nickel versus the Earth's core is uranium" issue in a science classroom. That's an acceptable controversy, because they're both refutable, testable theories. The ID controversy isn't a scientific controversy. It is an ideological controversy. You teach that in a philosophy class.

Now, a word on why the Establishment Clause is a good thing, just in case someone ever reads this and, like the idiot that they obviously would be, says something to the effect of "But why shouldn't we establish Religion X as a state religion?" or "Why can't we teach Religion X in public schools?"

To the first question, we shouldn't establish Religion X because it then follows, almost automatically, that Religions Y, Z, A, B and C are all diminshed in capacity because of it. That violates the second half of the Establishment Clause, also called the Free Exercise Clause (see above definition). And how does establishing Religion X dimish the other alphabetical religions? Simple. People are sheep. They do what the government tells them to do. Not always, but often enough. So, if the government establishes Religion X as THE religion, people will eventually flock to it.

To the second question, that's even simpler. (We'll drop the alphabetical religions and move to real ones for this answer.) Think back to when you were in high school biology class. You took whatever the teacher said as true because he/she was the teacher, right? You didn't know that chlorophyll existed. You'd never seen it. You took his/her word for it. That's because teachers, believe it or not, are authority figures. Heck, that's why some kids have so much trouble in school, because they don't deal well with authority figures, and they're surrounded by them. Anyway, we tend to believe authority figures. If you believe my mother, you should never challenge them. Ever. Scary thought, isn't it?

Anyway, teachers are authority figures. Students tend to take what they say at face value, and more importantly, believe it. If we start teaching, say, Christian Creationism in a science classroom, what happens to the little Hindu kid in the back row? Here he is, in a science class, being told that the Christian creation story is how it REALLY happened, wink wink nudge nudge. So, as he sits in his science class, he's being told that his religious beliefs about the origins of the world are not scientifically accurate, but the Christian ones are. Do you think he would, just maybe, start to think that the rest of his religious beliefs might also be inaccurate? Probably.

Now, turn it around. If we start teaching, say, Norse Creationism in the classroom, then little Johnny sitting there spit-polished and All-American, it going to be told that the Genesis story he was taught in Sunday School isn't accurate, but that the Norse myth is scientifically valid. Do you think this would make little Johnny start to doubt what he was taught in Sunday School? Well, if he believes his science teacher, then yeah, he will.

Either of these outcomes, for the little Hindu kid or little Johnny, are violations of the Establishment Clause. It's not just there to keep religion out of a classroom. It's not just there to keep religion out of all government functions. But it's also not there to protect Christian rights alone. It's there to protect the rights of all the religious. Teaching ID or any other form of creationism is a violation of the Establishment Clause.

Just goes to show how little respect for the Constitution and the religious our present government has, considering the President has come down on the side of ID recently.

The only way for a science class to be fair about religious issues is for them to never come up. If you bring religion into a classroom in any way, you begin to establish some form of religion. I heard a very intelligent man say recently that he believes that God guided evolution and that they should both be taught in a classroom, side by side. The problem with this is that it establishes a religious belief as fact. Specifically, his.

What about all those polytheists out there that don't believe in a single God, but multiple gods? Are you going to teach that evolution was guided by God, and also by the gods? What about those "Blind Watchmaker" Deists out there that think that even though got set the world in motion, he then walked away? Are you going to teach, in a science class, that the Christian creation stories (there are two, after all, Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, each a different story) are accurate? How about the Muslim ones? Gonna throw the Jewish myth of Lillith in there? How about the Norse ideas? And don't get me started on the Hindu & Buddhist stories. That would take a class all on its own! If you start teaching creationism in any form in a science classroom, you open that classroom up to ALL creationism.

Don't want to teach all those different creation myths? Well, which ones do we choose? And, more importantly, who chooses?

The man I mentioned above wants his version taught. I can't say for sure, but it sounded to me like he believes in Evolutionary Creationism. But the Young Earth Creationists want their version taught. The old Earth Creationists want their version taught. The ID crowd wants their version taught. Everyone with a creation story, Christian or otherwise, wants or would want their version taught. IN. A. SCIENCE. CLASSROOM!

Would you ask a Buddhist to teach a Christian Sunday School class? No? Why not? That's the essence of asking a science teacher to teach creationism. True, there are a handful of science teachers out there who would be willing to teach creationism, and there are a handful more who are true believes in some form of creationism or another who would LOVE to spread their religion through a public forum like a school classroom. But would you ask a Buddhist to teach a Christian Sunday School class? No, of course not. Why not?

Not because he wouldn't like to come and talk about Buddhism. I'm sure he'd be more than willing. No, it's because he'd probably GET IT WRONG! From your perspective.

So, all of you out there who want creation in the science classroom, ask yourselves this: Would I want an (atheist, agnostic, Buddhist, Hindu, Catholic, Protestant, Raëlian, etc.) to teach my kid religion? Because that's what you're doing when you ask science teachers to teach creationism. You have no control over the faith or lack thereof of the teachers teaching these things. I, personally, am an agnostic. Would you like me to teach your child about Genesis? I can put quite an interesting spin on it for you, if you like.

No? But why not?

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"Loyalty to petrified opinion never broke a chain or freed a human soul..." -- Mark Twain

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Fire does not wait for the sun to be hot,

Nor the wind for the moon, to be cool.

-- the Zenrin Kushu