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Courts do not support contention that creationism is science; it is religion

Monday, December 10, 2012 - 8:47 am

“Creationism should be included in curriculum (of the public schools) so students can choose” is a constitutional stand according to the Supreme Court, but this title does not represent what Katie Grieze wrote in her column Nov. 21.

Her position is that creationism is science and that it should be taught as science. The problem with her opinion is that various federal courts have ruled that creationism is religion and not science.

The current Supreme Court, probably the most conservative (as compared to moderate) in history, has six Roman Catholic and three Jewish justices. If the Schempp decision in 1963 is wrong, why hasn't the Roberts Court overturned it? Justice Tom Clark wrote for the court majority, “It might well be said that one's education is not complete without a study of comparative religion or the history of religion and its relationship to the advancement of civilization.

“It certainly may be said that the Bible is worthy of study for its literary and historic qualities. Nothing we have said here indicates that such study of the Bible or of religion when presented objectively as part of a secular program of education may not be effected consistently with the First Amendment.”

Grieze pointed that the “theory of creationism is acceptable in Britain,” but she failed to point out that Britain has a state religion. Apples and oranges, huh?

She also used the Gallup poll to bolster her argument in favor of creationism. She should know that after the recent election cycle Gallup had the highest average error than any poll. That is, Gallup was dead last in accuracy. Who believes Gallup?

Why has no consensus been reached about the Founding Fathers' understanding about religious freedom? Despite the fact that the Supreme Court has invoked Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in its leading church-state cases and those appearing before the court want to claim these two founders for their side, the court still hasn't developed a consistent understanding of the First Amendment's religion clauses. Why?

Lawyers are paid to win cases, not to produce dispassionate scholarship; they have every incentive to color the historical record in order to buttress their clients' position. The inclination toward bias is driven partly by the demands of an adversarial legal system rather than solely by the pursuit of rigorous historical objectivity. It's ironic and paradoxical that Catholics and Jews came to America not to be individuals but to practice their faiths in peace and freedom. These pre-moderns flourished in American modernism. Now they control the Supreme Court.

The most orthodox Christians among the Founding Fathers (as a political entity) were perceived at the time as being too heterodox and, therefore, their contributions were diminished in the process. The USA was founded by deistic protestant leaders, and their views about religious freedom are interpreted by six Catholic and three Jewish justices today. Only in America, huh?

Religious diversity is tolerated in America today with two exceptions: atheists and Muslims.

Finally, I think we should teach religion in the public schools – courses that are dispassionate humanities courses whose purpose is not to catechize or evangelize but to educate. This must be done, if it is done, in a secular setting, never in a religious setting. That's the law.

B.J. Paschal is a Ball State University professor emeritus.