Thursday, December 22, 2005

Angus Menuge on Dover

Victor, I did a radio interview on this for the LC-MS radio channel


My main concerns are that Judge Jones uses throughout an argument from motive of the form:
*(P1) Person A has a religious motive in proposing educational policy P
Therefore
(C) P is a religious policy, and so allowing P in the public schools would be an establishment of religion.

One cannot infer the religious nature of a proposal from the religious motives of the proposer, and in fact, as constitutional lawyers have pointed out to me, it is illegal to dismiss evidence because of the religious convictions of the person giving that evidence. (If it weren't, then, given the ubiquity of religiosity, albeit unrecognized by many
secularists, then no-one could give evidence.)

The argument (*) is (1) patently invalid, and (2) is also used only selectively.

1. The argument is invalid because an intelligent, religious person, knows full well that their policy P must not be inherently religious, even if it is in some sense more compatible with a religious perspective than current policies.

Justice Jones' also uses horribly quotation out of context to twist the ID claim that a scientific design inference allows one to infer a directed cause, but not the identity of the designer, which is a matter for philosophy and religion, into the claim that ID itself is not scientific, but only philosophy or theology. He also tries to claim that because many proponents of ID have religious beliefs about a designer, that is what their scientific proposals are really claiming, which doesn't follow at all. If that were a good argument, then those Christian scientists of the early modern period who believed that the laws of nature they discovered (Kepler's laws or Boyle's law, for example) were part of God's providential design, should not be listened to: Kepler's and Boyle's laws are thinly disguised religious propaganda, and should not be studied in public schools (!)

2. The argument above (*) is also used only selectively, since secular humanism and atheism in general are both religious, but no-one proposes that we should not hear about the views of Richard Dawkins, Carl Sagan or Steven Weinberg.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that, as John Calvert has said, the Dover decision, while pretending to remove religion from educational policy, actually establishes a bias toward those views whose implications favor humanism. While Darwinism is not inherently religious, it has consequences that are clearly friendly to humanist religions. Likewise, while ID is not inherently religious, it has consequences that are clearly friendly to theism. The Dover decision says that students may only hear humanist friendly ideas, and therefore, in my view, does not uphold, but contradicts the Establishment clause.

In many ways Jones' decision may turn out to be a good thing. It is such an outrageous over-reach and abuse of power, it should create more interest in the uncovering the flaws of scientific materialism. People always want to read banned books.

A A radio intreview with Menuge is here:

Angus

2 comments:

Jim Lippard said...

Wow. That is stunning. Did Menuge read the same decision I did? Does Menuge have any understanding of U.S. law?

1. Menuge seems to think there is some scientific content to ID today, and that Jones failed to distinguish the philosophical or religious components from the scientific components. Jones and the expert testimony already addressed this--the scientific content doesn't exist yet.

2. Secular humanism and atheism were not on trial in Dover--and I'm unaware of any public school in the United States which teaches them. There have certainly been no school boards in this country that have engaged in the kind of deception and dishonesty as the Dover school board did, with the explicit attempt to push a specifically Christian viewpoint into the biology classes. (They then attempted to deny it, but their dishonesty was easily exposed, as their earlier remarks had multiple witnesses and some were even on videotape.)

3. The issue is not the religious beliefs of individuals espousing certain actions, the issue is that the school board members had an explicitly religious motive for what they did through their official actions as a school board, and their actions failed the Lemon Test and the establishment test.

If Menuge really thinks this is an "outrageous over-reach and abuse of power," then he is stunningly out of touch with reality. Jones' decision was completely consistent with the law and established judicial precedent.

Jim Lippard said...

Philosopher/law prof. Brian Leiter addresses Menuge's erroneous argument (as made by U. Chicago law prof Albert Altschuler) here:
http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2005/12/more_reactions__1.html