Sunday, November 27, 2005

"Evolution Site Under Fire"

:::banging head on desk:::

Via Yahoo:
California couple has sued the operators of a University of California-Berkeley Web site designed to help teachers teach evolution, claiming it improperly strays into religion.

Jeanne and Larry Caldwell of Granite Bay say portions of the Understanding Evolution Web site amount to a government endorsement of certain religious groups over others because the site is partly funded through a public money grant from the National Science Foundation.

In the lawsuit filed last month, the Caldwells contend the site is an effort "to modify the beliefs of public school science students so they will be more willing to accept evolutionary theory as true."

The plaintiffs are not proponents of "intelligent design" — a theory that living organisms are so complex they must have been created by a higher intelligence — but they object to the teaching of evolution as scientific fact, Jeanne Caldwell said.

The site is run by UC Berkeley's Museum of Paleontology and paid in part by a $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. Two university scientists and a foundation official were named as defendants.

An attorney representing the Berkeley scientists said the courts have repeatedly rejected the argument that teaching evolution in itself is teaching a religious idea.

And who are the Caldwells? Are they scientists? Biologists? Geologists? Armchair palentologists? You know, are they, in any way, qualified to assess the veracity of the Berkeley site's information? Good question. Then again, like that matters, right? After all, the fundamentalist Christian meme is "teach the controversy", totally ignoring that science is not now, nor was it ever, democratic.

(This is the most egregiously twisted spin of political correctness in this whole "ID" mess, by the way. And to the moderates that are falling for it -- Pull your heads from your nether regions, please. You're being had.)

Apparently all you have to believe is that "evolution is flawed" to get your day in court, expert consensus to the contrary be damned. I mean, it's not like our court systems aren't already crowded with frivolous lawsuits, right?

The Mercury News article elaborates in further detail:

The suit, which was filed last month, specifically objects to portions of the Understanding Evolution Web site that deal with the interplay of science and religion. For example, it challenges the site's linking to doctrinal statements from a variety of religions to demonstrate that "most Christian and Jewish religious groups have no conflict with evolution.''

That amounts to a government endorsement of certain religious groups over others, the suit contends, and is an effort "to modify the beliefs of public school science students so they will be more willing to accept evolutionary theory as true.''

An attorney representing the Berkeley scientists said the lawsuit makes a variation on an argument that courts have repeatedly rejected -- that teaching evolution in itself is teaching a religious idea.

"The courts in many cases have said evolution is a scientific idea and there is no prohibition on the government teaching a scientific idea even if it conflicts'' with some people's religious beliefs, said university counsel Christopher Patti.

Larry Caldwell, who has two children in Roseville schools, also has sued administrators in the Roseville Joint Union High School District in an evolution-related controversy. The suit stems from his efforts -- which he says were frustrated by the district -- to persuade the school board to give students material challenging Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. The Pacific Justice Institute, a Sacramento non-profit that focuses on religious freedom and parental rights, has joined Caldwell in preparing both lawsuits.

Not surprisingly, the Pacific Justice Institute looks like another JDs-for-Jesus outfit. As some of you may recall, the defense firm in the Dover suit actively sought out a school board willing to insert Pandas into the curriculum and hit paydirt with Bonsell et al out here in Pennsyltucky.

Hopping aboard the Wanton Speculation Express, I'd say that I won't be the least bit surprised if the PJI heard of the Caldwell's earlier suit and "invited" them to file this grievance. "And we won't even CHARGE you!" Hey! What zealot could refuse that deal? A little press, a little lawyering, all for the low-low price of sacrificing a 4th graders reading of the 1st Amendment. Woo hoo!


Geo_Chick said...

I just don't get where evolution has anything to do with religion?!? It is science. There are strict rules to the scientific method that prevent the faith based assumptions and unprovable/unreproducable elements of religion. How do you call evolution religion?

Cantankerous Bitch said...

Fundamentalists have been tying evolution to atheism for decades. Since, as you know, the bulk of the general public is scientifically illiterate, they believe them. You've heard the claim -- "Evolution takes God out of creation, therefore, evolution = atheism." Since these folks already consider atheism a "religion", the logical leap is no stretch at all. Hence the connection, hence the "credibility" of the link.

Geo_Chick said...

I just can't seem to make those leaps to atheism as a religion. I need more faith.

Cantankerous Bitch said...

There's no reason any rational person SHOULD make the leap. That's what makes the assertion so ridiculous.

les said...

Don't worry, Geo, in this case you don't need faith to understand, just mind-numbing idiocy. The yahoo argument: site supported by public university; site states factually that some religious types support science and particularly evolution; therefore the state is impermissibly preferring one religion over another. After you recover the pieces of your exploded head, it'll sink right in. And then you can go for the "evilution is a religion" argument. You have to work your way up to these things.