Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Say Wha ...?

Casey Luskin has outdid himself!

His latest burblings over the Coppedge case are truly conducive to catching flies in your open mouth.

According to Luskin, the ACLU promotes "disparate treatment for Intelligent Design" because it argued in the Kitzmiller case:

The purpose and effect of the policy are to advance and endorse the specific religious viewpoint and beliefs encompassed by the assertion or argument of intelligent design. Students will not be told of any flaws or weaknesses in intelligent design, much less that the scientific community does not consider it valid science. (pp. 19-20)

What Luskin leaves out are the immediately following sentences:

The defendants' policy will suggest to students that the scientific theory of biological evolution is false and that the truth lies in the religious beliefs advocated through the assertion or argument of intelligent design. By telling students that there purportedly are "gaps/problems" in the scientific theory of biological evolution, while not presenting any "gaps" or "problems" in the assertion or argument of intelligent design, the defendants' policy exhibits a preference for the assertion or argument of intelligent design over the scientific theory of biological evolution. The defendants are thereby preferring religion over a religion-neutral scientific theory, and are preferring the specific religious views reflected in the assertion or argument of intelligent design.

In other words, the "disparate treatment" was by the Dover school board, not the ACLU. I've already dealt with why it may not be "disparate treatment" to muzzle Coppedge's proselytizing ID, while not preventing JPL employees from expressing the conclusion that ID is not science.

Luskin goes on to quote himself from a law review article:

[Jurists] cannot treat these viewpoints like religion in order to strike down their advocacy, but then treat them like science … when they are being critiqued in order to sanction their disapproval. Either a viewpoint is religious and thereby unconstitutional to advocate as correct or critique as false in public schools, or it is scientific and fair game for both advocacy and critique in public schools.

This is just jaw-dropping nonsense! Luskin himself has claimed:

It has been argued by many critics of intelligent design theory that ID is religion because of the religious affiliations of many groups or individuals promoting intelligent design theory, or because of the nature of the subject. Many have argued that because many theists promote intelligent design theory, it must be a religious concept. However, to attribute characteristics to something just because those affiliated with it have certain characteristics is to commit what is known as the genetic fallacy or to make what is called an ad hominem argument. Neither of these are valid lines of argumentation.

In short, Luskin is arguing that you cannot tell if something is religious by the motivations of the people who support it, a point that the IDers have made explicitly in "Intelligent Design in Public School Science Curricula: A Legal Guidebook":

The controlling legal authority, the Supreme Court's decision in Edwards v. Aguillard, explicitly permits the inclusion of alternatives to Darwinian evolution so long as those alternatives are based on scientific evidence and not motivated by strictly religious concerns. Since design theory is based on scientific evidence rather than religious assumptions, it clearly meets this test. (Emphasis added)

So, the Discoveryoids are arguing that as long as they claim that their religion is scientific, it is unfair to show that it isn't ... and if you can't prove it isn't scientific, you can't prove it is religion. Heads they win, tails we and the schoolchildren lose.

It is not "disparate treatment" to say that ID is both nonscientific and religious, since those categories are not exclusive. And jurists are certainly entitled to consider ID's lack of scientific content in considering its religious nature precisely because IDers claim their motives can be separated from the scientific content of ID.

This kind of thing, along with the recent contortions in the Freshwater case, make me glad once again that I resisted the temptation to go to law school, as I half-intended to when I got out of the Navy.
It's better than digging ditches and, sometimes can be intellectually rewarding but, believe me, I know what you mean!
I find that having been to law school makes this sort of thing much more fun.

Now, joining the navy, never could do that. I get seasick walking across a dewey field.

Mike from Ottawa
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