Russell and Duenes

Kitzmiller v. Dover and Orwellian Educational Doctrines

with 7 comments

I sometimes ask myself why I keep writing about the biblical obligation that Christians for giving their children an explicitly Christian education. It’s not a “sexy” topic, and I have many good Christian friends who have their kids in public schools. My intention is not to offend or turn off any of you (should you be reading this). Further, I don’t have many readers, and even if I did, I wonder how many would be convinced. I wonder what the public schools would have to do before Bible-believing Christians would actually abandon them. Apparently banning the name of our Lord Jesus and enforcing Orwellian doctrines about what “scientific” teachings students can be exposed to isn’t enough. But I’m for taking the long view of things (as I believe Jesus was), and I recognize that many Christians are not in a financial position to pay for private education. But we could be if this issue was addressed by churches and not just individuals. Please hear my heart, which is not to give offense, but to encourage biblical faithfulness in educating our children, recognizing that the goal of education is the glory of God, as it is with every human endeavor.

I couldn’t help thinking of this topic again as I read through the now-famous U.S. District Court opinion in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. You know the one where the Dover, Pennsylvania school board was told that any reference to “Intelligent Design,” or any impugning of neo-Darwinian, materialist evolution amounts an official endorsement of religion, and is therefore unconstitutional. It’s hard to know where to begin with a case like this, but reading it certainly makes a strong argument for Christians to once again re-think their allegiance to the public schools. Let’s see if we can get at some of what Judge John E. Jones III was saying in his ruling.

First, he smears “fundamentalism” and makes it sound obscurantist and, frankly, dishonest. Fundamentalists, in his view, are simply people who want to get “creationism” into the schools, but by another name. Perhaps so, but I’ve got a better idea. How about we leave the government schools to teach their religion of philosophical naturalism, and we educate our Christian kids in schools where we can teach unapologetically that “the heavens are telling the glory of God.” How about we even – and I know this is really crazy – take our money and put it towards establishing such Christian schools. But I digress.

Judge Jones quotes approvingly of a previous Supreme Court decision, stating that, School sponsorship of a religious message is impermissible because it sends the ancillary message to members of the audience who are nonadherents ‘that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community.’ I would hate for anyone to feel that they were an ‘outsider,’ oh, except for religious people, that is. It’s no problem if they are outsiders. It’s the non-adherents that we need to make sure feel good about how all this education stuff goes down. The fact is, somebody is going to feel like an outsider, and this is the way it has to be, no matter what any court says, because – let’s say it together class – there’s no such thing as religious neutrality. If “religious messages are impermissible,” as the Court says, then what message does that send to believing children? Do you think the believing children understand this message? If they don’t, do you think Christian parents should keep exposing them to it for years and years?

More from the Court on educational “neutrality”: The endorsement test recognizes that when government transgresses the limits of neutrality and acts in ways that show religious favoritism or sponsorship, it violates the Establishment Clause. This is where the battle must be fought. We need to keep saying and teaching our children that there is nothing neutral in this universe, particularly in the educational sphere. God says that “from him and through him and to him are all things.” Educational “neutrality” contradicts this, and thus it is most assuredly not neutral. The public schools favor, if not atheism, at least a bland agnosticism. Is agnosticism neutral? Does it not entail believing certain things to be true or false about God, up to and including his supposed nonexistence?

Judge Jones writes, The court concluded that creation science “is simply not science” because it depends upon “supernatural intervention,” which cannot be explained by natural causes, or be proven through empirical investigation, and is therefore neither testable nor falsifiable. Right, and so what counts as science is that which can be “proven through empirical investigation” and which is “testable and falsifiable.” I agree. So, can someone tell me if we’ve seen empirical, tested evidence that all mankind has come into being through purely natural processes, from nonbiological material, descended from a common ancestor? I think not. Indeed, such a theory is non-testable and non-falsifiable. It cannot be falsified because materialistic naturalism is the only thing that can be considered “science.” All other explanations are excluded as “non-science.” The Court says so. If it cannot be explained by “natural causes” then it amounts to an establishment of religion. Is this the kind of environment in which I want my children to be educated? Do you you think your average 9th grader knows that this is what is happening to him?

Jones goes on: A significant aspect of the IDM [Intelligent Design Movement] is that despite Defendants’ protestations to the contrary, it describes ID as a religious argument. In that vein, the writings of leading ID proponents reveal that the designer postulated by their argument is the God of Christianity. Dr. Barbara Forrest, one of Plaintiffs’ expert witnesses, is the author of the book Creationism’s Trojan Horse. She has thoroughly and exhaustively chronicled the history of ID in her book and other writings for her testimony in this case. Her testimony, and the exhibits which were admitted with it, provide a wealth of statements by ID leaders that reveal ID’s religious, philosophical, and cultural content. And what, pray tell, is materialist neo-Darwinian’s “religious, philosophical, and cultural content?” Oh that’s right, it doesn’t have any because it is “neutral science.” No, no…prominent “goo-to-you” evolutionists like Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, P.Z. Myers, William Provine, Jerry Coyne, Michael Ruse, Stephen Jay Gould, Steven Pinker, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, et al are just neutral scientists. We can’t have any talk about “purposeful arrangement of parts” in our science classes because that would amount to an endorsement of religion.

The Court continues, ID aspires to change the ground rules of science to make room for religion, specifically, beliefs consonant with a particular version of Christianity. And just who gets to set the “ground rules of science?” Upon what are they based? Can these “ground rules” be established by science, or are they determined philosophically and metaphysically? Do our high school students know to ask these kinds of questions of their teachers?

Finally (though I could go on and on), the Court punctuates all this by stating that materialist evolution simply must be taught in schools because our children are so young and impressionable. We wouldn’t want them to ask any impertinent questions. Judge Jones says, Families entrust public schools with the education of their children, but condition their trust on the understanding that the classroom will not purposely be used to advance religious views that may conflict with the private beliefs of the student and his or her family. Students in such institutions are impressionable and their attendance is involuntary. So excluding Jesus from all curriculum doesn’t “advance religious views that may conflict with the private beliefs of the student and his or her family.” I see. But what if, like me, you believe that Jesus is Lord of all, that he “upholds all things by the word of His power?” What if you believe that in Jesus “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge?” The government schools say, “Sorry, we’ve got to stay neutral.”

Of course, there are some questions that students in the public schools are not allowed to ask. Dissent from the religion of materialist, naturalistic philosophy will not be allowed in public schools. Just keep it in your “good news clubs” or some such. How our civilization would crumble if our students think that neo-Darwinian theory is on shaky ground. We simply cannot trust our students to weigh evidence. What we’re really talking about here is Orwellian thought-control, which is something we don’t have in Christian schools, protestations to the contrary notwithstanding. My students are allowed, in fact, welcomed, to ask any and every question they could possibly have about any subject. Doesn’t mean we can answer them all satisfactorily, but nothing is out of bounds. At least it shouldn’t be.

What’s needed is for us Christians to see the lie that is “neutrality,” the fact that Jesus’ lordship over all things is not an embarrassing liability, and ultimately to stop giving our money to schools where Jesus is officially excluded from anything called “knowledge.” We need to affirm what science can actually teach us and what it can’t. This can be done in Christian education. It will not be done in government schools. I beg you to consider these things and think about how we, as God’s people together, can move forward in this arena.

-D

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Written by Michael Duenes

October 27, 2010 at 10:48 pm

7 Responses

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  1. That decision is so awful. My casebook has question marks all over it. In addition to your note that there is no real “neutrality” and from a legal perspective, courts should not be deciding what the definition of “science” is, especially when the people have voted to include certain things as science and other things as not. In America, language is defined by the the people, not by our government overlords.

    Joshua House

    October 28, 2010 at 10:48 am

  2. “… courts should not be deciding what the definition of ‘science’ is, especially when the people have voted to include certain things as science and other things as not.”

    Scientists, not “the people”, not the courts, should decide what science is. The entire scientific community, especially the world’s biologists, has overwhelming decided evolution is a basic scientific fact, because the evidence for it is massive and powerful.

    In 2005 the judge was just preventing scientifically illiterate Christian extremists from dumbing down what every scientist knows is an established truth. Also, in 2005 the federal judge was defending the Establishment Clause of our constitution, as the Supreme Court did 18 years before (1987) in a similar Christian attack against science education. The fact that a few million non-scientists have a problem with evolutionary biology does not matter. Uneducated people have no right to make any decisions about education. It would not be fair to students who want to learn all they can about science.

    By the way, “intelligent design”, which every Dover biology teacher refused to teach to their students because that would be child abuse, is a religious belief in supernatural magic. Uneducated Christians have a lot of nerve to think they have the right to tell biology teachers they have to teach Christian beliefs in their science classrooms.

    darwin-killed-god dot blogspot dot com

    Human Ape

    October 29, 2010 at 8:13 am

    • Very good, Human Ape, I see you’ve memorized all of Richard Dawkins’, et al’s, talking points. No need to answer your comment here since you’ve not really made any arguments. We here at Russell and Duenes like to engage in constructive dialogue about actual points of interest. We’re not into calling our atheist friends “uneducated” or “illiterate” or “child abusers.” But that’s just us. If there’s no God, I can’t see why any of this stuff would matter one way or another. If you had read my post more carefully, you would know that my main thesis was that Christians should abandon the government schools, not “tell biology teachers they have to teach Christian beliefs.” You seem to be interested in telling me what I have a “right” to and what I don’t. That’s amusing, given your atheism.

      -D

      russellandduenes

      October 29, 2010 at 1:31 pm

  3. “Christians should abandon the government schools”

    Good idea and good riddance. Unfortunately the children of Christian idiots get cheated because they learn how to be uneducated morons like their parents. Still it’s better to keep these victims away from normal students who want to learn something, instead of living in the fantasy world you gullible Christians live in.

    By the way, you have to right to spread lies about science and scientists, for the same reason I have the right to call you a Liar For Jeebus. That’s what you are, a professional liar, and being too stupid to realize you’re being dishonest is no excuse.

    It’s interesting that you pathological liars call magic “design”. Do you really think calling magic by another name makes it less childish? You superstitious morons aren’t fooling anyone. You’re not fooling any biologists, and the Dover trial showed that you’re not fooling any federal judges.

    While you abandon our public schools, it would also be nice if you idiots removed yourselves completely from this country. I think you would be happier in a theocracy like Iran.

    Human Ape

    October 30, 2010 at 9:50 pm

  4. “Memorized all of Richard Dawkins talking points” as if just Dawkins, and not the entire scientific community, calls you idiots “idiots”.

    Human Ape

    October 30, 2010 at 9:51 pm

  5. “We’re not into calling our atheist friends uneducated or illiterate or child abusers.”

    I call Christians uneducated morons and scientifically illiterate because that’s exactly what they are, including you mister.

    And your brainwashing of innocent children, and keeping them out of public schools so they can’t get a decent science education, that’s child abuse, the worst possible kind of child abuse, because you are destroying minds, and often the brain damage is permanent and incurable.

    Atheist friends? You’re no friend of mine mister. You have disgraced this country long enough and I want you idiots out of here.

    Constructive dialogue? That isn’t possible with you god-soaked anti-science idiots. It would be like having a constructive dialogue with terrorists. It’s not possible.

    Human Ape

    October 30, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    • Liar, liar, pants on fire! Thanks for stopping by.

      -D

      russellandduenes

      October 31, 2010 at 1:47 pm


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