Critical Thinking Outlawed in Georgia School District
A federal judge has ordered the stickers removed from Cobb County, Georgia biology textbooks that encourage students to think critically when examining the theory of evolution (see 11/08/2004 entry), according to Yahoo News. The attorney defending the stickers tried to argue that science and religion are not mutually exclusive, and that the school board was just trying to get past the conflict and teach good science. US District Judge Clarence Cooper disagreed. He said,
By denigrating evolution, the school board appears to be endorsing the well-known prevailing alternative theory, creationism or variations thereof, even though the sticker does not specifically reference any alternative theories…. While evolution is subject to criticism, particularly with respect to the mechanism by which it occurred, the sticker misleads students regarding the significance and value of evolution in the scientific community. (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
The judge must have changed his mind from November, when the Discovery Institute reported that he would not impute the motives of the parents for placing the disclaimer stickers; “The Judge also held the sticker had a dual secular purpose of promoting critical thinking and reducing parental offense in light of expanded evolution coverage in the science curriculum.”
The Discovery Institute blames the decision on a poor defense by the Cobb County attorney. For instance, he did not call any scientists to refute the charges, which allowed pro-Darwinist Ken Miller’s “expert” testimony to go unrebutted. Whatever changed the judge’s mind, the parents of six students who, along with the ACLU, sued the board over the stickers, are beaming: “This is a great day for Cobb County students,” said an attorney. “They’re going to be permitted to learn science unadulterated by religious dogma.” Rev. Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State appeared on radio news programs saying he hopes this nails the lid on the coffin of this issue. Lynn lambasted those who try to diminish the value of evolution and replace it with “religious dogma.” An appeal, however, cannot be ruled out.
The stickers were inserted in 2002 when over 2,000 parents complained that the new textbooks taught evolution as fact, without even mentioning any alternatives. Dr. John West, speaking for the Discovery Institute called today’s decision “bizarre” from a constitutional perspective. “After ruling that the school board had a legitimate secular purpose for creating the textbook sticker, and acknowledging the fact that there are scientists who criticize modern evolutionary theory,” he explained, “the court nevertheless declared that the sticker is unconstitutional because some citizens might mistakenly believe that the sticker was intended to advance religion—even though the Judge admits it wasn’t.” He feels this shows the judge had a “low view of the intelligence of his fellow citizens,” because if he could figure it out, why couldn’t they? To West, the only consolation is that Judge Cooper did state in his opinion that promoting critical thinking about evolution is legitimate.
Update 01/18/2005: Fox News reports that the board decided to appeal the decision. They feel that the judge’s decision “amounts to unnecessary judicial intrusion into local control of schools.”
Dogma? What religious dogma? The only religious dogma on display is that of the Judge and the ACLU who get paranoid when they think they sniff someone else’s religion, whether or not any is present. They are like the drunk who thought the whole world smelled rotten when a practical joker had smeared limburger cheese in his beard. For the life of them, these attorneys, judges and Darwin-worshippers cannot see the religious dogma is their own. What is dogma, if not an insistence that other views must be excluded from free inquiry and critical thinking? This decision is disappointing, because it seemed like a slam-dunk. Anyone with common sense would agree that controversial ideas should be examined with critical thinking. It takes the convoluted arguments of Charlie worshippers to explain why their buddha needs special protection from scrutiny.
The “reverend” Barry Lynn shows his true colors, for any that think his title means anything. His god (little g) is merely a figment of imagination that has absolutely nothing to do with the naturalistic, mechanistic, directionless universe he assumes he lives in. Why is he always on the side of the liberal Democrats on every political issue, just like Big Science? (see 12/02/2004 entry). Connect the dots. Lynn’s position is not about scientific accuracy or protection of religion, but about naturalistic philosophy, which almost always overlaps with political liberalism and moral relativism. (See Answers in Genesis editorial from 04/08/2004 on the Cobb County textbook controversy.)
Here is another case of a single, unelected federal judge (this one a Clinton appointee) trumping the will of the people and their elected representatives. And notice: he did it not for something they did or said, but for something he thought they might have meant: the wording of the sticker appeared (not in reality, but in suspicion) to be endorsing (start the somber, ominous music) that deep, dark, evil, malicious doctrine of: (shall we utter the word?) creationism! Aaaaaiiiiiiaaaa!
So now Emperor Charlie gets to parade naked in front of the crowd, and little boys with eyes open, who wonder why everyone is praising the invisible robes, are forbidden to say anything. The royal robes cannot be “denigrated,” even indirectly; in fact, it is against the law now to even entertain the thought in your mind that something is wrong with this picture. The potential effects of this kind of legal reasoning (or lack of it) on the decisions, discussions and even motives of locally-elected officials are chilling. Parents, students, if you are mad about this, keep the heat on. Just don’t underestimate the power of Charlie’s thought police and inquisitors. Dogmatism is all the more reason to turn on the floodlights.