Friday, May 08, 2009

University of California Appeals Still Going On

A bit back, I included a post on the dismissal of a discrimination suit that was filed against the University of California. The suit centered around the university's unwillingness to accept course credits in science if the course used textbooks that did not teach modern scienctific principles. Well, the NCSE reports that the appeal of this dismissal is now at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. They write:
In its appeal of the August 2008 decision, filed on January 26, 2009, the plaintiffs asserted that the University of California system "has rejected a large number of biology courses because, despite their standard content, they added a religious viewpoint" (p. 21), which "constitutes viewpoint discrimination, content discrimination, and content-based regulation, which conflict with the First Amendment" (p. 24). In their reply, filed on April 10, 2009, the defendants replied that the courses were rejected because they used the creationist textbooks as their primary texts, and a review of those textbooks "concluded they were inappropriate for use as primary texts in college preparatory science courses due to their characterizations of religious doctrine as scientific evidence, scientific inaccuracies, failure to encourage critical thinking, and overall un-scientific approach" (p. 21) — a judgment with which Donald Kennedy and NCSE Supporter Francisco Ayala, experts for the defendants, concurred.
I am familiar with some of the books in question, which are produced by A Becka Books and Bob Jones University and they are decidedly anti-evolution and YEC in viewpoint. The NCSE has a special section devoted to this case here. Depending on how this turns out, I still stand by what I said then:
Great Googlymoogly! Unless this ruling is narrowly rendered, the ramifications are staggering! If other universities and colleges are paying attention, they can put incredible pressure on local high schools to teach concepts of evolution, modern astronomy, modern geology and palaeontology—all anathema to the creationist movement—effectively rendering the "academic freedom bills" irrelevant. This also places some of the local school boards over a barrel in that, if they support creationism in science class, they know that the local and state colleges and universities will reject those classes. How could they be seen as serving the needs of the students in those instances? Given the emphasis on state testing and college preparation, classes that teach creationism may become "one with the snows of yesteryear" as Isaac Asimov put it.

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