Friday, August 13, 2010

Tim Sandefur on Luskin's "Zeal For Darwin"

Tim Sandefur over at Panda's Thumb has a post on the new Casey Luskin 88 page article that I review just below this one. He writes:
The neutrality requirement in the First Amendment forbids the government from taking a position on the truth or falsehood of a religious doctrine in religious terms, but it may take a position on any matter on areligious or non-religious terms. That is, the Constitution forbids the government from endorsing or propagating or censoring the doctrinal truth of a religious proposition, but it does not forbid the government from endorsing or propagating the factual truth of a proposition, even if those propositions turn out to be the same in content. It does not forbid the government from reaching a conclusion, and stating or endorsing that conclusion, from secular premises, even if that conclusion happens to clash with someone’s religious view. Government may not take religious positions, but it take secular positions that happen to clash with positions endorsed by a religious viewpoint.
If I understand this correctly, where this has typically come into play has been where parents have withheld life-saving medical techniques from children because it conflicts with their religious beliefs. Recent cases have found for the government.

If it can be shown that ID is scientifically bankrupt, the government can, without fear of violation of the establishment clause, find for a party that objects to the teaching of ID on scientific grounds. It has usually been the case that, when dealing with creationism, violations of the establishment clause were easy pickings because it was obvious that it proceeds from a religious perspective. (Fish? Barrel?) This will be trickier, if the government tackles it at all.

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