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Oldie but Goodie: The Case of Frank Beckwith at Baylor

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Every now and again we need to be reminded of past events:

. . . The letter accuses Beckwith of holding church-state positions contrary to the strong stand for separation advocated by J.M. Dawson. Therefore, he should not be a leader of the Dawson Institute, it notes.

“We are troubled because Dr. Beckwith is a fellow of the Discovery Institute. The activities of this organization are widely recognized in the academic community as engaging in political activities that contravene the fundamental principle of the separation of church and state for which J.M. Dawson stood,” the letter says.

“The Discovery Institute works to get the concept called ‘intelligent design’ into the science curriculum of public school textbooks, claiming that intelligent design is a scientific, not a religious, concept. In our judgment and in the judgment of the scientific community, this is a ruse for getting a religious notion into the public schools–clearly a violation of the separation of church and state.” . . .

For the full story, go here.

The phrase "separation of church and state" was coined by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to a Connecticut church of some sort assuring them that the federal gov't would no interfer with their sectarian church nor establish a national church to compete with them. What it has become since that time is a travesty. In fact the whole damn federal gov't is a travesty. The U.S. was formed as a federation of largely independent states banding together for common defense, a common currrency, and to grease the wheels of interstate commerce. Powers not specifically granted by the constitution to the federal gov't were to remain powers of the states and the people. That's been wholly abandoned without a constitutional amendment to accomplish it. Power was grabbed in one of two ways. The first way is that everything under the sun has been construed to effect interstate commerce thus the legitimate power of regulating interstate commerce has been applied to regulate virtually everything with any tenuous rationalized connection that can possibly be dreamed up. Second is the federal income tax. The federal gov't confiscates a large portion of the income of state residents then offers it back to the state on the condition it is spent in a manner designated by the federal gov't. DaveScot
DonaldM Don't spoil my fun. If the evolution fundamentalists want to believe Miers is a biblical fundamentalist I say reinforce their belief and have some fun watching them cry and wring their hands over it. DaveScot
Dave Scot writes:
Our good friends at Panda’s Thumb have proven themselves useful for digging up some interesting tidbits on Harriet Miers, President Bush’s most recent Supreme Court Justice nomination. It seems they believe, for evidently good reason, that Ms. Miers is a YEC creationist.
What "good reason" would that be. As far as I figure out, the PT crowd is in a dither over Miers nomination fearing she is YEC based on a)she's a member of a particular church, b)she actually gives money to that church, c)that church has a website, d)on the website, whoever maintains it has created a links page which includes a link to a YEC website. However, overlooked in all this hysteria and fear regarding Ms. Meirs, is the fact that: a)no where does the church's website cliam any money given to the church ALSO supports the organizations found on the "links" page; b)at the top of the links page, it states clearly that the links are "Not an endorsement, but merely sites we find interesting" and c)nowhere has anyone noted where Ms. Meirs herself has been associated with the YEC organization. Oh, and there's a good possibility that Ms. Miers is no longer a member of that church, though I'm not sure that is confirmed. Not only have they committed the genetic fallacy, they can't even get the guilt by associations correct. DonaldM
Frank Beckwith:
You may be interested in an article I just published in the Chapman Law Review, “Gimme That Ol’ Time Separation: A Review Essay” 8.1 (2005). You can download it from my website here: http://homepage.mac.com/francis.beckwith/downloads.htm
Yes, I had read that last week. It was quite helpful in putting this whole separation thing in perspective. I highly recommend it to others (and, no, you don't have to have a law degree to comprehend it...I don't and I did). jboze noted:
well, donald- we dont even need to look at the word separation, since its not in the clause.
Well, that was part of my point, which is why I used the phrase "so-called doctrine of separation of church and state." Yet, it is applied in law by judges as if it were a part of constitutional law. Go figure. DonaldM
In the comments of the above PT article Ed Darrel, middle school social studies teacher by day and expert on evolution on Panda's Thumb by night, laments: "America’s economic future depends on science and technology. We really cannot afford to have a junk science advocate on the Supreme Court bench." If Ed is talking about communications, computer science, space science, materials science, manufacturing technology, nuclear power, military weapons, finance, business administration, etc. etc. I would wholeheartedly agree with him. However, I'll be damned if I can figure out the stratetic necessity of the U.S. having the most accurate phylogenetic tree. How does whether bird are descended from dinosaurs or not effect the proverbial price of tea in China? Good grief. Get a clue, Darrel. Historical biology is the epitomy of impractical science. DaveScot
Speaking of church/state issues... Our good friends at Panda's Thumb have proven themselves useful for digging up some interesting tidbits on Harriet Miers, President Bush's most recent Supreme Court Justice nomination. It seems they believe, for evidently good reason, that Ms. Miers is a YEC creationist. http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/10/harriet_miers_a.html#more Isn't this hilarious? An ID case is going to end up in the Supreme Court in the next year or two and with a YEC sympathetic justice. Conservatives will own the bench when (technically if, not when) Miers replaces O'Connor. Both Roberts and Miers, as GW appointees, are loyal to the cause. GW values loyalty above all else. And we all know how GW feels about teaching ID. It isn't hard connecting the dots. The liberal movement that began in the 1960's when a population bubble of idealistic young people attained voting age has come to a close. Most of those idealistic flower children have grown up to become pragmatic parents and grandparents. You know the old saying "If you aren't liberal when young you have no heart and if you aren't conservative when old you have no brain." DaveScot
An excellent review essay which manages to give an insightful and educational overview of the legal doctrine of separationism and its rather dismal history (the Hamburger book is clearly a must-read). Thanks for sharing. neurode
You may be interested in an article I just published in the Chapman Law Review, "Gimme That Ol' Time Separation: A Review Essay" 8.1 (2005). You can download it from my website here: http://homepage.mac.com/francis.beckwith/downloads.htm fbeckwith
Good points you guys. Some one should tell em liberals what the first amendment is all about. We need a major re-edjumacation on the first amendment and sep. of church & state. I can see it now, we have a new dollar with logo imprinted saying "IN SCIENCE WE TRUST". All because the Darwiees - lobbied against the "GOD" part and had it removed. Because having the word God there would teach their kids that they were sinners and need to be saved from the 2nd coming if Jesus [right ?, right ?, right ? ] The best part is underneath that there would be the preverbal small print that no one can read / recognize unless under the scope that says "Copyright - Science by defintion belongs to Darwin". Charlie Charliecrs
well, donald- we dont even need to look at the word separation, since its not in the clause. free exercise of religion, no law regarding the establishment of religion. as has been pointed out, the founders wanted to make sure there wasnt a govt ordained church- mainly to appease the various christian sects- baptists, luterans, methodists, etc. AFTER they signed off on the constitution, the federal govt put in hundreds of thousands to buy bibles...jefferson made the bible one of only two books to used in his schools, washington established various days of thanksgiving and prayer. all of this and much more done to spread christianity AFTER the ratifying of the 1st amendment. the founders wanted to merely stop a nation wide church from dominating. even AFTER the 1st amendment, nearly every state had a state church. no honest person who knows their history can claim what the courts claim today. the foundera are shaking their heads up in heaven wondering how on earth weve allowed the courts to usurp powers from the other branches as they have, and how theyve so purposely twisted the meaning of the constitution in this regard. its sad, but thats what we get with courts that refuse to rule based on what the founders clearly said and clearly meant. jboze3131
There's also the problem of the term definitions. In the so-called doctrine of the separation of Church and State, what does the word "separation" mean, what does "church" mean and what does "State" mean? All three of these terms have tended to be treated as fairly elastic and construed to mean whatever a particular judge presiding over a particular case has wanted them to mean. Thus, if ID is deemed "religion" or rooted in "religion" in some way, then clearly it is tied to "the church", and therefore verboten in the public school classroom, which is an arm of the "state", and must, therefore be "separated" from it. DonaldM
I think neurode read my mind. I just wonder how long it will be before the public realizes en masse that our nation is being controlled by villainous religious zealots hiding behind masks of "religious freedom" and "civil liberty". David crandaddy
Excellent points neurode. Dan
This is nothing more than a atheis/secularist paranoia towards ID. Atheists don't want to admit that the evidence is not on their side. Benjii
Where do these people get their ideas regarding the separation of church and state? The Establishment Clause, the basis of the separation of church and state, was introduced to prevent the U.S. from adopting a state-sanctioned religion as was then common in Europe. If it is interpreted in any broader way, e.g., as a mandate to keep religious content out of schools, then “religion” must be defined as impervious to logical validation. Otherwise, the separation of church and state potentially amounts to the separation of logic and state, or truth and state, or logic and education, and this would obviously be governmentally and educationally unsound. In particular, it has never been shown that various items of religious doctrine are scientifically irrelevant, or that they cannot be logically derived from self-evident principles. While one can argue for their exclusion from science classrooms as articles of faith, one would nevertheless require their educational inclusion as logical theorems. In fact, most religions hold the existence of God to be entirely provable, whereas the nonexistence of God has never been demonstrated. To take an extreme example, one might establish a “church of logic” upholding the divine status of logic and citing it as a religious doctrine. Inasmuch as science depends on logic, to exclude logic from science classrooms due to its religious significance would be asinine. Against this reasoning, one might object that God is (by some definition) “supernatural”, and where scientific confirmation is confined to the natural world, that God is scientifically unprovable (again by definition). However, such an objection comes down to a mere circular definition of science and nature – i.e., “science is the study of nature, and nature is what science studies” – and this definitional recursion can easily be adapted to future extensions of scientific methodology which might reveal new aspects of nature. To pursue the above example, scientific methodology may one day explicitly embrace the methods of mathematics (on which it already implicitly depends), the concept of nature might thus come to include certain fundamental mathematical truths, and associated mathematical techniques might conceivably be used to derive a logical form of theology “in the name of science”. One might personally consider this scenario quite unlikely. But as long as such possibilities have not been rigorously precluded, the Establishment Clause must be narrowly interpreted in order to remain consistent under all possible circumstances. It follows that professional academics and academic administrators, who typically have no idea how to show that science and theology are mutually irrelevant (which they very possibly are not), are violating the First Amendment and the principle of academic freedom when they attempt to exclude ID from discussion in any context reasonably deemed appropriate by a given instructor. Of course, the injustice is only amplified by the fact that ID theory, which might be held to imply the existence of God, contains no explicit mention of God. It almost seems that what we have here is an atheist-materialist crusade, manned by lawyers and academics, against the very possibility of a science-theology connection. From a logical, scientific, or Constitutional standpoint, it emits a nose-twisting stench. neurode

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