So you think science and religion are compatible? Or that notions of their incompatibility are overblown, and there’s no real problem? Have a gander, then, at this piece from Raw Story. A group called the Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE), as well as several dozen minors, have filed a lawsuit in federal court (copy of complaint here) trying to prevent the state of Kansas from implementing its public-school science standards.
A second lawsuit has apparently been filed by the Pacific Justice Institute, whose webpage gives the suit’s grounds:
Families across Kansas became one step closer, today, to protecting their children from forced atheistic teaching in their public school system. Pacific Justice Institute filed a complaint in Federal District Court challenging the State Board of Education’s (BOE) adoption of certain science standards which would create a hostile learning environment for those of faith. The standards being challenged are the Next Generation Science Standards adopted by the BOE June 11, 2013, and the corresponding Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts and Core Ideas.
In addition to citing numerous areas of law that the standards violate, the complaint cites that the standards cause the state “to promote religious beliefs that are inconsistent with the theistic religious beliefs of plaintiffs, thereby depriving them of the right to be free from government that favors one religious view over another.”
This is the old canard that teaching science is offensive to religious people because it pushes a materialistic view of the universe. In other words, teaching evolution, cosmology, or geology is an essentially atheistic act, one hostile to religion. Note what the lawsuit says:
The F&S [Kansas science "framework and standards"] take impressionable children, beginning in Kindergarten, into the religious sphere by leading them to ask ultimate religious questions like what is the cause and nature of life and the universe – “where do we come from?”
3. These questions are ultimate religious questions because answers to them
profoundly relate the life of man to the world in which he lives. [“By its nature, religion - in the comprehensive sense in which the Constitution uses that word - is an aspect of human thought and action which profoundly relates the life of man to the world in which he lives." (McGowan v. Maryland, 366 U.S. 420, 461 (1961) (Frankfurter, J. concurring, with Harlan, J.)]
4. These questions are exceedingly important as ancillary religious questions regarding the purpose of life and how it should be lived ethically and morally depend on whether one relates his life to the world through a creator or considers it to be a mere physical occurrence that ends on death per the laws of entropy.
5. However, instead of seeking to objectively inform children of the actual state of our scientific knowledge about these questions in an age appropriate and religiously neutral manner, the Standards use, without adequately disclosing, an Orthodoxy (defined in paragraphs 8 and 9) and a variety of other deceptive methods to lead impressionable children, beginning in Kindergarten, to answer the questions with only materialistic/atheistic answers.
6. Instead of explaining to students that science has not answered these religious questions, the F&S seek to cause them to accept that controversial materialistic/atheistic answers are valid.
7. The purpose of the indoctrination is to establish the religious Worldview, not to deliver to an age appropriate audience an objective and religiously neutral origins science education that seeks to inform.
8. The orthodoxy, called methodological naturalism or scientific materialism, holds that explanations of the cause and nature of natural phenomena may only use natural, material or mechanistic causes, and must assume that, supernatural and teleological or design conceptions of nature are invalid (the “Orthodoxy”).
This is straight out of the Wedge document playbook, which lays out an insidious plan to purge materialism and naturalism from schools. Here are some of the goals laid out by the Wedge document:
Both lawsuits are calling for the Kansas standards to be prevented from application, or, alternatively, altered so they don’t erode religious sentiments.
Here are the dire consequences that the PJI paints if the standards are used:
If the complete injunction against implementation of the standards is not granted, the complaint requests an alternative injunction that would stop these standards for grades K-8, and would allow the standards for grades 9-12 as long as the standards are objective “so as to produce a religiously neutral effect with respect to theistic and non-theistic religion.”
Brad Dacus, President of Pacific Justice Institute noted, “it’s an egregious violation of the rights of Americans to subject students—as young as five—to an authoritative figure such as a teacher who essentially tells them that their faith is wrong.” He continued, “it’s one thing to explore alternatives at an appropriate age, but to teach theory that is devoid of any alternative which aligns with the belief of people of faith is just wrong.”
The teacher is not telling students that their faith is wrong. That would violate the First Amendment. What the teacher is telling them are the findings of science. If that has the effect of eroding students’ religious beliefs, well, that’s too damn bad. The purpose of teaching science is a secular one, not meant to push atheism, so it doesn’t violate the Lemon test for the constitutionality of public education. As Steve Brown wrote on The Maddow Blog:
What I find especially fascinating about the argument is its implications. For COPE, the absence of religion is necessarily evidence of a “non-theistic religious worldview,” promoting “materialistic” or “atheistic” views. In other words, from their perspective, anything that’s secular should be seen as a rejection of religion.
By this reasoning, if you have lunch without a prayer, it’s an atheistic lunch. If you play baseball without including religion, it’s a “non-theistic” game. And a school teaches biology, it’s entangling itself in religion by omitting supernatural stories from science classes.
The Baptist Joint Committee says COPE is effectively pushing for “no science at all” in Kansas’ public schools, which I imagine is precisely the point.
The reason these ludicrous suits are being filed is, of course, that the religious plaintiffs recognize the incompatibility between their faith and science. They know that exposure to the facts of science will erode the ungrounded but comforting superstitions in they’ve indoctrinated their children. What better evidence could we have for the incompatibility of religion and science? Does the Clergy Letter Project, or the National Center for Science Education think that their accommodationist claims will prevent lawsuits like this? It hasn’t worked so far. The religious understand perfectly well the implications of science.
h/t: NoNamesLeft0102, Diane