Saturday, April 07, 2007

On Intelligent Design, Part 3

This is a continuation of the paper I began earlier this week. You can find Part 2 here.

i. Balanced Treatment

The Court’s ruling in Epperson led to a change in the approach of Creationist instruction. The next step state legislatures took was to adopt a “balanced treatment” standard. One example of this type of statute was Tennessee’s 1973 Public Acts chapter 377. Section 1 of the Act amended Tennessee’s Code to require, inter alia, that any textbooks that proffer any theory on the creation and origin of man first must state that such theory is a theory and not a fact and second give an equal amount of time to the theories involved in the Book of Genesis in the Bible and other sources.[i] Additionally, this section stated that “[t]he teaching of all occult or satanical beliefs of human origin is expressly excluded from this Act.”[ii] Section 2 of the Act granted an exemption for the Bible.[iii] This Act was challenged in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. In Daniel v. Waters, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tennessee’s Statute unconstitutional:

First, the statute requires that any textbook which expresses an opinion about the origin of man "shall be prohibited from being used" unless the book specifically states that the opinion is "a theory" and "is not represented to be scientific fact." The statute also requires that the Biblical account of creation (and other theories of creation) be printed at the same time, with commensurate attention and equal emphasis. As to all such theories, except only the Genesis theory, the textbook must print the disclaimer quoted above. But the proviso in Section 2 would allow the printing of the Biblical account of creation as set forth in Genesis without any such disclaimer. The result of this legislation is a clearly defined preferential position for the Biblical version of creation as opposed to any account of the development of man based on scientific research and reasoning. For a state to seek to enforce such a preference by law is to seek to accomplish the very establishment of religion which the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States squarely forbids.[iv]

The court also found that the reference to “the occult or satanical beliefs” problematic:

Throughout human history the God of some men has frequently been regarded as the Devil incarnate by men of other religious persuasions. It would be utterly impossible for the Tennessee Textbook Commission to determine which religious theories were "occult" or "satanical" without seeking to resolve the theological arguments which have embroiled and frustrated theologians through the ages. …

The requirement that some religious concepts of creation, adhered to presumably by some Tennessee citizens, be excluded on such grounds in favor of the Bible of the Jews and the Christians represents still another method of preferential treatment of particular faiths by state law and, of course, is forbidden by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.[v]

And as such, the court found balanced treatment unconstitutional.

[i] See 1973 Tenn. Pub. Acts 377.

[ii] Id.

[iii] See Id.

[iv] Daniel v. Waters, 515 f.2d 485, 489 (6th Cir. 1975)

[v] Id at 491.

1 comment:

JMJanssen said...

That was a lovely summary, and a good read. I do like happy endings.