Thursday, October 18, 2007

Constitutional Protection -- From What?

The science/religion interface sometimes gives Christians joy as a faith strengthener. In other cases it is a cause for sorrow and suspicion because science seems opposed to our Christian belief system. My purpose in these posts is not only to create enthusiasm for science's faith strengthener role, but also to instruct you on sources of difficulty and misunderstanding in our quest.

Much suspicion results from a string of court cases starting in the 1960s which ruled that the teaching or even any mention of supernatural creation in science classrooms is equivalent to teaching a particular religious view and is, therefore, "establishment of religion." Courts cite the constitutional principle that any arm of government, including public schools, may not promote any particular religious view, such as a particular view of supernatural creation. The concept of a recent creation, and even the idea of creation of new species at widely spaced time intervals along the timeline of earth's 4.5 billion year history, are clearly religious views. For centuries science and religion were intertwined, but only in the last two centuries have scientists begun to depart from the marriage which had been the rule. In the last fifty years the science community has perpetuated a full blown divorce.

Courts now side with litigants who insist origins explanations must be naturalistic because science has defined itself as a naturalistic enterprise exclusively. In history classes religious topics merit discussion, but in science classes they are out of bounds. One could only wonder what naturalistic history, music, or literature studies would be like. The Supreme Court has taken the "establishment of religion" clause to an extreme. There is no constitutional mandate against the teaching of bad science. Religion is OUT, questionable science is IN, and truth still begs for a hearing. We must never lose the desire to discover the truths about God's creation available to us through the gift of scientific discovery.