Thanks for your message and apologies for the delay in replying. As usual when I receive a message on a creation/ evolution/ design topic, I am replying cc. my blog CreationEvolutionDesign (with a change to the subject line).
I also usually remove the sender's personal identifying information, but in this case I assume you would want me to leave it in.
----- Original Message -----
To: Stephen E. Jones
Sent: Friday, September 01, 2006 12:42 AM
Subject: A news story suggestion for content in your website and any publication of yours
>To: Stephen E. Jones,
>I wish to submit for consideration a story about a new 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that approaches the issue of teaching origin of life theories in public schools from a new angle that I believe you may approve of. [I approve of school students being given all the relevant information, for and against, on a topic to enable them to make a personal, informed decision about it.
On the "origin of life," I approve of students being informed of its main problems and the main alternatives both naturalistic and supernaturalistic.
I agree with the editor of The Dallas Morning News that it is absurd that an atheist like Antony Flew can,from the evidence of nature alone, conclude that there must be a God who created the first living cell, yet the US Courts have ruled that school students are not allowed to be told that evidence. As the editor put it, "If the scientific data are compelling enough to cause an atheist academic of Antony Flew's reputation to recant much of his life's work, why shouldn't Texas [and indeed all] schoolchildren be taught the controversy?":
"An intellectual bombshell dropped last week when British professor Antony Flew, for decades one of the world's leading philosophers of atheism, publicly announced that he now affirms the existence of a deity. To be sure, Mr. Flew has not become an adherent of any creed. He simply believes that science points to the existence of some sort of intelligent designer of the universe. He says evidence from DNA research convinces him that the genetic structure of biological life is too complex to have evolved entirely on its own. Though the 81-year-old philosopher believes Darwinian theory explains a lot, he contends that it cannot account for how life initially began. We found this conversion interesting in light of last year's controversy regarding proposed revisions to the state's high school biology textbooks. Our view then was that while religion must be kept out of science classes, intellectual honesty demands that when science produces reliable data challenging the prevailing orthodoxies, students should be taught them. We were bothered by Harvard geneticist Richard Lewontin's statement that for scientists, materialism must be `absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.' That's called stacking the deck. Mr. Flew may be dead wrong, but it's refreshing to see that an academic of his stature is unafraid to let new facts change his mind. The philosopher told The Associated Press that if admirers are upset with his about-face, then `that's too bad. My whole life has been guided by the principle of Plato's Socrates: Follow the evidence, wherever it leads.' If the scientific data are compelling enough to cause an atheist academic of Antony Flew's reputation to recant much of his life's work, why shouldn't Texas schoolchildren be taught the controversy?" (Editorial, "An Atheist's Apostasy," The Dallas Morning News, December 15, 2004)]
> I see you are in Austrailia but thought you might be interested to know anyhow. Your website became one to be contacted when it appeared on an index listing of creationist organizations.
You may be interested in an Australian perspective that, as I have pointed out in a previous blog post, it is not the First Amendment of the US Constitution which mandates the separation of church and state but the US Supreme Courts' interpretation of it, the proof being that Australia has an almost identical establishment clause (S.116) in its Constitution, but the Australian High Court has interpreted that fairly literally, i.e. "The Commonwealth [i.e. Federal Government ] shall not make any law for establishing any religion":
Dover ruling could be its own genesis #1 ... It is not the "1st Amendment, which mandates the separation of church and state" but the USA Supreme Courts' interpretation of it. Proof of that is that the Australian Constitution which drew heavily on the United States model, has an establishment clause, Section 116:
116. The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.which is almost identical to the USA's First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.Yet the Australian High Court has tended to interpret the Australian Constitution fairly literally, i.e. "shall not make any law for establishing any religion" means just that. For example, the Australian Parliament starts each sitting day with a prayer, government schools allow religious instruction classes as part of the curriculum, employ Christian (and maybe other religions) paid chaplains and the Federal government provides financial grants to private religious schools. In fact, between 2001-2003 an Anglican Archbishop was Australia's Governor-General (which is effectively Australia's President, albeit largely ceremonial).
and therefore there is no legal impediment in Australia to teaching creation or intelligent design in schools, although there are political and practical constraints in a largely secular society.
>Few are aware that the U.S. Courts have ruled atheism is a religion for the purposes of the First Amendment in 2005 and thought about it's implications on the teaching of origin of life theories in public schools. In brief, evolution becomes both religious and scientifc theory (using the court's definition of scientific theory), and abiogenesis becomes purely religious theory. That being the case, these atheist origin of life theories should be treated the same as any other origin of life theory. Anything less is unconstitutional. Visit the website at http://originoflifefairness.org/ for much more information and the links/facts to back it up.
Court rules atheism a religion: Decides 1st Amendment protects prison inmate's right to start study group, WorldNetDaily, August 20, 2005 ...A federal court of appeals ruled yesterday Wisconsin prison officials violated an inmate's rights because they did not treat atheism as a religion. "Atheism is [the inmate's] religion, and the group that he wanted to start was religious in nature even though it expressly rejects a belief in a supreme being," the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals said. The court decided the inmate's First Amendment rights were violated because the prison refused to allow him to create a study group for atheists. Brian Fahling, senior trial attorney for the American Family Association Center for Law & Policy, called the court's ruling "a sort of Alice in Wonderland jurisprudence." "Up is down, and atheism, the antithesis of religion, is religion," said Fahling. The Supreme Court has said a religion need not be based on a belief in the existence of a supreme being. In the 1961 case of Torcaso v. Watkins, the court described "secular humanism" as a religion. Fahling said today's ruling was "further evidence of the incoherence of Establishment Clause jurisprudence." "It is difficult not to be somewhat jaundiced about our courts when they take clauses especially designed to protect religion from the state and turn them on their head by giving protective cover to a belief system, that, by every known definition other than the courts' is not a religion, while simultaneously declaring public expressions of true religious faith to be prohibited," Fahling said. ...
Here also is an excerpt from that Appeals Court finding that, "Atheism is, among other things, a school of thought that takes a position on religion, the existence and importance of a supreme being, and a code of ethics. As such, we are satisfied that it qualifies as Kaufman's religion for purposes of the First Amendment claims he is attempting to raise":
"Kaufman argues that the defendants' refusal to allow him to create the study group violated his rights under both the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. ... We address his claim under the Free Exercise Clause first. An inmate retains the right to exercise his religious beliefs in prison. ... The problem here was that the prison officials did not treat atheism as a `religion,' perhaps in keeping with Kaufman's own insistence that it is the antithesis of religion. But whether atheism is a `religion' for First Amendment purposes is a somewhat different question than whether its adherents believe in a supreme being, or attend regular devotional services, or have a sacred Scripture. The Supreme Court has said that a religion, for purposes of the First Amendment, is distinct from a `way of life,' even if that way of life is inspired by philosophical beliefs or other secular concerns. ... A religion need not be based on a belief in the existence of a supreme being (or beings, for polytheistic faiths), ...nor must it be a mainstream faith .... Without venturing too far into the realm of the philosophical, we have suggested in the past that when a person sincerely holds beliefs dealing with issues of `ultimate concern' that for her occupy a `place parallel to that filled by ... God in traditionally religious persons,' those beliefs represent her religion. .... We have already indicated that atheism may be considered, in this specialized sense, a religion. ... ('If we think of religion as taking a position on divinity, then atheism is indeed a form of religion.'). Kaufman claims that his atheist beliefs play a central role in his life, and the defendants do not dispute that his beliefs are deeply and sincerely held. The Supreme Court has recognized atheism as equivalent to a `religion' for purposes of the First Amendment on numerous occasions ... The Establishment Clause itself says only that `Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,' but the Court understands the reference to religion to include what it often calls `nonreligion.' In McCreary County, it described the touchstone of Establishment Clause analysis as `the principle that the First Amendment mandates government neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion.' ... As the Court put it in Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38 (1985): At one time it was thought that this right [referring to the right to choose one's own creed] merely proscribed the preference of one Christian sect over another, but would not require equal respect for the conscience of the infidel, the atheist, or the adherent of a non- Christian faith such as Islam or Judaism. But when the underlying principle has been examined in the crucible of litigation, the Court has unambiguously concluded that the individual freedom of conscience protected by the First Amendment embraces the right to select any religious faith or none at all. .... In keeping with this idea, the Court has adopted a broad definition of `religion' that includes nontheistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as theistic ones. Thus, in Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488, it said that a state cannot `pass laws or impose requirements which aid all religions as against non-believers, and neither can [it] aid those religions based on a belief in the existence of God as against those religions founded on different beliefs.' ... Indeed, Torcaso specifically included `Secular Humanism' as an example of a religion. ... It is also noteworthy that the administrative code governing Wisconsin prisons states that one factor the warden is prohibited from considering in deciding whether an inmate's request to form a new religious group should be granted is `the absence from the beliefs of a concepts of a supreme being.' ... Atheism is, among other things, a school of thought that takes a position on religion, the existence and importance of a supreme being, and a code of ethics. As such, we are satisfied that it qualifies as Kaufman's religion for purposes of the First Amendment claims he is attempting to raise." (Kaufman v. McCaughtry, 419 F.3d 867 (8th Cir. 2005), 2005 US App, pp.3-6. References omitted)
>The mainstream media wants to keep this knowledge quiet. If you agree the public needs to know about this issue, your help would be greatly appreciated telling the public about this website. It is indeed significant that it appears not to have been mentioned in any major secular news article, despite its obvious relevance to the issue of atheists using the Establishment Clause to prevent theistic religion being taught in schools where it bears on the issue of origins.
If "for purposes of the First Amendment," "`religion' ... includes ... atheistic beliefs, and "Atheism" is deemed to be a religion because it is "a school of thought that takes a position on religion, the existence and importance of a supreme being" and "a state cannot ... aid those religions based on a belief in the existence of God as against those religions founded on different beliefs" then it follows that equally "a state cannot ... aid those religions based on a belief in the" non-"existence of God as against those religions founded on different beliefs."
Quite clearly the State us aiding (to put it mildly!) atheistic religion when it rules out even reading a 1-minute statement before a science class letting students know there are problems with Darwin's atheistic theory of evolution and there is materials on an alternative position, ID, in the school library (as happened at Dover High School).
Indeed, some Darwinists, like Michael Ruse, have admitted that "If Darwinism equals atheism" (which it does because it denies design, being based on the philosophies of Materialism = matter is all there is = there is no God, and Naturalism = nature is all there is = there is no supernatural = there is no God) then it can't be taught in US schools because of the constitutional separation of church and state":
"The curious thing is that among those celebrating the prominence of these two Darwinians [Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett] on both sides of the Atlantic is an unexpected constituency - the American creationist/intelligent- design lobby. Huh? Dawkins, in particular, has become their top pin-up. How so? William Dembski (one of the leading lights of the US intelligent-design lobby) put it like this in an email to Dawkins: `I know that you personally don't believe in God, but I want to thank you for being such a wonderful foil for theism and for intelligent design more generally. In fact, I regularly tell my colleagues that you and your work are one of God's greatest gifts to the intelligent-design movement. So please, keep at it!' [Dembski, W.A., "Richard Dawkins - God’s Best Gift to ID," Uncommon Descent, May 1, 2005] But while Dembski, Dawkins and Dennett are sipping the champagne for their very different reasons, there is a party pooper. Michael Ruse, a prominent Darwinian philosopher (and an agnostic) based in the US, with a string of books on the subject, is exasperated: `Dawkins and Dennett are really dangerous, both at a moral and a legal level.' The nub of Ruse's argument is that Darwinism does not lead ineluctably to atheism, and to claim that it does (as Dawkins does) provides the intelligent-design lobby with a legal loophole: `If Darwinism equals atheism then it can't be taught in US schools because of the constitutional separation of church and state. It gives the creationists a legal case. Dawkins and Dennett are handing these people a major tool.'" (Bunting, M., "Why the intelligent design lobby thanks God for Richard Dawkins," The Guardian, March 27, 2006)
>We do reciprocal links on our "Supporters" page for those interested to linking to our website. Be sure to let us know by email if you decide to place a link on your website (not just a temporary news story).
>Please contact me via email if you have any questions the website cannot answer.
>CEO/Founder "Origin of Life Fairness in Public Schools, Inc."
I wish you well in your efforts to use this ruling that "for purposes of the First Amendment" atheism is a religion, so the US courts cannot constitutionally make rulings that favour atheistic religions (e.g. Darwinism) over theistic religion (e.g. Creationism, and ID - if it be granted for the sale of argument only that ID is a form of theistic religion).
I also think the origin of life is the best place to start, since as science writer John Horgan admits, "the origin of life ... is by far the weakest strut of the chassis of modern biology":
"If I were a creationist, I would cease attacking the theory of evolution- which is so well supported by the fossil record-and focus instead on the origin of life. This is by far the weakest strut of the chassis of modern biology. The origin of life is a science writer's dream. It abounds with exotic scientists and exotic theories, which are never entirely abandoned or accepted, but merely go in and out of fashion." (Horgan, J., "The End of Science: Facing the Limits of Knowledge in the Twilight of the Scientific Age," , Little, Brown & Co: London, 1997, reprint, p.138)