Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia gives comfort to creationists while speaking at his granddaughter’s commencement ceremony.
Giving the commencement address at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bethesda where his granddaughter Megan graduated, Scalia opined:
Class of 2015, you should not leave Stone Ridge High School thinking that you face challenges that are at all, in any important sense, unprecedented. Humanity has been around for at least some 5,000 years or so, and I doubt that the basic challenges as confronted are any worse now, or alas even much different, from what they ever were.
The reference to “5,000 years” is an allusion to the claims made by Young Earth Creationists who take a “Biblical view” of science and reject biological evolution.
David Nir, writing for The Daily Kos, explains:
So why that specific number, 5,000? It just so happens to be right around what those who take a literal view of the creation story in Genesis believe the age of the earth to be.
Scalia’s not so subtle reference in support of creationism should come as no surprise. Scalia has defended creationism as a legitimate scientific alternative to evolution in the past.
Perhaps most notable is Scalia’s dissent in Edwards vs. Aguillard, an important decision where the Supreme Court ruled that a Louisiana law requiring that “creation science” be taught in public schools, along with evolution, was unconstitutional.
The following is an excerpt of the dissent in Edwards vs. Aguillard written by Scalia:
The body of scientific evidence supporting creation science is as strong as that supporting evolution. In fact, it may be stronger…. The evidence for evolution is far less compelling than we have been led to believe. Evolution is not a scientific “fact,” since it cannot actually be observed in a laboratory. Rather, evolution is merely a scientific theory or “guess.”… It is a very bad guess at that. The scientific problems with evolution are so serious that it could accurately be termed a “myth.”…Creation science is educationally valuable…
Scalia is wrong. “Creation science” has no educational value. The assumption that creationism constitutes a legitimate scientific alternative to the theory of evolution is simply false. Religious myth and superstition have no place in the science classroom. Teaching children creationism as a legitimate scientific alternative to the theory of evolution is a form of child abuse and should not be tolerated.
(H/T Daily Kos)
(Update: Several diligent readers have complained that the above quote taken from Scalia’s dissent is unfairly attributed to Scalia and taken out of context since Scalia prefaced the quoted remarks by claiming to be only paraphrasing the arguments being made in favor of teaching creationism. The readers’ complaints have merit, and the author wishes to apologizes for any confusion. However, the larger point still stands: Scalia was wrong to defend the teaching of creationism as a legitimate scientific alternative to evolution.)