Well it’s old news now. Parents have filed a lawsuit against the El Tejon Unified School District because the Frazier Mountain High School in Lebec, California, is slipping an intelligent design course into its curriculum. Entitled “Philosophy of Design,” the district’s attorneys told the school board that “as the course was called ‘philosophy,’ it could pass legal muster.”

ID proponents are trying to frame this maneuver as perfectly legal because it’s a philosophy course and not a science course. For instance, the folks over at ARN say it’s “not a science course, but rather a philosophy course. That doesn’t seem to matter to opponents of ID. They want ID censored no matter what.” Obviously, the very thin disguise is an attempt to get around the ruling in Kitzmiller v. Dover in which Jones ruled that ID does not belong in science class. “I know,” someone at El Tejon must have said, “we’ll call it philosophy instead of science!” Then another board member jumps up and shouts, “yeah, that’s so crazy it just might work!”

Of course this sneaky tactic is doomed from the start. Their mistake is in thinking that Kitzmiller v. Dover narrowly applies to what can be taught in science class. But that wasn’t what Judge Jones ruled (see the full ruling that National Center for Science Education posted on their web site.) In his conclusion Jones wrote:

“The proper application of both the endorsement and Lemon tests to the facts of this case makes it abundantly clear that the Board’s ID Policy violates the Establishment Clause. In making this determination, we have addressed the seminal question of whether ID is science. We have concluded that it is not, and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.”

It’s pretty clear that ID is not allowed in a public school in any capacity because it violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Since ID cannot decouple itself from its religious roots it will always be religious content. You could teach it during dodgeball class in the gym and it would still be unconstitutional. This is bad news for the ID intelligentsia, like Dembski and Richards, who have been telling people to treat ID strictly as science so that it will pass constitutional muster. Understandably they don’t want their baby smothered in its crib before it has had a chance to wedge its way into the classroom. Right about now the Fellows there must have that same sinking feeling in their gut that the architects of the French revolution had after the mob took over and turned the guillotine on itself.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06992368716413129086 Heathen Dan

    Well, I hope the courts would rule against the ID proponents again. ID is a lame duck and has no place in any publicly funded educational institution.

    BTW, thank goodness there’s a sort-of Secular Web blog. I asked about it months ago (I also asked about SW getting a rss/xml feed) and while there is some interest then, there was no definite plans to do one.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10289884295542007401 Jeffery Jay Lowder

    Jim writes:

    “It’s pretty clear that ID is not allowed in a public school in any capacity because it violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Since ID cannot decouple itself from its religious roots it will always be religious content. You could teach it during dodgeball class in the gym and it would still be unconstitutional.


    So I’m skeptical that it is unconstitutional for ID to be taught in any public school classes. I mean, c’mon, does anyone really have a problem with it being taught in a comparative religious course? I, for one, don’t have a problem with that at all.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12599582252562592432 Jim Lazarus

    I think Intelligent Design should be studied in both philosophy and comparative religion courses in public schools. Teaching it in a science course says something about it: “It’s science” (generally speaking) – but discussing it in a philosophy course, or a comparative religion course, should not say anything about the reasonableness of ID unless the teacher illegally pushes her opinion on the student.

    With this specific case, though, it looks sneaky. Dedicating a whole alternative course to it – “The Philosophy of Design” – will bolster its importance, so it might be perceived as a legitimate rival theory to evolution. Taking into consideration the tactics that some ID supporters have taken in the past, this might be exactly why it’s being introduced to the public curriculum in this particular way.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14558495391350708810 James Still

    I certainly have no problem with teaching it in a comparative religion class (bracketing out for the moment that such classes are very rare in U.S. public high schools and are usually not offered until higher education, a fact which reinforces the suspicion that this is just another backdoor attempt to promote religion.) But Jones’ decision seems to me to conclude that teaching ID is a form of creationism, and thus violates the Establishment Clause. I’m not an attorney of course so we’ll all have to wait and see how this plays out. It all depends on whether a teacher were able to structure her syllabus such that the class were completely neutral toward the religious content of ID. And I’m skeptical that this would ever be done given the political motivations of ID proponents.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12599582252562592432 Jim Lazarus

    When I take issue with the idea that ID ought not to be discussed in philosophy classes, I am approaching the issue more from a theoretical perspective about what *could* be done with ID as it relates to philosophy and not what the ID theorists would *like to be* done. A teacher may very well implement a discussion about ID from a neutral perspective into a public school philosophy course (also extremely rare in the public curriculum), despite what the actual ID theorists such as Dembski, Johnson, or company would like done. The content belongs in a philosophy class – it has become important to contemporary philosophy of religion and contemporary philosophy of science in certain respects (specifically, with regard to methodological naturalism and with regard to the related question of what constitutes pseudo-science and science itself).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18398099496947604380 Alonzo Fyfe

    Actually, I think that a high-school philosophy class (taught by somebody who has studied academic philosophy) would do a lot of good.

    We should be teaching children what is wrong with ID so that we would not have to deal with this issue in the future. Thus, a class that explains what science is, why ID is not science, and the flaws within ID, would be a useful way of advancing the children’s understanding of the world around them — what education is supposed to provide.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06041161650761624155 Ed Darrell

    ID could be taught about in a proper social studies class. But it’s clearly got religion in its roots — and teaching it as the stuff to believe runs afoul of the establishment clause regardless where in the curriculum it’s taught.

    Even in a comparative religions class, were it taught as “here’s the bizarre and ridiculous stuff others believe, here’s the stupid stuff that scientists say, and here is intelligent design which is the truth and what you should believe,” it would be illegal.