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Monday, February 22, 2010

Top Ten books to read on the intelligent design controversy, 2009 #9

(Note:: These are the key books, not science or media news. The Top Ten Darwin and Design Science News Stories for 2009 are here, the Top Ten Darwin and Design Media News Stories for 2009 are here, and my comments on the latter are here. Also, to get the links, you must go here.)

My comments follow.

9. Exhaustive Survey of Evolution Case Law by Casey Luskin. The legal journal Hamline University Law Review, Vol. 32(1):1-64 (Winter, 2009), published a comprehensive collation and summary of the relevant law cases regarding the teaching of biological origins. The teaching of biological origins in public schools remains a contentious scientific, cultural, and legal debate. With the increase of public interest in this topic, it is essential for attorneys, legal scholars, and educational authorities to have an awareness of the full breadth of case law on this issue. Moreover, few have bothered to engage in a careful review of the case law to determine if evolution actually is beyond scrutiny in public schools. This article exhaustively surveys the case law relevant to the teaching of biological origins, dividing the cases into three major categories: (1) Cases upholding the right to teach about evolution; (2) Cases rejecting the teaching of alternatives to evolution; and (3) Cases rejecting disclaimers regarding the teaching of evolution. The range of constitutionally permissible policies for teaching evolution can also be understood by studying policies that have not engendered lawsuits. Twenty-one cases are reviewed, as well as various policies that have not faced legal challenges, revealing that while courts have firmly upheld the rights of educators to teach evolution and have rejected attempts to teach creationism, none of these cases stands for the proposition that a curriculum that teaches scientific critiques of evolution would necessarily place a school board in constitutional jeopardy. Indeed, case law and the public policy history of this issue suggest precisely the opposite: curricular policies in public schools need not unilaterally support evolution. Rather, as the U.S. Supreme Court has stated, "scientific critiques of prevailing scientific theories [may] be taught" provided that such curricula are enacted with the "clear secular intent of enhancing the effectiveness of science instruction." Educators that choose to improve science education by teaching both the scientific evidence supporting modern Darwinian theory, as well as the scientific evidence that challenges this view, can rest assured that they are on firm legal ground.

[From Denyse: Well, that’s good news, because the surest distinction between education and propaganda is whether one can question what one hears, based on evidence. To teach effectively, one must address what students really think.]

#10 plus comments is here.


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