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Thursday, November 15, 2007

What if the Dover School board had just put an alternative text in the library?

With respect to the Dover school board's case in general, intelligent design's godfather Phillip Johnson, transcribed here, muses in a recent note,
The Dover board could have placed the ID book in the library, and merely posted a notice that the book was available for any who wanted to know about a different view of the subject. In that case there would probably have been no teacher rebellion, no community commotion, no ACLU lawsuit, and no media circus.

However, that would not have satisfied the enthusiasts on the school board, who thought they had profound thoughts to express, or the lawyer, who wanted to win a test case. If the ACLU hd sued to remove a book from the library, the media might have looked at the case outside the "inherit the Wind" stereotype. It is always self-defeating for local citizens or school board members to write a disclaimer. It just sets up a target.

Johnson's alternative scenario will be easy to test.

The Design of Life, a supplemental textbook that critiques the hype of textbook Darwinism, is about to be released by the same Foundation that published Pandas (the book at the origin of the Dover suit). The official rollout is Monday, November 19.

Will TDOL's placement in school or public libraries trigger lawsuits? Will students be prevented from bringing personal copies to school? To mention anything they learned from the book to anyone on school property? We shall see ...

Right now, Darwinism is the Enron of biology and it is hard to imagine its proponents wanting the books balanced now or ever. So their cause is urgent.

Incidentally, political theorist Paul Marshall (Hudson Institute) told me in a recent note that European secularism in particular is assuming the character of Turkish secularism - that is, not only dogmatic but coercive. If that spreads to North America, I would not be surprised if there is a general purge of non-materialist books and ideas of all kinds and all degrees of merit from the education system, under the Orwellian guise of "avoiding conflict" or "equality" or "human rights" or some such.

What an interesting confluence of cultural events that would be!: Materialist atheism becomes the de facto religion of a school system supported by taxation of a population that overwhelmingly rejects it. Mind you, if the people choose to put up with that, it is their own fault.

Note: I will have more to say about the textbook later. I have seen the published version.

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