When is intent greater than content?

Yahoo! News – Judge Rejects School Board Evolution Stand

Welcome back to class. I realize we have taken a rather long break for the semester, but it’s time one again to put our thinking caps on, and start analyzing the news.

So what has me jumping back into the fray? Perhaps it is the obvious lunacy of the US Court system. As the article cited above notes, the court has declared that a sticker must be removed from textbooks, as it in some way violates the (and I quote) “Ban on the separation of church and state.” Let’s forget, just for a moment, that the way the article is written makes it appear that the separation is banned. Let’s even forget for the moment that there is no actual ban in the constitution. (If you don’t believe me–go find the “separation” clause–it’s not there.) Let’s look at the sticker.

The sticker, according to the article, reads: “This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.”

So let me see–where are the issues that favor religion? What words here even HINT at the notion that one should/must believe in God (especially God in a particular way) such that one would see it as an encroachment on the separation of church and state?

Wait–it’s not there! The words as written actually encourage being open-minded, and having a critical mind. Typically those are things that we encourage in people, especially in education. We want you to be open to new ideas. We want to challenge–to question the status quo. How many times have you heard how scientific revolutions came about through paradigm shifts, driven by someone challenging the accepted concepts? In fact, isn’t that exactly what Darwin himself did?

I suspect there is something deeper, something more sinister here. Apparently the judge believes that motivation should be considered when determining if religion has played too great a role, and if your beliefs, motivated through some means of faith, drive your actions, then it cannot be allowed.

Seriously, consider this. The words just remind us that we are to remain scientific–we are to remain critical. The fact that a school board did this based on their religious convictions is enough to declare it an infringement, or breach if you will, of the barrier.

Let me leave you with this question: If Jimmy Carter’s humanitarian actions while President were grounded in his understanding of the calling he received from Christ–to care for the needy, clothe the naked, and feed the hungry–if that was driven by his religious convictions, should they have been stopped?

Are we to only allow actions motivated purely from self-thought?


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