In an op-ed in Sunday’s (Harrisburg) Patriot News, Michael Silberstein, a professor of philosophy of science at Elizabethtown College and the University of Maryland, discussed the place for worldviews, including intelligent design, in public education. It’s an excellent piece and includes one mention of the ACLU in reference to our defense of religious liberty.
The essay included this quote, though:
(M)any on the Enlightenment side of the culture wars are so rabidly concerned about the separation of church and state that they reflexively reject religious and theological discourse in public education for fear of indoctrination.
While this writer likes the idea of being enlightened, let’s be clear. In the beginning (if you will), we consistently said that teaching ID in philosophy class or comparative religion class or world cultures class is fine, and we have said that up to this day. In fact, for sound education, it is important to teach it in these classes because religion plays such an important role in the life of our culture and cultures the world over.
A local law student commented on our “creative solution” in an American Bar Association publication this summer:
The ACLU representative stated that they had no objection to the teaching of intelligent design in public school, as long as it was taught in the context of a history or social studies class. The ACLU was recognizing and accommodating one of the interests of the opposition, namely their desire to expose public school students to intelligent design. They were taking a step toward a creative solution by opening the door to a possible compromise that, while it may not by fully satisfying to each group, could at least be the beginning of a discussion of other options.
But ID does not belong in science class because it is not science. Period.
Unfortunately, there are many out there in the public discourse who decry the ACLU for trying to remove religion “from the public square”. In fact, we have been defending religious liberty for decades. If we posted the links to examples, this blog would be pages long. But here’s one from Jersey:
When theocratic authoritarians or squawk-radio talking heads try to claim that we want religion completely out of public view, don’t believe the hype.
Silberstein finishes his piece with this:
(A) theology course would be an excellent place to critically teach about the ID world view, as ID is natural theology and not natural science.
Submitted by Andy Hoover, community education organizer, ACLU of PA