Re: [asa] Re: (Santa?) [christians_in_science] Brilliant article by Dawkins

From: Murray Hogg <>
Date: Fri Aug 28 2009 - 02:40:34 EDT

Australia, too, has a policy of funding non-government schools - many of which are religious.

The theory is that it costs X dollars to educate a child, and whether that X dollars goes to a government or a non-government school is immaterial - just so long as it is the parent making the choice rather than having it imposed upon them.

So, in practice, the government gives each school X dollars per enrolment and doesn't ask after the ideological leanings of the school. The only test is whether the school adequately teaches the set government curriculum.

Regarding the historical developments in the USA, isn't it interesting how attitudes change?

I discovered, by the way, a suggestion that the religious freedom aspects of Australia's Constitution was influenced by that of the US - which, if true, perhaps explains some of the suspiciously similar wording;

"no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth"

"no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States"

That's not likely to be entirely co-incidental, I think, although I hardly know how it might be explained.


David Clounch wrote:
> Murray,
> I have been told by Canadian friends that the government there has no
> problem funding religious schools, and these schools can teach
> creationism if they like. These Canadians think the Americans are nuts
> and that we should just dump our stupid constitution and the entire
> controversy will then just go away.
> In the US things have changed quite a bit over the course of history. I
> remember a case in the early 1800's where a school that took public
> funds didn't want to teach from the Bible. The supreme court ruled they
> had to because they took public funding. Congress at one point (and I
> recall this was while Jefferson was president) allocated $500,000 per
> year for Catholic schools on the frontier. This was passed by the same
> group of men who wrote the constitution. Most were still serving at the
> time. AFAIK Jefferson signed it. So much for myths about separation of
> church and state, heh?
> Our turnaround on this sort of thing started in 1931 due to the
> "doctrine of incorporation". Its a 20th century phenomenon. And it has
> certainly turned the country on its head.
> It sounds like Australia also has an interesting legal history too.
> -Dave
> On Thu, Aug 27, 2009 at 4:23 PM, Murray Hogg <
> <>> wrote:
> Hi David,
> Not knowing better, I had assumed the "dress up in monkey suits"
> comment was facetious!
> Being in Australia, the way these issues are addressed is quite
> different although we have pretty much the same constitutional
> protections - Section 116 of the Australian Constitution states;
> <cite>
> The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any
> religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for
> prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test
> shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust
> under the Commonwealth.
> </cite>
> In practice, however, things work a bit differently there than in
> the US (or so it appears to me).
> For example: I was told by one high school principal (too small a
> sample set, I know!) that there would be no problem discussing
> creationism in a Victorian (state) science class. His opinion is
> that the Victorian education system values fostering
> inter-disciplinary dialogue - so nothing is really out-of-bounds.
> And if a parent was to object to such an approach on religious
> grounds, they would be told to live with it - there being no
> precedent for opposing such a practice through the courts.
> What has to be realized, though, is that Australia is an enormously
> secular country and I suppose the reason such "liberties" are
> allowed is because nobody feels threatened by them. Were it a case
> of religionists or secularists using science classes to push their
> own particular ideological barrow, then things might become
> decidedly more testy.
> I think the fact that curricula are set by the education departments
> of the respective states rather than local school boards also helps
> as it tends to have a filtering effect - i.e. smaller special
> interest groups such as those who precipitated the Dover Trial, or
> the Kansas monkey suit guys, would tend to be marginalized.
> Unfortunately, there are those in Australian who think "separation
> of Church and State" actually means the government is obliged to
> have a religious test for office - so you often hear the same sort
> of silly arguments as occurred in the case of Francis Collins: "You
> can't appoint him, he's RELIGIOUS!" Little do they realize that
> Section 116 actually makes such discrimination unconstitutional - I
> imagine that although the US Constitution doesn't specifically
> exclude a religious test for office such a test would be excluded as
> contrary to the free exercise of religion, right?
> The upshot: whilst the issues and their resolution seem to take on a
> unique flavour, I think we can agree that the Establishment Clause
> (US) and Section 116 (Aus) are the best protection we have against
> those who want preferential treatment for their own particular
> religious, or non-religious, outlook.
> Blessings,
> Murray
> David Clounch wrote:
> Murray,
> I don't disagree with you. I was thinking of the "citizens for
> science" loonies in Kansas who really did literally dress up in
> monkey suits for the state science standards hearings.
> Obviously not every group who endorses Dawkins is endorsed by
> Dawkins. We cannot blame him because lunatics latch onto him.
> Keep in mind the ASA is itself as much a target of these folks
> as are YECers. What they are against is theism in any form.
> That "divine foot in the door" - that is what their issue is.
> They will not be appeased. They consider theists to be insane,
> and they will oppress theism and theists will full force at all
> turns. They will not allow theists freedom of conscience. There
> is only one defense against them: The [no] Establishment Clause.
> -Dave C
> On Wed, Aug 26, 2009 at 10:04 PM, Murray Hogg
> < <>
> <
> <>>> wrote:
> David Clounch wrote:
> Murray,
> You said>My point was that Dawkins makes much about the
> need for
> EVIDENCE to rule people's beliefs -
> So when the DI people start talking about "following the
> trail
> of evidence" what happens is the followers of Dawkins
> hoot and
> haw and put on monkey suits and do cartwheels. So his own
> followers aren't listening to him. Apparently they only echo
> him because he is against what they are against - not
> because
> they actually believe him.
> More subtle than that, I think.
> It seems obvious to me that "following the trail of evidence"
> is a
> nice general rule, but FIRST you have to ask whether the trail of
> evidence is worth following or not.
> Some people think THAT is a simple question to address. I
> think it's
> not. Actually, scratch that and replace with "I KNOW it's not"
> because part of the art of conducting good science is knowing
> whether or not, and if so, how, to take account of particular
> data.
> And the way you hone that art is by first acquiring a large
> enough
> background familiarity with the data and theorems of a
> particular
> science such that you have a context in which to assess new
> material
> and, second, by practising science in concert with people who
> already have the knack of making sound judgement calls. It is,
> ultimately, all about informed but subjective judgements -
> hence one
> of my little maxims: "science is an art, not a science"
> I could evidence plenty of instances from my own experience when
> seemingly valid experimental results railed against the
> validity of
> a theory and my response was simply to throw out the results and
> start again. Being able to make that judgement correctly is,
> in my
> opinion, a very large part of what scientific competence is
> about.
> But in the case of "no religious person can be a competent
> scientist" I would have thought that the contrary data was so
> overwhelming that it's beyond the realms of a reasonable
> judgement
> call to dismiss it. Or, what is the same thing, it evidences
> a lack
> of awareness with the data and theorems of the social study of
> religious belief. No person, in my view, who is reasonably
> informed
> about the interaction of science and religion would ever
> object to
> Collins' appointment on the basis that his belief in God is
> on par
> with belief in the Easter Bunny or Santa. It's a very tendentious
> claim.
> That's why I liked Schwarzwald's mention of Grant's drinking.
> When
> you're as successful as Grant was, to argue that he CAN'T be
> a good
> general because of X would seem to me evidentially self-refuting.
> So "following the trail of evidence" is something you do when you
> think it merited. Otherwise you quite rightly dismiss the
> evidenced
> as irrelevant. And if you want to know when which course of
> action
> is appropriate, you have to do so by earning your stripes as
> an insider.
> All of which is simply to say that I think Dawkins really does
> believe in following the evidence where it leads - but he simply
> kids himself in respects of his competence to make a sound
> judgement
> call in this instance. Ditto for his supporters.
> Blessings,
> Murray
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Received on Fri Aug 28 02:41:21 2009

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