PZ Myers poses a question about theistic evolution and court cases.
The lawyer says, “Mr Matzke (you know Nick will be there, right?), you’ve brilliantly dissected this textbook the Discovery Institute is using, and shown that despite the absence of any overt mention of god or religion, it’s antecedents are derived from the creationist movement, and its authors are all strongly religious and have made statements outside the context of this particular book that strongly imply intent to promote religion. We should not be fooled by the absence of obvious religious advocacy in the book itself, but recognize instead its duplicitous nature and the bad faith arguments of its proponents?”
Nick will humbly reply, “Yes, sir.”
And the DI lawyer will then say, “But half your witnesses are “theistic” evolutionists, and proud of it. They say openly that they believe a God, the Christian God, not even an ambiguous supernatural force, was involved in the creation of human beings. They write books about DNA as the “language of God”. They lecture with considerable force that science and religion are compatible, and more, that science strengthens their faith in the Christian God. Proponents of the evolution position blithely call these people who insert a god into their explanations of origins ‘pro-science’. Your side ignores or even derides scientists who insist on purely natural explanations of our evolution, and promotes those who use religion to sell science to the public.”
“I’m baffled. On what basis are you arguing that this case involves a violation of the separation of church and state when I can scarcely tell the two of you apart, and when it’s your side that more openly embraces religious ideas—when the Intelligent Design proponents show a history of nominally moving away from their religious roots, while your side shows a history of increasing recruitment of church leaders, theologians, and lay advocates of god-involvement in science?”
And Nick will say … I have no idea how Nick would reply. I’m sure it will be clever and devastating, and I’m sure it will explain how the statement that “I believe God is intelligent and I believe he designed the creation” is pro-science while “I do not believe in the sufficiency of random mutation and natural selection to explain the history of life on earth” is anti-science. I’d like to hear an explanation for how “theistic evolution” is less religious than “intelligent design”.
PZ’s role-playing as a DI lawyer is top-notch. He’s got their various misleading, misdirecting bits of rhetoric down pat. But PZ seems to have overlooked something obvious about why lawsuits happen and how they are adjudicated.
Theistic evolution is, of course, not less religious than “intelligent design” creationism. There is no requirement that theistic evolution be less religious than IDC, not even in the hypothetical case given. Theistic evolution is honest about its commitment to theism, though. And in response to the postulated DI lawyering question, what makes the difference between a violation of separation of church and state and something that isn’t is that IDC or whatever the DI ends up calling it is being proposed to be taught as science, and the theistic evolutionists, as exemplified by Pennock, Miller, and Haught in the Kitzmiller case, are not proposing that their views be taught as if science in K-12 public school science classes. Pretty simple, really.
Or, as Matthew P. Wiener used to say on t.o., “Sheesh.”