Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Dinosaurs Are Coming

I missed this one yesterday, but it’s still good news:

A federal judge says the University of California can deny course credit to applicants from Christian high schools whose textbooks declare the Bible infallible and reject evolution.

Rejecting claims of religious discrimination and stifling of free expression, U.S. District Judge James Otero of Los Angeles said UC’s review committees cited legitimate reasons for rejecting the texts – not because they contained religious viewpoints, but because they omitted important topics in science and history and failed to teach critical thinking.

Otero’s ruling Friday, which focused on specific courses and texts, followed his decision in March that found no anti-religious bias in the university’s system of reviewing high school classes. Now that the lawsuit has been dismissed, a group of Christian schools has appealed Otero’s rulings to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

The Religious Reich will go nuts — I know, that’s redundant — but it’s nice to see that someone with a modicum of sense and a position of authority says that you can’t teach mythology and superstition as fact and expect the non-believers to accept it. It’s isn’t anti-religious; the court is not saying you can’t believe that the world started out with two naked people and a talking snake. It’s saying that you can’t expect secular colleges and universities to accept it as the basis of an applicant’s education.

I’m sure there are people who are thinking, what’s the big deal? Who cares if these kids don’t get a well-rounded education that includes subjects and viewpoints that are contrary to what is labeled as fact in their religion? Well, not only does it violate just about every theory of good education, as the court notes, it fails to teach them about critical thinking. I can’t imagine what the world would be like without that capability. Well, yes I can; it was called the Dark Ages.

On another level, this mentality has ramifications beyond the close-mindedness of strict religious doctrine. The students at these Christian schools end up going to colleges and universities like Bob Jones University, Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, and Pat Robertson’s Regent law school and emerge as working members of society, including landing jobs at the Department of Justice; i.e. Monica Goodling. She was the person who turned away well-qualified candidates for non-political positions in the DOJ such as immigration judges because they had a whiff of liberalism about them and instead hired less-qualified but hard-core right wingers instead. These people will have an affect on our lives. Yes, the ruling covered only science and history, but to me, as an educator, it’s all a part of the package. And there are hundreds of religion-affiliated high schools that send their students to secular colleges and universities, and some of the finest colleges and universities that view critical thinking as a core of their curriculum are affiliated with religions. In fact, one of my best friends wouldn’t have a job if Notre Dame didn’t demand a well-rounded view of theology, including Protestantism.

So expect a lot of hysteria and wailing from the Torquemada set about “activist judges” … as they prepare their appeal to the Ninth Circuit.

HT to Incertus.