[Evolutionary biologist David] Barash and I are united in thinking that Creationism (and the rest) are religion, and that they should not be taught in biology (or other science classes) of the nation—the publicly financed ones, that is.There are several fascinating things to note in what Ruse says here.
So my question (and it is a genuine one, to which I don’t have an answer) to David Barash is this....[I]f you accept modern science, then religion—pretty much all religion, certainly pretty much all religion that Americans want to accept—is false. Is it then constitutional to teach science?
First, in his mind, science entails the falsity of religious belief. Second, this being so, teaching science to students is tantamount to teaching that religion is false. Thus, if creationism (or intelligent design) can't be taught because it entails religious conclusions about the world, how can science be taught in public schools if it does the same thing?
Ruse is genuinely perplexed by the problem, as well he should be.
We've posed this very question ourselves many times in the past, albeit in slightly different ways, and it's gratifying to see an atheist recognizing the problem.
One way we've put the difficulty is this: The basic claim of intelligent design is that natural forces and processes are not by themselves adequate to account for the origin, structure and diversity of both the universe and life. If that's a religious claim (which it's not, but never mind that now) and is constitutionally disqualified from being presented in a public school science classroom, how is it that its negation - the claim that physical forces are adequate to account for the origin, structure and diversity of the universe and life - is constitutionally permissable? If the claim P is religious then surely the claim not-P is also religious.
Parenthetically, I happen to disagree with Ruse that science entails atheism (It would certainly be awkward to try to convince Isaac Newton or dozens of other giants in the history of science that it does), but a lot of his fellow atheists believe it, so it would be interesting to see how they respond to his consternation. Perhaps some of them will have something more helpful to say than that his puzzlement is just "dumb".
Thanks to Bradford at Telic Thoughts for calling Ruse's article to our attention.