Orwellian Evolution Lawsuit

The University of California Museum of Paleontology has a website titled, Understanding Evolution For Teachers, and on that site is a page addressing the oft-repeated fundamentalist claim that evolution and religion are mortal enemies: Misconceptions: Evolution and Religion are Incompatible.

The misconception that one always has to choose between science and religion is incorrect. Of course, some religious beliefs explicitly contradict science (e.g., the belief that the world and all life on it was created in six literal days); however, most religious groups have no conflict with the theory of evolution or other scientific findings. In fact, many religious people, including theologians, feel that a deeper understanding of nature actually enriches their faith. Moreover, in the scientific community there are thousands of scientists who are devoutly religious and also accept evolution.

Well, the idea that religion and evolution can coexist peacefully is absolute anathema to some, and now a “schoolteacher” is suing UC, with the bizarre Orwellian argument that this statement is unconstitutional: Cal Web site draws anti-evolution lawsuit.

A Christian schoolteacher from Roseville (Placer County) who takes the Bible literally says a UC Berkeley Web site about evolution is unconstitutional, like a cross in a public park.

The Web site, “Understanding Evolution,” is supported by government funds and violates the constitutional separation of church and state, according to the suit by Jeanne Caldwell.

Rebuffed by lower courts, she has appealed to the nation’s highest court, and UC joined the battle this week, saying in its response that the Internet is not like a park and that, in fact, Caldwell has no right even to file the suit. …

Caldwell says UC’s government-funded assertion contradicts a religious belief that evolution and religion are incompatible and amounts to a state position on religious doctrine. This violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment barring Congress from making any law respecting the establishment or exercise of religion, she says.

She first sued in 2005. UC thwarted the suit in federal district court and the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco by successfully arguing that Caldwell’s exposure to the Web page is too minimal to cause the type of injury that would make her eligible to sue. The lower courts threw the case out based on her eligibility and didn’t rule on whether the Web page violates the First Amendment.

And of course, these are the same people who want to teach creationism as science, and see no constitutional violation in that.

UPDATE at 2/15/09 12:54:13 pm:

And of course, this ridiculous, frivolous lawsuit is being heavily promoted by the creationists at the Discovery Institute: Evolution News & Views: University of California Defends Its ‘Right’ to Propagate Pro-Evolution Religious Doctrine.

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