Law, Darwinism and Public Education: The Establishment Clause and the Challenge of Intelligent Design

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In 1987, in Edwards v. Aguillard, the United States Supreme Court declared as unconstitutional a Louisiana statute requiring the state's public schools to teach creationism if evolution is taught and to teach evolution if creationism is taught. It was a serious blow to creationism in public schools, but a new movement since then has kept the debate alive. That new movement is "Intelligent Design." Should Intelligent Design be taught in schools? In Law, Darwinism, & Public Education, Francis J. Beckwith asks whether teaching "ID" in public schools would be constitutional, in light of the Supreme Court's decision in Edwards v. Aguillard. At that time, the Court ruled that teaching creationism violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Beckwith examines the Intelligent Design theory and the Edwards case to find out whether teaching ID would suffer the same fate if brought before the court.

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Editorial Reviews

David DeWolf
Beckwith's book is not only comprehensive and up-to-date, but it clearly explains both sides of the debate over how the origins issue should be presented in public schools. It should be required reading for anyone who makes science education policy.
Robert Kaita
Beckwith's book should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand the fundamental legal issues in the 'creation versus evolution' debate.
William A. Dembski
Frank Beckwith's gift for restating difficult legal problems in straightforward and understandable terms will prove deeply influential as the debate over intelligent design shifts to the courts.
National Review
Francis Beckwith's judicious, important book deserves a wide audience.
The Harvard Law Review
Beckwith makes a compelling case that Intelligent Design is not the same as animal creationism. Beckwith persuasively argues that presentation of Intelligent Design in public schools would not impermissibly 'establish' religion.
Philosophia Christi
Suffice it to say that [Beckwith's] case is extremely thorough and abundantly documented (although not intimidating to readers lacking extensive knowledge in this area). Law, Darwinism, and Public Education is both a winsome defense of ID as legitimate science and a practical manual for writing and defending laws for the introduction of ID into public school curricula. When the history of the ID movement is written, this book may be esteemed as one of ID's most important and decisive strategic assets. But whatever its historical fate, it is an appropriate text for courses in public policy, apologetics, philosophy of religion, and philosophy of science. All those interested in ID should put it at the top of their 'must-read' list.
Larry Arnhart
I am not persuaded by the arguments for intelligent design theory as an alternative to Darwinian biology. But I am persuaded by Beckwith's book that introducing such arguments into public school science classes would not be unconstitutional. He shows how allowing students to study the debate between intelligent design explanations and scientific naturalism could promote the freedom of thought favored by the American constitutional framers.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742514300
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/15/2003
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.22 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

Francis J. Beckwith is currently a James Madison Fellow in Constitutional Studies & Political Thought, Princeton University. He is also a fellow at the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute in Seattle and a research fellow at the Newport Institute for Ethics, Law, and Public Policy in California. His books include Do the Right Thing (2002), Abortion and the Sanctity of Human Life (2000) and The Abortion Controversy 25 Years After Roe v. Wade (1998).

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction Chapter 2 Creator in the Courtroom Chapter 3 Edwards v. Aguillard and After Chapter 4 Intelligent Design Chapter 5 Would Teaching Intelligent Design in Public Schools Violate the Establishment Clause?

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