You can always trust Francis Beckwith to get it all wrong. He’s arguing against the Dover decision on false premises.
Should religious motivations of a theory’s proponents disqualify that theory from receiving a hearing in the public square? It’s a point that has become a central issue in the Intelligent Design-evolution debate.
Francis J. Beckwith, associate director of the J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies and associate professor of church-state studies at Baylor University, told a New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary forum that the striking down of a policy based solely on the religious motives of its adherents is “logically fallacious and constitutionally suspect.”
You know me—I’m brutally materialistic and uncompromisingly atheistic—and even so, I don’t think the quality of a science teacher is determined by whether they go to church on Sunday or not. The Dover decision slammed the creationists hard, not because the backers were religious, but because they had no scientific basis for their arguments and their goals were clearly religious. It didn’t help their case at all that their primary advocates so clearly demonstrated the intellectually vacuous nature of Intelligent Design creationism. It wasn’t shot down because its proponents were Christian, but because they were unscientific and had allowed their faith to mislead and misrepresent their dogma as science.
One more thing from that Beckwith article:
“Intelligent design is not stealth creationism,” Beckwith said.
Rather, ID is a name for a cluster of arguments that reasons the universe to be the result of intelligent agency rather than of unguided matter, Beckwith explained. The theory lacks the accompaniment of religious authority or sacred Scripture.
Renaming the “Creator” as an “intelligent agency” fools no one—it’s saying the same thing with different words. As Judge Jones could see, the theory lacks the religious component because the authors had consciously stripped out the overt religious references to skirt the letter of the law…it is stealth creationism. As we all could see, too, with no religious authority and no scientific evidence, there is absolutely nothing holding Intelligent Design creationism up.
The bottom line: show me the evidence. The ID advocates can’t and don’t, therefore their religious beliefs are irrelevant, and Beckwith is merely trying to refocus the complaints about the Dover decision on a trivial red herring.