Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Good lord, that's a good smackdown

Timothy Sandefur, of Panda's Thumb, vs. Michael Egnor of the Discovery Institute.

Sandefur thinks the Constitution prohibits teaching intelligent design in public schools. Egnor disagrees, calling Sandefur "a leader in the Darwinist crusade to censor balanced discussion of evolutionary theory in science classrooms."

Sandefur takes him apart, in the way that, I'm beginning to see, only a lawyer can (check out his response to Alan Keyes!)

Anyway, from what I can tell, the dialogue between Sandefur and Egnor started here.

Clearly not sensing the asymmetry in intellectual firepower, Egnor responded to Sandefur, decrying his "illiberal views."

Fighting words! They'd be fighting words to me, too. Egnor explained himself a bit more, and then Sandefur went after him with both barrels.

As the discussion has progressed, the subject has turned from evolution to a wider discussion of Constitutional law. And you know I love that stuff. Sandefur's most recent reply to Egnor's charge that the Constitution prohibits the government from spending money on scientific reseach regarding evolution.

Egnor, referring to him as (no kidding) the Howard Roark-worshiping "atheist legal commentator Timothy Sandefur", asks:

How does an atheist like Mr. Sandefur insulate his personal Creation Myth from scrutiny in public schools, when the Founding Fathers explicitly stated that the rights Mr. Sandefur invokes to censor scrutiny of Darwinism are endowed... by our Creator?
Hm, I wonder! What a predicament! Some of the Founders believed in a Creator. That means you can only invoke the Constitution to address issues of constitutional law if you believe in a Creator. Got it.

Sandefur gives the perfect reply:
There is no irony whatsoever in holding that schools may teach students that America’s founders believed so-and-so, while not actually teaching that so-and-so is true or false. It’s a pretty simple distinction that the good Doctor is either incapable of making or, more likely, wilfully ignoring.
There is a lot more in this recent reply to Egnor, but that was one of my favorite bits. More generally, there is no contradiction in applying the law while disagreeing with some of the beliefs of the lawmakers. Before arguing a case, lawyers don't have to prove they believe everything the writers of the relevant statutes believed.

That would be very, very silly.

Take that, Egnor!

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