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Evolution should not be taught in State Schools: A Defence of Plantinga Part II

July 1st, 2009 by Matt

In Evolution should not be taught in State Schools: A Defence of Plantinga Part I, I articulated and defended Alvin Plantinga’s proposal that evolution should not be taught as “the sober truth” in state schools. In this post I will address what should be taught in state schools and look at Robert Pennock’s objections to this argument.

Part II. Plantinga’s Proposal: What should be taught in State Schools?
After drawing the above conclusion, Plantinga asks what should be taught regarding origins in state schools? He suggests two answers; the first is to teach nothing on matters of origins,

One answer is to say: in a pluralistic society like ours, there is no fair way to teach anything about origins; hence public schools ought not to teach anything on that subject. They should instead stick to subjects where there isn’t disagreement at the level of religious or comprehensive beliefs. This would be just a reflection of a more general difficulty in having public schools of our sort in a pluralistic society. Perhaps, when the citizens get together to found a system of education, what they discover is that there is too much diversity of opinion to make it feasible.[1]

The second, and perhaps more interesting answer, is to teach both evolution and creationism “conditionally,” Plantinga labels this as his “modest proposal.”[2] To explain this idea of teaching conditionally Plantinga introduces the technical notion of an epistemic base, “for each person P there is an epistemic base, EBP, with respect to which the probability or acceptability of proposed beliefs is to be evaluated.”[3] A person’s epistemic base contains at least four things. First it contains their “current beliefs;”[4] second, as “some beliefs are held more strongly than others,” it includes, “an index of degree of belief.”[5] Third, an epistemic base will include, “prescriptions as to how to conduct inquiry,” how to learn about world, revise beliefs, etc.[6] Fourth, it will include their comprehensive beliefs.[7] Plantinga emphasises that a persons epistemic base is not set in stone but revisable in light of argument.

Plantinga notes that science, as currently practiced, respects a procedure known as methodological naturalism, “the policy of avoiding hypotheses that mention or refer to God or special acts on the part of God, or other supernatural phenomena, or hypotheses whose only support is the Bible, or some other alleged divine revelation.”[8] While there is dispute over whether science should do this, as currently practised, science does involve commitment to methodological naturalism.[9] This means that science operates with a particular epistemic base; while the epistemic base of science will include things such as logic, mathematics, various common-sense beliefs, there will be certain beliefs that will not go into the epistemic base for science (EBS) at least as currently practised, “Among these would be the belief that there is such a person as God, that God has created the world, and that God has created certain forms of life specially–human beings, perhaps, or the original forms of life, or for that matter sparrows and horses.”[10]

Plantinga’s claim that evolution be taught conditionally then amounts to this: Evolution can be taught as the most probable theory relative to the current scientific epistemic base. This, he thinks, is uncontroversial and not likely to contradict anyone’s comprehensive beliefs; even a creationist, for example, can grant that, if one brackets various theological claims and operates on methodological naturalism then evolution is likely. What schools cannot do is teach that any particular epistemic base is the correct one to start from or that what follows from a particular epistemic base is true. Plantinga thinks that creationism could be taught in a similar conditional way in state schools.

Pennock’s Critique of Plantinga
Robert Pennock offers a critique of Plantinga’s position. Pennock contends that a rational person would not grant parents do not have the sort of prima facie rights Plantinga attributes to them. Instead, a rational person would advocate that evolution be taught as true and creationism or any other theological view be excluded from being taught in state schools.[11] He offers two arguments for this conclusion; the first is that,

we all know parents who are bigots or ideologues and others who are simply narrow-minded or ignorant. … A good education may be a child’s only window to a clear picture of the world and to an open future. To agree to a basic right would be to close that window. This would be a serious harm for the children of such parents.[12]

This is a bad argument; it is true that some parents are narrow minded. It is also true that some parents do not feed their children or neglect to clothe them or give them poor medical care; however, it would be grossly unjust to infer from this that no parent has even a prima facie right to clothe and feed their child or make medical decisions for them. Moreover, a parallel line of argument would entail that teachers, schools and governments cannot make education choices either. We are all familiar with teachers and government officials who are bigoted, corrupt and abuse their power. Taken consistently, Pennock’s views would entail that no one could make educational choices for children.

The second and more substantial argument is that accepting parental rights would “gut the curriculum of state schools.”[13]Pennock notes,

… there are thousands of special interests groups that would use such a right to prohibit the teaching of specific facts or even whole subjects they objected to. One does not have to look far to find parents who would object to teaching about racial equality, the facts of reproductive health, or that even that the earth is round. Only the utterly trivial could have a chance of escaping the gag of basic rights. No rational person would agree to such a policy.[14]

Pennock here suggests Plantinga’s position would prevent anything being taught at state schools and he takes this as a reductio ad absurdum of the claim that parents have the kind of rights Plantinga contends they do. Three points can be made in response to this.[15]

First, Pennock misconstrues Plantinga’s position. Plantinga’s view is that, “it is improper, unfair, to teach either creationism or evolution in the schools–that is so, at any rate for areas where a substantial proportion of the parents hold religious or comprehensive beliefs incompatible with either.” [Emphasis added][16] Consequently, it applies locally not globally. In a Native Indian reserve, for example, it would be unjust for state teaching of things that were contrary to the comprehensive beliefs of Native Indians.[17] It would not follow, however, that one could not teach these things in a school in New York, for example, where there are hardly any Native Indians who continue to believe these cultural practices.[18] Hence, the fact that almost everything is incompatible with someone’s comprehensive beliefs is irrelevant. Schools do not have to accommodate the views of everyone; they only need to accommodate the views in their area.

Second, Plantinga stresses that parental rights are prima facie rights not absolute rights; they can be overridden in certain circumstances. Interestingly Plantinga alludes to one such circumstance in the very paper Pennock critiques,

Of course a basic right is a prima facie right… The majority might also insist on teaching the denial of certain comprehensive views, Nazism, for example, in which case the fair thing to do would be to exclude the Nazis from the contract (and also exclude them from the tax liability).[19]

Here Plantinga considers the very examples Pennock raised; situations where a minority has bizarre or repugnant views which the majority feel compelled to warn their own children about and it is clear that in such situations one does not need to adopt a gag rule for all state schools. One simply establishes a state school based on the views of the majority in the area in question and grants the minority freedom to opt out of these schools and an exemption from education taxation.

Third, suppose that Pennock is correct and there is too much disagreement over comprehensive views to have a state school system and also respect the rights Plantinga attributes to parents, does it follow that we should not respect parental rights? Not at all, an alternative is to not have state schools; Plantinga notes, “Perhaps, when the citizens get together to found a system of education, what they discover is that there is too much diversity of opinion to make it feasible.”[20] An alternative could be to establish a network of private schools where parents could choose which school meets the needs of their children, basing their decisions in part on their comprehensive beliefs.[21] Some private schools could teach evolution and others could choose not to and parents could choose which ones to send their children to.

In other words, if it is true that it is impossible to have a centralised state education system and accord parents prima facie rights of the sort Plantinga suggests, then that is an argument against having a centralised state education system. It is not, as Pennock suggests, a compelling argument against parental rights.

Conclusion
I conclude then that Plantinga’s position is defensible. Regardless of whether evolution is true or empirically founded it is unjust to teach the children of parents who have theological objections to evolution that it is true. State schools which have a sizeable clientele who hold such views should teach it only conditionally or not at all. Alternatively, the government should allow these people to opt out of state education and grant them a tax rebate.

[1] Alvin Plantinga “Creation and Evolution: A Modest Proposal” in Robert Pennock Ed Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics: Philosophical, Theological and Scientific Perspectives (Cambridge, The MIT Press – Bradford Books, 2001) 787.
[2] Ibid 789.
[3] Ibid 787.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid, 788.
[9] Alvin Plantinga “Methodological Naturalism?” Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith49 (1997) 143-154; M Ruse “Methodological Naturalism Under Fire” South African Journal of Philosophy 24(1)(2005) 44-60.
[10] Plantinga “Creation and Evolution: A Modest Proposal” 788.
[11] Robert Pennock “Should Creationism Be Taught in Public Schools?” Science & Education 11(2) (2002) 111-133.
[12] Ibid 129.
[13] Ibid 128.
[14] Ibid 127.
[15] I am grateful to Alvin Plantinga for his helpful comments here.
[16] Plantinga “Creation and Evolution: A Modest Proposal” 786.
[17] Ibid 782.
[18] Alvin Plantinga suggested this example in correspondence
[19] Plantinga “Creation and Evolution: A Modest Proposal” 782.
[20] Ibid 787.
[21] Here again I am grateful to Alvin Plantinga for confirming this suggestion.

RELATED POSTS:
Evolution should not be taught in State Schools: A Defence of Plantinga Part I

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66 responses so far ↓

  • What a disappointing follow up.

    I am confidant that you are being dishonest here. There is no sensible way that one could accept evolution and advocate the teaching in school of creationism (something that you would believe is false and psuedo-science).

    What your argument amounts to is a claim of "Teach the Controversy!" dressed up and repackaged in new form.

  • This is pretty dismal.

    Has anyone ever, in the history of education argued that evolution should be taught as metaphysically true?

    All most people want is for school science curricula to be about science. Within that evolution should be taught as a scientific fact and modern evolutionary biology as the theoretical framework that describes that fact.

    If you want to talk about natural theology in social studies then ID and creationism are a great topic. They just aren't science.

  • Sly

    I am sorry but calling my argument disappointing. Enagaging in character attacks and then simply asserting your position dogmatically does not even begin to aproximate a rational response to what I have argued. Nor does refering to a slogan from US culture wars dispargingly address anything. I have still yet to see you actually address any thing.

    David

    Calling my argument dismal is not a rebuttal either.

    The points you do make do not address what I said at all. I did not claim that evolution should not be taught as metaphysically true. I simply refered to wether it should be taught as true as opposed to being taught as the best scientific theory, where the assumptions of science are explained. I said nothing about ID or natural theology and said nothing about what subject they should fall under.

    Recent blog post: John Loftus on Madeleine Flannagan and Women and Other Red Herrings

  • "I am sorry but calling my argument disappointing. Enagaging in character attacks and then simply asserting your position dogmatically does not even begin to aproximate a rational response to what I have argued. Nor does refering to a slogan from US culture wars dispargingly address anything. I have still yet to see you actually address any thing. "

    Obviously me calling your argument disappointing was not meant to be a reason for your arguments falsity. I am merely pointing out that I find your stance inconsistent.

    The slogan from the culture wars is in fact the heart and core of your argument.

    In essence:
    X is a true scientific claim, however because some people incorrectly disbelieve in X and believe in Y instead, we should either teach X and Y in our science classes (despite Y not being science)or not teach X.

    I am not trying to be dogmatic here, I just call them as I see them.

  • I find all this perfectly reasonable. Frankly what other parents teach their children is not particularly my responsibility.

    And mentioning that even established theories are just models is feasible. My wife would discuss the atomic model with her students and mention that this was a theory put together consistent with specific facts, but no one has actually seen an atom.

    I like the set of private schools idea myself. And choose the school you wish for your children.

    Recent blog post: Does the death penalty prevent reconciliation with God?

  • The use of the term "methodological naturalism" I don't find useful for 2 reasons. Firstly, it is unnecessary, the inventers of science based the repeatability they expected in empirical science on the character of God. It was his consistency that made them think the world orderly.

    Secondly, used appropriately, ie. narrowly, it just says that science talks about the natural world not the supernatural world. But the meaning of the word is expanded to mean philosophical Naturalism, ie. nature is all there is and there is no supernatural. But proof is not in definitions and less so in changing definitions.

    Recent blog post: Does the death penalty prevent reconciliation with God?

  • Regardless of whether evolution is true or empirically founded it is unjust to teach the children of parents who have theological objections to evolution that it is true.

    And those like me who have a scientific objection to evolution.

    The grand theory of evolution is a reasonably complex theory, not so much in a brief description, but in terms of its supposed workings, and the relationship, or not, of various empirical sciences such as selection, information change, and genomic coding. It is best covered at a university level.

    I am not certain there is a desperate need to teach evolution incessantly. Economics is not taught much. Logic is frequently not taught formally and would be far more useful.

    Recent blog post: Does the death penalty prevent reconciliation with God?

  • What a lovely post! It's hard to find intelligent people discussing science, religion, justice, and education in a single post. May we all contribute something to this discussion!

    If you aren't familiar with John Rawls' ethical theory, you might miss the profundity of Plantinga's argument. I call Rawls' insight the "cut and choose theory of justice," based on an old parenting trick I learned when my kids were small. If I have two children and one piece of pie, I have one child cut the pie in half and let the other child choose which piece she wants. A child's fingers are clumsy, and the pieces never come out even, but both children are always satisfied. It's a just way to cope with the injustice of life in a material world.

    Rawls applies this essential insight into the world as a whole. If you could set up the rules for the planet you were about to born into without knowing what you would be born as, would you create a Hindu caste system or the western notion of "equal justice under law"? (I'd pick America, with all her faults, over India!)

    Applying the "cut and choose" theory to education, we can allow parents or the state to teach children about "matters of ultimate concern." If you tell me that parents get to teach those topics, I'll be a parent. If you tell me the state gets to teach the next generation what matters most, I'll do my best to take over the government. One path leads to peaceful pluralism–the other produces endless religious/ideological wars.

  • I've asked the following twice and got no response:

    Matt and Madeline, are you in agreement with Plantinga that PC is false? That the right way to answer questions of *empirical fact* is NOT by way of science, or scientific method?

    If you believe this, then what do you think is the right way to answer questions of empirical fact?

  • Calling my argument dismal is not a rebuttal either.

    Oh, snap! You got me there!

    I did not claim that evolution should not be taught as metaphysically true. I simply refered to wether it should be taught as true as opposed to being taught as the best scientific theory, where the assumptions of science are explained.d

    Can you explain the difference? And how that statement jibes with the title of these posts?

    No one has ever argued that what's taught in the science curriculum should trump students own philosophical/religious ideas. If a student has an objection to evolution on philosophical grounds thats up to him. If he wants to take a biology course then he needs to understand that science works within Plantinga's EBS and only theories that make testable predictions are useful. Evolutionary Biology is the only available scientific framework in which to understand, well, almost everything in biology – you can't, as is suggested above, teach it alongside ID-creationism because that's just not science.

    It just doesn't follow that because some students (I hate the idea of parent-power in education so I'll think of the children) don't accept a theory based on the EBS that we "should not teach" that theory. If you are actually making the lesser claim that the topic should be taught as facts (evolution) and theories (the modern synthesis) that exist within the scientific method then surely that is implicit in all science education and these posts are really a waste of time?

    (FWIW I also don't think the religious freedom argument is the 'best' or most widely cited arguement against teaching creationism in schools. It's related to the legal argument in the US for cases like Kitzmiller and Edwards so it is often the focus of discussion)

  • David your post more eloquently summarized exactly my feelings. Thank you!

  • Aww shucks, thank Sly.

    Do you think our hosts sudden silence amounts to them working out they've made an argument against something no one ever suggested happen?

  • Spencer I answered this question yesturday on in the comments under the previous post.

  • David, or my silence could me that I have received quite a lot of comments. Silence tells you nothing one way or the other.

    You wrote “Has anyone ever, in the history of education argued that evolution should be taught as metaphysically true?
    All most people want is for school science curricula to be about science. Within that evolution should be taught as a scientific fact and modern evolutionary biology as the theoretical framework that describes that fact.”

    In this comment you suggest that evolution is not taught as “metaphysically true” but it is taught as a “scientific fact”. I don’t find the idea of something being true in metaphysics but false in science coherent. A statement is true if what it says is the case is the case. Hence if a metaphysical theory tells us that the world is 10,000 years old then if that theory is true, its 10,000 years old. It cannot be the case that when you do metaphysics the earths age shrinks and then when you do science it lengthens again.

    If you teach that evolution is a scientific fact you teach that metaphysical theories that deny it are false. If you hold metaphysical theories that deny evolution then evolution is not a fact if those metaphysical theories are true then science does not accurately describe reality and hence is not making factual claims.

    No one has ever argued that what's taught in the science curriculum should trump students own philosophical/religious ideas. If a student has an objection to evolution on philosophical grounds thats up to him. If he wants to take a biology course then he needs to understand that science works within Plantinga's EBS and only theories that make testable predictions are useful. Evolutionary Biology is the only available scientific framework in which to understand, well, almost everything in biology
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    – you can't, as is suggested above, teach it alongside ID-creationism because that's just not science.

    Two things here, first none of this actually challenges anything I said, I granted that science currently works within EBS and “only theories that make testable predictions” are useful I also granted that “Evolutionary Biology is the only available scientific framework in which to understand, almost everything in biology” accepting this is quite compatible with teaching that evolution is the best theory relative to EBS, what is at issue is wether students should be told that these theories accurately describe what actually happened. That is quite a different issue, and that is what I think should not be taught.
    The question of whether creationism or ID are science are different questions, but I think that’s a red herring to some extent, the real question is whether they are true. The reason people want to include it in science is because implicit in our culture is an assumption that what science says is true and what is not scientific is false. If this assumption were addressed in education, explained to people it’s a philosophical assumption something science ultimately does not address and let people explore and reflect on these types of epistemological assumptions that would I think resolve a lot of the debate. People would accept that not teaching creationism in science does not mean one is saying its false and that there are theological philosophical issues along side the scientific that need addressing. That I think would be positive

    It just doesn't follow that because some students (I hate the idea of parent-power in education so I'll think of the children) don't accept a theory based on the EBS that we "should not teach" that theory. If you are actually making the lesser claim that the topic should be taught as facts (evolution) and theories (the modern synthesis) that exist within the scientific method then surely that is implicit in all science education and these posts are really a waste of time?

    I am making neither of these claims, I did not say we should not teach […]

  • In this comment you suggest that evolution is not taught as “metaphysically true” but it is taught as a “scientific fact”. I don’t find the idea of something being true in metaphysics but false in science coherent.

    From the late great Stephen Jay Gould

    "In science, "fact" can only mean "confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent." I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms."

    In science classrooms it's taught as a fact that the earth is ~4 billion years old, round and not at the centre solar system. Perhaps the world is actually 6 000 years old and was created with fossils and per-decayed radioisotopes but within a scientific framework it would be perverse to say these aren't established facts. The fact evolution has happened is no less confirmed than these facts and should be presented as such. You don't need a special declaimer (perhaps a sticker?) that this piece of science is, in fact science.

    An aside but I really people would understand what evolution is when they enter these debates, its certainly not something that "describes the processes that brought the world into existence"

  • David
    First, this definition seems to confuse epistemology with ontology.
    Second, Plantinga would be opposed to teaching evolution is a fact even in
    this epistemic sense, this is because it suggests its perverse to not assent
    to it, that is its perverse to not think its true. My position is that what
    should be taught is that evolution is the most probable theory relative to a
    scientific epistemic base, whether its perverse to provisionally assent to
    it is a question of whether its probable relative to ones total
    evidence base.
    Its possible for a person to believe both that a given claim is highly
    probable relative to the scientific epistemic base and yet believe that on
    ones total evidence base its less probable than not. If this held it would
    not be perverse to refuse assent
    _____

  • The fact is, there is no Adam and Eve. That is theory. Evolution is the way it happenned. We ALL came from apes, whether you like it or not and schools will continue to teach this even though, some choose not to believe in it.

    Wake up!!!!!!

  • When the parents of children can prove that they are qualified to make a judgment about an area of a schools curriculum then they should have a say on the issue. The idea that unqualified axe-grinders should have any say on what is taught in science classes is ridiculous. Education by democracy! Can you imagine it!
    Parents should just trust their educated betters to educate their children and be grateful that they will turn out better informed than themselves.

  • When the parents of children can prove that they are qualified to make a
    judgment about an area of a schools curriculum then they should have a say
    on the issue. The idea that unqualified axe-grinders should have any say on
    what is taught in science classes is ridiculous.

    The problem with this line of argument is that it means that a atheist
    parent cannot object to Christianity being taught as true unless they are a
    qualified theologian. Yet despite the fact that most parents are not
    qualified theologians we do not teach Christianity as true in public schools
    because to so contradicts the religious/skeptical beliefs of the parents.
    _____

  • Wow! This is a hot thread.

    It seems like the critical issue in choosing a curriculum is NOT whether or not an item is a fact ("Hamlet" is not a fact, the average diameter of a fruit fly's abdomen is a fact) but whether it is (a) important enough to include in the limited class time available and (b) worth the cost in "good will" to the institution as a whole.

    It's a "fact" that various racial groups have different average IQs. This is NOT something we teach in the public schools. I'm glad the public schools don't wade into this issue–but we CHOOSE not to open that can of worms because we can predict the social consequences of doing so. It's a "fact" that 19 out of 19 hijackers on 9-11 were Muslim, but we don't focus on that every September 11. There are lots of facts we gloss over in the interest of holding together our great, diverse community.

    Why is evolution the "fact" we have to hammer home?

    Recent blog post: Tips for Teaching a Houseful

  • All it would mean, Matt, if you draw the true parallel is that Atheists would not be able to dictate what schools taught within a theology class. And I think most atheists would be fine with religion being taught in a class dedicated to such matters.

    You are therefore correct. Theologians should decide what is taught in theology class (not parents – atheist or otherwise)

    Qualified scientists should decide what is taught in a science class.

    So your objection is not really an objection to what I said at all.

  • First, this question is unsolvable, as schooling should be separate from the government.  You can't even begin to talk about rights meaninfully in this situation since the whole scenario is based on coercion.

    However, there are problems with Plantinga's argument.  Like the following statement.

    One answer is to say: in a pluralistic society like ours, there is no fair way to teach anything about origins; hence public schools ought not to teach anything on that subject

    Evolution, of course, says nothing on "origins" – that is for the field of Abiogenesis.

    And this:

    Plantinga notes that science, as currently practiced, respects a procedure known as methodological naturalism, “the policy of avoiding hypotheses that mention or refer to God or special acts on the part of God, or other supernatural phenomena, or hypotheses whose only support is the Bible, or some other alleged divine revelation.”[8] While there is dispute over whether science should do this, as currently practised, science does involve commitment to methodological naturalism.

    Science, of course, does no such thing because no such thing exists.  "Methodologic Naturalism" is to my mind as meaningless as "Alternative Medicine". 

    There is no such thing as "Alternative Medicine", there is just medicine that works and "medicine" that does not.  There is no such thing as "Methodological Naturalism", there is just the real world that science (through whatever means) uncovers, and there are theories that are false. 

    "Science" does not "teach Creationism" or about God in general because the operate in separate Magisteria or because they have differing epistemic foundations, but because there is no evidence for God and therefore no reason to include it, as Laplace said. 

    If God existed and the claims made about he/she/it/they were true then God would be perfectly naturalistic, and would be able to be included in science class – but it isn't, so it isn't.  In the Real World when talking about things biological, evolution is the only game in town. 

    If religious parents disagree with this situation they should vote Libertarianz, and get the state out of their children's education, because as a Libertarian, and even as a Rationalist and Humanist, I agree that children do not belong to the state and that parents have the right to teach their children as they see fit.

  • The State does not own children… but even a Libertarian(z) believes that the State should protect its citizens from violence and fraud (under my understanding from your website)

    Could an argumrnt be made that to teach something which is clearly false is in fact a form of abuse?  I don't think this.  Just curious what a libertarian would say….

  • <p style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span><span style=" ">Eric, I agree with much of what you say, let me respond to some of <span style="mso-spacerun: yes;"> </span>the issues we disagree on First, <span style="mso-spacerun: yes;"> </span>you write Evolution, of course, says nothing on "origins" – that is for the field of Abiogenesis that depends on what the word “origins” qualifies, abiogenesis refers to the origin of life, however neo-Darwinian evolution is a theory about the origin of species, just as the big bang is a theory of the origins of the universe. So what is mean’t by origins depends on the context.</span></span>
    <p style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span><span style=" "> </span></span>
    <p style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span><span style=" ">Second you write Science, of course, does no such thing because no such thing exists.  "Methodologic Naturalism" is to my mind as meaningless as "Alternative Medicine". the fact that you stipulate that a phrase is meaningless does not mean that its is. In fact numerous philosophers of science who write on this issue state there is something called methodological naturalism and that science should be constrained by it. Michael Ruse, Michael Martin, Robert Pennock, William Hasker, Nancy Murphy, Barbara Forrest, I could go on etc etc. So your claim seems to me to be false. </span></span>
    <p style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span></span>
    <p style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span><span style=" ">Moreover, the claim that even if God exists refering to his activity is theology and not science and therefore inadmissible in scientific discussions, is an extremely common argument used in the literature and by the courts to exclude any theological content from science classes. </span></span>
    <span>
    <p style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt; line-height: 150%;"> 
    </span>

  • All it would mean, Matt, if you draw the true parallel is that Atheists would not be able to dictate what schools taught within a theology class. And I think most atheists would be fine with religion being taught in a class dedicated to such matters.  
     
    You are therefore correct. Theologians should decide what is taught in theology class (not parents – atheist or otherwise) 


    No, my objection is not to evolution being taught in a science class, my objection was to it being taught as true in a public school.  The analogy then is Christianity being taught as true in public school.  Now if the fact that Muslim, Jewish or Christian parents who are creationists are not qualified in science means that one can teach evolution as true to their parents despite their protests. Then atheists cannot object to their kids being taught Christianity as true in school unless they are qualified theologians.

    And I doubt that many athiests are comfortable with this conclusion.

  • <p><span style=" color: #000000; "><span style=" color: #000000; font-style: italic;">Science" does not "teach Creationism" or about God in general because the operate in separate Magisteria or because they have differing epistemic foundations, but because there is no evidence for God and therefore no reason to include it, as Laplace said. </span></span>

    <p style="line-height: 150%;"><span style=" color: #000000; "><span style=" color: #000000; line-height: 150%;">Well first its false that there is  <span style="font-style: italic;">no</span> evidence, there are in fact numerous arguments still being debated and seriously defended in the literature today,  there is debate over whether the evidence<span style="font-style: italic;"> is conclusive</span> but that’s very different to claiming there is <span style="font-style: italic;">no </span>evidence at all. </span></span>
    <p style="line-height: 150%;"><span style=" color: #000000; "><span style=" color: #000000; line-height: 150%;">Moreover whether the evidence is conclusive or inconclusive is a controversial claim one on which experts in the field that studies such evidence <span style="font-style: italic;">disagree</span>. Science doesn’t normally bracket other positions on which the experts are divided. Steady state theory for example is a scientific position over which the experts are divided but scientists still consider it. In fact its probably fair to say that in the field that studies the evidence for Gods existence the claim that he exists is far more widely held than the steady state theory is in cosmology. </span></span>
    <p style="line-height: 150%;"><span style=" color: #000000; "><span style=" color: #000000; line-height: 150%;">Second, scientific theories typically include all sorts of claims which cannot be substantiated by evidence. For example the claim that other people exist and have thoughts and feelings, that there is an external world that exists independently of our senses and continues to do so when we don’t perceive it, that inductive reasoning is reliable. That there exist laws of logic, that our senses are a reliable source of information about the world. That the universe did not pop into existence six seconds along with all traces of age. So even if there were no empirical evidence for theism that alone would not be grounds for excluding it, unless you want to exclude these things as well. </span></span>

  • LOL…. you need to go study a little scince my friend!  Do you object to Newtonian physics being taught as TRUE?  What about quantum physics?  Any other area of science or just this one?  Why this one?  For scientific reasons?  I don't think so.  What if the majority of ill informed scientifically illiterate parents decide due to a poor theological understanding of Genesis that Newton was wrong…. should we stop teaching that the science which stops airplanes falling from the sky is TRUE?

    I actually think evolution does have some problems with it… but the way to address these is within the scientific world.  NOT via the ignorant imposing their rule upon the wise.

  • Max, NOBODY teaches "Newtonian physics" as "true," these days, or if they do, they're quickly corrected by somebody who actually knows some physics.  Nobody teaches "quantum physics" as "true" in the way we're discussing here–quantum physics is mysterious in ways that hurt my brain to even start to think about, and the very best quantum physicists don't even know how to talk about the difference between Hugh Everett's "many-worlds" interpretation or the standard Copenhagen model.  And NOBODY claims to know how quantum physics meshes with relativity, even though EVERYBODY agrees that these two halves of modern physics predict experimental results out to dozens of decimal places.

    What physicists DO teach is the current model and the evidence that supports it.  I have no problem with public schools teaching the neo-Darwinian synthesis and the evidence that supports it.  What troubles me is the opposition to introducing evidence of anomalies.

    When Stephen Jay Gould (who taught just one of my classes at Harvard) broke with mainstream neo-Darwinist thinking, it was in large part because the "smooth evolutionary path" didn't fit with his Marxist presuppositions.  Marx taught revolution, not evolution, and when Gould started looking through the fossil record, he found precious little evidence for gradual changes over time.  That's what made him propose his "hopeful monsters" ideas and made him "the world's most famous living evolutionist."  (He's dead now, of course, but I'm not saying anything about him here I didn't hear him say in class.)

    When Gould's Marxism led him to challenge ortodox neo-Darwinism, it led to new breakthroughs in evolutionary theory.  I've got my own problems with the current theory, but if I raise them I'm dismissed as a "fundamentalist" without further discussion.  In my opinion, it is bad science to accept an argument solely because it is supported by a particular theology–but it is equally bad science to dismiss an argument for that reason.

  • Would libertarians give the government the power to punish fraud?  I believe most libertarians would support a "private right of action" to claim damages for fraud, but I can't imagine any sane libertarian EVER giving the government a generalized power to decide what 'truth" is.

  • I think you missed the point.  And if you walk into a science class for 13 year olds they DO teach Newtonian physics as if it was true.  I am not talking about university here – as the debate about teaching evolution is mainly over what children – not adults at university – are taught.

    Now later on you may find out that what you were taught as a 13 year old is not the whole story (in all subjects) but … as I said… the anti-science fundamentalists don't object in THIS area… only in one specific area.  And there only because they understand their Bible (if possible) even less than they understand science.

  • Max, I didn't miss your point.  But I think you're missing mine.  Most scientists marvel at the mysteries still waiting to be uncovered (such as how relativity and quantum physics can describe the same universe).  The scientific community thrives on the tension between those two wings of physics, because we're all confident that they both describe the same reality, albeit incompletely.  When a quantum physicist points out that relativity CANNOT explain what happens on a scale equal to the Planck length, he isn't accused of being "anti-science."

    By contrast, when a Christian (like me) points out that neo-Darwinism CANNOT explain where the first self-replicating molecule came from, I'm treated like the reincarnation of the Spanish Inquisition.  I don't think that's fair, or useful.  My observations about science are no less scientific than the quantum physicists, and the problem I've identified is no less real than the gap between quantum and relativity.

    So why am I the threat to science, here?

  • If it is genuinly sience that leads you to this, good for you.  But if you read what I said I was not addressing you.  My problem is with people who due to bad theology, and an uneducated reading of Genesis come to the conclusion that evolution must be wrong. 

  • Max, its you not addressing the issues, nowhere in my post above did I say evolution was false or that Genesis should be interpreted literally.

    My point is about wether its just to teach it as true in public schools of a pluralistic society. As I have repeatedly pointed out, both in the original post and the comments. the fact that a doctrine is true does not mean it should be taught in public school. You and I probably both grant its true that Mohammad is not a prophet, it does not follow that the state can run courses debunking Islam at state schools.

    Simply repeating "its true" over and over using different pejorative terms to describe creationists when I addressed this very point in the blog proves nothing.

  • I never said you did Matt.  The conversation has moved onto other related topics.  THis happens in conversations all the time.  I was no longer talking about what you personally had or had not said.  Not all comments are directly related to your personal opinions.

  • HOWEVER…

    You over use analogy and comparison as a form of "argument":

    "the fact that a doctrine is true does not mean it should be taught in public school. You and I probably both grant its true that Mohammad is not a prophet, it does not follow that the state can run courses debunking Islam at state schools. "

    What on Earth has this example got to do with what we are teaching?  You can't just point to another thing that we also don't teach and go AHA! and think that is a logical argument.   Yes – you have given one instance of something which is true which we need not teach.,  I could give you thousands of examples…. but so what?  I can also give you thousands of examples of things which are true which we should teach.  This would also prove nothing.  The whole issue is which group do the latest scintific theories fall into?  Stuff we should teach or stuff we shouldn't?

    Try again.

  • Max, the essential point of Matt's argument is that a pluralistic society might arguably best accomplish its shared social goals best by NOT teaching certain things in publicly-funded schools.  His point, if you take it on his terms, has little to do with whether the subject is labeled "science," "history," or "literature."  Your point, as I understand it, is that science is different from other subjects.

    I'm biased on this point, because I've been personally burned by the so-called "scientific" community.  I wrote an article on the evidence for a relationship between abortion and breast cancer in 1994 and got BLASTED for it.  The fact that I am a Christian was enough to render anything I had to say about estrogen levels irrelevant.

    Since my own bitter run-in with the scientific community in 1994, I've had the opportunity to assess the "global warming" research.  In my opinion, the new "Creationists" are people who dare to question the hypothesis human activity has caused the recent rise in global temperatures.

    I don't think SCIENCE needs to be afraid of global warming skeptics, abortion/breast cancer theorists, or intellectual designers.  But the scientific community today reacts to such people the way the Catholic Church did to Galileo.

    I am an American constitutional lawyer, an amateur scientist, and a passionate Evangelical Christian.  I seek a society that values truth, justice, and liberty.  I think Matt's original question about the wisdom of having public schools teach evolution as "fact" gets close to the heart of my concerns, for which I thank him.  I think Max's argument misses Matt's point.

  • Fine. 

    But it all comes back to this:  the scientific community is not perfect – and will not be right all the time…. but even so, are they better judges of what to teach – or are uneducated parents.  That is the key issue. 

    What you are saying is a little like saying because judges sometimes make bad judgements we should do away with courts and have lynch mobs instead… which perhaps you would agree with too.  Who knows.

  • Max, how about EDUCATED parents?  I have a degree from Harvard Law School, and I don't believe the neo-Darwinian synthesis solves the riddle of the origin of life any better than relativity explains what happens on scales smaller than the Planck length.  Am I allowed to question Darwinist orthodoxy, or are you going to require me to place my children's brains in the hands of science teachers who still think Newton was right?

  • A constitutional lawyer with a degree from Harvard? You're a Christian so that clearly cancels all that out.

    It'd be funny if it wasn't so close to the bone.

  • ToG,

    Replying to your comments above because the the inline comments get so sequeezed, I see JS kit also wants me to break it up to bite size bits….


    Max, the essential point of Matt's argument is that a pluralistic society might arguably best accomplish its shared social goals best by NOT teaching certain things in publicly-funded schools.

    I think a precis of Matt's argument is something more like

    1. ID opponents argue that teaching ID would impinge on students religuous freedom
    2. Teaching evolution as true impinges on the religous freedom of students that hold certain religous views
    3. If we accept the argument ID oponoents make in 1 it follows we shouldn't teach evolution in classes in which that theory conflicts with the religuous convictions of a significant number of students.

    FWIW, I don't know think many ID opponents make an argument from religous freedom, though it is related to the establishment clause used in USian court cases, so gets talked about a lot. A much more widely used argument against teaching ID is that it's pure horseshit. I like that one.

    The problem I have with Matt's argument is that evolution is only ever taught as a theory (scientific sense here) built from best avaliable evidence, with some areas pretty much settled (common descent, phylogeny, natural selection acting on random genetic mutations as the the driver of adaptation) and others entirely more open to investigation (molecular basis of developmental change, modes of speciation…). A student who has a religous objection to evolutionary biology is welcome to it, but he needs to understand than in a biology class only predictive frameworks work – and here evolutionary biology is the only show in town. I don't understand why we should explicetly warn students who aren't scientific realists (even Matt and Alvin admit EvoBio is the best theory on scientific grounds) that "When I say humans are descended from great apes I mean only that all the avaliable physical evidence points to this fact, you are of course welcome to believe this is one of God's little jokes".


  • By contrast, when a Christian (like me) points out that neo-Darwinism CANNOT explain where the first self-replicating molecule came from, I'm treated like the reincarnation of the Spanish Inquisition.  I don't think that's fair, or useful. 

    I'm sorry, the appropriate action would be to laugh at you. Abiogenesis research and Evolutionary Biology are different things.


    Max, how about EDUCATED parents?  I have a degree from Harvard Law School, and I don't believe the neo-Darwinian synthesis solves the riddle of the origin of life any better than relativity explains what happens on scales smaller than the Planck length.  Am I allowed to question Darwinist orthodoxy, or are you going to require me to place my children's brains in the hands of science teachers who still think Newton was right?. 

     Again, origin of life reseatch is different than this thing you call "Darwinist orthodoxy". It doesn't follow from the fact that evolutionary biology doesn't explain the orgin of life that it is wrong about common descent or natural selection as the driver of adaptation any more than it follows that newton's equations don't work for large bodies because they don't work for small ones. If your objection is to origin of life research being taught as fact in highschool then I've got news for you, it's not.


    I don't think SCIENCE needs to be afraid of global warming skeptics, abortion/breast cancer theorists, or intellectual designers.  But the scientific community today reacts to such people the way the Catholic Church did to Galileo. 


    Well very few denialists are under house arrest. By and large scientists love debate (non-scientists that attend conferences are often struck by how tough the questioning can be) but there is also a point at which something is so well established that debating it further is stupid and stops appropriate action or further research. The three ideas you present are prime examples (although admittedly the ABC hypothesis might not have been in 1994) of controversies that are now purely idealogical, with the broadstrokes of the science being established.

    (BTW, I'm genuinely sorry that you feel you have been victimised by scientists. I just don't think it's true that you experience is indicitive of a movement to exclude valid ideas because they come from a religious perspective.)

  • All due respect, but what the hell does having a LAW degree have to do with being an expert on SCIENCE?

  • We were discussing whether Christian parents should be able to have a say in what their children are taught. An universtiy educated Christian parent is surely capable of grasping the basics of school education.

    No one was claiming that being qualified in one subject makes one qualified in subjects one is not qualified in, at least no one on our side; none of us are claiming that having a degree in science makes one qualified in logic, philosophy, law or theology, for example.

  • It has NOTHING to do with a Christian.  And I have NEVER insinuated this (for reasonalby obvious reasons)  This, is a strawman attack!

    I don't even claim to believe that evolution is a perfect explanation of the ORIGINS of life.  But… I still think that we xhould allow the experts in biology to work out what should be taught in a biology class.

    Why?

    Because I think mathematicians are best suited to decide how to teach maths, latin scholars the best suited to decide how to teach latin. and so on, and so on.  And, Madalaine, this includes Christians!  How about that?

  • thatt should read "nothing to do with BEING a Christian"

  • "All due respect, but what the hell does having a LAW degree have to do with being an expert on SCIENCE?"

    Ditto

    Waving a degree in my face does not make me want to believe you about matters OTHER THAN the subject of your expertise.

    As an example…. Richard  Dawkins is (apparantly) a skilled zoologgist – BUT I could not care less what he has to say about Theology or Philosophy – where he is universally foolish.

  • Having thought about this a bit, I would like to suggest what I think would be a good compromise, and which I think Matt might also like:

    So – what if high schools all had philosophy classes (as they should) and the debate over the origins of life and the related debate over philosophy of science took place in this environment, but the statas quo science continued to be taught in biology class until the (inevitable) paraddigm shift that overthrew much of darwinism took place?

    Would that be a good solution Matt?

  • I still think that we xhould allow the experts in biology to work out what should be taught in a biology class.

    Incorrect. Parents pay for children education, therefore the final decision goes to the parents, within the boundary of the law of course (for example it's illegal to teach children to break the law).

    This is one of the point of platinga's arguments. That state schools must not go against the beliefs of the parents (again, within the boundary of the law).

  • Sid:  So what if a bunch of parents get together and insist that the children at a achool are taught that 2+2=5?   Or that Germany won WW2?  Or that babies hatch out of watermelons?

    Should teachers teach this nonsense because parents insist upon it?

  • I'm not an expert in law, but if it is not illegal then we must respect parents rights to decide what they want their children to learn.

    Teachers are to teach what they are paid to teach. In real world, we call this getting paid to do ones job?

  • OK Sid.  If you seriously think the situation I outlined would be OK – we are just on different wavelenghts.  How about some respect for the children who will reach adult hood unable to function in society if they are taught the sort of nonsense I suggested.

  • Hi Max,

    Obviously in the case you suggested, it is safe to suggest that almost all of parents in NZ would find teaching 2+2=5 to be silly and non-sense. For the minority that think it's OK to teach 2+2=5, I would suggest it is not hard to convince them that 2+2 is 4 not 5. And if they still insist, good luck to them finding private teachers who are willing to teach those non-sense, or to homeschool their children.

    But my point is, if you are a teacher in state school, it is your job to teach the curriculum. Not what you think/feel is right. The curriculum is actually decided by the government which in turns should be a reflection of the will of the people, at least in democratic countries.

  • "The curriculum is actually decided by the government which in turns should be a reflection of the will of the people, at least in democratic countries."

    Good – problem solved.  This is in fact what we are doing… any your problem is???

  • any your problem is???

    RTA???

  • If you can't work out from context that should have been "and" I suggest you go back to school.

    Residential Tenancies Act?
    Railway Trades Association?
    Regional Transport Authority?

    Which of these was it you had a problem with?

  • But seriously… you say you are happy with democratically elected officials deciding on what is taught – and that this is a good system.  But then throw in a "unless i disagree" clause!

    "The curriculum is actually decided by the government which in turns should be a reflection of the will of the people, at least in democratic countries."

    The will of the people has been taken into account and is reflected in what we are taught.  You either don't really agree with what you say, or you are confused.

    Elsewhere you say:

    "therefore the final decision goes to the parents"

    Does this mean the same thing?  The individual parents?  The parents who get elected to a school board?  The parents via their elected officials as you seem to support above?

    When I asked: Why do you have a problem? I was pointing out that the system you claim to support has gone into action – but you just don't happen to like one of the results.  Suck it up.  The parents of the nation have spoken and they disagree with you on the whole.  Welcome to democracy.

  • RTA is a common Internet acronym for Read The Article … RTFA is a rude version, similar to RTFM (M=manual).

    My reply about teacher was in response to the following from your posts:

    I still think that we xhould allow the experts in biology to work out what should be taught in a biology class.
    – Should teachers teach this nonsense because parents insist upon it?

    Allowing experts to advance in their fields is not the same as allowing them to just decide what to teach to my children.

    you say you are happy with democratically elected officials deciding on what is taught – and that this is a good system.  But then throw in a "unless i disagree" clause!

    I didn't say that but yes I am happy with the system, but that doesn't mean I will always agree with the elected official. Isn't this the whole point of discussing these things?

  • In the United States, it's illegal for 90% of the voters to impose their majority religion on the minority.  Matters of religion are not left up to majority vote.  That means that schools are NOT an expression of pure majoritarianism.

    I think the decision to take some majoritarian beliefs out of the school curriculum is a good one, especially because it removes certain conflicts from local politics.  I don't think parents should have to lobby school board officials to make sure their values are respected in the community schools.  When parents DO have turn to politics to protect their family values, the community becomes factionalized.  Woe to the minority parent who dares to disagree with his neighbors!

    IF we are going to operate schools as units of local government, THEN we have to find a way to reduce the politicial divisiveness of the curriculum.  Labelling some subjects "secular" doesn't actually accomplish this goal.  You can have divisions over "Huck Finn" or "The Color Purple" without ever bringing God into it.

    One way to make government-run schools just and viable over the long term would be to give parents an undisputed right to opt their child out of any activity or assignment, as long as the parents accept the responsibility of providing some acceptable alternative at no cost to the school.  That allows parents to shield their children from material they find offensive without harm to the child's education or the school's budget.

    Without some such opt-out provision, government schools must always of necessity pit majority power against dissenting minorities. 

    Don't believe me?  Don't agree with me?  Well, then, just pretend that I'm the new principal for your child's school and that I get to pick whatever curriculum I want your child to learn.  Don't worry–it won't be explicitly religious or overtly anti-science.  It won't cross any legal or constitutional lines.  There won't be anything you could stop with a lawsuit. Assuming you don't enough money to provide a private school for YOUR child, what rights do you think parents ought to have?

  • For people who claim they are looking out for chlldren's best interest – it would be an interesting exercise to see how many times "parent's rights" are demanded and how FEW times "children's rights" are mentioned.

    Children are actually human beings you know – not just things owned by parents.  The idea that as long as the parents think it is OK then all is fine seems to ignore this essential and obvious(?) fact.

    Teachers have some obligation to the parents, sure.  Bt they also have some obligation to the children they teach.  In the real world parents desires and what is in their childrens best interests do not always line up.  If parents want nonsesnse taught to their children, but the children need to be taught what is useful and true… why is it always the "parents' rights" which are preferenced over "childrens rights" not to be lied to, and be intellectually abused?

    I think there is a common train of thought that children are not really human on this, and other, threads. 

  • I hope you agree that giving things to children is not the same as looking out for their best interest?

    And that if you're so concern about children rights, are you saying you want to give children all the rights of adults? Like driving, alcohol, etc, etc?

    Giving your children to be taught by other people as they see fit is not in the best interest of the children. I thought this is common sense?

    No one have the children best interest better than their parents. Sure there are exceptions, but generally, well I hope that is true in general.

    In my case, I know I'd do anything for my son's best interest. I've given up a lot for him and will give up more if it means his best interest is served. Again, best interest is not equal to giving things, sometime it means witholding somethings until he/she is old enough.

    If you think that the state or someone else know better when it comes to your children's best interest, then may be you should not have children.

  • Max quantity and the equality of the number of mentions will tell you nothing of one's views of "children's rights."

    You write as if you think that the rights of children and the rights of parents are or should be identical or on par.

    As human beings we share certain basic rights but when it comes to parents and children there are rights related to the roles and the capacity of one that do not apply to the other.

    The responsibility to educate a child lies with the child's parent. The parent can either undertake that responsibility themselves or engage another party to do it for them. If they choose the latter then they have a duty to ensure that the other party is performing and in fact educating their child.

    Further, parents have a right to impart whatever beliefs, morals, values that make up their worldview to their children as they raise them. (If not the beliefs, morals and values of the parent then someone elses as no one operates in a vacuum).

    This responsibility and right together mean that the parent if perfectly entitled to demand of their agent, the teacher, that their child is taught to a particular standard.

    If the child is being abused, neglected or not being educated then the state may step in and act to protect the child.

    In no way does this suggest that the child is inhuman or that anyone fails to care about the child's best interests.

  • "I hope you agree that giving things to children is not the same as looking out for their best interest?  "

    No.  If I had meant that I would have said it.  Duh.

    "And that if you're so concern about children rights, are you saying you want to give children all the rights of adults? Like driving, alcohol, etc, etc?  "

    This is a stupid argument.  If I say children have the right not to be sexually abused, and the right to an education, it does not mean that I also think they have the right to drive a car, or fly a magical space rocket or anything else you can think of.  You need to get away frm this all or nothing, black or white, style of thinking.

    "If you think that the state or someone else know better when it comes to your children's best interest, then may be you should not have children."

    I think "the state" (that mythological entity!) knows better than some parents, about some areas of child rearing.  I don't live in a fantasy world where all parents are perfect.  Just a simple example – if my children get ill I don't arrogantly assume I know best – but I will actually seek the assistence of (God forbid!) "someone else!" who may (Shock horror!) "know better than me" what medical assistence is required.  Wosre yet this person may work for "the state."  Perhaps I should not have children since I don't have perfect knowledge of all things and sometimes will rely upon the community of which I am a part?

  • "If you think that the state or someone else know better when it comes to your children's best interest, then may be you should not have children." 

    OK, I realised I got this one wrong. What I meant was if you think that other people are serving your children best interest better than you, if you think that other people actually care more about your children's best interest, then perhaps you shouldn't have children.

    As a parent you need to be the person that care the most about your children.

    Someone might have better knowledge and expertise, but doesn't mean you should just let them make the decision. The ultimate consent should be from the parents.

    if my children get ill I don't arrogantly assume I know best

    Neither do I, but I still would want to know as much and I wouldn't let the doctor just do what they want without informing me. Because I know I have my children best interest better than anyone else in the world. In some circumstances I might have to consent and let the doctors do stuffs I don't understand, but only if I think it is in the best interest of my child.

    I think Madeline wrote my point better than me on her last post.

  • "Max quantity and the equality of the number of mentions will tell you nothing of one's views of "children's rights."  "

    This is a curious reply.  Why do you feel the necessity to take everything so literally rather than picking up on the nuance of a statement.  I was (obviously I thought) not suggesting that someone really carry out such a study and do a statistical analysis on the results.  Interesting…
     
    "You write as if you think that the rights of children and the rights of parents are or should be identical or on par."

    No.  I don't.  You imposed this concept on me just then.  I actually said that SOME attention should be paid to childrens rights.  I never said they  were either identical on on a par.  Please address what I actually said, not what you want me to have said.
     
    "parents have a right to impart whatever beliefs, morals, values that make up their worldview to their children as they raise them."

    I just plain disagree with this statement.  If parents are raising their child to beat up, steal from, and molest their peers … I think that at that point the CHILDS RIGHTS to have a healthy upbringing will actually outweigh the parents "right" to raise their children as they see fit.  The idea that there will NEVER be a case where the childrens rights come first is a dangerous one.

    "In no way does this suggest that the child is inhuman or that anyone fails to care about the child's best interests."

    Just to be clear.  I am not implying that anyone actually fails to care for their children.  It is bad philosophy I am attacking, and nothing more.

  • anyone i am talking to i meant….

  • I actually said that SOME attention should be paid to childrens rights.

    When you say it like that, I agree. It is part of looking after their best interest I would think? But like I've said, looking after your children's best interest also mean looking after their best interest when they no longer children (e.g.: when they have children).

    If parents are raising their child to beat up, steal from, and molest their peers

    I would say that is breaking social contract of living together in society? Example: I agree to not beat up another person in exchange to protection of not being beaten up myself. This includes me not paying and persuade other people to beat up someone or teach my children to beat up other person.

    I think it goes like that, but may be someone more familiar with the philosophy and law behind it can ellaborate.

    I think that we are now back to platinga's arguments covered in the first part of this article:

    “It is as if we are all party to a sort of implicit contract: we recognize the need to train and educate our children, but don't have the time or competence to do it individually. We therefore get together to hire teachers to help instruct and educate our children, and together we pay for this service by way of tax money.”