Cause for hope
Post Reply
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
23-04-2013, 10:53 AM (This post was last modified: 23-04-2013 11:46 AM by Reltzik.)
Cause for hope
This legal decision is 5 years old, but I just stumbled across it last night.

To summarize: A bunch of Christian high schools sued University of California in general and some professors specifically. Those professors had sat on committees to determine whether the coursework from those high schools's highly-Christianized curriculum (based, in many cases, upon Bob Jones University textbooks) was worth credit in the UC system. They concluded that the curriculum was woefully lacking, and graduates from those high schools were required to retake many courses upon entering into UC. The high schools sued, claiming infringement on first amendment rights, religious discrimination, et cetera.

IMO, the authoring judge did a good job of not mocking the plaintiffs. The tone is dry, to the point, and impartial, as it should have been. Yet my mind can't help but painting in the colors of a narrative, and what seems to come out is the picture of utter legal incompetence on their part. In particular:

* The Association of Christian Schools International sued AS an association, but adopted the position that the law was being applied wrong (rather than the law was itself wrong). As this alleged specific wrongs against specific schools, those schools were required to sue individually and the association had no standing. They basically shot themselves in the foot with their choice of strategy.
* The plaintiffs were asked to identify which specific courses they were suing about. With only a handful of exceptions, they failed to do so.
* The plaintiffs missed disclosure dates, rendering much of the evidence and expert testimony they intended to present inadmissible. This is the court-law equivalent of not knowing how to tie your own shoes.

(It kinda looks like only the two schools had standing, and the Association tried to tack themselves onto the lawsuit, but that's difficult to tell for sure from reading the decision.)

Emerging from this Charlie-Foxtrot of keystone-cops-esque bungling (which I'm currently imagining being set to the Benny Hill theme), what was left of the plaintiff's case was two high schools (Calvary Chapel Christian School and Calvary Baptist School) and five of their graduates, with only five courses alleged as improperly unaccredited by the UC. At this point the plaintiffs' case was essentially gutted by their own incompetence, and we can only wonder what was meant to fill the gaping holes in it. But those gaping holes are telling in and of themselves. At this point, the plaintiffs had to prove the following. Either:

1) The UC adopted an otherwise-rational policy to exercise a special animus against the religion of the plaintiffs, OR
2) There was no rational basis for the policy.

The plaintiffs offered no evidence of animus, and instead tried to maintain that there was no rational basis for the policy. This in turn led to an examination of why those courses were not granted college credit, which if I were in the plaintiffs' shoes would be the LAST thing I'd want.

The common theme that emerged was that the courses and their textbooks had been rejected because they did not encourage or engage the critical thinking skills of their students, which was a prerequisite for college-preparation courses. One excerpt, from the first few pages of a biology textbook published by Bob Jones University, is telling:

(Note, I have not gotten my hands on the book, but assembled several quotations from elsewhere. I have arranged these as separate quotes, but it is possible that they can be concatenated for a single and accurate quote.)

Quote:Biology For Christian Schools is a high school textbook for Bible-believing Christians. Those who do not believe that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God will find many points in this book puzzling. This book was not written for them.

Between true science (those things that can be accurately observed and measured) and the Bible there are no contradictions. After all, the One who wrote the Bible also created the things that scientists can observe. Men, however, can make mistakes in their observations, or they may reach a faulty conclusion from what they observe.

Quote:The people who have prepared this book have tried consistently to put the Word of God first and science second. To the best of the author’s knowledge, the conclusions drawn from observable facts that are presented in this book agree with the Scriptures. If a mistake has been made (which is probable since this book was prepared by humans) and at any point God’s Word is not put first, the author apologizes.

Quote:The position expressed by Dr. Bob Jones, Sr., as he said, “Whatever the Bible says is so; whatever man says may or may not be so,” is the only one a Bible-believing Christian can take, but it does present some problems for a Christian high school biology student. Some of the conclusions a Christian must reach differ from those expressed by worldly sources.

Quote:These statements are conclusions based on “supposed science.” If the conclusions contradict the Word of God, the conclusions are wrong no matter how many scientific facts may appear to back them.

The problem for the Christian biology student is not only to find information, but to consider the information in light of the Word of God. The task is not easy, but is, however, a task at which Christians need skill, not only in the sciences, but also in all areas of their lives.

Quote:The Christian must evaluate the source of the statement. Scientific statements must be based on observation or else they are mere guesses. There is nothing wrong with a guess, as long as it is clearly labeled a guess or a belief. But Christians must disregard those guesses and beliefs that contradict the Bible.

What rational basis there could be for not considering such a text as valid preparation for college-level science coursework would normally seem to have utterly escaped the plaintiffs. Yet their own expert witnesses could have clued them in. One of them opined,

Quote:it is personally abusive and pedagogically damaging to de facto require students to subscribe to an idea. . . . Requiring a student to, effectively, consent to an idea violates his personal integrity. Such a wrenching violation [may cause] a terrible educational outcome.

... yet of course, such denunciation can only be directed at the secular education system, and not the Christian schools.

For all but one of the courses, the professors and UC showed that a rational basis did exist in not accrediting them, typically because they did not promote critical thinking. For the last course, the UC had sent to the high school for clarification on some points, the high school failed to provide it, and the UC decided not to certify a course as worthy of credit when it was ignorant of certain key points. (Remember the missed disclosure deadline, anyone?)

Final result: Handy win for the defendants.

Now, the cause for hope. I might be reading too much between the lines here, but I'm seeing a story of extreme incompetence, bungling, and lack of critical thinking by the plaintiffs. What could cure or prevent such a blight? A GOOD EDUCATION!

What I'm seeing is that when a Christian school (or any other type of school) embraces a dogma-based curriculum, it is effectively hamstringing its own policy. The consequence is that its graduates are left without the intellectual tools to defend such a dogma-based curriculum, and that bodes very, very poorly for their efforts to keep it in place.

In short, such efforts sow the seeds for their own failure, and that is the cause for hope. Think critically, or suffer the consequences of not thinking critically. Either school your students in science, or get schooled by science. Deny evolution and you go the way of the dinosaurs.


tl;dr: Dogma-based schools whined about colleges not thinking their courses were good enough, got pwned in court because of their own incompetence and lack of critical thinking, and I take this to be a larger indication of what will happen to a movement that rejects critical thinking.

EDIT: I did not mean to imply that ALL Christian schools, or more generally all of Christianity, rejects critical thinking or suffers from this type of incompetence. But a certain subset of Christianity? Oh, yes indeed.

I am an antipistevist. That's like an antipastovist, only with epistemic responsibility instead of bruschetta.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes Reltzik's post
23-04-2013, 11:17 AM
RE: Cause for hope
Knowledge and education are the solution for most of what plagues mankind.

However, education starts at home. What happens before school, and the feedback at home during school, has a huge impact.

A kid that learns critical thinking from the start will identify nonsense in the schools.

And yes, I think that there is definitely hope and that the world will become increasingly secular. How long that will take - a long time.

[Image: dobie.png]Science is the process we've designed to be responsible for generating our best guess as to what the fuck is going on. Girly Man
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
23-04-2013, 11:51 AM
RE: Cause for hope
"To summarize..."

Followed by:

*Wall of text*

lol. Tongue

Through profound pain comes profound knowledge.
Ridi, Pagliaccio, sul tuo amore infranto! Ridi del duol, che t'avvelena il cor!
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes Misanthropik's post
23-04-2013, 01:33 PM
RE: Cause for hope
(23-04-2013 11:51 AM)Misanthropik Wrote:  "To summarize..."

Followed by:

*Wall of text*

lol. Tongue

Yeah, well, the legal decision was a BIGGER wall of text. Like, 5 times bigger. With bigger legalese words.

At least I stuck a tl;dr summary of the summary on at the end.

I am an antipistevist. That's like an antipastovist, only with epistemic responsibility instead of bruschetta.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply
Forum Jump: