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Constitutional scholar Steven Gey's philosophical take on the establishment clause

In Professor Barbara Forrest's recent diatribe against me--brought to your attention, and ably refuted, by my colleague Ed Feser--she asserts the following: "I am indebted for this point to Prof. Steven Gey, who, unlike Beckwith, is both an attorney and a constitutional scholar." Ironically, in my recent Santa Clara Law Review piece in which I clarify my views on intelligent design, I briefly critique Professor Gey's philosophical take on the establishment clause of the U. S. Constitution's First Amendment. In order for readers of W4 to get an understanding of Professor Gey's scholarship, and what Professor Forrest perhaps finds so intellectually compelling about it, I reproduce below a portion of my article in which I assess Professor Gey's argument.

[L]egal scholar Steven Gey asserts that belief in God and liberal democracy are incompatible, that the first is against reason while the latter demands it, Gey writes:
The establishment clause should be viewed as a reflection of the secular, relativist political values of the Enlightenment, which are incompatible with thefundamental nature of religious faith. As an embodiment of these Enlightenment values, the establishment clause requires that the political influence of religion be substantially diminished . . . . Religious belief and practice should be protected under the first amendment, but only to the same extent and for the same reason that all other forms of expression and conscience are protected—because the first amendment prohibits government from enacting into law any religious, political, or aesthetic orthodoxy .... [R]eligious principles are not based on logic or reason, and, therefore, may not be proved or disproved, .... [R]eligion asserts that its principles are immutable and absolutely authoritative, democratic theory asserts just the opposite. The sine qua non of any democratic state is that everything political is open to question; not only specific policies and programs, but the very structure of the state itself must always be subject to challenge. Democracies are by nature inhospitable to political or intellectual stasis or certainty. Religion is fundamentally incompatible with this intellectual cornerstone of the modern democratic state. [13]

Although claiming to side with the friends of reason, Professor Gey’s argument seems to provide more comfort to its opponents. First, his embracing of relativist political values (whatever those are) is self-refuting. Relativism is the view that there are no universal and unchanging political values that apply to all persons in all times and all places. Yet Professor Gey states that a true proponent of liberal democracy ought to be a relativist, for he claims that liberal democracy and opposition to relativism are incompatible.[16] But to claim that one ought to be a relativist is to make a non-relative normative claim about what it means for a member of the political community to be intellectually virtuous. Thus, Gey’s claim refutes itself. On the other hand, if he denies that each member of a liberal democratic political community ought to be a relativist on the matter of political values, then necessarily it is not the case that each member of a liberal democratic political community ought to be a relativist on the matter of political values. Consequently, whether he affirms or denies his claim, Gey’s claim is refuted, and thus we can safely say it is something that no friend of reason ought to seriously entertain.

Second, although Gey associates his view with the Enlightenment,[17] it is difficult to square it with the nonrelativist moral and political philosophies of John Locke, Immanuel Kant, and John Stuart Mill, whose Enlightenment credentials no one doubts.[18]

Third, Gey claims that “there can be no sacrosanct principles or unquestioned truths in a democracy” and that “no religion can exist without sacrosanct principles and unquestioned truths.”[19] But the latter claim is itself an unquestioned truth about which Gey seems certain. For he employs it as the ground by which the law may permanently sequester a large segment of his fellow citizens from the public square simply because they may choose to shape their communities with policies that are informed by their religious beliefs. Moreover, Gey’s position assumes a first principle—democracy ought not to be based on unquestioned truths—that he stipulates and for which he does not offer support, and thus seems to function as an unquestioned truth. But if Gey were to offer support for that truth, those grounds too would need support, and those grounds would then become the new first principle. At some point, therefore, Gey must rely on a first principle, a foundation, on which his claims about liberal democracy and its support may rationally rest and for which no other grounds are necessary. Thus, if, as Gey argues, the political application of “unquestioned truths” is a sufficient condition for political disenfranchisement of fellow citizens, then his own position serves as the ground by which the state may disenfranchise him, since his philosophical arsenal has within it at least one unquestioned truth, namely, that “democracy ought not to be based on unquestioned truths.” Consequently, Professor Gey’s position is by its own lights irrational, and thus we need not think of it as an impediment to the political participation of citizens who embrace what Professor Gey pejoratively labels as “unquestioned truths.”

I say “pejorative,” since it seems to me that when Gey writes of citizens who believe in these “unquestioned truths,” he is claiming that they do so irrationally or without adequate warrant. But this is surely not the case, for two reasons: (1) There are numerous well-reasoned works critical of the sort of crude relativism Gey offers, and none of these works presents esoteric religious arguments whose premises would seem irrational to many unbelievers; and (2) Gey does not interact with any of the relevant academic literature on religious belief, morality, and rationality.[21] Thus, it is difficult to know how he would reply to the sophisticated and compelling arguments offered by members of the growing intellectual movement of theistic philosophers in Anglo- American philosophy published before 1990 (the year Gey’s article appeared in print).[22]


NOTES
13. Steven G. Gey, Why is Religion Special?: Reconsidering the Accommodation of Religion Under the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment, 52 U. PITT. L. REV. 75, 79, 167, 174 (1990).
....

16. Gey, supra note 13, at 179.

17. Id. at 79.

18. According to Locke, God endows us with unchanging natural rights and that a just government has an obligation to ensure that these rights are not trampled upon by other citizens or the government itself. SEE JOHN LOCKE, SECOND TREATISE ON GOVERNMENT (Barnes & Noble Press 2004) (1690). For Kant, the administration of justice cannot contravene the categorical imperative: “Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.” IMMANUEL KANT, FOUNDATIONS OF THE METAPHYSICS OF MORALS 39 (Lewis White Beck trans., 2d ed. 1989); see also ALLEN D. ROSEN, KANT’S THEORY OF JUSTICE (1996). In the case of Mill, justice is measured by his version of the principle of utility: “The creed which accepts as the foundation of morals, Utility, or the Greatest Happiness Principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.” JOHN STUART MILL, UTILITARIANISM 9−10 (13th ed. 1891). None of these thinkers—leading lights of the Enlightenment—affirmed or defended the relativism supported by Professor Gey.

19. Id. at 174.
....
21. See Gey, supra note 13.

22. See, e.g., MORTIMER J. ADLER, HOW TO THINK ABOUT GOD: A GUIDE FOR THE 20TH CENTURY PAGAN (1980); MORTIMER J. ADLER, TEN PHILOSOPHICAL MISTAKES (1985); WILLIAM LANE CRAIG, THE KALAM COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT (1979); FAITH AND RATIONALITY: REASON AND BELIEF IN GOD (Alvin Plantinga & Nicholas Wolterstorff eds., 1983); JOHN FINNIS, NATURAL LAW AND NATURAL RIGHTS (1980); JOHN FINNIS, FUNDAMENTALS OF ETHICS (1983); J. P. MORELAND, SCALING THE SECULAR CITY: A DEFENSE OF CHRISTIANITY (1987); ALVIN PLANTINGA, GOD AND OTHER MINDS: A STUDY OF THE RATIONAL JUSTIFICATION OF BELIEF IN GOD (1967); RICHARD SWINBURNE, FAITH & REASON (1987); RICHARD SWINBURNE, THE EXISTENCE OF GOD (1979).

Comments (25)

I recently participated in a seminar which discussed Gey's article Life After the Establishment Clause; the consensus was that the article was sloppy, tendentious, and, as you describe, ultimately incoherent. Fortunately, Gey occupies a minority position in the First Amendment literature; unfortunately, the fact that he's a "constitutional scholar" means some people will cite him uncritically as an authority.

Wow. Self-refuting secularism on display. That's really, really poor stuff. No political principles are to be immune from question? Well, so much for the establishment clause--on anybody's construal, including Gey's. So much for the whole Constitution. So much for laws protecting life, liberty, or property. Everything has to be up for grabs. It's hard even to see how an approach like this would allow one to support the importance of an orderly process for change, such as constitutional amendment, because that would itself have to be supported by non-relative principles, even if practical ones, such as the undesirability of revolution and the value of the rule of law.

Can't the atheists do any better than this?

"[R]eligion asserts that its principles are immutable and absolutely authoritative, democratic theory asserts just the opposite".

First, I'm surprised he says that about "religion." There are certainly a wide variety of religious movements afoot today that tout their flexibility and progress. (Generally, anytime I see anyone say, "religion asserts..." I reach for my Browning.)

Second, what's going on when he writes that "democratic theory asserts just the opposite"? Is it a principle of "democratic theory" (as if there is a single thing, "democratic theory") that its principles are immutable and absolutely authoritative? If so, then it runs into the problems Beckwith outlined above. But moreover, even if didn't run into the self-refutation problems listed above, there is another problem, which is that the following two institutions (for lack of a better word) are perfectly compatible:

Religion asserts that its--i.e., religion's--principles are immutable and absolutely authoritative.
Democratic theory asserts that its--i.e., democratic theory's--principles are neither immutable nor absolutely authoritative.

In other words, religion says that nothing religious is open to question, whereas democratic theory asserts that "everything political is open to question." Where's the conflict?

The portion which seems odd to me, is his jump from people's assent in religion to people's assent in state matters

Religion asserts that its principles are immutable and absolutely authoritative, democratic theory asserts just the opposite. The sine qua non of any democratic state is that everything political is open to question; not only specific policies and programs, but the very structure of the state itself must always be subject to challenge.

Disregarding the merit of these individual claims, it is in no way obvious to me that just because a person holds his religious truths to be immutable, his politics should necessarily be so. This sort of thing ridiculous reasoning is pandemic among scholars who have no experience of religion.

Further, the only argument for the mutability of the state is that there exists some fixed goal for which reform or progress is justified. This fixed goal, whether it be an atheistic materialism like Marxism or the democratic ideal, will always have something akin to the religious belief Gey ridicules.

Religion asserts that its--i.e., religion's--principles are immutable and absolutely authoritative. Democratic theory asserts that its--i.e., democratic theory's--principles are neither immutable nor absolutely authoritative.

In other words, religion says that nothing religious is open to question, whereas democratic theory asserts that "everything political is open to question." Where's the conflict?

Bobcat, you hadn't posted when I started writing, but I obviously concur.

"Disregarding the merit of these individual claims, it is in no way obvious to me that just because a person holds his religious truths to be immutable, his politics should necessarily be so. "

In fact, those immutable religious claims may be better grounds on which to support liberal democracy than relativism. Consider, for example, the following from John Paul II's encyclical Evangelium Vitae:

There is an even more profound aspect which needs to be emphasized: freedom negates and destroys itself, and becomes a factor leading to the destruction of others, when it no longer recognizes and respects its essential link with the truth. When freedom, out of a desire to emancipate itself from all forms of tradition and authority, shuts out even the most obvious evidence of an objective and universal truth, which is the foundation of personal and social life, then the person ends up by no longer taking as the sole and indisputable point of reference for his own choices the truth about good and evil, but only his subjective and changeable opinion or, indeed, his selfish interest and whim.

This view of freedom leads to a serious distortion of life in society. If the promotion of the self is understood in terms of absolute autonomy, people inevitably reach the point of rejecting one another. Everyone else is considered an enemy from whom one has to defend oneself. Thus society becomes a mass of individuals placed side by side, but without any mutual bonds. Each one wishes to assert himself independently of the other and in fact intends to make his own interests prevail. Still, in the face of other people's analogous interests, some kind of compromise must be found, if one wants a society in which the maximum possible freedom is guaranteed to each individual. In this way, any reference to common values and to a truth absolutely binding on everyone is lost, and social life ventures on to the shifting sands of complete relativism. At that point, everything is negotiable, everything is open to bargaining: even the first of the fundamental rights, the right to life.

This is what is happening also at the level of politics and government: the original and inalienable right to life is questioned or denied on the basis of a parliamentary vote or the will of one part of the people—even if it is the majority. This is the sinister result of a relativism which reigns unopposed: the "right" ceases to be such, because it is no longer firmly founded on the inviolable dignity of the person, but is made subject to the will of the stronger part. In this way democracy, contradicting its own principles, effectively moves towards a form of totalitarianism. The State is no longer the "common home" where all can live together on the basis of principles of fundamental equality, but is transformed into a tyrant State, which arrogates to itself the right to dispose of the life of the weakest and most defenceless members, from the unborn child to the elderly, in the name of a public interest which is really nothing but the interest of one part. The appearance of the strictest respect for legality is maintained, at least when the laws permitting abortion and euthanasia are the result of a ballot in accordance with what are generally seen as the rules of democracy. Really, what we have here is only the tragic caricature of legality; the democratic ideal, which is only truly such when it acknowledges and safeguards the dignity of every human person, is betrayed in its very foundations: "How is it still possible to speak of the dignity of every human person when the killing of the weakest and most innocent is permitted? In the name of what justice is the most unjust of discriminations practised: some individuals are held to be deserving of defence and others are denied that dignity?"16 When this happens, the process leading to the breakdown of a genuinely human co-existence and the disintegration of the State itself has already begun.

NOTE
16 John Paul II, Address to the Participants at the Study Conference on "The Right to Life and Europe", 18 December 1987: Insegnamenti, X, 3 (1987), 1446-1447.

Gey's little piece here reads like parody. Seriously? This is the sort of document that freshmen logic students are taught to read, dissect, and refute for mid-term exams. They are included in beginning logic textbooks as examples of fallacious argumentation, and everyone reads them and has a good chuckle. So unleashing the likes of Beckwith on Gey seems a little unsporting, really. But excellent rebuttal, in any case. I give FB an 'A+' for that undergrad phil exam essay question, "Extract the argument from the following text by Steven Gey, and then evaluate it for validity and soundness."

The establishment clause should be viewed as a reflection of the secular, relativist political values of the Enlightenment, which are incompatible with the fundamental nature of religious faith.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident..."

Those are relativistic political values?

The sine qua non of any democratic state is that everything political is open to question;

If everything political is open to question, then isn't the belief that everything political is open to question also open to question? That is the way of the Weimar Republic...

Lydia: "Can't the atheists do any better than this?"

Aren't questions which answer themselves fun?

Actually, I suspect they (or some among them, even if not Gey himself) _can_ do better. But in the present stage of the culture wars, they seem more and more to think they don't need to bother.

What I don't understand is Forrest's snarkiness, which is so unnecessary (and philosophically immature). Either she has an argument against my view or she doesn't. Drawing attention to the fact that my graduate degree in law is not a JD serves no purpose other than to poison the wells. If her arguments are so airtight and beyond rational dispute, why resort to ad hominem attacks? To put it another way: if her arguments are so good, then her ad hominem attacks are unnecessary; but if her arguments are not that good, then her ad hominem attacks are irrelevant. In either case, she is willing to engage in intellectual vice, corrupting her own soul as well as the souls of those whose itching ears her defamation tickles. Very sad. To quote that old National Negro College Fund Commercial, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste."

Actually, I suspect they (or some among them, even if not Gey himself) _can_ do better.

Si, se puede. :o)

These types of "constitutional scholars" are bad for my constitution and my Constitution.

As an embodiment of these Enlightenment values, the establishment clause requires that the political influence of religion be substantially diminished . . . . Religious belief and practice should be protected under the first amendment, but only to the same extent and for the same reason that all other forms of expression and conscience are protected—because the first amendment prohibits government from enacting into law any religious, political, or aesthetic orthodoxy

Yes, that makes sense. See, the Founders wanted to make sure that religion was not singled out for special protection, that it received only the protection other expressions of thought had. That is exactly why, in addition to and before the clauses protecting speech, assembly, and press, the amendment singles out religion and protects it under not ONE but TWO separate clauses.

See, the Founders were idiots and what they wrote was the exact opposite of what they intended. Therefore, what they intended was not to protect religion, but to diminish it.

I am beginning to believe in those 50 monkeys in front of keyboards. They may never turn out Shakespeare, but they sure can turn out political drivel by the manure-load.

First, for the sake of the legal community and especially for litigation on church state issues, Gey's view is probably more accurate. It's not a philosophical view that many readers may share, but that's the point. Law doesn't work well as a practice of philosophical pipe smoking.

Second, this criticism of Gey is relevant only so far as it exposes any error in Forrest's work. It doesn't do that. It is instead rather a perfect example of the sort of implicit ad hominem argument that commenters at Panda's Thumb say Dr. Beckwith is famous for.

Forrest points out among other things that Beckwith's position is contrary to decided law. In response, Beckwith says Gey doesn't get the Enlightenment idea exactly right.

50 monkeys indeed: When do they get to a response on point?

Really--"Democracy requires relativism" is part of decided law??? Even if we waive the use of "law" to mean, "Whatever judges say the Constitution means," that seems pretty surprising.

I knew church-state jurisprudence was in a sorry state, but I didn't think it was quite that bad.

Ed:

My argument contra Gey is not ad hominem at all. It is a straightforward response to his claims. If you disagree with my arguments, offer a counter argument. Defend, for example, my charge that Gey's case is self-refuting. Am I wrong? If so, how? Cowboy up, partner.

Now, if you want ad hominem, let me recommend to you the master of the craft, Barbara Carroll Forrest. She provides more angles to the guilt by association fallacy that would even make Joseph McCarthy blush. Check out this piece of work: "The most prominent feature of his [Beckwith's] arguments in these writings is that he has swallowed whole the Discovery Institute creationists’ own rationale for their promotion of ID as science."

What does it mean to "swallow whole" in the context of one philosopher offering arguments that another ought to respond to. That's just weird. She's making a claim about my internal thought life and intellectual integrity that she cannot possibly know. And she's using insulting and derogatory language to do so. But notice what she doesn't do. She doesn't explain my arguments or critique them. She just says something like, "He's just like the Discovery Institute. Yuk, yuk, yuk." But aside from that misleading depiction (if she actually read me with charity and with any modicum of philosophical comprehension), she can't even get right basic distinctions in the philosophy of science that any competent philosopher in the field should know. And because she can't deal with the actual arguments and their merits, she resorts to incendiary language while indulging in public her highly imaginative fantasy life. Here's an example:

On February 4, 2009, in the company of Darrell White, an operative with the Louisiana Family Forum (LFF), which is an affiliate of Focus on the Family, Beckwith was at the Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to give a talk with the same title as his 2007 article, “Intelligent Design, Religious Motives, and the Constitution’s Religion Clauses.” The talk was sponsored by the student chapter of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal society with chapters on many university campuses. In 2008, the LFF spearheaded the push to get the Louisiana Science Education Act passed; the legislation was introduced by a state senator on the LFF’s behalf. The writing and passage of this law were a joint project of the LFF and the Discovery Institute. DI is heavily invested in Louisiana as a result of its being the first, and so far the only, state to pass a version of DI’s “academic freedom” legislation.

So, here's how Forrest's mind "works": Beckwith shows up at Southern. One of the audience members introduces himself prior to his talk. The audience member, Mr. White, had never met Beckwith before that moment, and Beckwith had never heard of him or even knew of his group until that moment. But, according to the Forrest, Beckwith was "in the company" of Mr. White, whose group worked with DI on a matter having to do with a LA statute. Never mind that Beckwith quit DI two years ago; never mind that he was not involved with any of this; never mind that he told Mr. White while they talked before the lecture that he had problems with these sorts of law; never mind that Beckwith had only heard about the LA controversies when he was invited by Southern to speak and originally did not want to address anything on ID but did so after much wrangling; never mind that Forrest was invited to respond to Beckwith's talk but turned it down; never mind that Beckwith has never consulted, either formally or informally, anyone involved with the LA case at all; and never mind that Beckwith has not talked to anyone at DI or in LA about this case. What matters is that Beckwith was seen talking with a man who was involved with DI on a matter of LA statutory law. That makes Beckwith guilty of what? Talking to someone? I once worked for three years with four gay men at my parents' candy store in Las Vegas. That makes me a gay anti-dentite? Gimme a break.

----
Much of my book's discussion of science is influenced by my graduate work in the philosophy of science at Fordham. In fact, I don't argue that ID is science. I argue that it may or may not be depending on how one defines science. Chapter 1, in which I deal quite extensively with the McLean opinion, should make quite clear. In fact, this is what I write:

Although there are other objections, not raised by Laudan, that one may raise against points 1 and 2 of Judge Overton’s criteria, what we have covered so far should suffice. Nevertheless, it is important to note that design theorists affirm that if their arguments are correct, then material non-agent causes cannot account for all the phenomena in the natural world. But in order to evaluate the plausibility of their case, they suggest that their arguments be weighed on their own merits rather than rejected a priori because they are inconsistent with a particular demarcation theory. To paraphrase Laudan: the core issue is not whether Intelligent Design satisfies some undemanding and highly controversial definitions of what is scientific; the real question is whether the existing evidence provides stronger arguments for materialism than for Intelligent Design.

Here's what I write elsewhere in the book:

The purpose of demarcation theories is to distinguish science from non-science. So, for example, assuming MN is a necessary condition to label something science, any theory that does not assume MN is not science. Consequently, ID, because it rejects MN, is not science, if this demarcation theory is sound. But, as we have seen (chapter 3, section A, part 1) and will see (chapter 3, section A, part 3; section B), ID theorists and others have marshaled an impressive array of reasons to reject MN as a necessary precondition of natural science.

Moreover, as we saw in our analysis of McLean (chapter 1, section B, part 4), demarcation theories in general have fallen on hard times, even though one such theory found its way into Judge Overton’s opinion. Thus, there is no need to repeat what has already been covered in my evaluation of demarcation theories in my analysis of that opinion.

Nevertheless, one can raise the question of whether there are any other demarcation theories that are non-circular and at the same time may work legitimately to exclude ID. To my knowledge, there are none. The overwhelming consensus in philosophy of science is that demarcation theories are doomed to failure for many of the reasons we covered above (see chapter 1, section B, part 4; chapter 3, section A, part 1). However, this does not mean that ID should not be subject to strict philosophical and scientific analysis. For instance, if ID arguments lack certain theoretical virtues that are considered earmarks of good theories or explanations--e.g., explanatory power, empirical adequacy, simplicity, predictive and/or retrodictive success (as broadly construed in the historical sciences), testability, clarity of concepts--and/or exhibit the vices of bad theories--e.g., “God-of-the-gaps” strategy, heavy reliance on ad hoc hypotheses, lack of explanatory power--and if there are better alternatives, then perhaps one could reject ID as an explanation and/or theory for apparent design in nature. But one would be doing so, not because ID is unable to pass a metaphysical litmus test, but rather, because it fails as an hypothesis qua hypothesis. That is, whether ID fits some a priori definition of “science” or “pseudo-science” is a red herring, for such definitions tell us nothing about whether a theory and/or explanation, such as ID, provides us with real knowledge of the order and nature of things. In the words of Laudan, who is not an ID supporter: “If we could stand up on the side of reason, we ought to drop terms like `pseudo-science’. . . . They do only emotive work for us.”

Forrest does not read me carefully. I always refer to what "ID theorists maintain," what "ID supporters think," and so forth. I do that on purpose. I was not, and I am not, fully on board with ID arguments contra Darwin. So, I was careful to write in a way that was fair to the ID advocates without committing myself to any of their positions.

Believe what you want, Ed. But, at the end of the day, I am the expert on my own beliefs.

As long as we're quoting our own here:

To focus on Forrest a bit more, what would she think if we deconstructed her motives? Forrest is on the board of directors for the New Orleans Secular Humanist Association (http://nosha.secularhunanism.net). This group actively tries to prove that religious beliefs are based on ignorance and superstition. They strategically promote Secular Humanism; they hold conferences; they have their own newsletters and publications; they take donations. I submit that Forrest’s academic publications are motivated by her anti-religious views. That may be interesting in terms of biography, but friends and critics alike should agree that it is completely irrelevant when assessing her arguments. The same goes for ID.

http://www.svsu.edu/~koperski/Two Bad Ways to Attack Intelligent Design and Two Good Ones.pdf

My argument contra Gey is not ad hominem at all. It is a straightforward response to his claims. If you disagree with my arguments, offer a counter argument. Defend, for example, my charge that Gey's case is self-refuting. Am I wrong? If so, how? Cowboy up, partner.

I thought your argument was with Forrest? It appears to me you're picking an argument with Gey in order to avoid a response to Forrest -- a long response on a tangential topic, one where you may have better grounds to argue, but one that ultimately remains tangential and not relevant as a response to what Forrest said.

Why should I defend Gey's views on anything? You're assuming that I share his views, and you're assuming incorrectly in my view that his views color Forrest's history. I don't find that applies at all.

Cowboy up? Sure. Forrest says ID isn't science, isn't legal, and that your creationist views are wrong. How do Gey's views on anything shed any more light than, say, a paper on the price of bananas on Mars compared to the price of bananas at McMurdo Station?

ID is still religious claptrap illegal to teach in public schools. Any lawyer who says otherwise should be up for malpractice charges if she's charging a client for such wrong advice.

Ed, this is what you wrote: "Second, this criticism of Gey is relevant only so far as it exposes any error in Forrest's work. It doesn't do that. It is instead rather a perfect example of the sort of implicit ad hominem argument that commenters at Panda's Thumb say Dr. Beckwith is famous for."

Forrest cited Gey as an example of a good "constitutional scholar." I merely brought to our readers' attention the cast of mind that Forrest believes is good.

It's not surprising, since her reasoning is beyond horrible. Reread what I wrote above. Do you actually think me walking into a classroom with a stranger entails that I am linked to everything than man has done? If that's the case, then Barbara Forrest is a child pornographer, since the ACLU of which was a part argues that child pornography is protected by the First Amendment. That is, of course, a stupid argument on my part if were to offer it. The fact that you are willing to embrace that reasoning in the context of my work is shameless.

BTW, Forrest has never responded to any of my emails. I have invited her to engage me on this questions privately via email. But she has never reciprocated. Southern invited her to respond to me. She declined. What is she afraid of? If I am such an idiot, she should be able to blow me away.

She has, and she did.

Do you actually think that Forrest mentioning Gey's qualifications means that your attempted fisking of Gey's qualifications constitutes a response? It is, of course, a stupid argument on your part.

What is the context of your work against science in Texas classrooms?

Beckwith,

I would say just don't bother with Ed Darrell. It seems to me that these people are like the true believers of one cult who wouldn't change their mind, but instead said their failed world-destruction prophesy was instead averted by their faith. It does not matter to these people that you haven't really supported specific ID arguments for the actual ID position anywhere; it doesn't matter that you've gotten into open debates with William Dembski himself on his uncommondescent blog; it doesn't matter that your philosophical outlook is in opposition with many of those on the ID side. I've been following this ID debate for too long to pretend that dialouge will help.

With these people, I bet they're going to call William Craig and James Moreland Intelligent Design Creationists soon.

Ed also doesn't seem to realize what's at stake in your arguments against Gey (althought maybe not in specific here). Hint: It has to do with why ID would be unconstitutional (as FORREST holds herself).

Triple post..sorry: Their strange behavior can only be understood in the context of a political battle. Everything you say has some hidden meaning and is meant to defame, in their eyes. Thus, their rather bizarre conclusions.

Now you might understand Dembski's attiude and why he took to reading Robert Greene's books and teaching them in his apologetics classes.

Just curious -- what's contained in the ellipses in the original paragraph quoted from Gey?

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