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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019); AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021); and HOW WE BECAME POST-LIBERAL: THE RISE AND FALL OF TOLERATION (2024).

Thursday, May 19, 2011

More on that cunning (Michael) Ruse ... and that First Amendment issue

Michael Ruse has a post over on the Huffington Post site in which he says, pretty much in so many words, that current evolutionary theory and current Roman Catholic theology are directly inconsistent with each other. He suggests a means by which the latter can change to bring itself into line with science, but that's not going to be my point here. I'm not even going to comment on the question of whether the inconsistency he identifies is a genuine one: I'm inclined to think that it is, but the point I want to get to will stand whether that's correct or not, so let's not get bogged down with it.

My point is, first, that Ruse is claiming that there is an inconsistency between current science and a widely-maintained religious position. Even if the official Catholic doctrine changed, the kind of human exceptionalism under discussion would still be held by some people on religious grounds. Given that is so, why is it not a breach of the First Amendment if current evolutionary theory is taught in US schools? I mean, I don't think it is. But why doesn't Ruse think it is, given his views on the First Amendment that I got stuck into over here. I'm really, truly puzzled by this. It's less clear to me than ever how Ruse's theory of the First Amendment is supposed to work.

1 comment:

Ophelia Benson said...

Well, you're not alone. I'm not sure Ruse really believes that claim - I'm not sure he doesn't just make it, as opposed to believing it.

Michael De Dora reports that he made it at a CFI conference once and Eddy Tabash carefully explained to him that (and why) it was nonsense, but he simply paid no attention. I've never seen him explain why it would be the case, or respond to criticisms of it. He just says it.