Thursday, September 01, 2005

Separation of Church and State

It has always been a topic of confusion for me. We are a nation founded on the separation of church and state. But for many people, tenets of their religion are not only a matter of faith for them, but of objective reality, as well. So, if the government is run by the will of the people, and the will of the people reflects religious beliefs, where do we draw the line? If I believe that the bible tells me that life begins when the sperm enters the egg and creates an embryo, is that necessarily true? Or does it begin when it's implanted into a womb and begins to divide? Or that life was created and evolved in the way described by Intelligent Design theory? And should I be able to demand that policy be made to support this belief? It seems like that would be legislating the morality of a religion, and therefore not a separation of church and state. So, how should a government create legislation and policy? George Will clarified the issue for me (who I rarely agree with, btw) in a July 4th issue of Newsweek.

"The problem with intelligent-design theory is not that it is false but that it is not falsifiable: Not being susceptible to contradicting evidence, it is not a testable hypothesis. Hence it is not a scientific but a creedal tenet—a matter of faith, unsuited to a public school's science curriculum."

What? Waaaa!!?? You need evidence to make decisions?

This quote is great, because it illustrates a good point. The idea of Intelligent Design is in a sense, diabolical, because it inherently tries to place itself on a level playing field with science, characterizing science as a "theory". Really, science is much more than that, and it sometimes gets a bad rap. Shouldn't we demand that the laws and policies that govern us have some basis in repeatable, verifiable evidence? Isn't that what the scientific method is all about?

2 Comments:

Blogger Pooh said...

Regarding "evidence backed laws"...

In a word, no. Certainly, remedial laws should be based on some intelligible basis and aimed at actually remedying an existing or past harm (I'm going to avoid using 'rational' because that is a very specific term-of-art when discussing the merits of a law). But prospective laws do not naturally subject themselves to "repeatable, verifiable evidence". Economics, sociology and other fields just don't work that way. I can spout you theory on why or how something will or will not work, and I can analogize from similar past experiences, but there is no pristine laboratory setting for such things. Their are simply too many moving parts.

3:52 PM  
Blogger Kaiser said...

I'm not saying that science is the method by which laws should be made. I'm saying, as you describe, that they have to be rooted in "some kind" of method by which we can be reasonably sure we get the desired result. I don't believe that creed or belief is that method.

8:34 PM  

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