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Law, Darwinism, and Public Education: The Establishment Clause and the Challenge of Intelligent Design Paperback – December 24, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (December 24, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0742514315
  • ISBN-13: 978-0742514317
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.9 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #830,148 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Francis Beckwith's judicious, important book deserves a wide audience. (National Review)

I am not persuaded by the arguments for intelligent design theory as an alternative to Darwinian biology. But I am persuaded by Beckwith's book that introducing such arguments into public school science classes would not be unconstitutional. He shows how allowing students to study the debate between intelligent design explanations and scientific naturalism could promote the freedom of thought favored by the American constitutional framers. (Arnhart, Larry)

Beckwith's book is not only comprehensive and up-to-date, but it clearly explains both sides of the debate over how the origins issue should be presented in public schools. It should be required reading for anyone who makes science education policy. (David DeWolf)

Beckwith's book should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand the fundamental legal issues in the 'creation versus evolution' debate. (Robert Kaita)

Beckwith makes a compelling case that Intelligent Design is not the same as animal creationism. Beckwith persuasively argues that presentation of Intelligent Design in public schools would not impermissibly 'establish' religion. (The Harvard Law Review)

Frank Beckwith's gift for restating difficult legal problems in straightforward and understandable terms will prove deeply influential as the debate over intelligent design shifts to the courts. (William A. Dembski)

Suffice it to say that [Beckwith's] case is extremely thorough and abundantly documented (although not intimidating to readers lacking extensive knowledge in this area). Law, Darwinism, and Public Education is both a winsome defense of ID as legitimate science and a practical manual for writing and defending laws for the introduction of ID into public school curricula. When the history of the ID movement is written, this book may be esteemed as one of ID's most important and decisive strategic assets. But whatever its historical fate, it is an appropriate text for courses in public policy, apologetics, philosophy of religion, and philosophy of science. All those interested in ID should put it at the top of their 'must-read' list. (Philosophia Christi)

About the Author

Francis J. Beckwith is currently a James Madison Fellow in Constitutional Studies & Political Thought, Princeton University. He is also a fellow at the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute in Seattle and a research fellow at the Newport Institute for Ethics, Law, and Public Policy in California. His books include Do the Right Thing (2002), Abortion and the Sanctity of Human Life (2000) and The Abortion Controversy 25 Years After Roe v. Wade (1998).

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Check the book out and decide for yourself.
Micah J. Watson
This book gives readers a general introduction to intelligent design and provides an analysis of older cases involving creationism.
Seth Cooper
This book deals with whether or not it is constitutionally permissible to teach Intelligent Design in public schools.
E.B.W.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 2, 2003
Format: Paperback
Increasingly school boards are becoming the battle grounds over the debate between advocates of Darwinism-only education and those who'd like students to be exposed to other scientific theories as well. A common claim by the Darwinist-only lobby is that all other theories, especially that of intelligent design, are inherently religious and thus not suitable for science classes. Beckwith's clear and short book dispels this line of argumentation. Beckwith shows why in the best spirit of liberal education, ID can rightfully be included in a science class. Beckwith provides a great background of ID including a captivating summary of the debate in Ohio [2002] over ID and evolution.
This is a must have for anybody who thinks that students are only better educated when they are taught to think critically, and evaluate competing ideas. A quick reading, along with a few marked pages, will easily put you at the forefront of this debate. You'd add a lot to the often confused debates over the legalilty of discussing alternatives to Darwinism. And very likely, your school board, teachers & students will be grateful for the clear, informed rationality you'll gain from this book.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
I am a LL.M. graduate of Harvard Law School with an academic appointment at a law school at which I teach law and religion. After reading the book note of Beckwith's monograph in my alma mater's law review, and after reading of all the controversy surrounding the book by assorted legal bloggers, I decided to pick up a copy. I was pleasantly surprised by Beckwith's grasp of establishment clause jurisprudence. His judicious walk through the cases is very good.
What makes this book such a gratifying read is that Beckwith is so good at clearly defining what he means and then, in a Socratic fashion, presenting arguments and counter-arguments.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in law and religion
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
The vitriol leveled against this book got me curious about it. I bought it, read it, and was amazed at how wrong the negative critics are. I also discovered that it had been endorsed by an opponent of ID (L. Arnhart, Northern Ill. U.), reviewed positively by a strong anti-creationist in the Journal of Church & State (J. Alston, Texas A & M), and praised in a book note that appeared in the January 2004 issue of the Harvard Law Review. That note resulted in a huge public argument about the Harvard Law Review on the internet that was started by skeptic Chris Mooney, picked-up by blogger Brian Leiter (U. of Texas), and then editorialized by Beckwith's grad assistant Hunter Baker in National Review online. Wow!
For all the hoopla, it's pretty much a law book, but not as boring as you'd think. It's highly footnoted and Beckwith's presentation of the constitutional issues is worth the price of the book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 4, 2004
Format: Paperback
Beckwith's book makes some very important distinctions and points that seem to be lost on some reviewers that read for quote-mining rather than to learn. Here's one example. One reviewer claims that Beckwith's self-refuting charge of Overton's opinion is laughable since a description about a set of things does not have to be one of the things in the set. That seems fair. But, unfortunately, the reviewer misses Beckwith's point entirely. The point is this: Overton is saying that unless X fits this five-part criterion of what is science, X cannot be taught in science class. All that Beckwith points out is that Overton's own five-part criterion itself could not be taught in science class because it does not fit the five-part criterion. Beckwith then makes the point that perhaps Overton would adjust his judgment and say that the criterion is a philosophical assessment about science rather than a claim of science (which is exactly what the reviewer claims Beckwith does not explore--talk about misrepresenting a view!). Beckwith then goes on to say that if Overton were to do that then one could not in principle reject the teaching of ID in public schools since ID's plausibility is tied to some important philosophical challenges to materialism and methodological naturalism. THAT's Beckwith's argument. It is a nuanced, deliberate, Socratic interaction with an initial criticism, a rescuing of his opponent's argument, and then showing that that prop-up now supports the position that his opponent opposes.
Beckwith is only saying that if the criterion of teaching stuff in science class is Overton's criterion, then Overton's criterion could not be taught in science class, which means that a teacher could not tell her students why she is excluding creationism if she were asked.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Beckwith's monograph is a splendid assessment of the complex legal questions surrounding the teaching of origins in public schools. It is not a book of science; it is a book of juriprudence in which Beckwith explores the issues with candor and rigor. I'm not quite sure what book his detractors have read, but the book about which I write is careful in its claims and modest in its conclusions. Unfortunately, the one-star reviewers are not as careful and thus not as modest, and it tarnishes their assessment of this fine work. For example, one reviewer says with unwarranted confidence that Beckwith does not mention non-Darwinian options besides ID. Not true. In his presentation of evolution Beckwith brings up genetic drift, punctual equillibrium, the founder effect, and recombination, pointing out that "the notion of common descent is fundamental to macroevolution even if Darwinian and neo-Darwinian accounts of this descent are replaced or supplemented by another theory." (p. 4). Another reviewer says that Beckwith claims that ID has no evidence to support it. This is a misleading, if not false, comment. Beckwith spends 29 pages (91-120) and 10 pages of endnotes (166-176) presenting the case for ID. Of course, he does not make any pronouncements of their soundness. But that is not the purpose of his project. The purpose is to delve into a jurisprudential question. Another reviewer says that Beckwith's book is not peer-reviewed in a science journal. Again, misleading. Beckwith's book is a revised version of his Master of Juridical Studies dissertation at the Washington University School of Law, St. Louis.Read more ›
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