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A federal judge in Atlanta ruled that the placement of a sticker in science textbooks disclaiming evolution as "just a theory, not a fact" violated the Constitution's Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
From CNN.com:

His conclusion, he said, "is not that the school board should not have called evolution a theory or that the school board should have called evolution a fact."

"Rather, the distinction of evolution as a theory rather than a fact is the distinction that religiously motivated individuals have specifically asked school boards to make in the most recent anti-evolution movement, and that was exactly what parents in Cobb County did in this case," he wrote.


Okay, I'm no attorney, but it seems as if the decision by this federal judge is resting on the motivations and makeup of the parties involved.

"By adopting this specific language, even if at the direction of counsel, the Cobb County School Board appears to have sided with these religiously motivated individuals."

The sticker, he said, sends "a message that the school board agrees with the beliefs of Christian fundamentalists and creationists."

While I applaud this decision, I am not sure the explanation will hold up on the inevitable appeal to the Supreme Court.

However, I do appreciate the judge's ruling that the sticker played on the popular understanding of "theory" as a hunch, which could confuse students.

In its authentic scientific meaning, "theory" is an appropriate label for evolution, but what seems to get lost in this debate is the factuality of the physical evidence that evolution seeks to explain.

What the stickers said:

According to The Associated Press, the stickers read, "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."

Well there's "origin" and then there's "Origin".

I don't think Darwin's theories attempted an explanation of our cosmological origins--only an explanation for the appearance of plant and animal new species over time, the fact of which has been documented beyond dispute.

Originally posted to baldandy on Thu Jan 13, 2005 at 11:28 AM PST.

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