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This is fantastic news for everyone who supports the teaching of evolution and science-based education in our schools.

A judge ruled today the the University of California (UC) system can deny credit to students from religious schools who took "faith-based" science classes at their schools.

Rejecting claims of religious discrimination and stifling of free expression, U.S. District Judge James Otero of Los Angeles said UC's review committees cited legitimate reasons for rejecting the texts - not because they contained religious viewpoints, but because they omitted important topics in science and history and failed to teach critical thinking.

Christian schools in the suit accused the university of rejecting courses that include any religious viewpoint, "any instance of God's guidance of history, or any alternative ... to evolution."

Here are examples of some of the texts that were rejected by the UC system:

For example, in Friday's ruling, he upheld the university's rejection of a history course called Christianity's Influence on America. According to a UC professor on the course review committee, the primary text, published by Bob Jones University, "instructs that the Bible is the unerring source for analysis of historical events" and evaluates historical figures based on their religious motivations.

Another rejected text, "Biology for Christian Schools," declares on the first page that "if (scientific) conclusions contradict the Word of God, the conclusions are wrong."

I've been saying for years that UC and any other state school system should come down hard on students who refuse to take proper science-based classes. If the judge had not ruled the way he had then we'd be in a position where the public educational system would be endorsing religious education - a creeping de-secularization of our higher educational system.

Charles Robinson, the university's vice president for legal affairs, said the ruling "confirms that UC may apply the same admissions standards to all students and to all high schools without regard to their religious affiliations." What the plaintiffs seek, he said, is a "religious exemption from regular admissions standards."

This is a fantastic victory for science and a huge defeat for the movement which seeks to turn our country into a theocracy. It also stands as a warning to those who try to sneak "intelligent design" into our schools - you can teach whatever you want but don't expect your students to be admitted to any schools in the the best higher-education system in the world.

UPDATE: Written before the decision but buttressing the judge's case is this excellent opinion piece in the NY Times on evolution.

Originally posted to Shane Hensinger on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 10:23 AM PDT.

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