The Talking Lion

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Oh, Now you want a genius...

David Brooks is still writing columns. No one is sure why. Today's concerns who Bush shold nominate to fill Sandra's spot. His advice: pick a genius (but only for the Supreme Court, not for, you know, the President). Brooks makes the case for Michael McConnel:
Look, for example, at how Michael McConnell, who is often mentioned as a possible Supreme Court nominee, has already influenced American life through sheer force of intellect. First as a professor and now as a judge, McConnell has outargued those who would wall off religion from public life. He's a case study of the sort of forceful advocate of ideas you have a chance to leave the country as your legacy.

McConnell (whom I have never met) is an honest, judicious scholar. When writing about church and state matters, he begins with the frank admission that religion is a problem in a democracy. Religious people feel a loyalty to God and to the state, and sometimes those loyalties conflict.


The problem with the Separationist view, he has argued in essays and briefs, is that it's not practical. As government grows and becomes more involved in health, charity, education and culture issues, it begins pushing religion out of those spheres. The Separationist doctrine leads inevitably to discrimination against religion. The state ends up punishing people who are exercising a constitutional right.

The Seperationist view is discriminatory to religion. Well, not exactly, I would say that it is aware that there are huge problems when allowing religion to enter government. One of the problems with religious expression within the frame of government is that there are a whole lot of them. To prevent violation of (at least the spirit of) the establishment clause the goverment would need to eqaully acknowledge every religion of its citizenry or none at all. And with a population as vast and diverse as ours, that's impossible.
In one case, a public high school allowed students to write papers about reincarnation, but a student who wrote on "The Life of Jesus Christ" was given a zero by her teacher. The courts sided with the teacher. In another case, a physiology professor at a public university was forbidden from delivering an optional after-class lecture at the university entitled "Evidences of God in Human Physiology," even though other professors were free to profess any secular viewpoints they chose. Around the country, Marxists could meet in public buildings, but Bible study was impermissible.

Well all these examples are pretty easily argued. The student who wrote a paper on Jesus did not fulfill the assignment and desreved no credit (go to this post from Jesse at Pandagon to see the full details of this particular case). The physiology professor's lecture about evidence of God in human physiology shouldn't have given that lecture becuase not only is he wrong (there is no such evidence) he is wrong and in a position of intellectual authority (being a professor of a science) thus highly influential to his students.

The reason professors are free to discuss secular veiws is because secular views are in an area where there can be rigorous testing and search for truth. Religion is irrational and there is no proof that, or rather, it cannot be prooved whether it exists or not. And in the eyes of a scientist it has no bearing in a real discussion of science. Thus religious discussion cannot take place in a scientific setting (theology or history classes are fine, of course) becuase there is no point.

But we already know this.

Alas, a Blog has a brief description on McConnell:
The Buzz:
- Long and noteably conservative written record from his time in Academia.
- Religious right would support him due to what has been called “sharp opposition” to abortion rights.
- Very controversial positions and some approval from bi-partisan academics
- Speculated that the White House may consider him too independent and uncontrollable.
- Age 50

Well, he seems to be pro-criminalization which is no good. But the rest seems ok, if only he sided in favor of Roe. He is definitely better than some of the other jerk-off that are being lined up as we speak.


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