Supreme Court decision in the early 1960s banning prayer in schools. I supposethat ater this decision, many people thought we had arrived where we shouldhave been all along: that is, at a truly naked public square. But I suggest that thepublic square really does abhor a philosophical vacuum, and that today we otennd secularism competing with various religious ideas or prominence. When itcomes to science education in the public schools, I suggest that what we need isa dierent understanding o secularism, i we are to avoid one round o confictater another.
Religion in Public Life
Jesus o Nazareth, on whom Christianity is based, commands his ollowers: Giveto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s. Separation o church andstate would seem a natural outgrowth o such a command. Indeed, Christianchurches since the colonial period have strongly embraced the perspective madeexplicit in the Bill o Rights:Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment o religion, orprohibiting the ree exercise thereo….Given the diversity o Christian churches, and their (or the most part)shared belie that aith is a matter o voluntary acceptance, non-establishment o religion was the key to ree exercise o religion, and it remains so.Those who reject any notion o the transcendent have always been happy to join Christians
in their embrace o the rst amendment to the Constitution.For non-believers, non-establishment meant that as modernization proceeded, so would the spread o secularism. According to the twin theory o modernization/secularization, secularization is the expected culmination o modernizing orces:urbanization, rationalization, proessionalization, unctional dierentiation, andbureaucratization;
and coincident with secularization is the asymptotic decay o traditional religion, which, without ully disappearing, is nonetheless relegatedto the private spheres o personal lie. Well, perhaps so in Europe;
but not in theUSA, where belie in God holds steady, even among many scientists.
Accordingto The Barna Group in 2006:
71% believe in God when God is described as the all-powerul, all-knowing, perect creator o the universe who rules the world today.
7% believe that God is the total realization o personal humanpotential.
George Gallup, who has polled Americans about their belie in God since