OK, I've gotten a lot of heat about saying that atheism is a religion - even a special case of religion where "god" is represented by the null set. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but on reflection (and a big "Thank You!" to all of you who assisted in that reflection), it just doesn't work. So, for the record:
Atheism is not a religion.
There, I'm glad I got that off my chest.
Still, I think that if one specific religion gets some classroom time in our public schools (I refer, of course, to the religion that is trying to sneak "Intelligent Design" into our science curriculum), then - in the spirit of fairness and equal representation - all religions should get some time to pitch their dogma. And, of course, it would be terribly unfair - not to mention unbalanced - if the kids didn't also get to hear from those whose position is that God (or Gods) doesn't exist.
I bet that the ID folks would have a cerebral hemorrhage over that - don't you? Imagine the school flyer on that one:
"Following the discussion on 'Intelligent Design', there will be a short presentation from the American Atheists on the non-existence of God. Refreshments will be served afterwards."
I think that you'd want to send that one home with a warning label.
Clearly, the ID'ers aren't interested in scientific debate - you don't have a scientific debate in a courtroom (or in a school board meeting - trust me on that one!) - they are interested in getting their religious ideology presented (and thereby affirmed) in the public schools. That's what "Intelligent Design" is all about. I mean, do you really imagine that this much heat would be generated by a debate about teaching punctuated equilibrium? OK, maybe in biological circles, but certainly not among the general public.
I suppose I can't blame the ID'ers- I'd like to get my religious dogma (if I had one) taught in school too - but the only way to do that would be to teach every religious dogma - and atheism (which is definitely not a religion - let's not start that again) as well. And that would require that our kids go to school 180 hours a week, 55 weeks a year.
So, unless we want to turn our public schools into a bigger mess than they already are, I think that we ought to just let "Intelligent Design" go away. Just turn off the life support and let it die the death it has been trying to die since it was first created (excuse me, "Intelligently Designed").