It was a great Christmas present for believers in reality rather than fantasy: a Pennsylvania judge ruled today that intelligent design can’t be taught in the classroom because that would violate the constitutional separation of church and state.
Intelligent design is, of course, merely creationism in disguise. There’s nothing scientific about it. Not a single research paper ever has been published in a reputable scientific journal supporting the premise that our universe was designed by a creator god.
So Judge Jones was absolutely correct when he wrote in his opinion, "We have concluded that it is not [science], and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents."
Fundamentalists surely will keep trying to get religion in the American science classroom, but it’s encouraging that in this important precedent-setting legal battle evolution easily proved itself to be superior to creationism in a scientific “survival of the fittest.”
Watching cable news tends to depress me. Today, seeing this story pop up on the screen made me hopeful. Perhaps the United States really is still the land of the free (thinkers) and the home of the brave (defenders of the constitution).
Hats off to the Dover, Pennsylvania residents who were the plaintiffs in this case. They stood up for scientific truth after the Dover school board decided that students should be read a statement that cast doubt on evolutionary theory and suggested intelligent design as an alternative.
The best piece of reporting that I’ve read about the Dover case was Margaret Talbot’s “Darwin in the Dock” (The New Yorker, December 5, 2005). The New Yorker Online Only features an interview with Talbot where she talks about her story. Here are some excerpts from her print story about the trial in Dover:
And scientists who believe that intelligent design is merely a repackaged version of creationism made a case for evolution that was thrilling in its breadth (evidence from homology, modern genetics, molecular biology, the fossil record) and satisfying in its detail (a recently excavated fossil of the oviraptor, a small carnivorous dinosaur of the kind that evolved into birds, depicts the creature brooding over its eggs like a hen).
…Under cross-examination by Eric Rothschild, a dogged lawyer for the plaintiffs, Behe [Michael Behe, a chemist who advocates intelligent design] conceded, for example, that a definition of science that could be expanded to include intelligent design could, by the same token, embrace astrology. And he was unable to name any peer-reviewed research generated by intelligent design, though the movement has been around for a decade.
…Behe and other advocates will freely admit that, for them, the designer of life on earth is the God of Christianity. (Intelligent design, Behe has written, is “less plausible to those for whom the existence of God is a question, and is much less plausible for those who deny God’s existence.”)
…In the end, it wasn’t very hard for the plaintiffs to make the case that several of the school-board members had been eager to see creationism added to the curriculum and, after discovering that the idea was legally problematic, had latched onto the term “intelligent design.”
There’s as much as you’d ever want to know about the case on Kitzmiller, et. al. v. Dover Area School District, including the 139 page opinion that was released today.