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Dover case a simple decision

Judge Jones faced an unprecedented decision to make: whether to allow the teaching of religion in public schools.

The First Amendment is simple enough. The state is forbidden to consider religion, whether mandating or forbidding it. Hence, logically, public schools are forbidden to touch the topic as well.

As it happens, the case took forty days, which upon pointing out by the defense, Judge Jones commented, "Mr. Gillen, that is an interesting coincidence, but it was not by design."

Naturally, the Judge ruled for the plaintiff. It seems the defense had a hard time convincing him that intelligent design was not associated with religion.

Of course, proving false statements has always been a tough one. The plaintiffs cited documents such as the Wedge Document. They also cited Phillip Johnson’s "How the Evolution Debate Can be Won" — which was, of course, by introducing creationism as a "scientific" concept and presenting it to the scientific community, which will hopefully shift the debate to theism, converting atheists and, dare I add, failing all that miserably. The defense could only testify a lack of knowledge.

In the midst of this, it was believers as well as atheists who were affected. One witness alleged that her Catholic daughter was harassed, called an atheist, because she accepted evolution. As biology Professor Kenneth Miller put it, "had [my daughters] been … forced to choose between God and science, I would have been furious, because I want my children to keep their religious faith."

Whether or not intelligent design arguments are true is not relevant. The fact is, intelligent design is not and has never been a science. It is, started as and has always been an argument for religion. Though the Board may claim it did not want it taught, they only wanted their science teachers to read a statement explaining the existence of the concept and encouraging further reading, it remains that this creationist promotion is banned outright by the separation of church and state.

Judge Jones found that "the writings of leading ID proponents reveal that the designer postulated by their argument is the God of Christianity." In fact, he quite rightly found that the intelligent design movement itself "describes ID as a religious argument". He also noted that "one consistency among the Dover School Board members’ testimony, which was marked by selective memories and outright lies under oath, … is that they did not think they needed to be knowledgeable about ID because it was not being taught to the students. We disagree." (ref) Fancy trying to present a mostly inconsistent argument to a judge.

This result will probably be viewed as a failure in the conservative Christian community, whose eyes were on this now precedent case. It is, in fact, the correct outcome of a fair and just law dictating that state not be involved with religion. The public is not stupid. Neither is the judge.

An opaque façade for the movement might have been more appropriate.

Related links

  • Permalink to an earlier blog of mine on this topic
  • NZ Herald: Landmark US decision on evolution vs creationism
  • Wikipedia: Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District
  • Wikipedia: Intelligent Design

    Intelligent design is "a perspective on origins that proposes that ‘certain features of the universe and of living things exhibit the characteristics of a product resulting from an intelligent cause or agent, as opposed to an unguided process such as natural selection.’ " It is not highly regarded in the scientific community. (ref)

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