.: The decision by a conservative, Bush-appointed US federal judge to ban the teaching of intelligent design in a Dover PA school district is a welcome development in the battle against this movement, creationism cloaked as pseudo-science. From the BBC:
The BBC’s James Coomarasamy, in Washington, said the decision by Republican judge John Jones was a landmark ruling and represents quite a blow to religious conservatives.
In his ruling, Judge Jones demolished assertions by members of Dover’s former school board, or administrators, that the theory of intelligent design (ID) was based around scientific rather than religious belief.
He accused them of “breathtaking inanity”, of lying under oath and of trying to introduce religion into schools through the back door.
The judge said he had determined that ID was not science and “cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents”.
In a 139-page written ruling regularly studded with criticism of the defendants’ arguments, the judge said: “Our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom.”
Breathtaking inanity – the new catchphrase to describe ID? It is very encouraging to see reasonable, intelligent, informed Americans daring to stand up against the religious right. Members of the school board who backed ID were defeated in recent elections, and there will be no appeal. From the Boston Globe:
In his ruling, Jones said that while intelligent design, or ID, arguments “may be true, a proposition on which the court takes no position, ID is not science.” Among other things, the judge said intelligent design “violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation”; it relies on “flawed and illogical” arguments; and its attacks on evolution “have been refuted by the scientific community.”
“The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources,” he wrote.
The judge also said: “It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.
My favorite quote from the press conference afterwards came from Witold Walczak of the ACLU:
“The court has held that it’s not a scientific theory,” said Witold Walczak, legal director of the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and one of the trial lawyers for parents who sued the school board. “At a time when this country is lagging behind other countries, we can ill afford to shackle our children’s minds with 15th century science.”
This fight is far from over. The creationists will continue to work against evolutionary biology, promoting creationism as science. What might be most disturbing is that it is Christians leading this charge, proving in the process that as religious zealots, they can be as intolerant as any other religious movement. I was raised Catholic, still consider myself to be a “small c” Christian, and would never align myself with these ideologues. I have never had a problem aligning my Catholic upbringing with evolutionary theory; accepting evolution does not constitute a rejection of a belief in a higher power, nor does it make one godless. Creationists believe the Universe is 6,000-10,000 years old, rejecting all scientific, geological, astronomical, biological, paleontological, chemical or physical evidence to the contrary, and defying all logic. I wonder if they accept the speed of light, knowing that the light from the nearest galaxy takes 2 million years to reach us.
The ACLU’s press release provides further details. The Discovery Institute, which “challenges Darwinian evolution and validates the intelligent design of life and the universe” considers the decision a “futile attempt to censor science education.” Tenets of scientific and biblical creationism are listed here. One excerpt:
All things in the universe were created and made by God in the six literal days of the creation week described in Genesis 1:1-2:3, and confirmed in Exodus 20:8-11. The creation record is factual, historical, and perspicuous; thus all theories of origins or development which involve evolution in any form are false. All things which now exist are sustained and ordered by God’s providential care. However, a part of the spiritual creation, Satan and his angels, rebelled against God after the creation and are attempting to thwart His divine purposes in creation.
As such, one who accepts creationism must conclude that any and all scientists and researchers who continue to study natural history and evolutionary biology are of the Devil. Scary stuff indeed. One of the best sites for debunking creationist hooey, such as the Young Earth theory, is An Index to Creationist Claims. It uses a classification system to organize the claims that would make a cataloguing librarian proud.