Blogs by Dragon Blue
Intelligent Design - Teaching it in schools?
12/22/2005 10:47:05 PM
Follow up story from usa today on teacher being fired for refusing to teach intelligent design, due to conflifts of church and state.
Facts about the 'Intelligent design' trial
The Dover Area School Board voted in October 2004 to require students to hear a statement about intelligent design before learning about evolution. Eight families sued, saying it is biblical creationism in disguise and violates the constitutional separation of church and state.
WHAT IS INTELLIGENT DESIGN?
Intelligent design holds that Charles Darwin's theory cannot fully explain the emergence of highly complex life forms. It implies the existence of an unidentified intelligent force. After a six-week trial that ended in early November, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III ruled Tuesday that the district cannot mention the concept in classes.
U.S. judge rejects intelligent design
By Jill Lawrence, USA TODAY
A federal judge dealt a major setback Tuesday to backers of the idea that some forms of life are so complex that they must be the product of an intelligent designer. Judge John Jones ruled that it is unconstitutional to teach the concept in public school science classes because it is "a religious view."
The case, the first court test of intelligent design, or ID, was the latest in a series of challenges to evolution that go back to the 1925 Scopes trial, when a Tennessee high school science teacher was convicted of teaching Darwin's theory that humans and apes evolved from a common ancestor.
Jones' ruling is not binding outside the Middle District of Pennsylvania, but attorneys and outside experts say it will have broad impact on judges, lawyers and school boards.
'ID' ruling traces idea's problems, town's divisions
ID is an interesting theological argument, but ... it is not science," Jones wrote in a 139-page ruling. "Our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution."
Jones, a Republican and a churchgoer appointed to the federal bench three years ago, cited Supreme Court rulings that teaching creationism — which holds that God created all life — violates the First Amendment wall between church and state. He said evidence at trial established that intelligent design is "a mere re-labeling of creationism."
Intelligent design theory does not answer the question of who or what is the designer. Jones said "no serious alternative to God as the designer" has been proposed by ID proponents.
Local parents sued the Dover, Pa., school board after the board required that ninth-grade biology students be read a statement critical of evolution. It suggested ID as an alternative and pointed students to a pro-ID book,
Of Pandas and People
Jones found that several board members made clear they wanted to introduce religious content. He said they "testified inconsistently or lied outright under oath on several occasions" in trying to disguise their intent.
Jones admonished the board for dragging Dover residents "into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources." Eight of the board members who adopted the policy were on the ballot last month, and all eight lost. The new school board members have said they do not support the policy, so the case probably will go no further.
The school board members were represented by chief counsel Richard Thompson of the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. He called the decision a "troubling" display of censorship and predicted "it will be ignored" by other judges.
Eric Rothschild, an attorney for the families who challenged the policy, called the ruling "a real vindication for the parents who had the courage to stand up and say there was something wrong in their school district."
Richard Katskee, also part of the winning legal team, called the decision "a cautionary tale" for school officials elsewhere. Another team member, Steve Harvey, said it affirms that officials "should not use public office to impose their personal religious views on others."
Doug Laycock, a church-state expert at the University of Texas law school, said Jones based his decision on 21 days of testimony. "This is going to be enormously persuasive to other judges and lawyers as a prediction of what would happen if they slogged through the whole 21 days all over again," he said.
The case was the latest chapter in a debate over the teaching of evolution dating back to the Scopes trial, in which Tennessee biology teacher John T. Scopes was fined $100 for violating a state law against teaching evolution.
Earlier this month, a federal appeals court in Georgia heard arguments over whether a suburban Atlanta school district had the right to put stickers on biology textbooks describing evolution as a theory, not fact. A federal judge last January ordered the stickers removed.
In November, state education officials in Kansas adopted new classroom science standards that call the theory of evolution into question.
President Bush also weighed in on the issue of intelligent design recently, saying schools should present the concept when teaching about the origins of life.
In his ruling, Jones 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 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."
Former school board member William Buckingham, who advanced the policy, said from his new home in Mount Airy, N.C., that he still feels the board did the right thing.
"I'm still waiting for a judge or anyone to show me anywhere in the Constitution where there's a separation of church and state," he told The Associated Press. "We didn't lose; we were robbed."
In 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states cannot require public schools to balance evolution lessons by teaching creationism.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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