SCIENCE WINS IN PENNSYLVANIA!

By Phil Plait | December 20, 2005 10:26 am

It’s official: Intelligent Design should not be taught in school.

Woohoo!

The trial in Dover Pennsylvania was essentially over whether ID can be taught along with evolutionary theory. The judge ruled it cannot. Here’s the money quote from the judge:

The proper application of both the endorsement and Lemon tests to the facts of this case makes it abundantly clear that the Board’s ID Policy violates the Establishment Clause. In making this determination, we have addressed the seminal question of whether ID is science. We have concluded that it is not, and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.

This has been closely watched by both sides of the issue (and by both sides, I mean the correct side, science, and the wrong side, ID) but it was clear from early on that the proponents of ID were behaving foolishly and badly. The judge concurred:

The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID Policy. 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.

Hear that? The judge said the IDers lied, something we scientists have been saying for months. Years. It’s truly remarkable that the judge was so candid about this; certainly reporters who have been discussing this in newspapers and on TV have bent over backwards to sound “fair”, giving equal time to ID nonsense when it is not deserved. You can’t be fair to both sides of an argument when one is wrong.

There will be many other blogs discussing this today, by people who have followed this more closely (after all, I’m an astronomer and not a biologist). Check my blogroll for some of them.

This is a major victory for science, both because of the obvious win over antiscientific nonsense, but also because the judge called it like he saw it. If only we could have more like that.

Comments (64)

Links to this Post

  1. Axiom | December 20, 2005
  2. Wolverine’s Den » Blog Archive » It’s Over in Dover | January 23, 2006
  1. It would be interesting to know something about the judge’s background. If he is religious it would be the ultimate show of integrity. If not, the ruling will come under fire for that reason alone.

  2. Your subtitle is a bit misleading. The Judge did not rule that “Intelligent Design should not be taught in school” rather, he ruled that “Intelligent Design should not be taught in Biology class”.

    Its a slight distinction, but an important one as it touches on what I see the biggest issue behind this whole “ID/Evolution” debate, which is not who is right, rather “Can the Federal government to dictate what can and cannot be taught in schools”.

    The answer to that should be a resounding “NO”. The FedGov, can (and perhaps should) be able to say what things are taught as (ID obviously isn’t backed by enough scientific data to be considered biology), but I can see no faster way to return to the dark ages than to allow the government to say “You can only teach biology, and not philosophy”. Or vice versa.

  3. Dukrous

    This has me greatly relieved. The idea of Evolution and ID has had me spinning in circles and wondering how all of this got so stupidly out of control.

    Of course, my favorite bit in this debate for me personally was when my uncle, a Catholic priest, sent me the following article (http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,17162341-13762,00.html). I was always comforted by the idea that my personal Faith was backing the correct side.

  4. Nigel Depledge

    Yes, Scott, but ID isn’t philosophy either. It is a political tactic.

    In the UK this question is kind of moot at the moment, as schools teach a “Religious Education” class, which is more about giving people facts than about proselytising, and therefore useful.

    The really important thing about this determination is that it sets the right precedent : ID is not science.

  5. I have already stated before that ID is a tactical error / blind alley. Even some at ICR of all places have criticised it.

    Attempting to get Creation taught in a biology class at this stage seems futile and on a hiding to nothing. The best way of getting these ideas across is in some kind of humanities class where creation ideas of other faiths can also be mentioned.

    As Nigel Depledge here in the UK we have RE classes, which would be a resonable place to put such ideas. Creationists have to realise now that it is that or nothing, and from their track record they have yet to learn.

  6. Dukrous

    The problem becomes that you would have to design a class that teaches about all faiths. I’m not sure how well that would fly in American classrooms considering the Athiest movement is vocally opposed to anything related to Christianity. Since Athiesm is a recognized belief in the US, no religious education class can adequately represent them other than saying at the end: And after all that, you have the people who don’t believe of word of anything you heard all year long. ;)

  7. PrimeMover

    “The best way of getting these ideas across is in some kind of humanities class where creation ideas of other faiths can also be mentioned.�

    While I agree with this statement entirely this is just one thing wrong with it. The groups that are now pushing ID in school do not want any other views taught other than their own. They are firm in their belief that they are right & every one else is wrong. They will only be happy when all other views other than their own are squashed.

    I am happy to see the ruling today as a victory for common sense. A thing that seems to be sorely lacking now adays.

  8. Evolving Squid

    3. Because Plaintiffs seek nominal damages, Plaintiffs shall file with the
    Court and serve on Defendants, their claim for damages and a verified
    statement of any fees and/or costs to which they claim entitlement.
    Defendants shall have the right to object to any such fees and costs to
    the extent provided in the applicable statutes and court rules.

    Interesting… the judge awarded costs too. That’s really sticking it to the board to make a point.

    Now my question is… will this all be appealed to the SCOTUS or whatever the next level up is. It probably should be so it can be put to rest once and for all.

  9. Hutch

    I doubt it will be appealed as the Dover Board that made the ID decision has been mainly voted out of office and I doubt the new board will be interested in spending any more money for appeals.

    So we are left with a local battle won, but perhaps more battles are out there–but a very strong victory for science and reason, IMHO.

    I wonder how those board members in Kansas feel about now…

  10. If anyone wants to read Judge Jones’ written opinion on the case, you can find the PDF here: suchttp://i.a.cnn.net/cnn/2005/images/12/20/kitzmiller.pdf. It’s 130 odd pages, but it’s a good read. He essentially gives the IDers a good, swift kick right where they deserve it over 130 pages.

  11. Evolving Squid

    I wrote to various members of the Kansas school board back when that was in the news.

    This was the letter I sent to all the members I had email addresses for:

    I consider it fortunate that the children in my family will never be subjected to your medieval interpretation of what is science, and what is not.

    Have you considered the ramifications of your decision? Did it occur to you that there are many gods in accordance with the multitude of belief systems around the world, each of which considers its own dogma to be THE truth? Are you content with the teachers of Kansas instructing students in Ptah’s design of the universe, as the ancient Egyptians believed for longer than there have been Christians? What about Zeus? Perhaps he’s the master architect of all things? Some people believe that Satan created the universe? Is it so unreasonable to assume that the complex design of the universe, complete with all its pain and suffering was not the design of a divine evil against which we all fight?

    In truth, your ill-considered decision wasn’t just about science; nor was it about freedom of choice, or even freedom of religion. Your decision was a not-very-thinly veiled attempt to force a particular brand of Christianity on people. A decision that, incidentally, goes against the very core reason that the pilgrims left England so many years ago and ultimately founded the United States of America. They were getting a particular brand of Christianity forced on them.

    Through your decision, you will have disadvantaged the youth of Kansas on the world scene. Kansas is not internationally known for producing great thinkers – indeed, to many people Kansas evokes images of the Wizard of Oz and Deliverance. Your decision reinforces those prejudices. You have made your state’s educational system into a mockery. You have embarassed yourselves and indeed your entire country. You’ve made a lot of people glad that they are not citizens of Kansas. I have spent time in 38 US states (more than most Americans, I’d wager), but I don’t think I’ll ever waste my time in Kansas. You’ve made it seem like a frightening, backward place.

    You may think, if you’ve bothered to read this far, that I am against the teaching of religion – but that is not the case. Indeed, I think it is important for students to be taught – comparatively – the general philosophies of the major religions of the world. Doing so creates better thinkers. But religion is not science, and should not be proffered as such.

    It is a shame that you have taken Kansas a few steps back toward the dark ages. I hope, that when your terms are up, your electorate will explain it to you in clear terms.

    Best wishes in your crusade against critical thinking.

    I got one reply, from Kathy Martin. I did respond and thanked her for taking the time to reply:

    Thank you for your statement. In Kansas with the
    adoption of the draft 3 revised Science Education
    Standards, students will be allowed and encouraged to
    research and critically analyze all scientific data
    and evidence that refutes or supports the
    controversies that surround evolution theory. We call
    it being well informed, rather than indoctrinated. By
    the way no religious views of any kind are taught in
    science classes in the USA. I am very thankful that
    my three daughters attended public schools and
    universities in Kansas. One is a high school science
    teacher, one is a veterinarian and one is a medical
    doctor. Hope your children will excell in Canadian
    schools as well. Kathy Martin

  12. Eighthman

    Regarding the background of the judge, the NY Times had an article about him two days ago: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/18/national/18judge.html (registration probably required — or use bugmenot.com). Seems like a swell guy.

  13. Blake Stacey

    To borrow a phrase from Sinfest, “I am so happy!

  14. Hugh Jass

    [b]Wha???[/b] [i]“In Kansas with the
    adoption of the draft 3 revised Science Education
    Standards, students will be allowed and encouraged to
    research and critically analyze all scientific data
    and evidence that refutes or supports the
    controversies that surround evolution theory.”[/i]

    You mean in pre-ID Kansas students weren’t allowed to research and critically analyze scientific data??!?!? Wow Kansas really was so basackwards that a step to the dark ages was really a step forward.

  15. Richard Board

    I encourage everyone to read the entire 139-page decision, which is available in pdf form at links posted previously. Not only did the judge find against ID, he exposed it for the sham that it is. I agree with BA that the most significant part of the decision is the conclusion of lying among the defendants. This shouts to the rooftops that the proponents of ID are fully aware that their position is a thinly-veiled (at best) attempt to teach religion in public schools. Why else would you lie, unless you already know your position is false.

    It is equally interesting, I think, to note that the judge who made this decision is a Republican and a church-goer, which should dispel the partisan myths about party-afiliation and spiritual orientation which so profoundly poison any serious dialogue among educated folks these days. The worst thing about “labels” is that they tend to group a person who shares a single viewpoint with those who are radically committed to inanity.

  16. Does anyone hear that Mortal Kombat voice saying, “FATALITY! SCIENCE WINS!”

  17. George

    A victory indeed. :clap:

    I like the last paragraph…
    “This is a tremendous victory for public schools and religious freedom,” said the [b]Rev. Barry W. Lynn [/b], Americans United executive dir.

    He is probably a creationist, but the right kind.

  18. Scott Mooney

    Over at last. In the end, this was the only direction the ruling could have gone. There just wasn’t anything that the defendants had to stand on.

    Of course, now the opposition’s up in arms, ranting about how God’s not going to forget the decision either, and other thinly veiled devine threats…

  19. Eric A. Taylor

    I found a really good debate on ID v. Evilution on a natural history website
    http://www.actionbioscience.org/evolution/nhmag.html

  20. HidariMak

    So this means that the worship of the Flying Spaghetti Monster can’t be taught in science classes? Somebody should mount a movement. Why is the government trying to squeeze the beliefs of Pastafarians out of the schools? If nobody declares that they’ll petition until schools hold classes making offerings of ramen to the noodly supreme being, I’ll be disappointed. (Sorry, I couldn’t help it.)

    It’s nice to see a victory for science and critical thought. It’s also nice that a legal precedent has been set against the promotion of ID being taught as fact.

  21. Michelle Rochon

    A great victory! Make that judge the president! :)

    I forget, did they take ID out of Kansas too?? I’m glad it didn’t get in Pensylvania!

  22. Outstanding news! While I’d expected a favorable decision, I must confess experiencing utter glee reading Judge Jones’ blistering comments. Not only a victory, but a thrashing. Marvelous.

  23. I hope this also silences the IDers in Australia too. At least we have a precedent.

    BTW I have no objection to ID being taught in school as long as it is clearly in a religious class. My only objection is to ID falsely being called a science.

    Also I bow down to His Noodly Appendage. I live awaiting the heaven of the beer mountain and stripper factory.

  24. Antipodean

    we have Iders in Australia?

    I’ve never heard of them…

  25. hale_bopp

    It was a flood of legal verbiage of Biblical proportions against ID.

    Oops! Bad metaphor :)

    Rob

  26. Bad Albert

    What’s with the emphasis on things being “taught in school”? If parents feel that strongly about ID, why don’t they just teach it at home? No school board or government agency can dictate what gets taught there. The fact that IDers pushed so hard to teach ID in schools proves their motives were purely polictical.

  27. Zachary Kessin

    Speeking as someone who is both a beliver in G-d and a science geek I must say that I am very happy about this. I always saw ID as non only psudo-science but bad religion as well. The Judge did point out that Evolution (and the rest of Science) does not say anything about the existance of G-d.

    If you want your children to have a solid religous background (and I do) you should teach them yourself or send them to a school where they will get classes in that. But even so it should not be in a science class.

    It should be noted that an Orthodox Jew just won a Nobel Prize in Economics, so clearly you can be a science wonk and a religous person at the same time.

  28. Crackin’ good news! I’ll have to read the entire judgement, but the excerpts I’ve read so far are so damn good.

  29. Gary Mcleod

    The ID defeat is very good news indeed, but unfortunately it won’t end here. The next move the creationists will employ is to claim they’re views are being unfairly repressed and that they’re being denied their freedom of speech. They lost because, as with Divine Creationism in the 1970′s and the Scopes trial in the 1920′s they were found to be persistently lying and willfully misrepresenting the ideas of science. Sadly, the IDers will be back as soon as they can find another pseudo-scientific name to rehristen it (Smart Planning perhaps?)

  30. Well, you can be fair talking about both sides of an argument when one side is wrong… but both sides won’t think you’re fair.

    Phil, I know you’ve taught astronomy to large classes, so you’re probably well aware of the use of the word “unfair” to mean “not what I wanted.” I’ve seen that word used in that context very frequently by students, especially in larger classes (although even graduate students continue that usage of the word).

    -Rob

  31. Is there any possibility of the citizens of Dover, or the “new” school board themselves can file a civil case against the individual board members for neglecting their fiduciary responsibilities?

    Money spent defending this ludicrous trial could have been better spent educating students. The Dover school board or its tax paying citizens should try to recoup those funds.

    I’m sure some deep pocketed Christian Conservatives will help bail them out.

  32. hale_bopp

    Rob Knop, you sound like you have spent some time teaching also :)

    Another one of my favorites is that students say you “Don’t respect my opinion” when what they really mean is, “You don’t agree with me.” Somehow, disagreement=disrespect.

    Rob (a different Rob)

  33. Jason

    It is really sad to see that science and religion have to be on opposite sides. Does it really have to be one way or the other? It seems that if you agree with the science of evolution than you have to be an athesist and if you believe in God than you must be anti-science. I would be suprised if one side had all of the answers.

  34. TheBlackCat

    Gar Mcleod said:Sadly, the IDers will be back as soon as they can find another pseudo-scientific name to rehristen it (Smart Planning perhaps?)

    Actually, it appears the next step is “sudden emergence theory”. There is already a new draft form of Of Pandas and People which has the words Intelligent Design deleted and replaced with Sudden Emergence Theory. The implications are obvious, no designer but things arose spontaneously through processes science cannot explain. So instead of hypothesis that was abandoned by scientists almost 150 years ago, they will use one that was abandoned by scientists almost 250 years ago (spontaneous generation).

  35. Leon

    Jason Says:

    It is really sad to see that science and religion have to be on opposite sides.

    It is sad that the public discourse took that turn. There was really no need for it.

    Does it really have to be one way or the other?

    Certainly not.

    It seems that if you agree with the science of evolution than you have to be an athesist and if you believe in God than you must be anti-science. I would be suprised if one side had all of the answers.

    Yeah, that’s what the religious right would like you to believe. As usual with extremists of any stripe, they’re way off-base.

  36. Jason: You might want to take a look at this page.

  37. Leon

    TheBlackCat Says:

    Actually, it appears the next step is “sudden emergence theory”.

    Great…that’s all we need is another incarnation. To be expected I suppose.

    Some people just can’t rest if the schools aren’t teaching their brand of religion for all to hear.

  38. Peptron

    It’s odd… I mean it would be so much easier to do like what it was when I was little…

    There was a religion class where you learned about religion. It was always made clear that it was religion and faith.
    Then there was the biology class, where you learned how virus evolves, why you have to wash your hands and brush your teeth, etc.

    The class made it obvious that their points were entirely different. The religion was about “giving a meaning”, while the biology (and all science classes) was about “explaining how it works”.
    The religion explained why you might live better if you think there is an afterlife, and the biology explained why you should go see a doctor if you stepped on a rusty nail.

    Now why try to put religion as biology, I really don’t get it… Why don’t they just ask for a regular religion class? Why do they have to lie to cover their intentions?
    You want to teach religion? Then make a religion class! You should not lie about religion being science. I can’t think of a bio class where they say that if you pray, then your cancer will go away (at 100% success rate), and that you really don’t have to go see the doctor, since the way they’ll cure your cancer involves knowing about evolution. Heck! That bio class wouldn’t even recognise cancer, since it’s a mutation!

  39. Julie

    The case wasn’t about teaching a course on ID in school. The Dover school board didn’t require science teachers to teach it. What they did require was a statement read at the beginning of the class that essentially indicated that evolution was a theory, with ID being an alternate theory which the students could study on their own time, using books in the library.

    Here’s the full text the teachers were required to read (soure CNN.com)


    “The Pennsylvania Academic Standards require students to learn about Darwin’s theory of evolution and eventually to take a standardized test of which evolution is a part.

    Because Darwin’s theory is a theory, it continues to be tested as new evidence is discovered. The theory is not a fact. Gaps in the theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.

    Intelligent design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin’s view. The reference book, “Of Pandas and People,” is available in the library along with other resources for students who might be interested in gaining an understanding of what intelligent design actually involves.

    With respect to any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind. The school leaves the discussion of the origins of life to individual students and their families. As a standards-driven district, class instruction focuses upon preparing students to achieve proficiency on standards-based assessments.”

    Splitting hairs perhaps, but in the interest of accuracy, let’s be accurate. The teachers weren’t teaching anything about ID beyond what’s in that statement. The case was about whether the statement the school board required the teachers to read was constitutional or not. The judge ruled correctly, based on the Constitution and Supreme Court precedent.

  40. SFwriter

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but in Canada we don’t have too much fanaticism in terms of religion. You are what you are, and you can be whatever your want, provided you don’t try to force your views on anyone else. Church attendance is down 70% as Critical Thinking slowly forges ahead.

    Just to make the point, at the last census, people used the “write-in” box for “religion” on the official form, to the extent that some critical percentage was reached and now there is a new “Official Recognition” for the religious designation “Jedi”

    May the Force be with you.

  41. Bill Drolet

    For the proof that Intelligent Design is not in PA, look at the design of highways in PA.

  42. Rob Knop, you sound like you have spent some time teaching also :)

    Yep! I’m on the faculty at Vanderbilt Univesrity.

    Another one of my favorites is that students say you “Don’t respect my opinion� when what they really mean is, “You don’t agree with me.� Somehow, disagreement=disrespect.

    Yep. What’s more, kids sometimes have real trouble with two things. First, that I’m setting the rules for the course, and sometimes they won’t like them; but the rules are the rules. (“Unfair” has been used to describe a situation when a lab is due the same week that they have an exam, for example.) Second, that in science, sometimes things are wrong, and have been shown to be wrong, and remain wrong even if somebody else likes the idea. I get accused of being unwilling to see anybody else’s perspective, and although it’s not always specified why, when it is it’s usually in one of these two cases.

    -Rob

  43. It is really sad to see that science and religion have to be on opposite sides. Does it really have to be one way or the other? It seems that if you agree with the science of evolution than you have to be an athesist and if you believe in God than you must be anti-science. I would be suprised if one side had all of the answers.

    This dichotomy is false, and is put foward nearly universally by the creationist side, and is put forward by a small minority of the evolution/science side (those who would be “activist athiests” or some such).

    The fact is that the vast majority of scientists who are religious have no problem whatsoever with evolution. I count myself among them. Yes, science does have some things to say about religion; if your religion makes you believe that the Earth is only 6,000 years old, or is flat, then parts of your religion are wrong, and we know that through the progress of science. The problem here, though, is religion trying to compete on science’s territory; when it comes to explanations of the workings of the natural world, science has an amazing track record, and religion has done nothing but beat a steady and sometimes screaming retreat.

    That’s not all religion is, though, and as a world we should wake up to the notion that perhaps religion shouldn’t be bothering to try to explain the mechanisms of natural phenomena at all, for all they will do is beat a retreat with an ongoing and shrinking “god of the gaps” sort of argument. Instead, religion helps us ascribe personal meaning to what we see in the universe, gives us faith to carry through good times and bad times when a purely objective view of the situation might suggest that giving up was a resonable alternative, can potentially provide us with a moral code of behavior (although all world religions have a mixed record when it comes to the practical results of that)

    Also, importantly, can provide a sense of culture and community. (I met my wife at church and have at times in the past considered my chruch my “small town”. Similarly, I know many Jews who are culturally Jewish, whether or not they are really religiously faithful.)

    Yes, science can do some of this. Some years ago, at a star party, another professor in my department (which was a deparment going through some turmoil, to the stress of us all) made the comment just as the sun was setting that “this is my chruch, and I have come for spiritual renewal.” But religion is also uniquely successful at all of this, and none of it requires denying truths we have learned through science.

    I’m an evolutionist and a Big Bangist and all of that, but I’m also Christian… but, of course, given those first two things, I knew there are a number of Christians in this country who don’t think I merit the name.

    -Rob

  44. Leon
  45. hale_bopp

    I’m a militant agnostic…I don’t know and you don’t either!
    :)

    Rob

  46. Antipodean

    who can know if there is a god/gods either way, and can someone please explain to me what an agnostic is?

  47. Peter B

    I posted this comment on Dr Karl’s Self Service Science Forum, in a thread which was discussing the court case. The article I’m referring to was published in Michael Shermer’s e-skeptic.

    = = = =

    A few interesting points come to notice with the article.

    Despite claims by the supporters of Intelligent Design that it has no religious basis, in fact ID has a very strong Christian creationist basis which supporters tried to hide. Interestingly, the change from creationist terminology to the supposedly non-religious ID terminology coincided with a court case in the USA which ruled that creationism wasn’t science and couldn’t be taught in science labs (in other words, a case very similar to this one).

    Members of the Dover School Board who wanted ID taught in the science labs told a few pork pies while giving evidence: they said they hadn’t raised the issue in board meetings, despite TV interviews, newspaper reports and the meeting minutes to the contrary; and they initially said they didn’t know the source of money to buy ID books, when it was later shown they knew in great detail.

    The main expert witness for ID, Michael Behe, was shown to have stretched the truth a couple of times as well. He said that his book had been thoroughly peer-reviewed by a particular evolutionary scientist (and in fact the review involved a general 10 minute conversation with the book’s editor). He also said there was no evidence to support the evolutionary position on a number of topics covered in his book (whereupon dozens of books and articles were presented, which he said he hadn’t read).

    IMHO, promoters of ID come out of this trial looking very shabby.

  48. Peptron

    [i]can someone please explain to me what an agnostic is? [/i]

    Being agnostic is pretty close to being atheist, but it’s not exactly the same.

    Atheism is about saying “There is no god”.
    Agnosticism is about saying “You cannot really know if there is a god or not. It cannot be proven or disproven. It is inherently unknowable, and existence of god really is only a matter of point of view, etc…”

    Basically atheism rules out the possibility of the existence of god, while agnosticism doesn’t. Most people that claim to be atheists are in fact agnostics. Agnosticism is often claimed to be the most “scientific” view about the existence of god, since because you cannot prove or disprove that he isn’t there, the only safe answer is “I don’t know.” Also, agnostics often view the “search of god” as a waste of time, since god cannot be observed.

  49. The Glimmer Man

    Evolving Squid: I’m sorry, but your letter was self serving and hysterical (and not the funny kind of hysterical), and this is coming from a hardcore skeptic and anti-ID person. Frightening and backward?

    And FWIW, Deliverence took place in Georgia.

    And I really love the folks who say they will hold the actions a few against anyone from Kansas now. That’s really bloomin’ great. How does the skeptical community respond to ignorance? With prejudice. Really fracking wonderful, folks. You’re advancing the cause of skeptical thought by leaps and bounds.

  50. THX-1138

    >> and can someone please explain
    >> to me what an agnostic is?

    Oh, c’mon, folks.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnostic

    The Internet. Know it. Love it. Learn to use it. :roll:

  51. Leon

    Re. the agnostic question…I like to say that agnostics are the only people smart enough to not take sides on religious questions. (That’s meant tongue-in-cheek, of course.)

  52. Hugh Jass

    Julie Says:
    December 21st, 2005 at 10:32 am The case wasn’t about teaching a course on ID in school. The Dover school board didn’t require science teachers to teach it. :SNIP: Splitting hairs perhaps, but in the interest of accuracy, let’s be accurate. The teachers weren’t teaching anything about ID beyond what’s in that statement. The case was about whether the statement the school board required the teachers to read was constitutional or not. The judge ruled correctly, based on the Constitution and Supreme Court precedent.
    However, in the interest of reality, what was being asked of the teachers was to misrepresent evolution, AND misstate what a scientific theory is. The wording of their statement “Darwin’s Theory� over and over again is not only misleading, but WRONG. “Theory NOT fact� is also misleading. This is the reason for the scientific community to get up in arms. Darwin’s Theory no longer exists as it were, it has been modified, grown, evolved as all good theories do. “Darwin’s Theory�, and evolution do not now, nor have ever tried to explain the origin of life. A statement suggesting an alternative belief to un-explain something that evolution makes no attempt to do shows ignorance and clear unscientific thinking that amounts to requiring teachers to teach bad science.
    Yes theory does not mean fact, but it does NOT mean Wild a—Guess with no basis in fact. Please look up the archived [ Intelligent Falling :Sunday, September 25th, 2005] on this BLOG. The articles and responses are very good illustrating the common misconceptions about the term “Theory�. The use of the term in the statement teachers were to read in Dover is anti-science to the highest degree, and the potential implications and suggested ramifications of that is mind boggling.
    Lets be accurate, the case wasn’t about teaching a course on ID, it was about the degradation of science, no matter how you split it.

  53. MikeyP

    “Just to make the point, at the last census, people used the “write-inâ€? box for “religionâ€? on the official form, to the extent that some critical percentage was reached and now there is a new “Official Recognitionâ€? for the religious designation “Jediâ€?”

    Really? I know Jedi is an official religion in the UK but in Canada too?

  54. Nigel Depledge

    Mikey P -

    All your toys are as nothing compared to the power of the Force!

  55. TRACY

    Yes it’s like a bloodless (so far) civil war here in Kansas.
    I was elated at the Dover decision.
    My own brother, however is a right-wing republican christian fundamentalist. I think he also worships BillO and Rush. I’m ashamed.
    We can’t even talk without him trying to change my views of reality.
    I purposely try to avoid science, religion and politics in conversation.
    It never works. The film ‘Cool Hand Luke’ may be a good analogy for our relationship as of recent, with me being Luke and he the warden.
    “You got your mind right boy?” He even went so far as to tell me that illness, war and all things bad are caused by God because of all the unbelieving sinners in the world today!!!! Aaaaaaaaaaargh!!!!

  56. Leon

    Unbelievable, Tracy. I have some relatives (in my extended family–cousins etc.–not my brother, thank goodness) who are right-wing Republicans, and many are unthinking Christians. But at least with them, it’s possible to avoid religion & politics (if I exercise some discretion) and just enjoy hanging with the family.

    My condolences on the difficult relations.

  57. TRACY

    Thank you Leon. I imagine after the fact we’re both thinking the same thing: I love you man, but you are soooooo misguided!

  58. Kevin

    Regarding the atheism/agnosticism topic:

    Atheism, technically, does not mean one claims there is no god. The original meaning of the word can be quite easily seen by looking at the roots. A = without, and Theism = belief in God. So in fact it simply means living your life without a belief in god…no more, no less. The problem arises with dictionaries and whatnot because a dictionary’s job is define words in the context of current culture. Atheism has been taken to mean someone who denies god exists and so this is how the dictionary defines it. But, you’ll find a good deal of atheists who enjoy the original meaning…like me :) .

    But now you might be saying, where do agnostics fit in? Well, agnosticism can very well be used to describe an atheist as well. And in fact, it can be used to describe a person of faith just as easily! Agnosticism deals with knowledge of god. An agnostic thinks it is either unknown if a god exists, or that it can never be known if a god exists. One could apply the prefix “weak” or “strong” respectively(as one could with atheism as well…a “strong” atheist denies there is a god and a “weak” atheists sticks to the words original meaning). So in fact someone who believes in god but admits we cannot prove currently that he exists is a theistic agnostic! I would imagine many, many of the faithful fall into this catergory.

    As for me, I’m a “strong” agnostic and a “weak” atheist.

  59. P. Edward Murray

    I didn’t really think the judge would rule in favor of I.D.
    As a resident of Pennsy, I am quite happy we have now struck I.D. down, possibly for another 50 years or so.

    No doubt though that “They” like all anti-intellectuals will be back…

  60. I’m always a bit weirded out how this whole topic almost invariably ends in a debate about ‘science versus religion.’ As far as I can work out, there need be no conflict between science and religion at all. Most mainstream churches fully accept evolution, and in fact feel that creationism in whatever guise makes a mockery of Christianity. And many scientists report that the more they see of the universe as revealed by science, the MORE religious they become.

    It is the creationists who complain about ‘atheistic science.’ But they know nothing about science and is not interested in it either. What they are after is political power. I am glad to see that they were once again defeated in court, as has been consistently happening for decades now.

    You can be sure that they will try this again. Who knows what new philosophy will follow Intelligent Design ‘theory’ as the new mask behind which they’ll hide.

    Alas, until they can forward testable hypotheses about the origin of things, they’ll have no science, and fortunately most people have no trouble seeing right through their agenda.

  61. Irishman

    People tend to inappropriately use the words as follows:
    Atheist = God does not exist! (Strong atheist)
    Agnostic = I don’t know if god exists or not.

    Terminology over Atheist and Agnostic are largely misunderstood. The Wikipedia entry is a pretty good description of Agnosticism, and the variations thereof.

    Essentially, the question of theist or atheist is “do you believe god exists?” Yes and you are a theist, no and you are an atheist. That includes not believing god exists because you don’t see the evidence to conclude yes. A strong atheist is one who states not only does he not believe in god, but god is impossible. A weak atheist merely states that there is no evidence to support the belief, so the default is not believe. Sort of like not believing in the Invisible Pink Unicorn until the evidence is present.

    Agnosticism is a different question. It asks “What information about god/god’s existence can be known?” An agnostic is one who holds that either nothing is currently known or that nothing can be known by human intellect. That says nothing about belief in the existence of the deity. A person can be a theistic agnostic or an atheistic agnostic. TA = I do not think the nature and existence of god can be known/proven, but I choose to believe. AA = I do not think the nature an existence of god can be known/proven, so I will live as though he doesn’t exist. I suppose a third category of Agnostic would be the Indeterminate = I do not think the nature and existence of god can be known/proven, and I am unable to decide if I should believe or ignore him. However, said IA must decide for himself how to act at any given moment and on any given topic – e.g. whether to pray in a particular circumstance, how to pray, etc. I think that one in those circumstances would tend to fall into TA or AA as a personal preference, rather than vascillate between behaviors. YMMV.

  62. Mark

    I would like to comment on two of the posts in here…

    On Irishman’s atheist/agnostic post of January 4th, 2006 at 1:09 pm, I like it! I was raised “Conservative/Fundamentalist Evanglical Christian” (C/FEC) but due to an unfortunate innate curiosity and love of science, I eventually became convinced by the weight of the evidence that evolution happened and am now an ardent skeptic and free-thinker. However, I have recently been placed in a position where I must strike a fine balance between my free-thinking skepticism and belief in some sort of God.

    I have a brother who is an Army officer serving in Afghanistan and his wife is an Army reserve trauma nurse that has been activated and sent to a US base, but she is not allowed to have family with her. I also spent 20 years in the sevice and as the Veterans Administration says I am disabled, they are paying to send me to school to finish my BSEE. Anyway, I am also taking care of my 10 y/o niece and nephew, who are being raised Catholic. Becuae I love my brother and out of respect for his and his wife’s wishes I am taking them to Mass every week and am taking them to their “religious education” classes.

    Being raised the way I was, and free-thinging skeptic that I now am notwithstanding, I feel I have good “house of worship” etiquette and am trying to instill that in my niece and nephew. The result of this is that I bow my head when praying and even say aloud those portions of the prayers said during Mass that my intellectual conscience will permit, sing along with the hymns (which I am still fond of), and discuss with them the history of their faith (which I am still interested in as an intellectual pursuit).

    So I will now proclaim myself to be a weak “theistic agnostic.” As this relates to ID/Creationist fundies, I must then, say that “I do not, and very likely, cannot know, but I belive, but as I have no proof to offer, it would be wrong for me to insist that others believe as I do, and by extension, is is wrong for others to demand I belive in the God they believe in.”

    As to Glimmer Man’s December 22nd, 2005, 8:06 am reply to Evolving Squid’s post, I also caught the mis-location of the movie “Deliverance”, but perhaps Evolving Squid was referring to the cultural milieu in which the movie took place, not in the geography. But I will admit that the “Wizard of OZ” did take place (at least partially) in Kansas, so perhaps is was a “brain f#*t” on Squid’s part..I just don’t know and you don’t either…LOL!!!!

    As to my second point…I, apparently like Evolving Squid, do not suffer fools gladly. and am a firm believer that when folks believe pseudo/non-scientific crap, it needs to be pointed out to them that their credibility WILL suffer, and sarcastic/ironic wit is sometimes the best way to do so, even Judge Jones used it in his descision when he wrote “Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Board’s decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. 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.”
    (Kitzmiller descision page 137 and 138)

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