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December 22, 2005

Judge sees nothing intelligent in Intelligent Design

Out in Pennsylvania, U.S. District Judge John Jones ths week sharply rejected the creationists' latest attempt to force schools to present "intelligent design" as an alternate explanation to evolution for life as we know it.

Among other things, Judge Jones said, "The overwhelming evidence at trial established that ID is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory."

The intelligent design crowd is fuming mightily. The Discovery Institute's John West said the opinion is "a real overreach by an activist judge who thinks he can stop the spread of a scientific idea through government-imposed censorship." He accused Judge Jones of having "delusions of grandeur."

To call Judge Jones an "activist" is the real overreach here. The judge, a conservative, church-going Republican appointed to the bench by President Bush, wrote a 136-page opinion that reflects a conservative approach to jurisprudence: He paid attention to the Constitution, the establishment clause in particular; he was respectful of precedent; and he carefully applied the facts presented in sworn testimony to the law. Not exactly what I'd call an exercise in "activist" judging.

Judge Jones, in anticipating the charges that would be leveled against him, wrote: "Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. 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. The breathtaking inanity of the (school board's) decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop 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."

He also said, "The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the (school 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."

Ouch!

The ruling was somewhat moot in the Dover case by the time it was issued. The people of Dover have already acted, voting out of office all eight school board members who supported the requirement that "intelligent design" be presented to students as an alternate explanation to evolution. The district, with the new school board in charge, said it plans no appeal in the case.

The ruling will stand, though, as a beacon and guide to the other judges who, unfortunately, are likely to be confronted with the issue as the creationists, in some guise or another, battle to substitute theism for science in the schools.

Posted by jcb at December 22, 2005 10:23 AM

Comments

I enjoyed your article. However, the final paragraph mentions a point I would like to contend: The idea that 'science' and 'theism' are mutually exclusive where one must 'replace' the other in any paradigm.

I am a Christian theist, one who loves both science and theology. I have no allegiance to the Intelligent Design movement, and likewise have no problem scientifically or theologically with evolution. I think it is a common mistake to assume that one must choose between the two --I often tell friends and family that evolution is the greatest red herring in the great God debate. The validity of evolution does not argue against the existence of God, and vice-versa.

Anyway, thank you for reading this!

Daniel Wesley
Kansas City, KS

Posted by: Daniel Wesley at December 23, 2005 10:43 AM

You're certainly right, so far as the broader world is concerned. But in a science class, some distinction seems necessary.

Posted by: jcb at December 23, 2005 10:50 AM

I am always amazed when this subject comes up, that we tend to give a pass to evolution. This is theory, at best, and has never been proven.

Let's face it, when something 'evolves' it changes. If man grew and evolved from monkeys, apes, whatever - why are their still monkeys, apes in their pre-evolutionary form?

Did only half the ape family evolve over thousands, millions of years while the other half remained exactly as they were? (Now this seems like a theory that has some massive holes in it!).

Merry Christmas.

Posted by: Concerned at December 24, 2005 08:27 AM