Tuesday, December 20, 2005


A flicker of hope that sanity may yet prevail in the U.S. educational system. Aren't you tired of being the laughingstock of the world on this?

Blue Ibis

Judge rules against 'intelligent design'

Idea shouldn't be taught in science class in public school, judge rules
The Associated Press
Updated: 10:56 a.m. ET Dec. 20, 2005

HARRISBURG, Pa. - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that the "intelligent design" explanation for the origin of life cannot be taught in biology classes in a Pennsylvania public school district.

The Dover Area School Board violated the Constitution when it ordered that its biology curriculum must include "intelligent design," the notion that life on Earth was produced by an unidentified intelligent cause, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III ruled.

The school board policy, adopted in October 2004, was believed to have been the first of its kind in the nation. Eight families then sued to have intelligent design removed.

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

[It's ironic only if you don't realize these folks are taking a page from the Neocons. They set the pattern. Look at the touted reasoning for the Patriot Act, and then look how it's being applied.]

The board's attorneys said members sought to improve science education by exposing students to alternatives to Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection causing gradual changes over time; intelligent-design proponents argue that it cannot fully explain the existence of complex life forms.

The plaintiffs argued that intelligent design amount to a secular repackaging of creationism, which the courts have already ruled cannot be taught in public schools.

The Dover policy had required students to hear a statement about intelligent design before ninth-grade biology lessons on evolution. The statement says Charles Darwin’s theory is "not a fact," has inexplicable "gaps," and refers students to an intelligent-design textbook, "Of Pandas and People," for more information.

Jones said advocates of intelligent design "have bona fide and deeply held beliefs which drive their scholarly endeavors" and that he didn't believe the concept shouldn't be studied and discussed.

[Bona fide and deeply held beliefs -- also known as "wishful thinking" drives a lot of public policy these days, eh? Try Signs of the Times for a daily run-down on this phenomenon.]

"Our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom," he wrote.

The dispute is the latest chapter in a long-running debate over the teaching of evolution dating back to the famous 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, in which Tennessee biology teacher John T. Scopes was fined $100 for violating a state law that forbade teaching evolution. The Tennessee Supreme Court reversed his conviction on the narrow ground that only a jury trial could impose a fine exceeding $50 and the law was repealed in 1967.

Jones heard arguments in the fall during a six-week trial in which expert witnesses for each side debated intelligent design’s scientific merits. Other witnesses, including current and former school board members, disagreed over whether creationism was discussed in board meetings months before the curriculum change was adopted.

The controversy also divided the community in southwest Pennsylvania and galvanized voters to oust eight incumbent school board members who supported the policy in the Nov. 8 school board election. They were replaced by a slate of eight opponents who pledged to remove intelligent design from the science curriculum.

© 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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