Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District

| 22 Comments

Today, eleven parents from Dover, Pennsylvania, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU of Pennsylvania), Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and attorneys from Pepper Hamilton LLP filed suit in federal court to overturn the “intelligent design” policy of the Dover Area School Board.

The National Center for Science Education is consulting on the case (for free) on the science and science education aspects of the case.

Read the press releases explaining the suit online at ACLU, AU, and Pepper Law.

The case is entitled Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District. The filed complaint is available online at the ACLU website. They are also hosting a FAQ on evolution and intelligent design. You can also check out NCSE’s website or many other excellent sites for more information on the issue. On NCSE’s website you can read the history of the controversy in Dover, and the history of and problems with the intelligent design textbook Of Pandas and People that is at the heart of controversy about teaching ID in Dover public schools.

In related news, the Discovery Institute, which has spent the last decade promoting ID, allegedly building the scientific foundation for ID (remember, the “intelligent design” terminology and arguments were first published in the textbook Of Pandas and People in 1989 – the Discovery Institute and all their “research” came much later), and publishing law review articles saying that ID is great science deserving attention in the public schools (see “Key Law Review Articles About Teaching Darwin, Design and the Origins Controversy”), today issued a press release , “Discovery Calls Dover Evolution Policy Misguided, Calls For its Withdrawal.”

This is particularly interesting, considering that according to the schedule in the Wedge Strategy, we should be well into Phase III by now, which included integrating ID into public school curricula, and defending these actions in court:

Phase III. Once our research and writing have had time to mature, and the public prepared for the reception of design theory, we will move toward direct confrontation with the advocates of materialist science through challenge conferences in significant academic settings. We will also pursue possible legal assistance in response to resistance to the integration of design theory into public school science curricula. The attention, publicity, and influence of design theory should draw scientific materialists into open debate with design theorists, and we will be ready. With an added emphasis to the social sciences and humanities, we will begin to address the specific social consequences of materialism and the Darwinist theory that supports it in the sciences. [bold added] The Wedge Strategy: Discovery Institute Center for the Renewal of Science & Culture

22 Comments

DI is in full retreat. It’s that simple.

Oh, I doubt that. They just see how bad the facts of this case are for their side.

I agree. I think they want a battle alright, but this is not the right one to fight as the Dover disclaimer is so hopelessly inept.

Unfortunately, most people just can’t keep the ‘just plain regular science’ aspect of ID separate from the ‘but we can’t say God isn’t *wink wink* the designer’ aspect.

That’s what’s so stupid about all this. The only way teaching ID can possibly “serve a secular purpose”, as the test has it, is if you teach that the intelligent designer was an alien. And given the choice of teaching evolution and teaching that an alien might have created life on earth, surely even the most loony of fundamentalists would pick evolution. Not to mention the fact that getting science teachers to base their lessons on little green men and black monoliths could prove slightly difficult.

The only way teaching ID can possibly “serve a secular purpose”, as the test has it, is if you teach that the intelligent designer was an alien.

Are you forgetting this branch of ID? Don’t you dare Google on rael playboy. But if you want to teach ID even handedly .…

In any case, teaching false and misleading material in science class does not serve any non-sectarian purpose. It serves the purpose of spreading God of the gaps theology.

It’s strange that all these pro-ID folks can’t join together to form one awesome coalition. Perhaps their politics get in the way …

His Holiness RAEL, founder of the RAELIAN MOVEMENT, is so deeply moved by all the pro-peace American citizens who are deeply depressed by George Bush’s victory and are thinking about leaving the USA to emigrate in Canada, that he is giving them another much more powerful idea: create a new nation which would regroup all the pro-Kerry states: The New United States of America or “NUSA”.

My guess is that the DI recognizes the weaknesses of this particular case and doesn’t want any precedent-setting ruling in the courts that goes against ID.

That would not bode well for future DI efforts.

I;m not sure it’s in their ulitmate interests to prevail in the end anyway. They win and succeed in forcing IDC into the curricula of every school in the nation, they risk changing the dynamic of a wedge issue which is merely the prow of their underlying agenda to utlimately destroy taxpayer funded public education in the hopes of creating lots of social conservatives.

The DI put out another press release today, “Ten Questions and Answers About Intelligent Design Theory.”

Unfortunately, they haven’t got a theory (and they disclaim interest in anything that could make it a theory in the first paragraph), so they’ve got a problem even before they get started…

It’s funny to see the DI pimping the Protein Science paper by Behe (& Snoke) as “critical of the mechanism of neo-Darwinism” when all it is critical of is their problematic model. It is funny to see DI answer questions about ID “theory” when they clearly don’t understand theoretical research.

I also note that they once again didn’t call Schaefer a five-time Nobel nominee. I guess my article on PT had an impact.

The Discovery Institute already gets it wrong from the start

1. What is the theory of intelligent design?

The scientific theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection. Note: Intelligent design theory does NOT claim that science can determine the identity of the intelligent cause. Nor does it claim that the intelligent cause must be a “divine being” or a “higher power” or an “all-powerful force.” All it proposes is that science can identify whether certain features of the natural world are the products of intelligence.

What’s wrong with this?

  • There is no scientific theory of intelligent design
  • The approaches chosen to determine the designer cannot eliminate natural selection as the designer
  • Dembski has accepted the existence of apparent versus actual Complex Specified Information; in other words design can be real or not.
  • If the identity of the intelligent cause cannot be established nor any other relevant qualifier that would restrict the explanatory power of ID, then it’s clear that science has to reject its claims
  • On the one hand ID argues that ID improves upon science by adding the detection of design but on the other hand ID accepts that science already does a good job at detecting design. In other words, the designer has to be outside the view of science or in other words supernatural

And it cannot even describe the theory of Neo-Darwinism correctly

However, the dominant theory of evolution today is neo-Darwinism, which contends that evolution is driven by natural selection acting on random mutations, a purposeless process that “has no specific direction or goal, including survival of a species.”

Science does not address the issue of ‘purpose’ of evolution.

In other words, evolution should be taught as a scientific theory that is open to critical scrutiny, not as a sacred dogma that can’t be questioned.

Or misrepresented??

Of course in the end it should be clear that there IS NO SCIENTIFIC THEORY OF DESIGN beyond an appeal to God of the Gaps or appeal to ignorance.

Who are they thinking they can fool ?

From the “Ten Questions”

Nor does [“ID theory”] claim that the intelligent cause must be a “divine being” or a “higher power” or an “all-powerful force.”

Baloney. Giant chunks of flaming dip rain from the sky.

Could someone belonging to the Discovery Institute “Staff” credited with writing this garbage please tell me how a reasonable human being would describe an entity capable of designing all of the life forms which ever existed on earth? Merely “efficient”? Merely “imaginative”? Otherwise I’m inclined to think that “all powerful” comes pretty close to describing the mental and physical abilities of the designers.

Or did I miss the paragraph where the “Staff” tells us exactly which aspects of life on earth have been proven to be “designed”?

They can’t have it both ways. Honest human beings with intellects roughly equal to that of an average high school student know I am correct.

Also, what sort of gobbledygook has spewed from the mouth of this Scott Minnich character? I don’t hear his name mentioned very often by those who keep track of the pretenders. A recent convert?

http://www.id.ucsb.edu/veritas/2003f/minnich.html

Interestingly, on Nov. 18 he appears to have given a talk at the Foley Institute:

“Foreign and Defense Policy Brownbag Series. Dr. Scott Minnich, University of Idaho, presents “Experiences of a United States Weapons Inspector in Iraq.”

A choice DI-pleasing quote

http://www.family.org/fofmag/pp/a0021018.cfm

“Mutations in any single gene knock out function or in lesser cases diminish function,” Minnich says. “So, to swim you have to have the full complement of genes.”

I smell a logical leap. Is Minnich saying that no compensatory genes have yet been identified which restore flagellar function to a mutant bacteria with a deletion of one of its flagellar genes?

That seems unlikely …

Teach the controversy and show how empty the claims of ID and DI really are. It’s that simple and it seems people are starting to take notice. ID is now in the spotlight in Dover, while it likes to hide in the shadows. No wonder the DI is worried.

This is silly. Don’t get lost in the details. “Intelligent design,” if it is a theory, predicts the existence of a designer–regardless of whether or not one considers the designer to be “intelligent.” Where is the evidence for the existence of this “designer”?

From what I have read, ID proponents provide no evidence for the existence of their “intelligent designer.” The only thing that they suggest is their suggested gaps in evidence for Darwinian evolution. The latter does not necessitate the existence of an “intelligent designer.”

Dang. Took me 2 hours to write the essay this software just ate. That’ll teach me to compose long replies in the comment box.

raj,

From what I have read, ID proponents provide no evidence for the existence of their “intelligent designer.” The only thing that they suggest is their suggested gaps in evidence for Darwinian evolution. The latter does not necessitate the existence of an “intelligent designer.”

True. In fact, virtually every single ID hypothesis that I have seen so far is really considered an evolutionary hypothesis, in that they deal with limitations on existing mechanisms of the Modern Synthesis (or concerns about the ‘end result’ of the application of a series of Modern Synthesis mechanisms).

I can only recall a single suggestion of an ID hypothesis: that the ‘designer’ added information to living things via a zero-energy waveform. It was something Dembski said, and it was so unbelievably idiotic that I think I’ve blocked it from my mind.

So we can really just call ID a subset of hypothesis about how known evolutionary mechanisms work. Not a separate field at all.

The challenge for ID, as the ID proponents see it, isn’t to document, support, or justify design. Design is self-evident, prima facie obvious. Not to mention specifically designated in scripture. It is true by definition.

Instead, the challenge is to understand how and why scientists have failed to document God’s plan and activities. The Modern Synthesis is simply wrong. God told us how it happened; our task (assuming we even need one) is to ratify this by filling in the details.

It’s a common complaint by ID critics that there’s a logical fallacy in attacking evolutionary theory: The fallacy that says if not A, therefore B. Evolutionist logicians argue that even if A is false, B is not implied. This logical claim reflects a misunderstanding. B is *known to be true*. Nobody is trying to deduce it or discover it or establish a research program to find it. Why bother? The logical construct is that B is true, period. If A does not support it, A must be wrong, period. It’s not that complicated, people!

So OK, why would scientists stick to A anyway? Obviously, they have not properly opened their hearts to Jesus. They are theologically challenged. What else could it be?

Dang. Took me 2 hours to write the essay this software just ate. That’ll teach me to compose long replies in the comment box.

Ouch! I know how it feels. I’ve learned the hard way to save my posts elsewhere before hitting the launch button.

Flint, I posted this elsewhere, but it seems to sum up your point. It’s Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles:

Although the truth of the Christian faith exceeds the capacity of human reason, truths that reason is fitted by nature to know cannot be contrary to the truth of faith. The things that reason is fitted by nature to know are clearly most true, and it would be impossible to think of them as false. It is also wrong to think that something that is held by faith could be false since it is clearly confirmed by God. Since we know by definition that what is false is contrary to the truth, it is impossible for the principles that reason knows by nature to be contrary to the truth of faith.

We conclude, therefore, that any arguments made against the doctrines of faith are incorrectly derived from the self-evident first principles of nature. Such conclusions do not have the force of proofs, but are either doubtful opinions or sophistries, and so it is possible to answer them. (emphasis added)

RGD:

Thanks, I remember you having posted that but I couldn’t find it. I tried to summarize it in my own words. Design is what reason is fitted by nature to know. It cannot be contrary to truth. Evolution is therefore incorrectly derived from the self-evident first principles of nature.

In the ID debate, I don’t see anything newer than Aquinas. Even the “front-end-loaded teleological enhancements” to RM+NS are back door efforts to make Aquinas’ argument in technical genetic terms. Design is still regarded as self-evident; these positions only address how it is implemented.

Evolution is just a theory. Evolution flies in the face of a well known scientific fact called the first law of thermodynamics (Entropy). While the rest of the universe is de-evolving, we on the earth are becoming more organized.… evolution and entropy can not co-exist. The natural order of the universe is to become more random and unorganized. The only way evolution can exist on earth is if God allows it to happen and overide the laws of entropy. Evolution can not happen on its own given the known laws of entropy. Entropy is a scientific fact that has been proven over and over by observations on earth and in the universe… evolution has never been proven scientifically to be true. Thus, we should not be teaching evolution as science in our schools.

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This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on December 15, 2004 11:10 AM.

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