Judge Jones: A Devout Christian?

| 54 Comments

I need the help from PandasThumb readers:

Anyone who has a reference to news media referring to Judge Jones as a “devout Christian” is encouraged to add them to the comment section. My Google searches so far have been without much success.

You may wonder why am I asking you your help in this matter?

The reason is that on the Discovery Institute’s Evolution News blog, West is arguing that the media is portraying Judge Jones “as a conservative Republican who is devoutly religious”. While I have various news reports in which Jones is described as a Bush Republican appointee to the court, I have failed to find any references to Judge Jones being a devout Christian. Other than a New York Times article, West provides little information as to which particular newsmedia he has in mind.

West’s true colors become apparant quickly however:

West Wrote:

The point here is to challenge the media’s effort to turn Judge Jones into something he’s not in order to defend a biased and sloppy ruling.

While West may believe, as the losing party, that Judge Jones’ ruling was biased and sloppy. I and others have in depth documented the various flaws in West’s claims. Given the well argued ruling, what else is one to do but to attack the character of the Judge.

So far I have found the above mentioned reference from the New York Times:

The oldest of four brothers, Judge Jones, who is 50, attended a private school, Mercersburg Academy, and later Dickinson College and the Dickinson School of Law. Asked if he was religious, he said he attended a Lutheran church favored by his wife, but not every Sunday

Link

West mentions a House Confirmation Hearing which I finally managed to locate:

Santorum Wrote:

John Jones is another outstanding lawyer and has served not just as an outstanding lawyer, but served the community beyond the practice of law.

West also makes much of Jones describing how, as a public defender, he saved a client, accused of murdering a 12 year old, from the death penalty.

Senator Specter asked the following question

I have one last question for actually all of you, a panel question. Some of our most beloved judges in history have been judges who made decisions that were against popular sentiment, or stood up to protect the rights of minorities or people’s whose views made them outcasts. Can you tell me of an instance in your career where you have stood up, took an unpopular stand, or fought for something, maybe a client, and how you stood up to those pressures?

Judge Jones responded

Mr. JONES. I served for 10 years, Madam Chairwoman, as an assistant public defender in Schuylkill County, and so very frequently I found myself enmeshed in unpopular areas representing unpopular people. In particular, in 1989, I represented an individual who was alleged to have murdered a 12-year-old boy. It was, as you can imagine, coming from a small town, a highly charged atmosphere. We had a week-long trial. I represented him throughout in a most difficult circumstance, with the community at large very much against him. He was convicted. I was able to keep him from suffering the death penalty in that case. But I learned perhaps more than anything else that I ever did as an attorney about the obligation that we have as attorneys to take on occasionally unpopular cases, and that at that time was the most unpopular case that I could possibly have chosen to have undertaken. And so that stands out amongst all the cases that I ever handled, or matters that I have handled as the most unpopular, but I was very proud to do that as an assistant public defender consistent with my obligations as an attorney.

It’s important to remember that as a public defender, Jones first most duty is towards his clients. That he managed, against much pressure from the community, to defend his client and save his client from the death penalty may seem, as West puts it, “[not] in sync with most conservatives’ attitudes toward crime and punishment”

So far the following picture emerges

“Judge Jones, a lifelong Christian, a Lutheran, a conservative Republican, friend of Sen. Rick Santorum and former Gov. Tom Ridge”

Links

  • Jones’ Biography
  • Prior to taking the bench, Judge Jones had numerous public and private affiliations. These included service as a member of the Board of Directors of the Union Bank and Trust Company of Pottsville, state attorney for the D.A.R.E. program (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), and chairman of a local foundation which awarded scholarships to high school students based upon vocal music ability. He has served as an Assistant Scoutmaster, and has been extensively involved with both the local and national Boy Scouts of America.

  • Life long Christian
  • Yesterday’s “Intelligent Design” ruling in Pennsylvania will certainly earn Judge John E. Jones III predictable vilification as a “liberal, activist judge” by people who don’t care much for facts. However, those who are upset about the judge’s strongly worded rebuke of ID have no one other than Bush to blame– after all, it was Bush who appointed the lifelong Christian conservative Republican to the bench in 2002.

  • Church going conservative republican
  • Judge Jones is a church-going, conservative Republican who was appointed to the federal bench in 2002 by President George W. Bush.

  • Renaissance man
  • But Judge Jones is praised by people on both sides of the aisle as a man of integrity and intellect who takes seriously his charge to be above partisanship. He appears to define himself less by his party affiliation than by his connection to the Pennsylvania coal town where he still lives, and to a family that grabbed education as a rope to climb out of the anthracite mines, and never let go.

    Clifford A. Rieders, a lawyer in Williamsport who is past president of the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association, said he had found Judge Jones to be “moderate, thoughtful” and “universally well regarded.”

    “I think that his connections are not so politicized, nor is he so ambitious that he would be influenced in any way by those kinds of considerations,” said Mr. Rieders, a Democrat.

    Mr. Ridge called him a “renaissance man” and “the right kind of person to be presiding over a trial of such emotional and historic importance.” He added, “I don’t think he goes in with a point of view based on anything prior. I really don’t. I think he loves the challenge.

  • Meticulously prepared
  • David French, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, recalls Jones as “meticulously prepared” and called his ruling “respectful of precedent.”

    “He is grounded to existing case law in the Third Circuit; he is not trying to break new ground,” said French, who is now executive director of the Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a civil liberties advocacy group.

54 Comments

http://www.cumberlink.com/articles/[…]/lewis01.txt

Jones, who is 50, is a lifelong Republican. He graduated from Dickinson College and Dickinson School of Law and was appointed to the federal bench in 2002 by President Bush. He counts Sen. Rick Santorum among his supporters, and attends a Lutheran church.

However it’s possible that the “attends a lutheran church” came originally from a comment Jones apparently made to the New York times shortly before December.

If you have access to the NYT archives, you could try searching on Jones Lutheran Church and see what you get.

Bottom line in my mind is, it hardly matters one way or the other how the media paint Jones; the decision hardly reflects any religious bias one way or the other, and is clearly based on the evidence presented.

Anyone who bothers to read the decision can see that, and I could care less about those that can’t or won’t bother to even read it before they comment on it.

I think this is a link to the original interview in the NYT, but I’m not gonna pay for it ;)

http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstr[…]0994DD404482

something interesting i ran into was a page from a lutheran church blog whose “experts” even concluded that private lutheran schools reject teaching ID simply because it isn’t science, while evolutionary theory has a proven track record of success.

yet another case in point that not all xians are irrational folks suffering from projection disorder and covering it up with denial.

oop, sorry, here’s the link to the lutheran site for anyone who is curious.

http://www.thelutheran.org/news/

and btw, I think this is a complete reprint of the times article:

http://www.geocities.com/lclane2/dover14.html

Are we going through another “true Scotsman” episode?

Nope, just wanted to provide a counter to an argument I often make about creationists specifically being irrational, by showing a case for quite rational lutherans NOT supporting creationism or ID, based strictly on the scientific merits of evolutionary theory vs. ID.

I guess my point is that it’s not the religion that makes folks irrational per sae, i think they must start out that way and then use religion as a crutch to prop up their irrationality instead.

From the archives of the NYT:

The oldest of four brothers, Judge Jones, who is 50, attended a private school, Mercersburg Academy, and later Dickinson College and the Dickinson School of Law. Asked if he was religious, he said he attended a Lutheran church favored by his wife, but not every Sunday.

(/fair use)

I think there are religions that actively contribute to making people irrational. Scientology being the classic example - the entire setup is specifically designed to brainwash otherwise-sensible people into believing in aliens. Sadly, it seems to be fairly effective.

I was thinking that Bad Frog Beer to ‘intelligent design’ might, but it just had a one word mention that he is Lutheran. But the article has a ringing endorsement of Judge Jones by Tom Ridge:

“I can’t imagine a better judge presiding over such an emotionally charged issue,” said Ridge, whom Jones considers a mentor. “He has an inquisitive mind, a penetrating intellect and an incredible sense of humor.”

The article has info about some of Judge Jones previous cases if anyone is interested.

cannot a devout Christian see the difference between science and religion (or pseudoscience)? I know many Christians (they are not Americans, though) who have no trouble in discriminating between theological and scientific-empirical layers in their views. It is unfortunate that the ID/evolution battle is growing into for-religion/against-religion battle.

Hmm. Any chance of getting him onto the Supreme Court with a bipartisan groundswell? We could certainly do worse!

Anyone who describes Jones’ decision as “biased and sloppy” either has not read the complete decision, or is so totally moronic as to be unable to understand it. Jones clearly spelled out his reasoning. He indicated how, in numerous instances, how he found Defense to have failed on one prong of a multi-pronged test, yet examined each of the other prongs. West’s complaint is another example of IDers’ Denial, Delusion and Deceit.

I tried to go to the link above and www.evolutionnews.org. It looks like the Discovery Institute has let their domain registration expire.

It’s important to remember that as a public defender, Jones first most duty is towards his clients. That he managed, against much pressure from the community, to defend his client and save his client from the death penalty may seem, as West puts it, “[not] in sync with most conservatives’ attitudes toward crime and punishment”

That was actually quite funny. I guess West believes that “most conservatives’ attitudes toward crime and punishment” consider violating someone’s right to fair representation by counsel and ignoring professional ethics codes for political advantage to be perfectly OK. Maybe West trained at the Tom DeLay School of Ethics.

Let’s keep our eye on the ball, folks. It is Judge Jones’ decision, not his faith, that matters. Focusing on the theoretical source of theoretical bias only plays into the hands of those who (like GWB) believe religion has a role to play in the public sphere. The DI folks may want to play that game, but we shouldn’t sink to their level.

Lutherans come in several varieties. The expansive view expressed above is that of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Amarica (ELCA). The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod expresses a less-expansive view (OK, young-earth creationist view) at …

http://www.lcms.org/graphics/assets[…]volution.pdf

The fact that West and the DI are questioning the judge’s christian credentials is simply one more piece of evidence (as if any were needed) that ID is a religious concept. This accusation would make a good post-script to the ruling, if post-scripts were allowed.

(“ID is NOT about religion – and anyone who says otherwise is going to burn in hell!”)

The question West must (but, apparently, cannot) answer is this: What rulings, opinions, affiliations, or interests of Judge Jones indicate that he would be biased and unable to make an impartial, accurate decision in this case?

West is trying to make a case for judicial bias solely from the evidence of the ruling in question. It doesn’t work that way. If he wants to show evidence of bias, he’s going to have to find it in the Judge’s record.

Syntax Error: not well-formed (invalid token) at line 1, column 54, byte 54 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.16/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187.

As a webmaster, my experience has been that my domain hosting company will notifiy me weeks in advance that my domain license is about to expire. Also, I’ll get pinged by other providers trying to poach my business.

To let a domain expire is just a tad careless. How unusual of the DI to let that happen!

Judge Jones is a leader in the Boy Scouts of America. From all I’ve heard in Scouting circles, he’s very active. That alone speaks to his high ethical standards generally. In the past dozen years it’s been rather difficult to get leaders to sign on who are uncomfortable with the National Council’s statement on religious beliefs.

Judge Jones is clearly a conservative Republican (I say as a former operative for the conservatives in the U.S. Senate). Whether he is “devout” as a Christian is subject to discussion, I suppose, on just what “devout” means. If West is implying that Jones is not Christian “enough,” shame on West.

Frankly, I’ll take the word of a Scout leader who volunteers several hundred hours to serve kids each year over a anyone from the Discovery Institute, any day. Which one do you think has already demonstrated a lifetime devotion to kids and learning?

It is unfortunate that the ID/evolution battle is growing into for-religion/against-religion battle.

Not exactly, it’s become a pro-science/anti-science battle.

The creationists want you to think it’s all about whether you’re pro-religion or anti-religion. It ain’t.

If West is unhappy with Judge Jones, I suggest we go back in time and replace him with a liberal Democrat appointed by Clinton. Until then, his cry-baby routine is downright pathetic.

You can look at the Senate confirmation hearings on Jones (via TinyURL) here: http://tinyurl.com/a27ks. The hearing covered a half dozen nominees to federal court seats, so it’s a long .pdf file; pay attention to the table of contents.

It doesn’t paint a picture of a guy who is fawningly religious. He doesn’t list membership in any church in the formal papers (see pages 188 and onward for his written answers to the Judiciary Committee questionnaire).

But it does paint a picture of a good lawyer, a solid citizen, a very active Republican, etc., etc.

West should be careful with this overt attack on Judge Jones’ reputation. It’s crass, and West’s reputation could not withstand scrutiny anything like Jones got from the U.S. Senate. Jones is, by most measures, the sort of person the Discovery Institute should be courting. Sniping at these conservative, not-crazy Republicans doesn’t sound like a good strategy, to me.

Jones is, by most measures, the sort of person the Discovery Institute should be courting. Sniping at these conservative, not-crazy Republicans doesn’t sound like a good strategy, to me

sounds like the “big tent” is starting to shrink quite a bit, I’d say :)

If Judge Jones’ hoped to “advanc[e]ing up the judicial ladder” he needs to be aware that

“This decision is a poster child for a half-century secularist reign of terror that’s coming to a rapid end with Justice Roberts and soon-to-be Justice Alito,” said Richard Land, who is president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and is a political ally of White House adviser Karl Rove. “This was an extremely injudicious judge who went way, way beyond his boundaries – if he had any eyes on advancing up the judicial ladder, he just sawed off the bottom rung.”

Link

West should be careful with this overt attack on Judge Jones’ reputation. It’s crass, and West’s reputation could not withstand scrutiny anything like Jones got from the U.S. Senate. Jones is, by most measures, the sort of person the Discovery Institute should be courting. Sniping at these conservative, not-crazy Republicans doesn’t sound like a good strategy, to me.

So let West keep doing it. If it further diminishes the esteem and influence of the D.I., the world will be a better place.

sounds like the “big tent” is starting to shrink quite a bit, I’d say :)

Indeed. There never was a big tent. Not really. They were happy to lure in people people of somewhat divergent views in order to beef up their numbers, but they didn’t really want people who weren’t 100% in lockstep. This dispute just makes it a bit more obvious that the whole movement really is driven by the rightwing fundies and no one else.

What West’s ranting is all about is really just the fact that the fundies had convinced themselves that GOP-appointed judges were the solution to all their problems, the magic bullet that would create the theocratic society they’d dreamed of. They’ve convinced themselves that the presence of Bush judges everywhere would always bring them rulings they want. The creeping fact that GOP judges don’t all think like Dobson is making them flip out. So they’re responding the only way they know how, by swiftboating anyone who doesn’t toe the line.

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I wonder what John West’s definition of a “devout” Christian is?

I think we all know the answer to that question…

Indeed. There never was a big tent. Not really. They were happy to lure in people people of somewhat divergent views in order to beef up their numbers, but they didn’t really want people who weren’t 100% in lockstep. This dispute just makes it a bit more obvious that the whole movement really is driven by the rightwing fundies and no one else.

…and as Dembski points out, they don’t want the old-earth creationists anymore as well:

http://www.uncommondescent.com/inde[…]archives/607

aside from the value of the ruling itself, the impact the ruling seems to be having on the fracionation of this temporary alliance of nutters is even more revealing.

It makes me smile.

I suspect that John West’s definition of a “devout Christian” is one who allows someone else (preferably John West) to think for them.

I assume the John West definition of a ‘devout Christian’ that accords best with the evidence is ‘a person who professes to be a Christian whose political stance I like’.

Remember that these people adore Ronald Reagan as a ‘devout Christian’ despite the fact that he went to church perhaps once or twice a year and was divorced. If you make up for it in other ways, they’re flexible with their standards.

I don’t care if Jones is a devout Rastafarian. (shrug)

I don’t care if Jones is a devout Rastafarian

I do! that would actually be quite interesting.

a Rastafari Judge…

a few of those and we might not have these ridiculous marijuana laws any more, eh?

oh wait, then they would be showing their religious roots. damn.

speaking of the “big tent”… has anyone else seen the latest post over on the DI site:

http://www.discovery.org/scripts/vi[…]iscoMainPage

no doubt in a week DI will be claiming “all those of the Jewish faith also support ID”.

For his part, Dembski hopes the conversation that began at the Torah and Science conference will continue, and that some Jewish scientists will eventually lend their talents to the intelligent design movement. “It would be huge in terms of PR because it would give lie to this idea that this is just a conservative Christian thing,” he explains. “It would also expand our talent pool immensely.”

this both underlines that Dembski is still considered “important” in the ID movement; and the strategy of the DI itself, which has always been about PR and never about the actual science.

Sir_Toejam Wrote:

sounds like the “big tent” is starting to shrink quite a bit, I’d say :)

What, from eliminating all the sane people? I think that still leaves a fairly large target audience…

For his part, Dembski hopes the conversation that began at the Torah and Science conference will continue, and that some Jewish scientists will eventually lend their talents to the intelligent design movement. “It would be huge in terms of PR because it would give lie to this idea that this is just a conservative Christian thing,” he explains. “It would also expand our talent pool immensely.”

Too late. You already lost. (shrug)

The only two reasons to give a flying fig about Juge j’s religious leanings are: a. To establish West is a liar. b. To demonstrate that conservative Christians with half a brain, who have considered the actual evidence, don’t have any problem coming down against the vacuity and inanity of ID and for evolution.

I find it fascinating to consider West’s underlying concept here, which is that Jones’s religious beliefs can entirely invalidate his rulings as a judge. Rather revealing, no?

a. To establish West is a liar. b. To demonstrate that conservative Christians with half a brain, who have considered the actual evidence, don’t have any problem coming down against the vacuity and inanity of ID and for evolution.

those sound like pretty good reasons to me. worth the little bit of effort it took.

The point here is to challenge the media’s effort to turn Judge Jones into something he’s not in order to defend a biased and sloppy ruling.

Says the Discovery Institute, in an effort to turn Judge Jones into something he’s not in order to defend a biased and sloppy group of pseudoscientists.

When and why did projection turn into such a valuable debate tool?

When and why did projection turn into such a valuable debate tool?

just about 30 years ago when the Neocons turned into a fine art in order to win elections.

I like the modern expression of “swiftboating” that has now been attached to it.

There is nothing less Christian than so-called “Intelligent Design”…nothing less based upon faith. To say that the only reason one believes in God is that there are gaps in scientific knowledge is to say that when science (inevitably) fills those gaps, one’s belief will end. In 1805 they didn’t understand the evolution of the eye; today we do. What we do not understand today will be solved tomorrow. None of this impacts faith.

To a true believer (of any faith) science is a gift, not a conflict. Gaps in scientific knowledge could never be used to support faith. Those who actually read the New Testament (as opposed to those who hear it from fundamentalist fanatics) will remember “Doubting Thomas” who wanted to find evidence so that he could believe.

I like the modern expression of “swiftboating” that has now been attached to it.

This is more like a “borking”. The swiftboat vets were eyewitnesses to specific events, and leveled specific charges at Kerry. This attack against Judge Jones is a fusillade of spitballs by comparison. There’s no there there.

Judge Jones: A Devout Christian? PvM posted Entry 1858 on December 29, 2005 04:00 AM (opening comment of thread)

West is arguing that the media is portraying Judge Jones “as a conservative Republican who is devoutly religious”. While I have various news reports in which Jones is described as a Bush Republican appointee to the court, I have failed to find any references to Judge Jones being a devout Christian.

West only said that the newsmedia is portraying Judge Jones as a “devout Christian” – West never said that the newsmedia is literally calling him a “devout Christian.” I think that West was using the term “devout” here just for the purpose of sensationalism or hyperbole, but I think that is OK. West was just zealously arguing a point.

I have not seen the newsmedia call Jones a “devout” or “pious” Christian, but I have seen adjectives describing him as “church-going” or “Lutheran” as well as a “conservative Republican,” so there does appear to be a subtle attempt by the newsmedia to spin Jones into some kind of religiously inclined person.

I agree that West’s quotation and questionable interpretation of Jones’ confirmation interview was out of line, but otherwise I feel that West’s criticisms of Jones tend to be on target.

Larry Wrote:

I agree that West’s quotation and questionable interpretation of Jones’ confirmation interview was out of line, but otherwise I feel that West’s criticisms of Jones tend to be on target.

That was the extent of West’s ‘criticism’ of Jones in part 4. I have already shown, as have others, why West’s arguments in part 1-3 are also without much merrit. But being on the losing end of the lawsuit, what else is one to do? Even Larry seemed to resort to ad hominems to describe the Judge. Such is life I guess…

Comment #67186 posted by PvM on January 3, 2006 11:43 AM Larry wrote:

I agree that West’s quotation and questionable interpretation of Jones’ confirmation interview was out of line, but otherwise I feel that West’s criticisms of Jones tend to be on target.

That was the extent of West’s ‘criticism’ of Jones in part 4.

I disagree – West’s comments about Jones’ confirmation interview were intended only to show that he is not really a “conservative Republican.” Other comments in part 4 were intended to show that he is not really religious – (1) he is not a member of a church or other religious organization, and (2) he only occasionally attends a Lutheran church favored by his wife.

But being on the losing end of the lawsuit, what else is one to do? Even Larry seemed to resort to ad hominems to describe the Judge.

West and I didn’t use ad hominems on the judge –we used name-calling. An ad hominem is a substitute for rational arguments, but we used rational arguments. Here were my arguments against the judge –

(1) The Dover opinion thoroughly trashed the Pandas book after the judge denied the publisher’s motion to intervene. The motion was made a whopping 4 months before the start of the trial, but the judge called it untimely.

(2) The Dover opinion quoted a confidential message that the board’s Solicitor sent to the board and used that message against the defendants.

(3) The opinion’s conclusion said that three specific prohibitions were going to be included in the official order but only one was actually included.

(4) He wanted the opinion to be the last word on the issues of ID as science and ID as religion.

(5)His lack of restraint in the opinion was an exploitation of the fact that there was virtually no possibility of an appeal.

(6) He said, “I am not an activist judge.”

I called the judge a “jackass” and a “Neanderthal” (Pat Buchanan’s name for him). West’s name-calling was quite mild – I think that the worst thing that he called the judge was “country-club Republican.”

Scary Larry

This really reminds me to advocate for a Slashdot-style comment system on Panda’s Thumb. It reduces concerns of censorship, while allowing people to get away from the trolls.

Have you tried ARN yet Lalalarry?

Dear Mr. West:

I read your online comments on the Kitzmiller case. I agree that the portion of Judge Jones’ decision holding that intelligent design is not science was unwarranted. But not because he is or is not an activist. His decision was simply an intemperate and angry attack on the Dover board members who told bold-faced lies. Federal court judges have immense power which is of course subject to abuse like all power.

You are not giving proper weight to the gravity of the lying. All lawyers know that witnesses lie on the stand from time to time. But truth and lies are not as black and white as some presume. There are degrees of lies running from a slight stretching of the facts as perceived to malevolently knowing the consequences of the lie and adopting it with a view of defrauding the law. In the latter case, as in the Dover matter, a Federal judge is offended that his citadel of truth-seeking has been desecrated. Anger follows. When he addressed the primary question on everyone’s mind: “Is intelligent design science”, he did so with vindictiveness.

You are right to criticize the court, but for the wrong reason.

Nor is your point about judicial restraint entirely correct. It is true that in Wallace vs. Jaffree the Supreme Court stated that a violation of the Constitution could be proven solely based on an unlawful purpose behind State activity. That is, prong one of the Lemon test. But the doctrine of judicial restraint, while wholly applicable at the Supreme Court level, though often ignored, is somewhat less so at the Circuit Courts of Appeal level, and even less for the trial court. I am familiar with many decisions of appellate courts where the district court is chided for failing to decide all issues in the case so as to avoid multiple appeals. If on a three-prong test the lower court decides the case on one prong (clearly that was the case here) and the appellate court reverses on that point, the case must go down and be re-tried on the undecided issues Of course, at the conclusion of the trial it was quite apparent that the case would not be appealed thereby making clear that Judge Jones’ decision was not motivated by the completeness rule. The case was too badly tried to be appealed.

A very successful personal injury lawyer was once asked. “You have an impressive record of court wins: What is the most important factor in your success?” The lawyer thought for a moment and said simply: “Client intake.” And that is a lesson that The Thomas More Law Center ignored.

When a Federal District Court judge says that your chief protagonist lied on the witness stand, you have brought the wrong case to trial. That is generally true. In a case involving the First Amendment ban on teaching religion in schools, where one test for the propriety of the action is the “purpose” of the activity being challenged — secular or religious — you should not have even considered bringing the suit. The court said that the Thomas More Center had been looking for a case to bring to test intelligent design as an alternative or complement to Darwinism. The Center should have kept up the search.

If this case was one appearing in a John Grisham novel, it would turn out that the members of the Dover School Board were undercover agents for the ACLU, who had trumped up the activity to inveigle the anti-evolution crowd into defending a hopeless case.

You argued that the court ignored the evidence based primarily on its dismissal of the amicus brief including evidentiary appendices filed by the FTE the organization that published Of Pandas and People. That is incorrect. Filing of an amicus brief is predicated on a successful motion. Grant of the motion is completely discretionary with the court. That which may be refused in total may be ignored in part. Moreover, amicus briefs are rarely filed in the District Courts. In short, the brief and appendices were not evidence and could be properly ignored by the court. He did.

The Pandas problem was not with the court but with the lawyers. When the motion to intervene was denied, FTE could have appealed (but frankly, it would have been fruitless – the requirements of Rule 24 could not be met). But here is the enigma to someone on the sidelines. Why didn’t the defendants call a witness from the FTE. That evidence was undoubtedly admissible. You don’t have to be a party to offer support to an existing party. Even if, as I suspect, FTE may not have wanted to place its witness in the hands of defendants lead counsel, they could have pressured the defendants to be appointed co-counsel for presenting their own witness. It was foolish of defendants’ counsel and the FTE. The points made in the amicus brief are good, though not entirely convincing. Pandas is now dead. It is tainted beyond hope. Today a biology teacher is more likely to recommend Mein Kampf as supplemental reading on eugenics than Pandas on intelligent design.

A similar point can be made about your complaint that the court ignored the peer-reviewed papers about intelligent design. There are not enough papers to weigh against the Darwinism papers to win that battle. The evidence that should have been presented was two-fold. First, it is premature to make a comparison. Second, peer-review is a support program for the existing scientific paradigm. Why wasn’t Frank Tipler (Uncommon Dissent) or some comparable witness there to testify that peer review is not historically important, that it merely entrenches orthodoxy, and that there are numerous historical examples where a new theory, later accepted, was hooted down when originally introduced.

Nor do I agree that the effect of the decision is minor, befitting a lower court ruling. Technically, that is true. But as evident from the court’s reliance on McLean and similar references to that case in the Edwards Supreme Court case, a lower court opinion may take on an importance beyond its binding legal effect. Judge Jones was obviously attempting to establish his own opinion on the same level as McLean. That was arrogant, to be sure. But what is done is done. The real concern is the popular ramifications of the case which I measure as devastating.

First, a survey of press reports during and after the Kitzmiller trial demonstrates that the press views the result as a decisive win for evolution regardless of how narrow the decision. The hostility toward religion was an echo of the attitude toward the religious right. And no self-respecting journalist would want to be caught without having gotten in some licks that the Board’s action is an exemplar of religious fanaticism. The Dover School Board, again in the Grisham mode, was an agent of the New York Times.

Second, you will not find a single school teacher in the country that will now deviate from the Darwinian line. The Dover school teachers stood up to the Board (refusing to read the “Statement” on evolution to each biology class) and will be lauded by the Darwinists. To teach Darwinian evolution earns kudos, to criticize it could jeopardize your job. Easy decision.

Third, no School Board, no State legislature, no Board of Education will allow a curriculum that challenges Darwin. To do so would be to invite removal. Ironically, they will read the Dover case as proof that a Board that allows the teaching of intelligent design will be turned out by the voters. In fact, the reason that the Dover Board was ousted is more likely to have been the blatant mendacity of the three leading members of the Board. The lesson should be that school board members cannot engage in chicanery, lying, subterfuge and skullduggery. But it won’t be read that way, especially in the press.

Fourth, the irrefutable theory of irreducible complexity of Michael Behe will etiolate. Another unsolved problem for natural selection conveniently swept under the rug. It joins a long and increasing list. Birds did not develop feathers to fly. Fish did not develop limbs to walk on land. The Cambrian explosion remains a mystery. The origin of all life simply excluded from the theory. And so on.

Fifth, intelligent design is dead in the schools of the United States. It was killed aborning. It will now be met with even greater contempt by the biology establishment than pre-Kitzmiller. No academic research program will ever see the light of day – the stigma of Kitzmiller will prevail. Editors of scientific journals will not even distribute submitted papers for peer review, thereby denying ID adherents of the evidence needed to overcome Judge Jones’ harsh treatment. Intelligent design bears the scarlet letter of fundamentalist religion. It cannot be saved in the courts.

Those who see evolution both as a bad theory and as the springboard for human secularism need to regroup.

Paul Adams

January 9, 2006

Paul Adams Wrote:

Fourth, the irrefutable theory of irreducible complexity of Michael Behe will etiolate. Another unsolved problem for natural selection conveniently swept under the rug. It joins a long and increasing list. Birds did not develop feathers to fly. Fish did not develop limbs to walk on land. The Cambrian explosion remains a mystery. The origin of all life simply excluded from the theory. And so on.

I wish you had put that bit up at the top of your interminable post so that in reading it early on, I could have just skipped the rest. The problem with ID is not in its presentation, and regrouping means only that you have to think up more lies and deceptions. The evidence is that there is no evidence.

I doubt Paul Adams’ long post is worth picking apart. Adams, like the rest of our creationists, seems to feel that Jones decided as he did for the usual reasons:

1) Jones was peeved that some of the defendents lied, and this influenced him to make rash and unsupported (except by facts, but who’s counting?) statements.

2) A proper set of defendents would have disguised their religious motivations and effects more cleverly, making a clear constitutional decision more difficult.

3) “Darwinism” is the establishment-approved doctrine, rubber-stamped by the establishment, and not sociologically subject to question. (As usual, Adams equates ANY disagreement with RELIGIOUS disagreement. Since religion is disallowed in science class, valid science must ipso facto be disallowed. What’s the difference?)

4) The usual Orwellian “war is peace” statements. Here we find the howling thigh-slappers “the irrefutable theory of irreducible complexity” (which isn’t a theory, it’s specific claims each of which is thoroughly refuted), “hostility toward religion” (how dare they restrict science class to mere science?), abuse of power, “unsolved problem for natural selection”, and to cap it off, the claim that “the stigma of Kitzmiller” will ensure that “academic research program will ever see the light of day.” As though “academic research” and teaching religion as science are the same thing.

However, I do agree with Adams that “Intelligent design bears the scarlet letter of fundamentalist religion.” It IS fundamentalist religion, nothing else.

I think it’s funny that these guys can see that individual bits of ID are bad (the school board members, TMLC, FTE, ID witnesses) but can’t make the conceptual leap that the whole is bad too.

IDiot Wrote:

ID is good! We lost because you only saw the bad bits!

scientist Wrote:

OK, show us the good bits.

IDiot Wrote:

ID is good! We lost because you only saw the bad bits!

ad infinitum

This is a bit of a giveaway:

Intelligent design bears the scarlet letter of fundamentalist religion. It cannot be saved in the courts.

Those who see evolution both as a bad theory and as the springboard for human secularism need to regroup.

Out of one side of his mouth he complains that ‘Intelligent design bears the scarlet letter of fundamentalist religion’ – out of the other, he complains that evolution is a ‘springboard for human secularism’

So he acknowledges that to him it’s all about furthering religion. AND he whines about how unfair it is that people think ID is all about furthering religion.

What a friggin weasel.

Flint, you also forgot the following:

Fourth, the irrefutable theory of irreducible complexity of Michael Behe will etiolate. Another unsolved problem for natural selection conveniently swept under the rug. It joins a long and increasing list. Birds did not develop feathers to fly. Fish did not develop limbs to walk on land. The Cambrian explosion remains a mystery.

Another Creationist mainstay – sweeping assertions presented as unquestioned fact, even tho they are rejected by 99% of the scientific community. No explanations offered – these things are true because I say so.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by PvM published on December 29, 2005 4:00 AM.

West on the legal and ethical propriety of Judge Jones was the previous entry in this blog.

Kudos to the NCSE is the next entry in this blog.

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