If current results hold, it looks like the creationists on the 10-member Kansas Board of Education have lost two seats in the Republican primary. The likelihood is therefore that the new Board of Education will switch from being a 6-4 pro-creationism majority to at least a 6-4 pro-science majority (depending on the November general election). This probably means the pro-ID/creationism science standards are history.
So let’s sum up the last 9 months:
* November 2005. After the dramatic revelations of the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial, voters in Dover sweep the ID/creationists out of office. Coincidentally (I’m sure), on that very day, the Kansas Board of Education votes in the Intelligent Design Network’s creationist intelligent design “critical analysis of evolution” standards, overturning the recommendation of their own appointed standards writing committee.
* December 2005. The judge in Kitzmiller declares “intelligent design” unconstitutional, especially the book that introduced ID to the world, the public school biology textbook Of Pandas and People. The judge furthermore notes that various other euphemisms are just as problematic.
* February 2006. The Ohio Board of Education reverses its previous decision and removes the “critical analysis” standard and the attached lesson plan from the curriculum, removing the Discovery Institute’s “crown jewel” in their program to mess with education.
* August 2006. The creationists on the Kansas Board of Education lose their majority in the Republican primary, in which the creationist intelligent design “critical analysis of evolution” standards were the main election issue.
The ID movement has been pushing the “intelligent design” strategy for 16 years now, and what has it accomplished? What has the Discovery Institute got to show for the several million bucks it has spent on ID each year for the last 10 years? In three very different forums (court, board politics, and elections), their approach has been rejected. Despite a lot of propaganda claiming they are doing research, the ID movement has nothing but a handful of articles, all of which, upon inspection, fail to be (a) peer-reviewed, (b) original research, and/or (c} actually supportive of ID.
Again and again, people eventually figure out that ID is not really science, and that instead it is a shell game that really has no substance or mission other than to push the specific religious view of special creation in the public schools. And the predictable results followed.
I am not foolish enough to declare this “the end of creationism” – such confident predictions have always failed in the past. But I do think that this series of defeats may convince the creationists to go back to the drawing board yet again and come up with something new. Perhaps they will just latch on to “critical analysis is not ID/creationism!” even more doggedly than before, but I’m not sure this is the complete future: no one believes these things are different, not even the ID/creationists.
The Berkeley Science Review interviewed Kevin Padian and Phillip Johnson last month about the Kitzmiller case and the future of ID:
For Padian, the decision represents an incredible victory: “Not a single sentence of the judge’s decision would give comfort to the ID crowd. We don’t see how it could have been any better.” “The judge’s decision made a lot of things easier for the American public,” he continues. “He drew the line that scholars and educators asked him to draw. He didn’t muddy the line like the fundamentalists asked him to do. For Phil Johnson and the Discovery Institute, the fat lady has sung…No one who can fog a mirror intellectually can have any more illusions that this drivel should be taken seriously as science, or even as social studies.”
For his part, Johnson agrees: “I think the fat lady has sung for any efforts to change the approach in the public schools…the courts are just not going to allow it. They never have. The efforts to change things in the public schools generate more powerful opposition than accomplish anything…I don’t think that means the end of the issue at all.” “In some respects,” he later goes on, “I’m almost relieved, and glad. I think the issue is properly settled. It’s clear to me now that the public schools are not going to change their line in my lifetime. That isn’t to me where the action really is and ought to be.” Whether Dover really was the swan song of intelligent design remains to be seen. Either way, the decision has dealt a serious blow to the cause. The movement that Phil Johnson started may just have run aground on the rocks of Padian’s testimony. Or rather on the fossils in the rocks of Padian’s testimony.
Is Phillip Johnson right? Has the fat lady sung for the ID movement’s efforts in the public schools? If so, what’s next?