Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings
Article Launched: 12/25/2005 12:40:50 AM
Conservative association says senator made '180-degree turn' on intelligent design
By Lauri Lebo Daily Record/Sunday News
Dec 25, 2005 A conservative organization that touts itself as a supporter of traditional values blasted Sen. Rick Santorum for his withdrawal of support for the Dover Area School District's unconstitutional intelligent design policy.
"Senator Rick Santorum's agreement with Judge John Jones' decision ... is yet another example of why conservatives can no longer trust the senator," the American Family Association of Pennsylvania said in a news release Friday.
The association's president, Diane Gramley, said Santorum - who is expected to face a tough re-election challenge next year from state Treasurer Robert P. Casey Jr. - should heed her organization's remarks.
"It's a warning that he needs to be careful," Gramley said. "That he's beginning to lose his conservative base."
A year ago today, an editorial by Santorum praising Dover's intelligent design policy appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I commend the Dover Area School District for taking a stand and refusing to ignore the controversy," he wrote.
Dover school officials were so pleased that they printed the piece in a newsletter sent out to district residents.
But last week, one day after Judge John E. Jones III sharply criticized former Dover board members and ruled that intelligent design could not be included in the science curriculum as unconstitutional, Santorum said he was troubled by former board member's actions.
Jones, in a strongly worded decision, left no doubt that he believed board members lied under oath in order to cover up their motivations - getting religion into science class.
Gramley criticized Santorum for changing his position.
"He's almost made a 180-degree turn on this issue," she said.
In August, after President Bush said he supported teaching intelligent design in science class, Santorum said he didn't agree.
Rather, he said he supports "teaching the controversy" over evolutionary theory.
"As far as intelligent design is concerned, I really don't believe it has risen to the level of a scientific theory at this point that we would want to teach it alongside of evolution," the Pennsylvania senator said during an NPR interview in August.
But in a 2002 Washington Times op-ed article, Santorum wrote that intelligent design "is a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes."
Gramley said Santorum's change of view is an indication that "he may be diverting from his conservative positions," in order to court more moderate voters.
Santorum also said he intends to withdraw his affiliation with the Thomas More Law Center, which defended the Dover policy in the lawsuit.
Santorum could not be reached for comment Friday.
Dec 27, 10:41 AM (ET)
HAYWARD, California (AP) - Developers looking to maximize the marketability of their homes are complaining about the city's street address rules, which they claim can scare off buyers who practice the ancient Chinese art of feng shui.
Under a numbering system established by Alameda County in the 1950s, addresses are assigned based on how far the homes are from downtown Oakland, a method that puts five digits on almost every mailbox in Hayward and other cities in the county.
The numbers have always been hard to remember, but home builders recently raised concerns that they may decrease property values because the odds are greater that an address will carry a number considered unlucky by feng shui practitioners.
Feng shui holds that the way buildings are designed can affect the fortunes and health of inhabitants.
"Now developers are saying, 'Why do we have to do it this way?'" Sylvia Ehrenthal, Hayward's director of economic and community development, told The Oakland Tribune for a Monday story. "There are some numbers people don't like to have in their address."
City Council members, five of whom live at addresses with numbers that start in the 20,000 range, voted unanimously last week to allow the builders of an upscale development to use shorter street numbers. In seeking the waiver, the builders cited convenience concerns as well as the potential for violating feng shui precepts, according to Richard Patenaude, Hayward's principal planner.
Real estate agent Lisa Coen, of nearby Pleasanton, who also runs a feng shui consulting firm, said she has advised developers on how to make homes attractive to buyers who would not want to live at the end of a cul-de-sac or where a door opens onto a staircase.
"It does matter to some people. It really does matter," Coen said. "They won't buy a house ... if the number's not right."
PRAISE FOR THE KITZMILLER VERDICT
The decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover -- the first challenge to the constitutionality of teaching "intelligent design" in the public school science classroom -- was issued on December 20, 2005, and the plaintiffs were victorious. In his detailed 139-page decision, Judge John E. Jones III concluded, "The proper application of both the endorsement and Lemon tests to the facts of this case makes it abundantly clear that the Board's ID Policy violates the Establishment Clause. In making this determination, we have addressed the seminal question of whether ID is science. We have concluded that it is not, and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents." The Dover Area School Board was therefore ordered to refrain "from maintaining the ID Policy in any school within the Dover Area School District, from requiring teachers to denigrate or disparage the scientific theory of evolution, and from requiring teachers to refer to a religious, alternative theory known as ID." The decision was scathing, both about the scientific credibility of "intelligent design" (which Jones wrote "is not science and cannot be adjudged a valid, accepted scientific theory as it has failed to publish in peer-reviewed journals, engage in research and testing, and gain acceptance in the scientific community") and about the behavior of the defendants (whom Jones castigated for "breathtaking inanity" in adopting the objectionable policy). Following the resounding legal triumph, educational, scientific, and civil liberties groups were quick to praise the decision. And editorial writers around the country, from The New York Times and the Washington Post to the York Daily Record and the York Dispatch, offered their kudos as well.
From the educational community, the National Science Teachers Association and the National Association of Biology Teachers both hailed the decision. In a statement dated December 20, 2005, NSTA's executive director Gerry Wheeler said, "This is a great day for science education ... Judge Jones's decision will echo far beyond Pennsylvania because not only does it maintain sound science for the students of Dover, but his comprehensive and detailed opinion also provides great clarity that ID is not science and has no place in science instruction. The judge's opinion is a 'must read' for school boards and communities that are addressing this issue." NSTA's president Maki Padilla added, "We value the religious views of our students, but it is unfair to teach them about nonscientific ideas within the science classroom; it blurs the line between what is science and what is faith. As science educators, our job is to teach about scientific theories and facts, not faith or opinion." Similarly, in a statement dated December 20, 2005, NABT's executive director Wayne W. Carley said, "This is an important day for our nation's youth ... By keeping intelligent design out of the science classroom, Dover's students will receive a much better education. Judge Jones's decision both reinforces the establishment clause of the First Amendment and protects the academic freedom of the Dover Public Schools." He added, "Judge Jones clearly understands that evolution is strong, powerfully documented science that should not be diluted with non-scientific concepts." And NABT's president-elect Toby M. Horn succinctly explained, "Science is based on evidence; there is no evidence for intelligent design."
Representing the scientific community, Alan Leshner of the American Association for the Advancement of Science -- the world's largest general scientific society -- said in a statement dated December 20, 2005, "We are heartened by Judge Jones' decision, which recognizes that Intelligent Design was injected into Dover's 9th grade biology classes for religious reasons rather than scientific reasons. And on behalf of the entire U.S. scientific community, we are grateful for the courage of science teachers and parents in Dover, who worked so hard and took such risks to preserve the integrity of science education in our public schools." He added, "We'd like to think that all sides would now abide by the judge's decision and unify around the goal of improving science education -- this is crucial in our increasingly competitive world. But at a minimum, we hope this decision will discourage efforts to introduce Intelligent Design into science classes in other communities. We should stick to teaching science in science classes -- that's best for our students, and best for the long-term scientific and economic strength of our nation." The American Institute of Biological Sciences and the American Society for Cell Biology agreed. In a statement dated December 21, 2005, ASCB's president Zena Werb said, "Yesterday was a great day for science education. ... The ruling by Judge Jones preserves the notion that science classrooms are solely for the teaching of science." And the incoming president of AIBS, Kent Holsinger, said in a statement dated December 20, 2005, "The real winners of this case are Dover students ... Students should be able to learn about the nature of science, which can be tested based on our observations of the natural world. Intelligent design does not fit that criterion."
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the American Civil Liberties Union, and People for the American Way all also praised Judge Jones's decision. AU, which with the Pennsylvania ACLU and Pepper Hamilton LLP represented the plaintiffs, issued a statement on December 20, 2005, describing the decision as "a significant blow to Religious Right-led efforts to sneak fundamentalist dogma into public schools under the guise of science." AU's executive director, the Reverend Barry Lynn, said, "This is a tremendous victory for public schools and religious freedom ... It means that school board members have no right to impose their personal religious beliefs on students through the school curriculum," adding, "Public schools should teach science in science class, and let parents make their own decisions about religion." Anthony D. Romero, the executive director of the ACLU, said in a statement issued on December 20, 2005, "We are extremely pleased that the court recognized that 'intelligent design' is not science and that it also is not constitutional ... As the court recognized, activists sought to bring 'intelligent design' into Dover as a test case, and in the process, brought division to a small community. We hope today's decision sends a strong message to proponents of creationism that it is inappropriate to attempt to advance a particular religious belief at the expense of our children's education." People For the American Way Foundation President Ralph G. Neas concurred, saying in a statement dated December 20, 2005, "Today's ruling is a momentous affirmation of the Constitution's prohibition of government endorsement of religion ... The court recognized that 'intelligent design' is nothing more than religious creationism in disguise, and that, as such, it may not be taught as science in public schools. This decision is a resounding victory for science education, for public school students, and for the Constitution."
Praise for the Kitzmiller verdict was similarly unstinted in editorial pages across the country. The New York Times's editorial (December 22, 2005) described Judge Jones's decision as "a striking repudiation of intelligent design" and noted that it could not be taken as the product of a liberal activist judge: "He is a lifelong Republican, appointed to the bench by President Bush, and has been praised for his integrity and intellect. Indeed, as the judge pointed out, the real activists in this case were ill-informed school board members, aided by a public interest law firm that promotes Christian values, who combined to drive the board to adopt an imprudent and unconstitutional policy." Alluding to ongoing controversies in Georgia and Kansas, the editorial writer also remarked, "No one believes that this thoroughgoing repudiation of intelligent design will end the incessant warfare over evolution. But any community that is worried about the ability of its students to compete in a global economy would be wise to keep supernatural explanations out of its science classes." The Washington Post's editorial (December 22, 2005) characterized the decision as "a model for judicial consideration of the proliferating effort to use intelligent design to undermine the teaching of biology." The Los Angeles Times's editorial (December 22, 2005) concluded, "The Dover schools come out bruised but wiser, after dragging students and parents through what the judge labeled 'this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.' Recent elections threw out the school board's intelligent design crowd, and the district will not appeal. No doubt other school board members elsewhere will make the same mistakes, raising legal troubles instead of academic standards. But perhaps Jones' sweeping and sometimes acerbic ruling will dissuade a few of the smarter ones from trying."
The Kitzmiller decision is also receiving kudos from legal commentators. In The Legal Intelligencer (December 21, 2005), Hank Grezlak wrote, "What [Judge Jones] did in his opinion, systematically and ruthlessly, was expose intelligent design as creationism, minus the biblical fig leaf, and advanced by those with a clear, unscientific agenda: to get God (more specifically, a Christian one) back into the sciences." Interviewed on CNN (December 20, 2005), Jeffrey Toobin described the decision as "a major, major decision" that "will be a very important precedent that other judges will look to in deciding whether intelligent design may be tried elsewhere in the country." And in his analysis for CBS News (December 21, 2005), Andrew Cohen wrote, "According to the evidence as evaluated by Judge Jones, a bunch of manipulative board members in Dover decided that they wanted to inject into the science curriculum of their public schools a religious element that they knew or reasonably should have known to be impermissible under the First Amendment. Yet they tried anyway, going to somewhat comical lengths to try to get around what they knew or should have known was well-established and well-reasoned law. In so doing, they subjected themselves to scorn and the notion of Intelligent Design to the kind of scrutiny it clearly could not withstand." He added, "Darwin would be proud of this ruling. And come to think of it, so would Clarence Darrow."
Meanwhile, back in Dover, Pennsylvania, the local papers are in agreement. The York Dispatch's editorial (December 21, 2005) was caustic about the board's support of the objectionable policy: "Judge Jones in his 139-page ruling said the 'citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID policy.' The judge was being too kind by several degrees. In violating the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution, the board members -- especially those who lied on the witness stand in a pathetic attempt to defend their insistence on teaching creationism along with valid science -- threw their oaths as public servants to uphold the law out the window. In demanding that ninth-grade biology students be informed that alternatives existed to the Darwinian theory of evolution, the purely religious motives of creationism supporters was more than obvious. They encouraged students to keep an open mind, while offering intelligent design as the only alternative. That's a religious view and a clear violation of the Constitution." And the York Daily Record's editorial (December 21, 2005) said, "Judge Jones got it exactly right, eviscerating the pathetic case put forth by the defense," and called for the investigation of perjury charges against former board members William Buckingham and Alan Bonsell -- a call that was apparently heeded; the Harrisburg Patriot-News (December 22, 2005) reports that a federal prosecutor is reviewing the testimony in order to determine whether charges ought to be filed.
For NCSE's collection of information on Kitzmiller v. Dover, visit:
For Judge Jones's decision in the case (PDF), visit:
For the statements from NSTA and NABT, visit:
For the statements from AAAS, ASCB, and AIBS, visit:
For the statements from AU, ACLU, and PFAW, visit:
For the editorials from The New York Times, the Washington Post, and
Los Angeles Times, visit:
For the legal commentaries from Grezlak, Toobin, and Cohen, visit:
For the editorials from the York Dispatch and the York Daily Record,
And for the Harrisburg Patriot-News's story about possible perjury
DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN
Writing in the Washington Post (December 17, 2005) on the topic of what "intelligent design" textbooks would actually teach, Douglas Baynton discusses textbooks from the nineteenth century. "The one science course routinely taught in elementary schools back then was geography," he writes, and the textbooks used were "compendiums of knowledge intended to teach children a little of everything about Earth and its inhabitants." In addition, however, they "seem also to have been intended to provide solace for the existentially anxious." Baynton quotes a number of passages that might have been taken from the latest work of "intelligent design" apologetics: for example, "the physical phenomena of the world reveal in their harmonious action a unity of plan and purpose, and display in an infinite variety of ways the 'Power, Wisdom and Goodness of the Almighty Designer.'"
One problem with such thoughts, Baynton suggests, is their parochialism: "if you've concluded that the world is designed for humans, there is no compelling reason to stop there. Why not a world made not just for your species but also for your race, your nation, your moment in history?" More problematic, though, is their scientific sterility: "useful answers that open up further questions are replaced by answers that are emotionally satisfying but intellectual and practical dead ends. After all, once you know that mountains exist because they were meant to exist, what is left to do but to sit in your armchair and meditate on the wisdom of their design?" Baynton, who teaches history at the University of Iowa, concludes by remarking, "The details have changed, but the fundamental habits of thought at issue have not."
For Baynton's op-ed in the Washington Post, visit: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/16/AR2005121601559.html
For a colloquy with Baynton on his op-ed, visit:
NCJW ADDS ITS VOICE FOR EVOLUTION
In a statement released on December 6, 2005, the National Council of Jewish Women expressed its opposition to "the current campaign to add intelligent design to public school curricula and classrooms and to denigrate the teaching of evolution." The statement describes "intelligent design" as "not a scientific theory, but rather an effort to explain the origins of the earth and human life in religious terms," adding, "As such, it has no place in the public schools that are funded by tax dollars." NCJW is a volunteer organization, inspired by Jewish values, that works to improve the quality of life for women, children, and families and to ensure individual rights and freedoms for all through its network of 90,000 members, supporters, and volunteers nationwide.
For full text of the NCJW statement, visit:
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Thanks for reading! And as always, be sure to consult NCSE's web site: http://www.ncseweb.org where you can always find the latest news on evolution education and threats to it.
With best wishes for the holiday season,
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
Eugenie C. Scott's Evolution vs. Creationism is now available: http://www.ncseweb.org/evc
SEATTLE, Dec. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- "Judge Jones' decision about teaching intelligent design is legally irrelevant for Ohio's Critical Analysis of Evolution model science curriculum," says legal scholar and Gonzaga University law professor David DeWolf, in response to calls from critics that the lesson plan should be repealed by the state board of education.
"The U.S. Supreme Court laid down the foundation for this body of law nearly 20 years ago when they wrote that 'scientific critiques' of 'prevailing scientific theories' may be taught in public schools," said DeWolf, also a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science & Culture. "Not only is Ohio outside of Judge Jones' legal jurisdiction, but the Ohio State science education standards explicitly acknowledge that they do not require the teaching of intelligent design, so his determination that intelligent design is not science doesn't affect the actions of the Ohio Board of Education."
Ohio's "Critical Analysis of Evolution" model lesson plan was created to implement a benchmark in the Ohio state science standards which requires students to be able to "describe how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory." The standards also clearly state that they do not endorse teaching intelligent design.
The Ohio lesson plan does not discuss religion or alternative scientific theories such as intelligent design. Created with input from a science advisory committee that included teachers, science educators, and scientists from across Ohio, the lesson plan was defended by a number of scientists in public testimony before the state board of education adopted it in 2004.
Some Ohio critics of intelligent design are now talking about limiting the state's teaching of scientific evidence which challenges Darwinian evolution. "Unlike the ACLU, we want students to learn more about evolution, not less," said Dr. John West, associate director of Discovery Institute's Center for Science & Culture. "Students need to learn Darwinian evolution because it is the dominant theory of biological evolution. But, they also need to learn about some of the scientific evidence that challenges parts of the theory." "Judge Jones thought he could write the definitive opinion that would spare the rest of the country the need to think further about these issues," added DeWolf. "But our governmental structure provides for a multiplicity of voices, including the United States Congress, state boards of education, and legislatures, whose views are quite different from Judge Jones' about the value of teaching the controversy. To borrow from Mark Twain, the reports of the death of the controversy have been greatly exaggerated."
SOURCE Discovery Institute
Web Site: http://www.discovery.org
Chuck Muth December 26, 2005
I sure hope Sen. Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania Republican, has a good chiropractor. 'Cause he's gonna need one by the time this election year is over - what with all his flip-flops, back-flips and political 180s. Either that, or he's got a great future as an Olympic gymnast if his senatorial career comes to an end next November.
I'm trying to keep track of all the strange things Santorum has said and done since kicking his base in the teeth last year when he aggressively stumped for liberal Republican incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter, who was being challenged by conservative Rep. Pat Toomey. But the list is just getting too long - including supporting Specter for Judiciary Committee chairman and calling for a hike in the minimum wage..
Nevertheless, social conservatives have stood by their man, through thick and thin. He hasn't been able to shake their loyalty. Call it "Battered Conservative Syndrome." But maybe some of them will now finally have had enough. Perhaps the latest from Sen. Santorum will be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel's back.
As I'm sure you've read, a federal judge ruled last week that an updated version of "creationism," now called "intelligent design," could not be taught in the Dover School District as science. Social conservatives are, as you would expect, outraged by the decision. As surely Sen. Santorum must be, right? After all, Santorum wrote an op/ed in 2002 declaring that intelligent design "is a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes."
Ah, but that was in 2002. This is an election year. And "Election Year Rick," as his Democrat opposition is now calling him, is singing an entirely different tune now.
An organization called the Thomas More Law Center defended the Dover School District's decision to teach intelligent design in its science classes. Santorum is on the advisory board of the Thomas More Law Center.
Or I should say, WAS on the advisory board. He quit last week, telling the Philadelphia Inquirer, "I thought the Thomas More Law Center made a huge mistake in taking this case and in pushing this case to the extent they did."
If Santorum thought intelligent design was "a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes," why is he now resigning from a Christian-rights organization which defended the school district that said intelligent design was a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes?
Santorum's election-year political rush to the middle just might leave his base behind. It's a high-risk gamble on his part. He's betting there's nothing he can do to cause his conservative supporters to stay home on election day or vote for another candidate. I hope he's not betting the farm on it.
Or at least has Olga Korbut as his campaign manager.
Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a non-profit public policy advocacy organization in Washington, D.C. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Citizen Outreach. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, December 26, 2005
Roger Olson Guest column
Intelligent design theory. Christmas vs. "holidays." "In God We Trust" and "One nation under God." All causes of controversy and even division between equally good American citizens. All also the objects of skeptical laughter on television comedy shows.
Why do some people want to inject God into public discourse? Why do they object to what theologian Richard John Neuhaus calls "the naked public square?" Are such people throwbacks to the days when Puritans ruled New England as a theocracy? Do they not understand separation of church and state and religious pluralism?
Some are and don't. I see and hear far too much ignorant ranting and raving from the religious right. Some self-appointed spokespersons for American Christianity do seem to want a theocracy where their favorite ministers tell government what to do. Some appear to be insensitive to non-Christians who they want to marginalize if not silence.
But not all talk of returning God and religion to public prominence is of that ilk. Some folks who argue for teaching intelligent design theory in public schools and keeping God in public spaces have a different concern from the theocrats who seem to be running the religious right. Careful observers will learn to make this distinction.
The concern many people (and not only fundamentalist Christians) have is whether it is really possible to be good without God. Of course, they know that there are atheists who are good people. That's not the point. The point is to ask whether in the long run society can hold onto objective values and morality such as respect and compassion for others without belief in God or something like God.
Without God ...
If God does not exist, so many philosophers have wondered, what is the basis for objective right and wrong? Without God, wouldn't might make right? Wouldn't nature, the only reality, justify survival of the fittest even among humans? Without God, why live anything but a totally selfish life? Why help the weak? Without appealing to something beyond ourselves and nature, how can we urge, even expect ourselves and others to be good?
One answer often given is enlightened self-interest. Indeed, without God that would seem to be the only basis for morality. But what if someone can figure out a way to enhance his or her happiness at the detriment of others? What if such a person does not care about the common good? Can it be proved that one's own well-being depends on the well-being of everyone else? Our consumerist, materialist society would seem to undermine that optimistic belief.
In the final analysis, to what can I appeal to challenge power and authority when it becomes corrupt? What if it appears that corrupt power and authority will win in this world? To what can I appeal to call individuals to be accountable to and for their neighbors? What can I say to the adolescent who is convinced that he or she should live only for pleasure?
Philosophers, not only theologians, have long argued that apart from God (or something like God), objective morality, right and wrong above individual taste or social convention, has no foundation. This is what concerns many people who deplore the increasing secularization of the public square; it leaves people who have power (or think they do) unaccountable so long as they are sure they can win.
The popular song "From a Distance" says "God is watching us." That's the sentiment behind movements to keep God in public discourse and return God even to public schools. It's isn't necessarily that people want an established church or religion. They want an ethical norm in the public square higher than self-interest.
Roger Olson is a religion professor at George W. Truett Theological Seminary.
Article Last Updated: 12/26/2005 01:21:48 PM
New board members will evaluate the options
CHRISTINA KAUFFMAN The York Dispatch
Intelligent design has seen its last days in science classes at Dover Area School District, but a newly elected school board and teachers are considering whether to leave it -- or a variation of it -- in the curriculum at all.
At next week's board meeting, the board must revoke a policy to mention intelligent design in science classes. The policy was put in place last year by the former board, but a federal judge has ruled that teaching intelligent design in science classes is unconstitutional.
New school board president Bernadette Reinking said that she would like to see a Religions of the World class coming out of the history department.
She said teachers are looking into how to present a class about world religions, which would touch on all religions and could be offered as an elective and added to the course lineup if enough students are interested.
"Intelligent design" might not be called "intelligent design," but rather represented in the Christian religious story of creation, Reinking said.
Board member Patricia Dapp said she is in favor of providing diversity in courses, dealing with all sorts of religions.
"I think that helps broaden a child's knowledge," she said.
Board member Judy McIlvaine said intelligent design is "certainly a cultural issue that kids should be able to see in its cultural and religious context, and discuss it."
Under the previous board's policy, discussion of intelligent design was not permitted. A four-paragraph statement about evolution and intelligent design was read to students in science class by an administrator, but students weren't allowed to ask their teachers questions.
And though the controversial subject might remain in the school -- in some form -- by way of electives curriculum, the new board members have made it clear that they intend to stray as far as possible from the old board's method of implementing the intelligent design policy.
"I think that one of the things that is so important ... is to not do anything with blinders on," said school board member Patricia Dapp. "We need to seek input from the experts (the teachers) and get input from all the other people, the community, parents. There has been such interest and diverse opinions regarding intelligent design, and because of that we need to do due diligence and make sure the decisions we make are good ones and everyone's input is considered."
In his decision, the judge said that the former board strayed from its own curriculum-adoption protocol and ignored the advice of its teachers because board members wanted to push intelligent design into curriculum.
Residents also complained that the board ignored their comments.
"The question is, 'Do they want it?'" board member Larry Gurreri said of intelligent design.
Reinking said that also of paramount importance is making sure the policy the new board adopts is constitutional.
'Of Pandas and People': As part of the former board's policy, about 60 copies of the intelligent design textbook "Of Pandas and People" were placed in the library. Some new board members said the book can stay there.
Reinking said she supports removing 59 of the books and leaving one copy, "which is what we have of any other book."
She said the Library of Congress says the book belongs in a general science area, so the school librarian will follow those guidelines.
McIlvaine and Gurreri said they don't think the book should be located in the science section of the library because it isn't science, but it should be in the library.
"We're not in the business of censoring books," McIlvaine said.
Gurreri said he plans to read the book, which has been the subject of controversy because early drafts of it talked about creationism, because he doesn't want to "vote for something but not know what it says."
-- Reach Christina Kauff man at 505-5434 or email@example.com.
Dec 27, 2005 by Cal Thomas
The decision by U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III to bar the teaching of "intelligent design" in the Dover, Pennsylvania public school district on grounds it is a thinly veiled effort to introduce a religious view of the world's origins is welcome for at least two reasons.
First, it exposes the sham attempt to take through the back door what proponents have no chance of getting through the front door. Judge Jones rebuked advocates of "intelligent design," saying they repeatedly lied about their true intentions. He noted many of them had said publicly that their intent was to introduce into the schools a biblical account of creation. Judge Jones properly wondered how people who claim to have such strong religious convictions could lie, thus violating prohibitions in the Book they proclaim as their source of truth and standard for living.
Culture has long passed by advocates of intelligent design, school prayer and numerous other beliefs and practices that were once tolerated, even promoted, in public education. People who think they can reclaim the past have been watching too many repeats of "Leave it to Beaver" on cable television. Those days are not coming back anytime soon, if at all.
Culture, including the culture of education, now opposes what it once promoted or at least tolerated. The secular left, which resists censorship in all its forms when it comes to sex, library books and assigned materials that teach the "evils" of capitalism and "evil America," is happy to censor any belief that can be tagged "religious."
Judge Jones' ruling will be appealed and after it is eventually and predictably upheld by a Supreme Court dominated by Republican appointees (Judge Jones was named to the federal bench by President George W. Bush, who has advocated the teaching of creation), those who have tried to make the state do its job for them will have yet another opportunity to wise-up.
This leads to the second reason for welcoming Judge Jones' ruling. It should awaken religious conservatives to the futility of trying to make a secular state reflect their beliefs. Too many people have wasted too much time and money since the 1960s, when prayer and Bible reading were outlawed in public schools, trying to get these and a lot of other things restored. The modern secular state should not be expected to teach Genesis 1, or any other book of the Bible, or any other religious text.
That the state once did such things, or at least did not undermine what parents taught their children, is irrelevant. The culture in which we now live no longer reflects the beliefs of our grandparents' generation. For better, or for worse (and a strong case can be made that things are much worse), people who cling to the beliefs of previous generations have been given another chance to do what they should have been doing all along.
Religious parents should exercise the opportunity that has always been theirs. They should remove their children from state schools with their "instruction manuals" for turning them into secular liberals, and place them in private schools - or home school them - where they will be taught the truth, according to their parents' beliefs. Too many parents who would never send their children to a church on Sunday that taught doctrines they believed to be wrong, have had no problem placing them in state schools five days a week where they are taught conflicting doctrines and ideas.
Private schools or home schooling cost extra money (another reason to favor school choice) and extra time, but what is a child worth? Surely, a child is more valuable than material possessions.
Our children are our letters to the future. It's up to parents to decide whether they want to send them "first class" or "postage due."
Rulings such as this should persuade parents who've been waffling to take their kids and join the growing exodus from state schools into educational environments more conducive to their beliefs.
Cal Thomas is a contributing columnist for Townhall.com
Copyright © 2005 Tribune Media Services
By Tom Bethell December 26, 2005
Evolutionists are ecstatic about U.S. District Judge John E. Jones's ruling in the Dover, Pa., school board case, claiming it is a major setback for the intelligent design movement. The judge declared intelligent design cannot be so much as discussed in biology classrooms in area public schools -- a prohibition giving rise to free-speech concerns. Intelligent design is a "mere relabeling of creationism," he said.
But it is doubtful this ruling is even remotely a setback for intelligent design. For decades, the judiciary has dealt these "setbacks" to any and all critics of evolution. In that time, the intelligent design movement, which began perhaps 20 years ago, has gone from strength to strength.
If it had been advanced courtesy of the public schools, the judge's ruling would indeed have been a setback. But the schools had nothing to do with it. Intelligent design has gained adherents because a sizable number of Americans are capable of reading and thinking for themselves.
The best-known advocates of intelligent design have not attempted to advance their cause through state coercion in the schools. They understand how counterproductive such a strategy can be. Liberalism got a bad name to the extent that legislatures and courts tried to make it compulsory and its rivals illegal. The leading institutional supporter of intelligent design, the Discovery Institute in Seattle, issued a public statement after the judge's ruling, saying it "continues to oppose efforts to mandate teaching about the theory of intelligent design in public schools."
Discovery had opposed the original school board's mandating a brief statement in favor of intelligent design to be read to ninth-grade biology students. It is that school board action that was declared unconstitutional by the judge.
Attempts in the 1980s to legislate "balanced treatment" of life's origins were Bible-based and could legitimately be called "creationist." All were struck down, eventually by the Supreme Court. But contrary to Judge Jones's ruling, arguments that incline people to accept intelligent design are scientific, and to that extent, appropriate to the science class. They deal with such matters as the complexity of organisms at the cellular and microcellular level, the paucity of the fossil record, which has not revealed the transitional forms Darwinians anticipated, and the feebleness of the Darwinian mechanism of evolution ("the survival of the fittest.")
Still, this doesn't explain why design-based theories have gained so much traction in recent years. Perhaps the most important reason has been overlooked. The rise of computer science and information technology has caused many intelligent people not just to think about issues of design and the difficulties involved.
Software designers understand how precisely such information must be specified. There is no room for error. Yet each cell of the body contains a DNA chain of 3 billion nucleotides, encoded in such a way it specifies construction of all the proteins.
No one knows the source of this code or how it arose. It cannot have been by accident, but accident is the only method available to the evolutionists, who believe as a matter of dogma that early life arose from the random collision of atoms and molecules and nothing else.
It used to be said most of the DNA is "junk," because it didn't seem to do anything useful. But leading genome scientists such as Francis Collins of the National Human Genome Research Institute no longer believe that. And Microsoft's Bill Gates has said DNA "is like a computer program, but far, far more advanced than any software we have created."
The British philosopher Antony Flew said a year ago he was emboldened to turn away from atheism because he saw the implications of the structure of DNA. The cell itself, thought in Darwin's day to be a "simple little lump of protoplasm," is now understood to have the complexity of a high-tech factory. There are 300 trillion cells in the human body, and each "knows" its function. Cell biologists do not know how these things happen, or how they arose.
In recent weeks, I have been on many talk-radio programs, discussing my book "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science," which includes chapters on evolution and intelligent design. What I can attest from this experience is that intelligent design arouses passionate reactions -- on both sides of the issue. The phone-banks light up, as talk show hosts tell me. People are intensely interested, and (to the dismay of some professionals in the field) they feel entitled to have an opinion and express it.
I dare say not one of these people developed their interest in public school. This interest will surely only increase in the years ahead. If the Pennsylvania case acts as a precedent, students in public schools will not be allowed to learn about these things in biology. But when did such prohibitions ever work?
Some students are already sure to be thinking: "What is it in biology that we are not allowed to be taught?" Books banned in Boston notoriously became best-sellers, and design banned from biology will resurface in computer studies. Or is Bill Gates to be relabeled a closet creationist?
Tom Bethell is the author of "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science" (Regnery Publishing, 2005).
By Daniel A. Ricker
Questioned about the national debate over ''intelligent design,'' Gov. Jeb Bush last week said he's more interested in seeing some evolution of the science standards that Florida public school students must meet.
He wants those standards to become more rigorous -- and raising the standards should take priority over discussing whether intelligent design has a place in the public schools' curriculum, he said.
Nationally, the discussion over whether to teach intelligent design -- a concept that says life is too complex to have occurred without the involvement of a higher force -- in public school classes heated up after U.S. District Judge John E. Jones ruled that it smacked of creationism and was a violation of church and state separation. (President Bush appointed Jones to the federal bench in 2004.)
Jones, in his decision, wrote that the concept of intelligent design ''cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents,'' according to a Knight Ridder News Service report published Wednesday in The Miami Herald.
In Florida, education officials and science teachers will be reviewing the state's science curriculum in 2007 or 2008, after the governor has left office, and ''it is possible that people would make an effort to include [intelligent design] in the debate,'' Gov. Bush told The Watchdog Report on Wednesday. ''My personal belief is we ought to look at whether our standards are high first,'' he said.
``The more important point is science itself and how important it is, and we right now have adequate standards that may need to be raised. But worse: Students are not given the course work necessary to do well with those standards.''
Bush, after meeting with Coral Gables Mayor Don Slesnick and city commissioners concerning the community's widespread power outages after hurricanes Katrina and Wilma, also noted that the federal ruling came in a case that involves Pennsylvania's Dover Area School District.
''It is one school district in Pennsylvania,'' he said.
POINT OF VIEW
The Watchdog Report asked a follow-up question: Does the governor believe in Darwin's theory of evolution?
Bush said: ``Yeah, but I don't think it should actually be part of the curriculum, to be honest with you. And people have different points of view and they can be discussed at school, but it does not need to be in the curriculum.''
Posted December 25 2005
I'd like to weigh in on the controversy swirling around Darwin's revelation of evolution vs. the attempt to undermine it with the trick phrase, "intelligent design."
Granted, there are so many aspects of the enormous universe that are difficult or even impossible to understand.
But my failure to understand the many baffling aspects of this vastly complicated world of ours doesn't necessarily "prove" the existence of an "Intelligent Being." Some would use this term as the code word for God. OK, let's go with God. The creationists, or those promoting the newly evolved term, "intelligent design," would have us believe that simply because our planet is so vastly complex it had to have been created by God.
And so I must ask, do you think He did a good job of it? Would a kind and benevolent God allow his children to die so horribly from devastating illnesses so numerous that they are beyond number? To allow so many thousands of innocent men, women and children to be swept away by that horrendous tsunami? Would God have allowed the Holocaust to have devastated Europe and allowed millions of innocent people to perish? Would you, if you could, put a sun in the sky that is dangerous to your children? If you would not, why would God have done so?
And I wonder why it is that the believers in "intelligent design" are so frightened by the concept of evolution? When you think about it, we've been successfully creating different life forms by controlled evolution for many years, which readily explains the huge number of different breeds of cats and dogs (all breeds of which are descendants of the wild wolves), and greatly improved cattle for our benefit. So many changes and improvements have been achieved by geneticists who successfully manipulate the DNA of living things that in the end are so beneficial to us. And if such manipulations can be controlled by human hands and minds, why is it not possible to have other living organisms similarly evolve by random natural selection over the course of many centuries?
"Intelligent design" is a matter of faith, none of which is verifiable. It may belong in the home, or in houses of worship, or in parochial schools, but not alongside science curriculum in public schools.
By Kimm Groshong Staff Writer
Article Launched: 12/25/2005 12:00:00 AM
Concluding one of the most high-profile evolution cases since the 1925 Scopes "monkey trial," Republican Judge John Jones III ruled last week that intelligent design is not science, but a religious argument, and therefore has no place in the science classroom.
He handed a clear victory to Pennsylvania parents in the Dover Area School District who claimed a statement the school board wanted read in biology classes was unconstitutional.
The board's 10-sentence statement said that there are gaps in the theory of evolution, which is only a theory, and that "Intelligent Design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin's view."
More important than the action affecting a single school district was Jones' 139-page opinion. Therein, he highlighted the intelligent design movement's flaws and used the history of creationism to describe its proponents' motivation to undermine science. He put intelligent design into context, shred it to pieces and served it up, complete with the movement's gaping holes in logic. The Discovery Institute, a hub of intelligent design activity, took a serious hit in Jones' analysis of its so-called Wedge Document.
Jones wrote, "A careful review of the Wedge Document's goals and language throughout the document reveals cultural and religious goals, as opposed to scientific ones. ID aspires to change the ground rules of science to make room for religion, specifically beliefs consonant with a particular version of Christianity."
The judge even focused on individual intelligent-design proponents, including the lead expert for the defendants, professor Michael Behe of Lehigh University. Jones said in his decision that Behe's "testimony at trial indicated that ID is only a scientific, as opposed to a religious, project for him; however, considerable evidence was introduced to refute this claim."
Then there was the book, "Pandas and People," which the school board recommended for students wanting to learn more about intelligent design. Jones said two creationists wrote the book as a creation science textbook. It was changed, Jones said, after the 1987 Supreme Court decision against creation science in the public school science classroom, but only with the swapping of intelligent design for creation science.
The six-week trial included 21 days of expert testimony and Jones said no evidence that intelligent design had any peer-reviewed research, data or publications had come before the court. Without those, it's simply not science.
The judge summed up the problems weighing against the district's statement, saying it "singles out the theory of evolution for special treatment, misrepresents its status in the scientific community, causes students to doubt its validity about scientific justification, presents students with a religious alternative masquerading as a scientific theory, directs them to consult a creationist text as though it were a science resource, and instructs students to forego scientific inquiry in the public school classroom and instead to seek out religious instruction elsewhere."
Other than that, it was great.
(626) 578-6300, Ext. 4451
Catholic professor testifies on behalf of school policy's foes
Updated: 11:13 p.m. ET Sept. 30, 2005
HARRISBURG, Pa. - "Intelligent design" is vastly similar to creationism and should be taught as religion, not science, a Catholic theologian testified Friday, on the fifth day of a trial over whether the concept belongs in a public school science curriculum as an alternative to evolution.
Georgetown University theology professor John F. Haught said that while intelligent-design proponents do not explicitly identify God as the creator of life, the concept is "essentially a religious proposition."
"I understand it to be a reformulation of an old theological argument for the existence of God," he said.
Haught testified as an expert witness on behalf of eight families who are trying to have a reference to intelligent design removed from the Dover Area School District's biology curriculum. The families contend that it effectively promotes the Bible's view of creation, violating constitutional guarantees on freedom of religion.
Under the policy approved by Dover's school board in October 2004, students must hear a brief statement about intelligent design before classes on evolution. It says Charles Darwin's theory is "not a fact," has inexplicable "gaps," and refers students to an intelligent-design textbook for more information.
Intelligent-design supporters argue that life on Earth was the product of an unidentified intelligent force, and that natural selection cannot fully explain the development of complex life from simpler forms.
No conflict between science and religion?
Haught said there is no conflict between science and religion because they represent different levels of explanation for phenomena.
"When we have a failure to distinguish science from religion, then confusion will follow," Haught said. "Science and religion cannot logically stand in a competitive relationship with each other."
During cross-examination, Richard Thompson, a lawyer representing the school district, asked Haught to draw distinctions between intelligent design and creationism.
Haught conceded that not all intelligent-design supporters literally interpret the Bible, but said the two concepts only differ "in the same sense that an orange is different than a navel orange."
The plaintiffs are represented by a team put together by the American Civil Liberties Union, and the school district by the Thomas More Law Center, a public-interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Mich., that says its mission is to defend the religious freedom of Christians.
The trial is scheduled to resume Wednesday and is expected to last as long as five weeks.
© 2005 The Associated Press.
Dwight E. Williams, Midland Daily News 12/25/2005
A recent editorial in the Midland Daily News seems to promote the notion that intelligent design (ID) should be taught as an alternative to evolutionary theory (ET) in our nation's schools, preferably in science classes alongside ET. The editorial further asserts about people who trust in God, "no doubt you will be saying it's about time the cracks in evolution were exposed." Should Christians oppose ET and support teaching such faith-based alternatives as ID in our public schools?
Several thoughtful letters were recently published by the Daily News in rebuttal to that editorial. I would like to explore the situation from the viewpoint of one who is both a Christian and a scientist.
ET may be defined as a two-part concept which has been upheld time and again by the weight of countless observable facts. Those facts could have disproved evolution, but in fact agreed with it: That feature of being vulnerable to but surviving disproof places it soundly in the realm of science, not of faith.
The first part of ET is the overwhelmingly verified observation that biological descent occurs, in the sense that all complex life, both plants and animals including ourselves, are distant descendents of much simpler life forms. The second part is that this biological descent is driven by changing conditions and mechanisms, including the passage of unimaginably long expanses of geological time and such mechanisms as changes in the environment, population isolation, genetic drift, benign mutations and "survival of the fittest".
Some internal aspects of ET are still being explored and modified by scientists. Such ferment is characteristic of the continual inspection and improvement to which all scientific theories are subject. The theories of gravitation, of electromagnetism, of quantum behavior, etc. have all experienced minor modifications over the years, and will continue to do so. This ferment is sometimes cited by believers in ID or by creationists as contradicting ET. Such continuing activity is directed toward refinements to ET and in no way threatens the validity of its overall structure or challenges the well-established fact of biological descent itself.
Intelligent design, in contrast, is a faith-driven hypothesis which asserts that life is so complex it had to have been designed by a higher being, and could not have arisen in all of its complexity by accident. Some who so believe even admit biological descent has occurred, but believe that that descent was controlled by the designer. There is no way to disprove the hypothesis: That feature of not being vulnerable to disproof takes it completely from the realm of science and into the realm of faith.
Promoters of ID attempt to distinguish it from creationism to make the former more acceptable for teaching in public schools. Strict creationism is based upon faith that the first few verses of the Bible, in Genesis, provide an exact description, time-scale, sequence, and prime cause for the creation of the universe, the world and the life in it.
Historically, some Christians have felt their faith was threatened by the concept of evolution. Even Darwin's wife was convinced his evolutionary theory was leading him straight to hell. She "had other plans for herself, and was tormented to think that they would spend eternity apart" from each other. And Darwin himself waited over two decades to publish his revolutionary work, wrote Jerry Adler, staff writer of Newsweek in the Nov. 28 issue.
That was then; this is now. It has become clear to many Christian theologians over the course of the past 150 years that evolutionary theory and faith in Christ are by no means mutually exclusive.
These theologians have noted that God's early revelations recorded in the first part of the Old Testament were made to people who possessed neither the vocabulary nor the conceptual framework to render an accurate description of the beginning of the world. Talk of the "big bang", of microwave ripples, of the consequences of hidden energy to cause large scale structure in the universe, of time durations unimaginably long, of the mutability of both mountain ranges and DNA would have gone in one ear and out the other: They would not have had the words to say or the mind to hear a scientifically accurate description of the universe or the life within it. What they did have was the guidance and inspiration of God: Christians believe the writers of that Testament well-depicted God's existence and relationship with His creation, especially with humankind.
There have been other instances in the course of Christian church history where believers had developed a world-picture that turned out to be at odds with scientific development and a growing understanding of how the world works. Galileo's long persecution by the Catholic Church for daring to assert that humankind's world was not the center of the universe comes to mind. I wonder whether there might have been an earlier Newton, never heard from since, who dreamed about the fall of an apple, but then said to him or herself, "God is too omnipotent to be pinned down by such a simple inverse square law," and then dropped the matter.
As an active member of my church who also has earned an advanced degree in chemistry, I certainly feel my faith and my science are compatible. In fact, in some mysterious way that is beyond my own finite understanding, I believe that God directs evolution. But that is a statement of my faith and not of scientific principle.
I believe it is harmful to both government and faith to intertwine church and state. I am very comfortable with my faith. But I would be most uncomfortable if it were to be taught in our public schools, especially in science classes.
Thank you for your attention.
Dwight E. Williams, PhD., is a Midland resident.
©Midland Daily News 2005
INTELLIGENT DESIGN: DOVER DECISION DESTINED TO BE BESTSELLER.
"Our conclusion today," wrote United States District Judge John E. Jones III, "is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school classroom." You must read 137 pages to get to that line, but it's time well spent. Jones, a conservative Republican appointed by George W. Bush, reviews the "legal landscape" of church-state separation, and then addresses the key question of whether ID is science or religion. He does so, "in the hope that it may prevent the obvious waste of resources on subsequent trials." Science, he observes, "rejects appeal to authority in favor of empirical evidence," whereas, "ID is not supported by any peer-reviewed research, data or publications." Not only does he enjoin Dover schools from teaching ID, he says the parents who brought suit are entitled to damages. That may cool the ardor of other school boards thinking of hopping in bed with the Discovery Institute. In the Senate, Rick Santorum (R-PA), who had earlier praised the Dover School Board for "teaching the controversy," was so moved by the Jones decision that he severed his ties to the Thomas Moore Law Center, which had defended the Board.
THIS IS HEAVEN? YOU MAY WANT TO ASK ABOUT THE ALTERNATIVES.
Having just read Judge Jones "passionate paean to science," I turned on "Heaven: Where Is It? How Do We Get There," a two-hour special on ABC. The only hard information was that 90 percent of the public believes in it, whatever it is. That's scary, but how could ABC spend two hours on something for which there is no evidence whatever? Easy, have Barbara Walters interview experts, from mega-church evangelist Ted Haggard, who explains Heaven is only for born-again Christians, to a failed suicide bomber in a Jerusalem prison who was certain it's only for Muslims.
THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND.
Opinions are the author's and not necessarily shared by the University of Maryland, but they should be.
Archives of What's New can be found at http://www.bobpark.org
December 23, 2005
RUSH: This is Michael in Charlotte, Michigan. Nice to have you with us.
CALLER: Hello, Rush.
RUSH: Hello, sir.
CALLER: Yes. My axiom, which can be applied to all liberals, is: The God you make is the God you must defend. The God that made you needs no defense. With that said, I was wanting to know your opinion on the court rejecting the ability for high school teachers to mention intelligent design as an alternative viewpoint for how man came into being.
RUSH: Well, you know, I have mixed emotions about this on multiple levels. For one thing, it doesn't surprise me at all, just in the context of judicial activism. I think it's another great example of how we need different kinds of judges. I mean, I know the case ended up before the guy, but these are the kinds of cases that the school board had authorized and a bunch of parents sued and it ends up before this judge and this judge just discounts it on behalf of the district that he rules in, just discounts it. On the other hand, I do think this: I think that the people -- and I know why they're doing it, but I still think that it's a little bit disingenuous. Let's make no mistake. The people pushing intelligent design believe in the biblical version of creation. Intelligent design is a way, I think, to sneak it into the curriculum and make it less offensive to the liberals because it ostensibly does not involve religious overtones, that there is just some intelligent being far greater than anything any of us can even imagine that's responsible for all this, and of course I don't have any doubt of that. But I think that they're sort of pussyfooting around when they call it intelligent design.
Call it what it is. You believe God created the world, and you think that it's warranted that this kind of theory for the explanation for all that is be taught. On the other hand, I understand why they went with intelligent design, because they knew that calling it what I just called it gave it no chance. They wanted to sneak it in and at least have it exposed. Well, they realized they're dealing with liberals here, and liberals are intolerant when it comes to this. You can find all kinds of reasons to explain this, be it radical egalitarianism or self-loathing or what have you. And I think there are equal amounts of both that go into explaining this. But at the root of it is you have fear. The liberal cannot stand to be confronted with anything that would challenge the cocoon-like existence he or she has, so anything that does bounces off the cocoon in which they live. It's like a boundary that just doesn't permeate. Fact or not, it doesn't permeate. They will not even consider it. And when it threatens them -- see, I think if they were firm in their belief, if they were confident in their belief that evolution explains everything, they wouldn't mind a competing point of view because they could knock it down. They would relish the opportunity to defeat it. But they are threatened by it precisely because they fear it and they fear it because deep within themselves, they know that they're probably not right about this. But they don't have the guts or the temerity, the courage to admit that.
You got to understand who we're dealing with here, and they have now structured things such as this: when 95% of the people of the country agree with something, 5% of the country disagrees, the liberal will say the 5% must win because we can't hurt their feelings, we mustn't offend them. They already feel left out. We are excluding them from our society and our country. We are excluding their views, and we can't do that. And so the only fair thing to do is present nobody's views, except we will present our views, which don't threaten anybody because our views are the ones that everybody knows are right. And these are the 5 to 10% of the people that win the day on these kinds of arguments. Everybody is susceptible to the egalitarian argument and the egalitarian argument goes sort of like this: That perfection is possible in every human being, and that when a human being comes along who is not perfect, that person deserves our sympathy because that person who is not perfect is going to be shunned or made fun of or denied rights or what have you. So the liberal will take those people, whoever they are, whatever their so-called affliction or their behavior or existence that does not fit within the confines of what we define as normal, and champion them. And will make them heroes and will turn them into fearless crusaders against a tyrannical majority. And this is where I think the Christians in this country are suffering. They're viewed as a tyrannical majority, forcing their way on people, demanding that their way be believed and followed and heard when it's just the exact opposite.
The Christian majority in this country is the majority because it's the majority. It's the majority because of numbers. This is a democracy, a representative republic, and yet when any of the -- I don't care if it's a religious view or an environmental view or a political view, if it offends liberals who believe that nobody should go through life offended, with hurt feelings, then whatever is going on to cause that has got to be stopped. And they end up making these arguments and they are based in emotion and they're rooted at trying to permeate people's hearts. "Oh, yes it's unfortunate they feel bad. Well, okay." But it's gone on and on and on for so long now that it's become apparent what it really is. The effort that is underway here is to redefine the traditions and institutions that made the country great, and to say that those very traditions and institutions that made the country great actually led to a bad country. We are not a fair country, we're an unjust country. We are mean-spirited. We are extremist. We are environmentalist destructors. We destroyed a once pristine place that the great Native Americans protected with all of their being. We've come along, we've introduced racism, sexism, bigotry, homophobia, all these things, in society. This is what the majority has done. America's not a just country. America's not good, and any value that defines American traditions and institutions is good. Therefore, it becomes subject of attack and assault on the part and by people who are simply feeling left out, like they're a little odd, a little weird, and the people who sympathize with them. And that is why you will find various types and groups of people championed and embraced by the egalitarian left because they're the true crusaders, they're the ones that have courage, they're living in a place they don't like.
Read the Background Material...
(USAToday: 'Intelligent design' ruling may have ripples)
The preceeding link is to the following story:
Posted 12/22/2005 10:08 PM
By Jill Lawrence, USA TODAY
Backers of "intelligent design" have been advising school boards to avoid lawsuits by encouraging criticism of evolution rather than mandating that students learn about intelligent design. But a judge's ruling this week has given ammunition to those fighting challenges to evolution in three states.
The ruling means science classes in Dover, Pa. will not teach "intelligent design."
Bradley C. Bower, AP
Intelligent design, or ID, is the idea that some forms of life are so complex, they show the distinct hand of a designer. Federal Judge John Jones ruled this week that intelligent design is creationism with a new label and can't be taught in public school science classes.
William Dembski, an ID proponent who teaches science and theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, says evolution supporters lost the Scopes trial of 1925 and turned it into a rallying cry. He suggested backers of intelligent design may do the same with the Jones opinion: "There are cultural voices in play that can render that verdict obsolete."
Although the ruling against the Dover, Pa., school board is not binding outside Jones' Pennsylvania district, opponents of intelligent design hope it influences curricula in Kansas, Ohio and Cobb County, Ga. School boards in all three places have adopted policies that encourage skepticism about evolution.
The Dover school board had required biology students to hear a statement saying evolution was flawed and intelligent design was an alternative.
The Seattle-based Discovery Institute, the leading proponent of ID, told Dover its policy would invite a lawsuit. Instead, the think tank urges schools to "teach the controversy" about evolution without mandating intelligent design.
That's the approach several boards are taking. Jones tried to drive a stake through it. "This tactic is at best disingenuous and at worst a canard," he wrote. "The goal of (ID) is not to encourage critical thought, but to foment a revolution which would supplant evolutionary theory with ID."
He said no other part of the science curriculum was criticized in Dover, there was no evidence of disclaimers on other subjects and science has refuted ID critiques of evolution.
The cases Jones could affect:
In Kansas, the state board of education adopted standards that opponents say single out evolution for criticism and open the door to supernatural causation. Steve Abrams, chairman of the school board, says the Jones decision won't affect Kansas.
"It's apples and oranges," he says. Abrams says the board won't revisit its policy but voters can decide next year when five of 10 board seats are up: "They will have the final say."
In Cobb County, Ga., a three-judge federal appeals panel is weighing whether to uphold a lower court ban on a textbook sticker that said evolution is "a theory, not a fact" and should be "critically considered." The stickers were removed from more than 34,000 books in the summer.
In Ohio, the state board of education adopted a statement supporting critical analysis of evolution and lesson plans opponents say were lifted straight from creationist and intelligent design literature.
"It's the same stuff that went to trial in Dover and was found not to be science," says Patricia Princehouse, a biology professor at Case Western Reserve University.
She says she hopes the Dover ruling changes some board members' minds. Two board members could not be reached for comment.
Stephen Meyer, director of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, says "it would really be a stretch" to find it unconstitutional for "students to learn scientific criticism of Darwinian evolution."
He also says there's more to ID than attacking evolution. "We're building a very strong scientific research program," he says. "There are lots of scientists friendly to this position."
Richard Katskee, a lawyer for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, says lawsuits are possible in Kansas and Ohio if voters or board members don't bring about change.
"They've taken the plan from ID without using the label," he says of the two states. "That plan is really about attacking evolution. That's all there is to ID."
Most scientists, including White House science adviser John Marburger, call evolution a pillar of biology. President Bush has said intelligent design should be taught along with evolution.
The subject has proven to be risky for some politicians. In Dover last month, voters ousted eight school board members who approved the ID policy.
The Jones decision prompted a quick move by a social conservative up for re-election next year. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., said he'd resign from the board of the Christian-oriented Thomas More Law Center, a Michigan firm that represented the Dover board.
The center "made a huge mistake" in taking the case and pushing it so far, Santorum told The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Copyright © 2005 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.
Having read David Hoagland's letter (Nov. 27) on intelligent design, I would like to make a point.
I have eight years of biology-centered college training but feel strongly science doesn't necessarily reign primary in this discussion.
Intelligent design is likely not provable by scientific method. Science will never explain everything; mystery will remain. All the missing links will never fall into place.
Many good scientists have difficulty relating the development of man's physiologic and mental complexity to single-cell organisms developing organelles and flagella.
Most people believe something godlike exists. What role do they feel God has had in this world? I assume they believe it likely that the creation of humankind was impacted by this god but couldn't prove it. This belief, however strong or weak, is faith.
I am quite familiar with cell and mammalian physiology, neurology, statistics and genetics. I appreciate Darwinism and know mutations and natural selection happen. Evolution doesn't prove to me man is nothing more than a smart animal. I cannot believe we descended from single-cell organisms by random mutation over time but will respect you if you do. I believe we were created as part of God's plan.
Intelligent design acknowledges our complexity and the possibility that our creation is more than Darwinian evolution can explain. Faith should not be taught as science; however, intelligent design should be mentioned, as it is too provocative to be ignored or buried. This is especially true in the development of young, open-minded scientists.
John P. Flowers
Article Launched: 12/24/2005 08:13:23 AM
Attending a special symposium on science and religion at a Catholic university a few years ago, I raised the need that before all else there must be a clarification as to what science and religion are or are not. The motion was echoed by some participants, but not dealt with during the event.
That is not really amazing, since many of those who proclaim to teach science are often as confused, uncertain or even unconcerned about the differences between science and religion, and will continue to be confused in the foreseeable years to come.
The latest episode of "intelligent design" with the Dover School District controversy stirred up quite some concerns and attention in the public. But, as confusing as before, each side is holding very fixed and unyielding positions.
It is well noted by some well-known figures, including Stephen Hawking of Cambridge University, in some more recent scientific publications that many astronomical studies in early days were regarded more as astrology than science before more solid supporting evidence was discovered.
And it is not overlooked by some serious scientific thinkers that some perhaps quite disturbing scientific ideas brought along with quantum theoretical works that we have long rejected as either superstitious, supernatural or simply ridiculous or impossible are seriously knocking on the door of science. Ideas like, for instance, getting something from total nothingness has been seriously pondered by some scientific researchers in cosmological studies, particle physics or astrophysics. But should we reject those considerations?
I am not a subscriber of "intelligent design." However, it is very important to understand that the reason science has attained such gigantic forward movement over the last several centuries is due to the likes of Galileo, Copernicus, Newton, Darwin, Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg, Watson and many other thinkers of the 20th- and 21st-centuries, who kept pounding on science with questioning, dissecting and rational analysis, challenging it with endless re-examinations that continued the great enlightenment since the 16th century.
If, as some "intelligent design" subscribers maintain, intelligent design theory is science and not a religion where God is not to be admitted into the picture, then it is absolutely necessary that every bit of the intelligent design theory must be turned inside out, up and down. And that the intelligent designer, too, will be turned inside out, just like the rest of science, to be examined and re-examined endlessly, questioned forever.
Who is hurt here? No one. If there is any fallacy, it will be tossed into a trash can, just like cold fusion a couple of decades ago.
Paul N. Tung, Vacaville
Thursday, December 22, 2005
BY JOHN BEAUGE AND BILL SULON Of The Patriot-News
WILLIAMSPORT - A federal prosecutor said testimony in the Dover Area School District's intelligent design case is under review to determine if perjury charges should be pursued.
U.S. Middle District Attorney Thomas A. Marino said yesterday that decision will take time because there is "a lot of reading to do" to determine if the statements rise to the level of a crime.
"I want to question a couple of people who were present," he said. They will not include Judge John E. Jones III, who presided over the case, he said.
Marino's comments came a day after Jones struck down the school district's policy of telling ninth-grade biology students Darwin's theory of evolution is not fact and intelligent design is an alternative explanation of the origin of life.
In his opinion, Jones accused some of those who testified during the six-week trial in Harrisburg of lying, singling out former board members Alan Bonsell and William Buckingham, the leading proponents of the policy.
Both men testified during the trial, which ended last month, and both gave sworn statements in depositions on Jan. 3. During the trial, Jones and lawyers for parents opposed to the policy confronted the men about the discrepancies and evasiveness in their answers to questions about their motivations and efforts to raise money for a pro-intelligent design textbook, "Of Pandas and People."
During the trial, after questioning by Jones and lawyers, Bonsell and Buckingham acknowledged that Buckingham raised money for the books in his church, then wrote a check for $850 to Bonsell's father, who bought the texts and donated them to the school district. Neither man disclosed the transaction in their deposition.
"The inescapable truth is that both Bonsell and Buckingham lied at their Jan. 3, 2005, depositions about their knowledge of the source of the donation for Pandas. ... ," Jones said in his ruling. "This mendacity was a clear and deliberate attempt to hide the source of the donations by [Bonsell and Buckingham] to further ensure that Dover students received a creationist alternative to Darwin's theory of evolution."
"Pandas" is a pro-intelligent design book written by creationists.
Jones also questioned the "credibility" of statements by other school officials and former board members.
In an interview, Buckingham called Jones a liar and denied making false statements. Bonsell has said he "tried to be as truthful" as he could.
Witold Walczak, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented parents opposed to the policy, said any decision to bring perjury charges would be made by the prosecutor's office.
MIL, Dec 24, 2005. P. Pagella
Rome - Dr. Raj Baldev, Cosmo Theorist from India, is the staunch supporter of "Intelligent Design" but his views are quite unique and exclusive and do not match with other thinkers. His approach is entirely scientific. He not only contradicted the theory of Dr. Darwin in 1957 but is also bringing out another book commenting on Darwin's theory titled "Ape or Man, who descended first?"
Dr. Raj Baldev also rebutted theory of the Big Bang in his book titled "Two Big Bangs Created the Universe" (Formed in Eternal Space). Thus his ideas carry timely and substantial weight to justify whether the ruling given by US District Judge John Jones banning the teaching of 'Intelligent Design' in US schools is wrong or right.
Dr. Raj Baldev said:
"A US court has ruled that the teaching of the theory of 'Intelligent Design' in US schools is illegal. But to my view the learned Judge based his verdict by applying his one-sided mind on Darwin's legendary theory of evolution, leaving behind the vital aspects of the theory of 'Intelligent Design'.
"It is a proven fact that Darwin's theory has hundreds of discrepancies in his links, still the learned Judge took its side that the theory of 'Intelligent Design' should not be taught in schools along with Darwin's theory of Evolution or otherwise.
"The fact remains that the theory of 'Intelligent Design' is increasingly becoming popular in the West particularly among those who find numerous holes in requisite links in Darwin's legendary theory of evolution."
Dr. Raj Baldev continued, "Their viewpoint has a logic and indispensable point since there is definitely some perfect intelligent source behind the operation of all life and the entire Universe. All this strongly suggests that there is definitely an extraordinary intelligent power running the whole process according to a set pattern and plan. You can give it any name, it is your sweet will.
"The ruling of the Judge warrants a proper debate since many US schools in the South, have been offering 'Intelligent Design' as an alternate to Darwin's evolution theory and the educational institutes look to be divided on this issue.
"I believe it is correct to think that the whole of creation is a testimony to the power that runs the whole Universe, the complete device, incredible business. It is hard to deny it.
"The scientists may support the theory of Big Bang followed by Darwin's theory of evolution cannot deny that there are still missing links in both the above theories. At the same time they cannot deny the existence of the 'Intelligent Design'. If they deny the intelligent origin of Universe and life, either they should debate it with the 'Intelligent Design' or should adopt some third acceptable and convincing formula how the Universe was created or life came into form.
"The scientists have no other option but either to debate on the 'Intelligent Design' or focus on some third scientific formula since everything around us clearly and strongly suggests that the entire set up is not a game of chance. Every nano-atom or nano-particle has a history and it carries intelligence behind its working and moves under a fixed law and time, and it is proved beyond doubt that it is not a work of chance.
"No one can ignore that there indeed exists an 'Intelligent Design' in all life, whether death or re-birth, whether it relates to stars, galaxies or life on the earth, species or plants.
"Even those who totally believe in Darwin's theory of evolution cannot deny that if it is supposedly believed to be correct, it strongly suggests that the evolution was superbly directed by some 'Intelligent Design' or power," Dr. Raj Baldev said.
Read in the next issues: Dr. Raj Baldev's third formula of 'Intelligent Design', based on purely on scientific research.
Radio host wants theory's pushers to 'call it what it is' creationism
Posted: December 24, 2005 5:00 p.m. Eastern
© 2005 WorldNetDaily.com
On his national radio program yesterday, talk-show host Rush Limbaugh called efforts by intelligent design proponents "disingenuous," saying they should "call it what it is" belief "in the biblical version of creation," but a spokesman for the leading intelligent design think tank says Rush got it wrong.
Answering a caller who asked his opinion of the recent high-profile federal court decision against intelligent design in the Dover, Pa., school district, Rush answered he wasn't surprised, given the context of judicial activism.
"I think it's another great example of how we need different kinds of judges," he said.
"You got to understand who we're dealing with here, and they have now structured things such as this: When 95 percent of the people of the country agree with something, 5 percent of the country disagrees, the liberal will say the 5 percent must win because we can't hurt their feelings, we mustn't offend them."
Limbaugh continued, "On the other hand, I do think this: I think that the people and I know why they're doing it, but I still think that it's a little bit disingenuous. Let's make no mistake. The people pushing intelligent design believe in the biblical version of creation. Intelligent design is a way, I think, to sneak it into the curriculum and make it less offensive to the liberals because it ostensibly does not involve religious overtones, that there is just some intelligent being far greater than anything any of us can even imagine that's responsible for all this, and of course I don't have any doubt of that. But I think that they're sort of pussyfooting around when they call it intelligent design.
"Call it what it is. You believe God created the world, and you think that it's warranted that this kind of theory for the explanation for all that is be taught."
Jonathan Witt, Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, the nation's leading intelligent design think tank, says Limbaugh's suggestion that design theorists appear disingenious when drawing a sharp distinction between creationism and intelligent design is mistaken.
"Since newspapers routinely mangle our position on this matter, it's little wonder," he said today.
"Traditional creationism begins with the Bible and moves from there to science," says Witt. "Intelligent design begins and ends with science."
Design proponents point to certain "irreducibly complex" biological structures that cannot be explained by current Darwinian theory structures that would cease to work if any one of their components were missing. In such cases, the process of natural selection could not have gradually constructed the structure because it enjoyed no survival advantage until fully formed. Further, many of these structures function as machines. To the theory's proponents, these structures exhibit the characteristics of design as measured in systems made by other known intelligent causes. Given Darwin's inability to account for this complexity, design scientists find the evidence infers a pre-existing intelligence and call for scientists to follow the data wherever it leads. But the empirical data, they argue, is inadequate to say who the designer is.
"It has larger metaphysical implications," says Witt, "but so does Darwinism. The theory of intelligent design is a methodology for detecting design, and scholars from a variety of backgrounds employ it Christian, Jew, Hindu, even a former atheist like Antony Flew, who still rejects the God of the Bible."
Edwards vs. Aguillard (1987), the Supreme Court decision that declared creationism unconstitutional for public school science classes, found Louisiana's curriculum to be religious because it paralleled the Genesis account of creation.
"Whatever you want to label intelligent design," says Witt, "it isn't what the Court described in Edwards vs. Aguillard, and ... there's nothing in the Constitution that says a scientist's arguments should be ignored simply because of his religious beliefs.
Indeed, Witt notes, Intelligent design scientists at the Discovery Institute make no secret of their religious beliefs. Jay Richards, co-author of "The Privileged Planet," is the author of "The Untamed God," a work of Christian theology delineating an orthodox view of the Biblical God's triune nature. And Michael Behe, who testified in the Dover case, is open about his Roman Catholicism.
In the Dover decision, Judge Jones fixated on motive, says Witt, in order to diminish the substantive differences between intelligent design and the Bible's account of creation.
"Such fallacious reasoning also disqualifies the scientific arguments of Darwin defenders like Daniel Dennett, Steven Weinberg, and Richard Dawkins," notes Witt, "for all are passionately interested in the metaphysical implications that Darwinism has for their anti-religious agenda."
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Guide has information on scientific method, evolution, creationism
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Educated as a geologist in her native Hungary, Eniko Farkas knows, understands and firmly believes in the science behind evolution.
Still, she was caught off guard last year when a visitor to the Museum of the Earth where she volunteers angrily confronted her, denouncing evolution and insisting that the museum teach creationism instead.
"I had a difficult time getting out of the situation," said Farkas, a retired Cornell University librarian and volunteer at the museum for the past seven years. "It got personal and very negative, and I got so flustered and frustrated that I know I didn't make much sense trying to explain myself."
As challenges to the theory of evolution become more widespread - and sometimes hostile - museum director Warren Allmon developed a special workshop and a 13-page guide book to help volunteers and staff answer questions about evolution, creationism and intelligent design.
"This is not a defensive reaction, or an attempt to change anyone's mind," Allmon said. "It's just that we find most people are uninformed about evolution, or have been given misinformation."
Since running the first workshop in July, Allmon said that the museum has received more than 70 calls from other small museums and organizations around the country. Nearly 100 people attended the first two workshops.
The guide provides information on the scientific method (using observations about the natural world and the rules of logic to test hypotheses), the theories of evolution, creationism and intelligent design.
It also offers a script for how to answer frequently raised challenges, such as, "Is it true that there is lots of evidence against evolution?" Answer: "No. Essentially all available data and observations from the natural world support the hypothesis of evolution. No serious biologist or geologist today doubts whether evolution occurred."
SAT., DEC 24, 2005 - 12:17 AM
DAVID WAHLBERG firstname.lastname@example.org
UW-Madison researchers are asking what a prestigious report claimed to have answered last summer: Does echinacea curb the common cold?
The answer is no, according to a University of Virginia study published in July in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Some doctors consider the Virginia study the definitive finding on whether the herb, which Americans reportedly spend $150 million on a year, can ease coughs and runny noses.
But Dr. Bruce Barrett, a UW- Madison family physician, says the jury is still out.
He is leading a study recruiting Madison-area residents to take echinacea for five days after the first sign of a sniffle. The goal is to see if the herb, which comes from the purple coneflower plant, reduces the severity or duration of colds by boosting the immune system, as many users believe.
The $1.4 million study is funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health.
The Virginia study, which found that echinacea doesn't prevent or treat colds, was funded by the same center.
In that study, 400 college students were given specific extracts of echinacea and infected with the same strain of cold virus. The approach aimed to eliminate the confusion surrounding everyday use of the herb, as people take many varieties to ward off many types of viruses.
In a commentary accompanying the report on the Virginia study, Dr. Wallace Sampson, editor of the Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine, said the echinacea issue should be considered settled. Future research, he wrote, should be directed toward "treatments with histories that indicate some reasonable chance of efficacy."
But Barrett, who studied herbal medicine in Nicaragua in the late 1980s, said the Virginia study had limitations. It used a low dose of echinacea, and college students generally have healthy immune systems already, he said. Also, the students were cloistered in a hotel for five days after they were infected.
"Nobody cares if you prevent the inducement of a virus in a hotel room," Barrett said. "We're interested in real-world effects."
In the UW-Madison study, adolescents, adults and senior citizens are being asked to sign up immediately after they notice cold symptoms. One fourth of the participants get no medication, and another fourth knowingly receive echinacea. The other half get pills, but only half of them get echinacea; the others get a placebo.
The study, which continues next year, aims to enroll 600 people. It started last year, with 240 people having completed it so far, Barrett said. Participants receive $60 to $140, depending on their age and how long their symptoms last.
People who receive echinacea in the study get a dose about three times higher than that used in the Virginia study, Barrett said.
"I believe that it did help me," said Brian Benford, 46, who completed his part in the study Thursday.
The Madison alderman, who is program director of the Neighborhood House, said his cold lasted only six days, with less sneezing and congestion than in the past.
"I'm definitely going to use it again," he said.
Several studies have suggested that echinacea slightly reduces cold symptoms, but most of the findings were not statistically significant, Barrett said. Other studies have found no benefit, including one Barrett conducted a few years ago on UW-Madison students.
Barrett, who said he sometimes uses echinacea, said the effects seem real but are probably small.
"The real question is whether it is very, very small or just small," he said.
Friday, Dec. 23, 2005 Posted: 3:45:49PM EST
Sen. Rick Santorum withdrew Thursday from the advisory board of the Christian legal group that defended a Pennsylvania school district's choice to mention intelligent design before the start of a class. The court had ruled that intelligent design was religious and could not be taught as science.
Santorum had earlier shown support for the Dover Area School district for "attempting to teach the controversy of evolution," according to the Associated Press. However, the senator said he had been troubled by testimony in the case indicating that the school board had been motivated by religion, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer.
"I thought the Thomas More Law Center made a huge mistake in taking this case and in pushing this case to the extent they did," Santorum said on Wednesday, according to AP.
Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the law center which describes its mission as defending religious of Christians hinted that Santorum's decision had also been motivated by political considerations. The Senator is up for re-election in 2006.
"It is a very controversial issue, as you know, and he is involved in a very hotly contested Senate race, and it's probably in his best interest," Thompson said Thursday.
The judge in the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District case ruled this week that requiring teachers to read a four paragraph statement about intelligent design before the start of a ninth grade science class was a promotion of religion. The statement read that evolutionary theory is "not a fact," that it contains "gaps," that intelligent design is one of other alternatives to the theory, and that book about intelligent design book could be found in the school library.
Santorum said he disagreed with the policy of requiring teachers to mention intelligent design, instead of teaching the controversy behind it. Because of that, he said the case provided "a bad set of facts" to test whether alternative theories to evolution should be taught as science.
The Discovery Institute, a pro-intelligent design group also advocates "teaching the controversy" but suggested that school boards not mandate its teaching.
Intelligent Design holds that some aspects of nature are so complex that they could not have come about randomly but point to an intelligent designer.
Proponents say that although the theory does not contradict theistic religions, it does not base any of its arguments on the Bible or other religious groups. ID supporters maintain that design in nature can be inferred from nature and empirical evidence.
The majority of mainstream scientists, however, do not consider intelligent design to be science.
DECEMBER 23, 2005 New York
While Jewish organizations reacted predictably to a court ruling banning mention of "intelligent design" from Pennsylvania public school classes, observers and legal scholars said the decision was more significant than other recent battles over church-state separation.
The more liberal groups celebrated Tuesday's decision, in which a federal judge ruled that a Pennsylvania school board had acted unconstitutionally when it ordered inclusion of "intelligent design" in its schools' science curricula. Orthodox groups were less sanguine.
Still, most acknowledged that in the context of the "Christmas wars," in which politicians, pundits and television personalities are arguing over how religious Christmas should be in the United States, this decision is more consequential.
"This looms much larger -- much larger," said Rabbi Avi Shafran, director of public affairs at Agudath Israel of America, a fervently Orthodox group. The display of trees and the like, he said, "are essentially symbolic displays of religion."
Intelligent design "goes to the essence of society: how we educate our children," said Shafran, lamenting the decision. "Belief in the creator is probably the most important aspect of any ethical, moral-minded parent's concern in educating his children."
The board's claim that the move was meant to bolster science education through inclusion of alternate theories to evolution was simply a cover for its religious motives, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III said in his closely watched decision.
"We find that the secular purposes claimed by the Board amount to a pretext for the Board's real purpose, which was to promote religion in the public school classroom," he wrote.
Nathan Lewin, a Washington attorney who has argued 27 cases before the Supreme Court, said he finds the basis for the judge's ruling to be "nonsense."
"I think it's dangerous to encourage litigation the outcome of which will depend on the motive of government officials," said Lewin, who often represents Orthodox interests.
The judge, in other words, should not be taking into account the intentions behind the school board member's actions.
"Either the result is OK or its not OK," he said. "That's what ought to be the standard."
Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said that the so-called Christmas wars and the Intelligent Design case have a common thread. Both, he said, represent the effort of the religious right in the United States to shift their politics to focus on symbolic issues that are more acceptable to mainstream America.
The shift, he said, follows three decades in which the right lost key political battles on some of their key priorities, from abortion to school prayer.
The decision, Saperstein said, has "enormous significance in terms of the legal doctrine on church-state separation."
In the lead-up to this case, many Jewish groups made an argument similar to that made by Jones in his ruling: The notion that the universe is so immensely complex that it must have been created by some intelligent force, they said, was simply creationism cloaked in secular language.
Phyllis Snyder, president of the National Council of Jewish Women, echoed the view of several Jewish organizations when she called Tuesday's decision a "resounding victory for religious and academic freedom."
It "should once and for all end the nationally orchestrated effort to insert religion into science classes. The place for teaching religious beliefs is in our homes and religious institutions, not the publicly funded classroom."
In October 2004, the Dover Area School Board in Dover, Pa., ordered that, prior to ninth-grade classes on Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, a statement be read labeling evolution as "not a fact" and referring students to another book on intelligent design to learn more. Several families opposed to the move filed a lawsuit.
Since then, the school board that proposed the inclusion of intelligent design was kicked out of office, but the case still went ahead.
Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union, a centrist Orthodox organization, said he was "disturbed" that the judge ruled the mention of intelligent design unconstitutional.
"I would much rather have seen something that is left up to individual science departments in schools," he said. Nevertheless, Weinreb said, he believes that "science should be taught as science and religion should be taught as religion" --- and that the judge was not off base in labeling intelligent design a religiously based idea.
"The Bible is not meant to be a scientific textbook," he said.
As for the import of the decision, Weinreb said that "the Christmas tree controversy is almost silly. Intelligent design is at least a serious discussion."
The Pennsylvania case is one of several evolution cases that have emerged in the last year. After a federal judge ordered a Georgia school district to remove stickers from textbooks that labeled evolution a "theory, not a fact," a federal appeals court there recently heard arguments on the stickers' constitutionality.
Last month, Kansas education authorities adopted a new set of principles questioning evolution for their science departments.
This story reprinted courtesy of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: December 23, 2005
PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 22 (AP) - Senator Rick Santorum said Wednesday that he would withdraw his affiliation with the Thomas More Law Center, which had defended the Dover Area School District's policy mandating the teaching of intelligent design in science classes dealing with evolution.
Mr. Santorum, Republican of Pennsylvania, earlier praised the district for "attempting to teach the controversy of evolution."
But the day after a federal judge ruled the district's policy on intelligent design unconstitutional, calling it a pretext "to promote religion" in public schools, Mr. Santorum told The Philadelphia Inquirer that he was troubled by testimony indicating that religion had motivated some board members to adopt the policy.
The leading Democratic challenger in Mr. Santorum's
2006 re-election battle, Robert P. Casey Jr., the
state treasurer, wasted no time in accusing the
senator of backtracking on intelligent design.
Proponents of intelligent design hold that living
organisms are so complex that they must have been
created by a higher force rather than evolving from
more primitive forms.
Web Extra Tuesday, December 20, 2005
A Pennsylvania judge ruled today that the Dover Area School District's science curriculum, which required the presentation of intelligent design (ID) the belief that the complexity of life is evidence that a superior intellect must have designed it as an alternative to evolution, is unconstitutional.
The Kitzmiller v. Dover trial began Sept. 26, after parents sued the school district, which had required teachers to read a statement about ID prior to discussions of evolution in high school biology classes (see Geotimes online, Web Extra, Oct.21, 2005). Closing arguments wrapped up the case about six weeks later, and now, after more than a month spent reviewing the case, John E. Jones III, a federal judge for the U.S. District Court in Harrisburg, Pa., appointed by President Bush, announced a decision today.
To preserve the separation of church and state, Dover Area School District teachers may not "disparage the scientific theory of evolution" and also may not "refer to a religious, alternative theory known as ID," Jones wrote in his decision. "We find that while ID arguments may be true, a proposition on which the court takes no position, ID is not science."
Thus, this first federal case to challenge ID comes as a victory for the plaintiffs, who were supported by the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). "This is a home-run, grand-slam kind of decision," says Nick Matzke of NCSE, who says that he worked full-time to provide the plaintiffs' lawyers with the history of creationism and scientific information about evolution.
Matzke says that Jones seems to have found the plaintiffs' argument convincing that ID is simply a new label for creationism. In his statement, Jones specifically discussed the district's use of the reference book Of Pandas and People, of which 50 copies were donated to the district in October 2004 (see Geotimes online, Web Extra, Nov. 12, 2004). During the hearing, Jones discovered that soon after the Supreme Court ruled in 1987 that creation science could not be taught in public schools, all occurrences of the word "creationism" in the Pandas book were replaced with "intelligent design." He also said that the school board the defendants lied "to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy."
John West of the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based center that promotes ID, announced in a press release today that although Jones found that the Dover Board "acted from religious motives," he went too far in offering his own views of science, religion and evolution. "Anyone who thinks a court ruling is going to kill off interest in intelligent design is living in another world," West said in the press release.
NCSE's Matzke says that he is interested to see what actions the Discovery Institute takes over the next year. Dover schools may no longer allow the teaching of ID, but Matzke thinks that creationists may continue to promote their ideas under new names. "As long as there's a large number of religious people who take that [creationist] view," Matzke says, "evolution is going to remain controversial in this society." Still, Wesley Elsberry, also of NCSE, says that school boards across the nation will likely look to this case as a "precedence case," and will not view ID with favor.
"Evolution battles continue ," Geotimes online, Web Extra, Oct. 21, 2005
"More challenges to evolution ," Geotimes online, Web Extra, Nov. 12, 2004
National Center for Science Education
ANN ARBOR, Mich. Pennsylvania U-S Senator Rick Santorum says he's dropping ties to the Ann Arbor-based Thomas More Law Center.
The Christian rights advocacy group defended a Pennsylvania school district that sought to include "intelligent design" in its science curriculum.
The Republican lawmaker earlier praised the district for trying to teach about controversies surrounding evolution.
On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled the district's policy on intelligent design was an attempt to teach the religious doctrine of creationism.
Now, Santorum says the Thomas More center used poor judgment in pursuing the case.
Messages seeking comment were left by phone and e-mail before business hours today.
On the Net:
Thomas More Law Center: http://www.thomasmore.org
Copyright 2005 Associated Press.
RACHEL ZOLL; The Associated Press Published: December 22nd, 2005 02:30 AM
A federal judge's ruling that intelligent design is faith masquerading as science is being viewed by those involved with the issue as a setback, though not a fatal blow, for the movement promoting the concept as an alternative to evolution.
Intelligent design advocates say the judge's lengthy, pointed rebuke of the concept Tuesday in a case out of Pennsylvania might energize supporters, many of whom view his opinion as part of a broader pattern of hostility by courts and the government toward religion in public schools.
U.S. District Judge John Jones criticized the "breathtaking inanity" of the 2004 decision by the Dover Area School Board to insert intelligent design into the science curriculum.
He called the concept "a religious view, a mere relabeling of creationism" and said the board's policy violated the constitutional separation of church and state. Intelligent design holds that living organisms are so complex that they must have been created by some kind of higher being.
Decision Motivates followers
"This galvanizes the Christian community," said William Dembski, a leading proponent of the theory and a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, a Seattle think tank that promotes intelligent design research. "People I'm talking to say we're going to be raising a whole lot more funds now."
From a legal perspective, the decision's immediate consequences are very limited. The school system is not expected to appeal, because several board members who backed intelligent design were voted out of office in November and replaced by candidates who reject the policy.
Yet opponents contend intelligent-design advocates have emerged from the case substantially weakened. The ruling will likely influence judges in other districts and discourage other school officials from pursuing similar policies, said K. Hollyn Hollman, general counsel for the Baptist Joint Committee, a Washington group that promotes separation of church and state.
Battles over evolution are already being waged in Georgia and Kansas.
"Because it was a six-week trial, with a lot of testimony from proponents of intelligent design as well as critics from the scientific community, it's going to have a big impact," Hollman said. "It had a pretty full hearing."
Some say it's Philosophy
The court defeat also comes at a time when movement leaders are failing to win support even among scientists sympathetic to their religious world view.
The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities, an association of more than 100 U.S. schools, said its members have a wide range of approaches to the issue. In fact, most conservative Christian colleges are far from embracing intelligent design.
Uko Zylstra, a biologist and dean for natural sciences at Calvin College, a Christian school in Grand Rapids, Mich., said intelligent design is not catching on at his college and others because it is based on philosophy, not science.
"We don't think this is how the problem should be articulated," Zylstra said. "The strength of intelligent design is as an apologetic that God is the creator, but not a scientific explanation."
Copyright 2005 Associated Press
Wednesday, December 21, 2005 - 12:00 AM
The Daily Herald
We're devoting more ink than we'd like these days to state Sen. D. Chris Buttars and his quasi-religious moral crusade to force creationism into the public school curriculum.
But there was an interesting development Tuesday that deserves note. A federal court in Pennsylvania threw a monkey wrench into the West Jordan Republican's plan to slip religion into science
class. Buttars says it will make no difference.
U.S. District Judge John E. Jones ruled that the Dover Area School Board violated the separation of church and state when it required so-called "intelligent design" to be presented to students as an alternative to evolution.
Intelligent design states that life and the universe are too complex to have come about by random chance; therefore, something must have created it all.
Buttars is right that science cannot explain everything. Religion, by contrast, can explain virtually anything -- and without concrete evidence. But with so many versions of religion in the world, Buttars might exercise a bit more caution. He prefers to call his version "divine design," and says he doesn't want Utah school children hearing that human beings arose from lower primates.
We don't see why Buttars is so concerned as this may be as good an explanation as any. He does not explain why a God would be unable or unwilling to work through natural processes to accomplish his ends. He's simply so sure that his personal view is correct that he's willing to impose it on everybody else.
The Dover school board wasn't as blatant as Buttars in declaring God as the first cause of the universe, but the court saw the point anyway. Judge Jones ruled that intelligent design "is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory."
He noted that the "secular purposes claimed by the school board amount to a pretext for the board's real purpose, which was to promote religion in the public classroom."
We hope Buttars recognizes this shot across the bow. His creationism bill, which he has kept carefully concealed from the public, is on shaky legal ground. Other federal judges are likely to arrive at the same conclusion as Jones -- especially since Tuesday's ruling was based on a Supreme Court case striking down the teaching of creationism (1987). Buttars would do well to leave the science curriculum alone and spare Utah an unwarranted hassle.
While evolution is deemed a theory by scientists, it does not mean there is no basis for it. A scientific theory is based on observation, measurable evidence and the ability to replicate results. A theory is not as definitive as a law, but it is grounded in empirical experience.
Intelligent design, divine design, creationism -- whatever you want to call it -- is based on no external evidence at all. It requires people to make a leap of faith. It is the exact opposite of the scientific process, which demands proof -- at least proof according earthbound human standards.
This is not a criticism of faith. Faith may ultimately prove superior to science as a path to knowledge. Many scientists are religious. But they also understand that science as we know it today is not about believing; it's about measuring.
Would Buttars demand that the University of Utah's medical school teach demonic possession alongside epilepsy as a cause of seizures, or that sin is just as likely to cause depression as chemical imbalance? We hope not. For the same reason, he should not push his own religious explanation for the universe into the public schools.
There is a place for intelligent design, but it is not in the biology lab. It belongs in a philosophy or comparative religion class, where discussions of faith are more appropriate. In those classes, the Judeo-Christian account of the creation can be debated along with various other world views. There is nothing wrong with trying to explain the unexplainable through religion, just not in science class.
Teaching philosophy and science creates well-rounded people. But teaching religious dogma as science debases both religion and science.
This story appeared in The Daily Herald on page A6.
Date published: 12/22/2005
Creationism versus evolution is simply not worth debate.
Please, please try to convince me otherwise. I honestly do not see any validity to any part of the creationist doctrine.
It is an attempt by those in power to break the walls of church and state because theories such as evolution invalidate their antiquated religious values.
If by now you already want to write a letter to the editor, you can do so at fredericksburg.com.
Is there any objective scientific evidence--beyond those of defensive rationalizations--to explain creationism? Moreover, does anyone really know what that term means without the inclusion of God? And why should it be in a science class?
The trouble is, those who see creationism as a valid educational subject fail to recognize that omission of religion in science doesn't mean spiritual beliefs can't coincide with them.
The two fields are best left to their own devices. Religion is founded on ancient writings and on faith in that which is not visible. Science is based on reason, a product of the 18th-century Enlightenment, and focuses solely on that which can be observed.
And, to be blunt, it is clear from any reputable scientist that evolution is the front-running theory as of 2005.
With that said, what lies in store for evolution?
It's hard to believe that nature has reached its productive peak on animals that kill members of their species by the tens of thousands.
What comes next?
The big step we have made in the leap from ape to man is one of self-awareness. It is a trait that has never been seen before, and one that radically changes how animals behave.
According to the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, animals live in a perceptive state. That is to say their lives are all one moment, dictated by instinct and drives to constantly meet immediate goals.
However, humans have knowledge of their own history and have been both blessed and cursed with an ego, which is both our great gift and a terrible burden.
In natural selection, those animals not sentient, those best fit for survival and armed with the best traits, survive.
Following those same principles for humans (a leap that is not too far-fetched, but at the same time unconfirmed), those that are most self-aware are the humans responsible for pushing the boundaries of our race.
Friedrich Nietschze, German philosopher and groundbreaking thinker, published a rough guide through such an evolutionary process in his masterpiece, "Thus Spoke Zarathustra."
I highly recommend it.
What is most important to remember is this transcendence of the most self-conscious is not inevitable.
Although the most scientifically beneficial, evolution toward that of the "Star-child" from Kubrick's "2001" could easily be replaced by a dystopian future like that of Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World."
With the advent of cloning, this scenario is becoming more and more likely. Armies of clones could be established, and life could become dispensable. The entire world would then live an existence solely manufactured to get them through life in the most comfortable way possible.
It is our responsibility to avoid that as best we can.
JOE HOLMES is taking a year off and will be attending college in the fall.
Date published: 12/22/2005
By Quad-City Times
Here is what Federal District Judge John E. Jones didn't do:
He didn't restrict teachers or students from talking about creationism.
He didn't limit anyone of any faith from teaching their children and anyone else about beliefs regarding intelligent design.
What Judge Jones did was tell the school administration of Dover, Pa., that such teachings cannot be presented as science. They involve culture and faith, important subjects that we've seen taught in most public school districts. Judge Jones wisely ruled it should be kept out of the science curriculum.
Part of the judge's ruling reflects the inability of intelligent design to pass scientific scrutiny. Creationism is a theoretical conclusion based on faith, not evidence. Our world is so amazingly complex, its origins must be from beyond this world. That's a great discussion topic for history, philosophy or any one of a dozen courses of study. It's a core belief for almost anyone involved in a community of faith.
But it's not science.
A major part of the judge's ruling condemned the motivations of the board members. He found evidence that these board members wanted instruction of intelligent design as a lesson in a specific faith. Yet in the trial and elsewhere, many denied that motivation.
"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," the judge wrote.
Notably, voters in Dover, Pa., acted more quickly than the court. They voted the school board out earlier this year.
We hope Quad-City public schools fully encourage discussions of creationism, intelligent design and theories behind Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and other theologies.
But not in the science classroom.
Fortunately, parents who want creationism instilled in their children don't have to look far. The beliefs shared by the former Dover, Pa., school board are wonderfully evident everywhere this time of year.
12/21/2005 10:17 PM By: News 10 Now Staff
Tuesday, a federal judge ruled teaching intelligent design in public school science classes is unconstitutional, saying it's a religious view.
Now, many are weighing in on the judge's decision. Intelligent design is the belief an intelligent designer played a part in some aspect of the evolution of life on earth.
New ruling on intelligent design being taught in public schools
Tuesday, a federal judge ruled teaching intelligent design in public school science classes is unconstitutional, saying it's a religious view.
The Museum of the Earth in Ithaca strives to educate visitors about evolution and creationism. Museum docents are many times faced with questions about intelligent design.
Museum officials say this decision gives a clearer answer on how to answer many of those questions.
"This has dented the momentum of the phase of creationism. This phase of intelligent design will encourage a lot of second thought on the part of school boards, state legislators, and people who legislate about curriculum in public schools. That this will give them some second thoughts. This is an immensely thoughtful decision," said Dr. Warren Allmon, Director of the Paleontological Institution.
If you would like to learn more about evolution and intelligent design, just visit priweb.org/museumofthearth.
December 22, 2005
By BRIAN NEWSOME THE GAZETTE
The debate over the teaching of intelligent design in public schools has not reached the agendas of Colorado Springs-area school boards, but a Colorado lawmaker is considering legislation to encourage boards to join the battle.
A federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled Tuesday that teaching intelligent design the idea that the world is too complex to be chalked up to chance is unconstitutional. His ruling, which said intelligent design is unscientific and a guise for creationism, applies only to part of Pennsylvania. Still, legal experts have said the ruling is likely to have national implications.
Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, believes the Pennsylvania ruling and a general culture of "political correctness" will leave school boards afraid to take up the topic. He wants to draft legislation that would allow, not mandate, school districts to teach intelligent design.
Intelligent design is not covered in Colorado statutes. If a school board attempted to add intelligent design to a curriculum, its legality probably would be determined by a lawsuit, as it was in Pennsylvania.
Brophy's idea will receive a chilly greeting at the Statehouse, where Democrats hold majorities in both houses. Rep. Michael Merrifield of Manitou Springs, the only Democrat in the El Paso County delegation, said the notion of using taxpayer dollars to teach intelligent design is in for rough sledding, should it arrive in the House Education Committee, which he chairs.
If the bill reaches his committee, Merrifield said, he would listen to what Brophy says but would vote such a measure down and urge the rest of the committee to follow.
The son of a Baptist minister, Merrifield said he is a Christian, but he believes church is the best place to learn about creation.
"I don't believe it's the job of the Legislature or school boards to teach religious orthodoxy," he said.
Many proponents of intelligent design are careful to avoid naming the Biblical God as the intelligence behind the world's design. In the Pennsylvania ruling, however, Jones said most of the evidence he saw in 21 days of testimony pointed to religion, rather than science.
In Colorado Springs, school boards in major districts have not taken up the subject and have not been approached by parents, teachers or community members to do so, school officials said.
Academy School District 20 has received a few inquiries from parents about the curriculum review process and the possibility of intelligent design being discussed, said spokeswoman Nanette Anderson. The region's largest district, Colorado Springs School District 11, has received no such inquiries. The issue also has not surfaced in Falcon School District 49 and Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8.
Brophy said he would be surprised if his legislation goes far in a Democratic-controlled Legislature. "It's up to me to try," he said, "It's up to other powers to see how things work out."
December 22, 2005 Silver Spring, Maryland, United States .... [Mark A. Kellner/ANN Staff]
Dr. James Gibson, (left), director of the Adventist Church's Geoscience Research Institute.
A Dec. 20 ruling from a federal court in the United States finds that "creation science" or "Intelligent Design" cannot be taught in state-sponsored schools because it has a religious base. Seventh-day Adventists are among several faith groups who are questioning that ruling. "Intelligent Design," or "ID" is a scientific theory that postulates a different origin of the universe than Darwin's theory of evolution.
The ruling capped a six-week federal trial in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, before U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III, who declared Intelligent Design to be religion, not science, and its presentation in state-run schools a violation of America's constitutional separation of church and state.
"We find that, while ID arguments may be true, a proposition on which the Court takes no position, ID is not science," Jones wrote in his decision, released Dec. 20. After the testimony of several experts on both sides of the matter, as well as evidence that included pro-ID textbooks and a compilation of local newspaper editorials and letters to the editor, Jones said he felt confident he could settle the issue at hand.
"While answering this question compels us to revisit evidence that is entirely complex, if not obtuse, after a six-week trial that spanned 21 days and included countless hours of detailed expert witness presentations, the Court is confident that no other tribunal in the United States is in a better position than are we to traipse into this controversial area," Jones declared in a 139 page ruling.
Where does this leave Adventists, whose church adheres to a strict, literal six-day view of creation and a fervent belief in religious liberty? In the United States, it leaves them pretty much where they were: free to teach as they wish in their own schools.
"As a parochial educational system, in almost every state we have the right to choose our own curriculum," Larry Blackmer, an associate director of education for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America, said. "So we're not required to teach evolution. What we do is similar: at least make the students aware of what that theory is about and what some of the issues are regarding that theory. We don't as a matter of course teach evolution, but we do present the concepts of evolution and our response to that."
In Britain, Dr. Keith Davidson, education director for the Adventist Church, said, there's freedom for even those church schools receiving state sponsorship to teach a worldview in line with their faith. He believes those seeking to limit public discussion of the theory of origins in school are caught in a kind of intolerance that some have accused Christians of holding.
"They are saying in a sense that only one view should be considered," Davidson told ANN in a telephone interview. "There ought to be freedom for an expression of views for those wanting to understand the origin of life. To say that they should not be considered is, to me, very intolerant behavior, in a way."
Davidson adds, "It's saying we're not prepared to have an open mind, to discuss and debate the issue on merit. If the evolutionist's argument is so persuasive, it should be able to withstand a challenge from another school of thought."
L. James Gibson, director of the Geoscience Research Institute of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Loma Linda, California, told ANN the judge's decision was a result of having to chose between two wrong presentations.
"First, it is a misleading exaggeration to claim that mere mention of an alternative hypothesis of intelligent design in the origin of life represents an establishment of religion," Gibson said. "Second, it is hypocritical of the scientific establishment to claim that intelligent design is unscientific because it is untestable, while at the same time failing to acknowledge that many aspects of evolutionary theory are untestable."
He told ANN, "My basic position is that both sides were wrong, and the judge was forced to make a bad decision. Students are entitled to hear a balanced presentation on issues of origins, but politicians, scientists and religious leaders should not be trying to micro-manage the classroom."
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