I’ve been figuring out how to dive into this project. I bought the book a few years back and have since used it mostly as a reference. It came back to my attention recently when somebody commented on my comment on a review on Amazon. I’ve edited out some of the links in what follows. The dialogue went something like this:
67 of 93 people found the following review helpful
Read the trial transcript and the opinon instead
, March 28, 2006
This review is from: Traipsing Into Evolution: Intelligent Design and the Kitzmiller v. Dover Decision (Paperback)
I bought this book to see what the ID proponents had to say that they didn’t say in court. I found little. And most of what I did find was more succinctly addressed by luskins’s and behe’s previous critiques of the decision which you can find on the internet for free. It is a quick read though.Judge Jones’ decision is a few pages longer than this book but if you want the truth about this case I encourage you to read the decsision and the transcripts of the testimony which you can find on the internet at […]Avoid the testimony of the school board members if you are a christian (pro ID or not) because a couple of the professedly christian board members got caught lying on the stand and I know that was upsetting to me. Don’t miss the expert testimony though. Robert Pennock, Barbara Forrest, Michael Behe and Steven Fuller. HIgh points (IMO) are Dr Forrest’s testimony about the writing of “Of Pandas and People” the textbook in question at the trial, and Dr Behe’s admission that the rule changes necessary to make ID science would also allow astrology.The view of the decision that you get here is not as complete or truthful as the the picture you can get by going to the source documents and making up your own mind. For instance, reading this book will convince you that Judge Jones went beyond his authority to make a needless determination that ID is not science. But a reading of the trial transcripts will show you that the one of the major arguments made by the ID forces was that ID should be taught because it is science. While a narrower opinion could have been written (with the same result that ID can’t be taught in Dover but based only on the defendants’ intent to teach a particular brand of religion in the public schools in violation of the establishment clause), the judge was well within his right to rule on the merits of all the defense’s claims.
I can only recommend this book if you are extremely interested in this debate and wish to keep up with the latest of the ID proponents’ strategies.
Help other customers find the most helpful
Anyhow, you can see how this small part of the discussion is going. The most recent interchange got me to thinking I should do a comprehensive review, and I started reading from the beginning. I quickly began to bog down. On almost every page was something that required a response. There’s no way I can give this the complete review it deserves. That would run over a thousand pages. The book is only 123 pages.
What I’m going to do is to just pick out a few points and bear down. Detractors are going to complain that I’m picking and choosing. To those I will advise that you direct me to any issues you think I am avoiding. In these cases I will respond to the best of my ability. Please note that in my commentary I spell out Intelligent Design, and I capitalize it. That is in line with standard American English practice of capitalizing the names of religious movements.
Let me start with some background. I followed the case in the news when it first cropped up in 2004 on through the trial in the autumn of 2005. A comprehensive chronicle is Monkey Girl by Edward Humes:
That’s where the local version of an ancient conflict took root, in January 2002, when a new board member, Alan Bonsell, an auto and radiator repair shop owner with whom Casey had campaigned, announced that he was very concerned about issues of morality. He wanted to bring prayer and faith back into the public schools. We need the Bible in the classroom again, he argued strenuously, and we need to teach creationism to achieve a “fair and balanced curriculum .” More than budget cuts, more than textbooks, more than school construction or any of the other mundane but critical issues facing the district that they had all campaigned on, Bonsell seemed to care most about creationism. That, he said, was his number one issue. School prayer was second on his list.
Humes, Edward (2009-10-13). Monkey Girl . HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
This was in the Dover, Pennsylvania, public school system. Board member Alan Bonsell allied himself with William Buckingham, another board member. They consulted with the Discovery Institute and with the Thomas More Law Center. The Discovery Institute is the leading proponent for creationism in the United States, particularly Intelligent Design. The Thomas More Law Center was named after 16th century English lawyer Thomas More, who was beheaded by Henry VIII over his opposition to the Church of England. Seth Cooper, a lawyer at the Discovery Institute was in contact with Buckingham, and the school board received books and videos critical of evolution. A particular video was Icons of Evolution, based on a book of the same title by creationist Jonathan Wells, a Discovery Institute fellow.
From all of this, Bonsell, Buckingham and some other board members got the idea it would be legally defensible to teach creationism in the Dover public schools. There was opposition, a lot of conflict and some rethinking. Creationism, even the Intelligent Design version, would not be taught. The issue devolved into having science teachers read a disclaimer that said:
The Pennsylvania Academic Standards require students to learn about Darwin’s theory of evolution and eventually to take a standardized test of which evolution is a part.
Because Darwin’s Theory is a theory, it is still being tested as new evidence is discovered. The Theory is not a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.
Intelligent design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin’s view. The reference book, Of Pandas and People, is available for students to see if they would like to explore this view in an effort to gain an understanding of what intelligent design actually involves.
As is true with any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind. The school leaves the discussion of the origins of life to individual students and their families. As a standards-driven district, class instruction focuses upon preparing students to achieve proficiency on standards-based assessments.
The science teachers recognized the wrongness of this action and refused to participate. Already eleven interested parties had joined in a lawsuit against the school. It was left to Assistant Superintendent Mike Baksa to read the prescribed text.
The case is named Tammy Kitzmiller, et al. v. Dover Area School District, et al. On 20 December 2005 District Judge John E. Jones III handed down his decision, and it was devastating for the defendants. The Judge’s decision banned promoting creationism in the school, witnesses for the defense were cited for perjured testimony and the school board was stuck with a bill of $1 million for the claimants legal expenses.
Reaction was immediate. The judge, a politically conservative appointee of President George W. Bush, received harsh criticism by conservative news commentators, his life was threatened, and he was given police protection. The Discovery Institute weighed in. This book was their response.
The authors are as follows and will be known henceforth as “DeWolf and others.”
- David DeWolf—David K. DeWolf is a Professor of Law at Gonzaga School of Law in Spokane, Washington, and a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture.
- John G. West—Dr. John West is a Vice President and Senior Fellow at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, where he also serves as Associate Director of the Institute’s Center for Science & Culture.
- Casey Luskin—Casey Luskin is an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution.
- Jonathan Witt—Jonathan Witt, Ph.D., is a Senior Fellow for Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture and a Research Fellow for the Acton Institute.
The book has an introduction and four chapters. There is also a Conclusion The Need for Academic Freedom and appendices A, B and C. I’m going to take a sample from each of these parts to critique. Anybody asserting I’m cherry picking the evidence will need to contact me. I will provide additional examples.
Introduction Judicial Courage or Judicial Overreach.
This is from pages 9-10:
The dogmatic tone of Judge Jones’ opinion is already attracting criticism from thoughtful scholars. Distinguished University of Chicago Law Professor Albert Alschuler, for one, has rebuked Judge Jones for smearing ID proponents as Biblical fundamentalists:
If fundamentalism still means what it meant in the early twentieth century … accepting the Bible as literal truth—the champions of intelligent design are not fundamentalists. They uniformly disclaim reliance on the Book and focus only on where the biological evidence leads.The court’s response—”well, that’s what they say, but we know what they mean”—is uncivil, an illustration of the dismissive and contemptuous treatment that characterizes much contemporary discourse. Once we know who you are, we need not listen. We’ve heard it all already.
That may or may not be worth noting. A lot would depend on whether Judge Jones actually smeared Intelligent Design proponents. Also whether he ever characterized them as Biblical fundamentalists. Apparently neither is the case. A search of Jones’ decision for the text “fundamental,” which would include the words “fundamentalist” and “fundamentalists,” found 16 instances. None of these references appear to be directed toward Intelligent Design proponents.
I am left wondering what the authors had in mind when making this assertion. Is this a case of somebody recognizing himself in a mirror?
The following is also from page 10:
Finally, although Kitzmiller was publicly portrayed as being about the “teaching” of intelligent design, in reality the Dover school board merely required students to hear a four-paragraph statement defining intelligent design as “an explanation of the origin of life that differs from
Darwin’s view”—a vapid description that supplied virtually no meaningful information about the substance of the theory. Students were further notified that “[ t]he reference book, Of Pandas and People, is available for students who might be interested in gaining an understanding of what Intelligent Design actually involves.” Such a minimalist policy was
a far cry from an intelligent design curriculum.
And why is this important? DeWitt and the others want to minimize the significance of Intelligent Design to the case. The problem is the case started out as an attempt to introduce Intelligent Design into the curriculum, and only shrank to its final scope after the suit was filed. Testimony given by witnesses for the plaintiffs detailed an earlier, nefarious intent on the part of the defendants:
During a meeting of the curriculum committee in early October , while the sole dissenter, Casey Brown , was absent, Bonsell, Buckingham, and Sheila Harkins came up with new language to replace Baksa’s in a matter of minutes: “Students will be made aware of gaps/ problems in Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and of other theories of evolution, including but not limited to intelligent design. Note: Origins of Life is not taught.”
Humes, Edward (2009-10-13). Monkey Girl (p. 93). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
The curriculum change, incorporating Intelligent design was sprung at a notable meeting:
But when the meeting convened on October 18, 2004, the champions of intelligent design were in no mood for compromise. In yet another wild, angry session, the board majority, led by Buckingham and Bonsell, presented its proposal just as Barrie Callahan had feared— without the usual notice to the public.
Humes, Edward (2009-10-13). Monkey Girl (p. 95). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
Judge Jones cited this meeting in his ruling:
On December 14, 2004, Plaintiffs filed the instant suit challenging the constitutional validity of the October 18, 2004 resolution and November 19, 2004 press release (collectively, “the ID Policy”). It is contended that the ID Policy constitutes an establishment of religion prohibited by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which is made applicable to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment, as well as the Constitution of the Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania. Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief, nominal damages, costs, and attorneys’ fees.
[Judge’s ruling, Case No. 04cv2688, pp 2-3]
Protestations by deWolf and others notwithstanding, there was Intelligent Design intent, and this religiously-motivated concept was at the heart of the case.
Chapter I, Kitzmiller’s Partisan History of Intelligent Design.
This chapter has three sections:
- A. The Ancient Origins of the Design Debate
- B. The Modern Revival of the Design Debate in Physics and Cosmology
- C. The Modern Revival of the Design Debate in Biology
From page 15:
A key part of Judge Jones’ ruling is his purported history of the intelligent design movement, which he depicts as the outgrowth of American Christian “Fundamentalism” with a capital “F.” It is important to note that Judge Jones cannot point to even a single doctrine unique to Christian fundamentalism that the theory of intelligent design incorporates. Indeed, he effectively concedes that ID proponents distinguish their theory from fundamentalism by pointing out that it does not involve arguments based on “the Book of Genesis”, “a young earth,” or “a catastrophic Noaich Hood.”
Lest DeWolf and others failed to notice, the plaintiff’s case chased the origins of the modern Intelligent Design movement, particularly as regards the proposed text Of Pandas and People, to the Edwards v. Aguillard case. That case involved the intent to teach Fundamentalist Christian philosophy in the public schools. Creationism was the object of contention. The Supreme Court ruled that the action of the local government in this case had a religious intent with no redeeming scientific merit. Plaintiffs demonstrated in the Kitzmiller case that the modern Intelligent Design movement in part, and the current rendition Pandas book in whole, sprang from this case.
DeWolf and others additionally make the case that Michael Behe and Scott Minnich, both proponents of Intelligent Design and testifying for the defense, are not religious fundamentalists. While it is good to know this, it is of no importance. The plaintiffs successfully demonstrated a connection between religious fundamentalism and Intelligent Design. The connection was never to imply Intelligent Design is based on religious fundamentalism. The point made was that Intelligent Design, like young Earth creationism, is aimed at promoting a religious view point. In case somebody asks which particular religious view point, the answer is the creation of novel biological features by means of the intervention of a mythical person.
Chapter II, Kitzmiller’s Unpersuasive Case Against the Scientific Status of Intelligent Design
This also has three sections.
- A. Judge Jones Wrongly Assumed the Authority to Decide What Science Is
- B. Judge Jones Conflated The Question of Whether Something Is Scientific with the Question of Which Scientific Theory Is Most Popular
- C. Judge Jones Disqualified ID As Science Only by Misrepresenting the Facts
I will just pick one point from this chapter, that Judge Jones disqualified Intelligent Design as science only by misrepresenting the facts. DeWolf and others quote from page 62 of the judge’s decision, specifically:
(1) ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation; (2) the argument of irreducible complexity, central to ID, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980’s; and (3) ID’s negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community. As we will discuss in more detail below, it is additionally important to note that ID has failed to gain acceptance in the scientific community, it has not generated peer-reviewed publications, nor has it been the subject of testing and research.
I will summarize the book’s argument by posting the essentials of page 30. I have removed the footnotes and references to them. The quoted text is from the court decision:
1. “ID violates the centuries-old ground rules ‘of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation.”
Judge Jones makes two interrelated claims here that need to be distinguished: a. ID invokes or permits supernatural causation and b. ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science.
a. Does ID invoke or permit supernatural causation?
Although Judge Jones sometimes claims that ID either “invokes or permits supernatural causation,” it becomes clear in his opinion that his real claim is much stronger: He repeatedly insists that ID “requires supernatural creation.” Judge Jones can make this claim only by misrepresenting the actual views of intelligent design scientists, who consistently have maintained that empirical evidence cannot tell one whether the intelligent causes detected through modern science are inside or outside of nature. As a scientific theory, ID only claims that there is empirical evidence that key features of the universe and living things are the
products of an intelligent cause. Whether the intelligent cause involved is inside or outside of nature cannot be decided by empirical evidence alone. That larger question involves philosophy, including metaphysics. In addition to the clear testimony of ID witnesses during the trial on this point, Judge Jones was provided with fifteen pages of documentation
unequivocally demonstrating that ID proponents from the beginning have repeatedly argued that design theory does not rely on supernatural causation, and they have consistently maintained this position whether writing for religious or secular audiences.” Ignoring this evidence, Judge Jones proceeded to highlight a few quotations cited by the plaintiffs to
prove his conclusion that ID requires supernatural causation. However, Judge Jones distorts the plain meaning of these quotations, which contradict, rather than support, his claim.
Hopefully you have read through this argument and digested it. My response is simply “no.” No on two points:
1. The plain fact is that Intelligent Design does require supernatural causation. An unknown, unseen, unworldly “designer” is the very essence of the supernatural. No reasonable person thinks that Intelligent Design seeks only natural causes. People are drawn to Intelligent Design because of its inference of a supernatural designer, whom the faithful recognize to mean the God of Abraham.
2. Statements by Intelligent Design proponents that “design theory does not rely on supernatural causation” are demonstrably facetious. Take special note that DeWolf and others continually refer to what Intelligent Design proponents say about their intentions. It’s as though what they say reflects the truth. Even a brief reading of the history of the movement reveals that these statements of intention are half truths at best, closely approaching outright fabrication. Instances abound of leaders of the Intelligent Design movement proclaiming rejection of purely natural processes. Professor Phillip Johnson has been one of the key philosophers of the Intelligent Design movement, and his thinking accurately portrays its core:
If we understand our own times, we will know that we should affirm the reality of God by challenging the domination of materialism and naturalism in the world of the mind. With the assistance of many friends I have developed a strategy for doing this….
Phillip Johnson, Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds, Inter Varsity Press. pp 91-92
Chapter III Kitzmiller’s Failure to Treat Religion in a Neutral Manner
This chapter has the following four sections:
- A. One-Sided (Non-Neutral) Treatment Of Religious Implications
- B. One-Sided (Non-Neutral) Treatment Of Secondary Effects
- C. One-Sided (Non-Neutral) Treatment Of Religious Motives
- D. An Effort to Dictate a Particular Theological View of Evolution
In this case the chapter introduction will suffice. This is from pages 59 and 60. I have not included the footnotes or the references to them:
Judge Jones based his ruling on the requirements of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, bur he failed to observe the cardinal principle of the Establishment Clause, which is that religion must be treated in a neutral manner: “The First Amendment does not select anyone group or anyone type of religion for preferred treatment. It puts them all in [the same] … position.”
Judge Jones seemed to think that the possible religious implications of intelligent design theory made it a religious theory. He reached that conclusion apparently without even considering whether the religious implications of Darwinian evolution would yield the same conclusion. Similarly, he looked to the supposed religious motivations of the pro-
ponents of intelligent design theory to establish the religious nature of intelligent design theory without subjecting the proponents of Darwinian evolution to the same test. For example, many pages of Judge Jones’ opinion are devoted to establishing the history of the “intelligent design movement” and the theological views of its advocates. He relies extensively on the testimony of Barbara Forrest, who “thoroughly and exhaustively chronicled the history of ID in her book and other writings for her testimony in this case.” There was no attempt to verify that purported history and nowhere does Judge Jones subject Barbara Forrest to an examination of whether her background or her beliefs might be relevant to the case. If Judge Jones wanted to play the motivation game, he ought in fairness to have addressed the extensive evidence in one of the amicus briefs documenting the anti-religious affiliations and motivations of many leading Darwinists, including especially Professor Forrest herself.
Again, “no.” This time on four points.
1. DeWolf and others start out trying to convince the reader that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment is intended to prevent differentiation between religious sects. That is not the wording of the clause. The First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” Enough said about that.
2. DeWolf and others state that “Judge Jones seemed to think that the possible religious implications of intelligent design theory made it a religious theory.” He did, and it does. Intelligent Design does have a religious base. It is a religious theory.
3. Further, “He reached that conclusion apparently without even considering whether the religious implications of Darwinian evolution would yield the same conclusion.” There are, in fact, no religious implications of Darwinian evolution. Darwinian evolution, like all valid scientific theories, is based on observed facts and objective reasoning. No religious motivation is required to support Darwinian evolution.
4. DeWolf and others state “There was no attempt to verify that purported history and nowhere does Judge Jones subject Barbara Forrest to an examination of whether her background or her beliefs might be relevant to the case.” Such an attempt, were it to be made, would have been the job of the defense attorneys. The fact that the case was not made is compelling evidence that the case could not be made.
Finally, it so curious, almost humorous, the way DeWolf and others lay religious implications into an argument that they purport to be all about science.
Chapter IV Kitzmiller’s Limited Value as a Precedent
This chapter has three sections:
- A. Cases Deal With the Parties Before Them
- B. An Adverse Judgment Against a Party Requires an Opportunity for Them to be Heard
- C. The Absence Of Parties To An Appeal
It is here DeWolf and others have the best opportunity to make a point. The fact is that Kitzmiller does have limited values as a precedent. Tammy Kitzmiller, et al. filed their suit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Since the case was never appealed and taken to a higher level, e.g., the United States Supreme Court, then the court’s findings have legal precedence only within this district. DeWolf and others are also correct in asserting the only party bound by Judge Jones’ decision is the defendant in the case, the Dover Area School District. They want to believe, rather they want readers to believe, this case has truly limited scope. To this point they assert early on (page 13):
Second, and more troubling, is the Judge’s suggestion that his determination of whether IO is science would spare Iuture judges the need to make their own determination. Judge Jones is a federal trial court judge in one particular district court in Pennsylvania. But he writes as ifhe has the right and duty to decide the question of whether intelligent design is science for all other judges in the entire United States in the future and, thereby, to legislate the question for the whole country. Lower federal court judges are bound by Supreme Court precedents, but they certainly aren’t bound by the rulings of other lower court judges at the same level. Although other federal judges can refer to Judge Jones’ decision (especially to his legal reasoning), every judge has a duty to reach an impartial and independent determination of the facts and law in the cases before him. Another federal district court judge would be remiss to simply say, “Well, Judge Jones has already decided the matter, so there is no need for me to do any fact-finding of my own.” Nor should a judge tell the parties to a new case: “I’ve decided not to allow you to present any evidence, because Judge Jones already heard the evidence three years ago.”
By page 75 DeWolf and others are bemoaning the opportunity to appeal an erroneous judgment. Again I am ignoring the footnotes:
One mechanism for correcting errors at the trial court level is the availability of the right to appeal on behalf of the party who is the victim of bad judicial reasoning. Of course, many cases are never appealed because the losing party recognizes that the adverse judgment was not a result of legal error, and therefore an appeal would be futile. In this case, by contrast, not only was the “intelligent design movement” never a party to the case, but the board members who represented the nominal defendant (the Dover Area School District) were voted out of office in the November election six weeks before the opinion was issued. The
new school board, which has the power to appeal the case, campaigned on a platform that essentially agreed with those who filed the lawsuit. Moreover, they waited to change the policy until after the judge issued his opinion-only because they wanted the judge to rule against the former board members’ policy and in spite of the legal jeopardy that they
created by waiting. As a consequence, there is no party who has any stake in correcting the judge’s errors. This is similar to a case in which a trial court makes an erroneous ruling, but before the appellate court can correct the error, the parties settle and the issue becomes moot.
A lot of this thinking is predicated on the unlikely prospect the appeal would have been successful.
- None of the defense witnesses spoke successfully for the supposed scientific basis for Intelligent Design.
- Plaintiff’s witnesses successfully demonstrated the absence of scientific merit for Intelligent Design.
- Plaintiff’s witnesses successfully demonstrated the religious basis for Intelligent Design and the religious intent of the defendants.
- The malfeasance of critical parties of the school district was demonstrated. Defendant’s witnesses testifying against this fact were found to have perjured themselves.
And appeal of Judge Jones’ decision was going nowhere. The citizens of the Dover Area School District had been misled and badly served by the principals in the case. These people had abused the power entrusted to them by the voters, and now the voters were liable for a million dollars in court expenses. The voters rejected the people who had betrayed them. Whether the District could have avoided the court expenses by abolishing the previous board’s policy is unlikely:
- The suite demanded reimbursement of court expenses in addition to a finding of fault.
- By the time of the election of the new board (8 November 2005), the plaintiffs had already incurred considerable legal expenses. Trial testimony was nearly complete. Closure of the case at this point would have required payment of the monetary damages.
Monetary awards demanded by the plaintiffs are noted in the court decision, pages 2 and 3:
Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief, nominal damages, costs, and attorneys’ fees.
The new board could do nothing to avoid these costs by abandoning the defense. DeWolf and others are being disingenuous at the least on this point.
Conclusion: The Need for Academic Freedom
There is so much irony on exhibit here. Page 77 opens with:
Judge Jones’ opinion highlights the pressing need to affirm and defend the right of teachers and students to express honest disagreement with the claims of Darwinian evolution. For all of his concern about the illegitimacy of requiring teachers to mention intelligent design or to “denigrate or disparage”187 evolution, Judge Jones showed no similar interest in the freedom of teachers and students to express opinions that might be critical of Darwinian evolution. As a result, his opinion is likely to be used by defenders of Darwin’s theory as a pretext for censoring even completely voluntary expressions of dissenting scientific views by teachers and students.
The footnote reference seems to be to page 138 of the court’s decision, even though the actual footnote points toward page 52, which contains similar wording.
Let’s take a look at what academic freedom is all about. Academic freedom is supposed to allow scholars and students to pursue serious studies without political interference. The specter of Intelligent Design is the opposite of academic freedom. Intelligent Design is a concept developed by people often working outside the related area of study. These people seek to infiltrate the concept into school curricula, circumventing the usual review for accuracy and academic merit.
Page 77 continues:
Teachers seeking to “teach the controversy” over Darwinian evolution in today’s climate will likely be met with false warnings that it is unconstitutional to say anything negative about Darwinian evolution. Students who attempt to raise questions about Darwinism, or who try to elicit from the teacher an honest answer about the status of intelligent design theory will trigger administrators’ concerns about whether they stand in constitutional jeopardy. A chilling effect on open inquiry is being felt in several states already, including Ohio, South Carolina, and California. Judge Jones’ message is clear: give Darwin only praise, or else face the wrath of the judiciary.
“Teach the controversy” is a key phrase employed by proponents of Intelligent Design. There is a controversy. There is a controversy because proponents have created a controversy. Now that there is a controversy, we need to teach the controversy.
The problem is, proponents really would not like the controversy to be taught. Let’s see how a classroom discussion would go if a teacher actually taught the controversy:
Today, class, we are going to investigate the controversial topic of Intelligent Design. Not only is it controversial, but it is entirely worthless as an academic study.
The problem is, if an earnest teacher were required to tell students about Intelligent Design, that teacher would feel obliged to give students all the available information about Intelligent Design. The teacher would proceed to tell his students about the origins of the movement, its use of subterfuge and the lack of any serious research published in scientific journals. The teacher would also get into the mendacious methods employed by proponents of Intelligent Design. That would not go well with those seeking to use political influence to promote Intelligent Design. There is a case in point:
A Santa Ana federal judge ruled in 2009 that Corbett violated the First Amendment’s establishment clause when he referred to Creationism as “religious, superstitious nonsense” during a classroom lecture.
James Corbett, a teacher at Capistrano Valley High School in Orange County, California, responded when a student brought up the topic of creationism in 2007. The fact is that creationism is religious, superstitious nonsense, and any teacher who says otherwise is deceiving his students. Teaching the controversy would involve a lot of that and would result in a load of litigation if Corbett’s case is an example.
Appendix A: Whether ID Is Science: Michael Behe’s Response to Kitzmiller v. Dover
This section was contributed by creationist Michael Behe. Behe is a professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University. He is also a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute‘s Center for Science and Culture. He is noted for his 1996 book Darwin’s Black Box, and he has also written The Edge of Evolution. He was also one of the expert witnesses called by the defense in Kitzmiller. The matter of expert witnesses was a principal weakness for the defense:
Just before the scheduled depositions of three of the experts from the Discovery Institute— Dembski, Meyer, and Campbell— they all decided that they wanted their own attorneys present to watch out for their legal interests. (The other witnesses from Discovery , Minnich and Behe, had already been deposed by that point, without their own lawyers.)
Humes, Edward (2009-10-13). Monkey Girl (p. 240). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
Dembski is William Dembski, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute. Meyer is Stephen C. Meyer, director of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, the Discovery Institute zone concerned with promoting creationism. Campbell is Professor John Angus Campbell, “professor of communications and rhetoric at the University of Memphis.” [Humes, Edward (2009-10-13). Monkey Girl (p. 233). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition] His task for the defense would have been to explain the benefit of presenting opposing arguments. Scott Minnich is a fellow of the Center for Science and Culture.
With the exit of the first three, it fell to Behe and Scott Minnich to explain the benefits of Intelligent Design. As it turned out, Behe’s testimony was of little value for the defense. In this section Professor Behe wants to explain why Intelligent Design qualifies as science. He takes on specific wording in the court’s decision in a number of bullet points. The first is on page 80. Text from the decision is in italics.
1. ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation.
It does no such thing. The Court’s opinion ignores, both here and elsewhere, the distinction between an implication of a theory and the theory itself. As I testified, when it was first proposed the Big Bang theory struck many scientists as pointing to a supernatural cause. Yet it clearly is a scientific theory, because it is based entirely on physical data and logical inferences. The same is true of intelligent design.
In this Behe is completely wrong. He has deliberately misconstrued the body and spirit of Intelligent Design. Intelligent Design has been first and foremost a religious concept. It was dredged up to provide a religion-based alternative to natural explanations.
In his point number 11 Behe discusses the debacle of the cross examination following his testimony.
The lasting image of Behe, however , came near the end of the cross-examination. The biochemist had testified that there were no published papers to explain the evolution of the immune system, which he considered irreducibly complex. Rothschild proceeded to pile a stack of books and fifty-eight peer-reviewed articles on the witness stand, all about the evolution of the immune system.
“So these are not good enough?” Rothschild asked.
Sitting there surrounded by the scientific literature, Behe said, “They don’t address the question I’m posing.”
Humes, Edward (2009-10-13). Monkey Girl (p. 306). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
In particular, Behe was asked about the claims he made in Darwin’s Black Box:
We can look high, we can look low, in books or in journals, but th result is the same. The scientific literature has no answers to the questions of the origin of the immune system.
[Darwin’s Block Box, page 138]
Behe’s point 11 includes a number of challenges, one being (page 86):
2. I was given no chance to read them, and at the time considered the dumping of a stack of papers and books on the witness stand to be just a stunt, simply bad courtroom theater. Yet the Court treats it seriously.
Professor Behe, the time to have read these papers and books would have been 1996 and before. Before you published the absurd statement that “[t]he scientific literature has no answers to the questions of the origin of the immune system.”
Appendix B: Selected Peer-Reviewed And Peer-Edited Publications Supporting the Theory of Intelligent Design (Annotated)
Since I have covered this issue in a previous post, I will just provide a link and an excerpt:
In his book about the Kitzmiller trial, Edward Humes describes the cross examination of author Michael Behe. Behe had claimed the DBB was peer-reviewed. On cross examination attorney Eric Rothschild asked Behe about reviewer Michael Atchison. Then Rothschild recounted the story behind Atchison’s review of DBB.
The book’s editor told his wife about the book. The wife was a student of Atchison’s, and she suggested that Atchison talk to the editor. Atchison had a ten-minute phone conversation with the editor and got a description of the book. Atchison suggested the book would be good reading. And that was the peer review.
[See Edward Humes, Monkey Girl. pp 302-303. Harper, 2007.]
Appendix C: Brief of Amici Curiae Biologists And Other Scientists in Support of the Defendants in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District
Creationists have the need to demonstrate legitimacy. They want to be able to demonstrate that legitimate scientists embrace creationism, so they run out long lists of otherwise intelligent people who 1) embrace creationism, or 2) have issues with modern theories of biological evolution.
Discovery Institute submitted a brief of amici curiae along with a list of 85 people supposedly supporting the case for the defendants. The introduction is on page 103:
Amici curiae are scientists who oppose any attempt to define the nature of science in a way that would limit their ability to follow the evidence wherever it may lead. Since the identification of intelligent causes is a well established scientific practice in fields such as forensic science, archaeology, and exobiology,’ Amici urge this Court to reject plaintiffs’ claim that the application of intelligent design to biology is unscientific. Any ruling that depends upon an outdated or inaccurate definition of science, or which attempts to define the boundaries of science, could hinder scientific progress.
These are people of substance and not to be considered crackpots. For starters, the list includes (page 120):
- Richard M Anderson, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science and Policy, Duke
- Phillip A. Bishop, Professor of Kinesiology, University of Alabama
- John A. Bloom, Professor of Physics, Biola University
- William H. Bordeaux, Professor of Chemistry, Huntington University
- Gregory J. Brewer, Professor of Neurology, Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Cell Biology, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine
- Rudolf Brits, Ph.D. Nuclear Chemistry, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
- Mary A. Brown, DVD (Veterinary Medicine), The Ohio State University
- John R. Cannon, Ph.D. Chemistry, Princeton University
- Russell W. Carlson, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Executive Technical Director, Plant and Microbial Carbohydrates, Complex Carbohydrate Research Center, University of Georgia
- Jarrod W. Carter., Ph.D. Bioengineering, University of Washington
- Mark A. Chambers, Ph.D. Virology, University of Cambridge
- I. Caroline Crocker, Ph.D. Immunopharmacology, University of Southampton
- Lisanne D’Andrea-Winslow, Associate Professor of Biology, Northwestern College
- Paul S. Darby, M.D., Georgetown University School of Medicine, Ph.D., Organic Chemistry, University of Georgia
- Lawrence DeMejo, Ph.D. Polymer Science and Engineering , University of Massachusetts at Amherst
- David DeWitt, Ph.d. Neuroscience, Case Western University
- Michael R. Egnor, Professor and Vice-Chairman, Department of Neurological Surgery, State University of New York at Stony Brook
That’s an impressive list. However, these are not the bright lights of biological science either. Mary Brown, with a DVD in veterinary medicine is likely not doing cutting edge biological research. There are a few on just this page who have some history. Caroline Crocker I have covered already. Also Michael Egnor.
For the rest, we may wonder what it was they signed up to to get on the list. If it’s just the wording in the introduction above, then it would be hard to fault the signatories. If they were each advised they would be supporting some creationists attempting to introduce Intelligent Design into a public science curriculum, then it would be another matter. They would have only themselves to blame.
So this is that kind of book. You’ve been complaining for years that you have this big message that will change the world, but nobody will take you seriously. Nobody will listen to you. So finally something happens, and people tell you that now you’re going to have to explain yourself. Then everybody is looking at you and waiting to hear what you have to say. You tell your story, and afterwards people say, “What? Is that it?”
Then it’s all over, and what you had to say didn’t come across the way you wanted. So, there’s nothing left to do but write a book about why you didn’t get a fair shake. And this is that kind of book.
It’s been several years now, and I’ve been putting off doing a review. There is just so much wrong, it’s hard to do this book justice. When you review a book on Amazon you can give it from one to five stars. It may surprise my readers, but I would have given this four Amazon stars. The spelling and punctuation is absolutely superb. Besides that, the authors have gone to great lengths to develop their argument. It’s not the book that’s so wrong, it’s the argument. I have a copy of Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kamph, and I can say DeWolf and others have put out a much better product.