Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Judge bans teaching intelligent design #1

At the end of my last post, I wrote:

So to sum up: (1) I consider it likely that Judge Jones will rule as constitutional the Dover board's policy itself, although he may rule that that particular board's motivation was religious and therefore its implementation was unconstitutional, but even that I consider unlikely; and (2) I consider it likely that Judge Jones will rule that ID is not "religion" in terms of the First Amendment and therefore it is not unconstitutional for ID to be taught in public schools. The latter (2) would be a devastating blow to the anti-ID side and of course it would be appealed by them all the way to the Supreme Court. Now I will wait and see how right (or wrong) I was!
So I was completely wrong - on how I thought Judge Jones would rule. Since as an atheist back in the 1960s, I was convinced by the evidence that there is design in nature, I consider ID to be is true - that there is empirically detectable evidence of design in nature, so I regard Judge Jones' ruling (not ID) to be wrong. However, I do consider this a major setback to the ID movement, and unless Judge Jones' ruling is overturned on appeal - which I consider to be unlikely - it will remain illegal in the USA to teach students in the USA that there is evidence of design in nature. This would mean that the USA's education system is now irrevocably effectively atheistic:
"Reduced to simplest terms, courts rightly assume that theism is a religious position, while wrongly assuming that atheism is not. It will be countered that atheism is not taught in public schools, which is true if teaching is taken to proceed explicitly only and not implicitly as well, but no educational theorist thinks that the two forms of instruction can be separated completely. If God is omitted from accounts of human origins, students will take that absence as implying that God has no place in the picture. .... This is a clear case of marginalizing. Religious claims are not squarely faced for their truth or falsity. Rather, they are eased out of the picture by classifications; in this case, theism is religious, while its alternative is not. This is supposed to reflect a national policy of neutrality, but the move is anything but neutral when the effect is to exclude important ideas and public policies from national scrutiny and debate." (Smith H., "Why Religion Matters: The Fate of the Human Spirit in an Age of Disbelief," [2000], HarperCollins Publishers: New York NY, 2001, reprint, pp.132-133. Emphasis in original).

My comments are bold and in square brackets. Because of its length, I have split this post into three parts.

Judge bans teaching intelligent design, ABC News/Reuters, Dec 20, 2005, Jon Hurdle ... PHILADELPHIA - A federal judge on Tuesday banned the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution by Pennsylvania's Dover Area School District, saying the practice violated the constitutional ban on teaching religion in public schools. [Apart from the fact that ID is not "religion", it is not the USA's constitution which "ban on teaching religion in public schools" but the Supreme Court's interpretation of a clause that was merely to prevent the Federal Government from establishing a State religion. It is simply bizarre to convert this into a ban on students hearing about the evidence of design in nature, while they can hear about the evidence of no design in nature, i.e. Darwinism!]

The ruling by U.S. District Judge John Jones dealt a blow to U.S. Christian conservatives who have been pressing for the teaching of creationism in schools [If this is indeed "a blow to U.S. Christian conservatives" then by the same token it is a boost for non-Christians. And since Christianity is true and naturalism is false, it is in the end even more a blow to non-Christians.]

"Our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in a public school classroom," Jones wrote in a 139-page opinion. ... the judge condemned the "breathtaking inanity" of its policy." Jones defended the students and teachers of Dover High School whom he said "deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources." ... [Judge Jones shows his prejudice here, by describing the Dover board's (admittedly bungled) attempt to counter the State-sanction monopoly in teaching evolution as "breathtaking inanity." They deserved better than that. If Christianity is true (which it is) then their heart was in the right place, but they were out of their depth, trying to work within the straightjacket of an anti-Christian constitutional interpretative tradition.]

[Continued in part #2]

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
"Problems of Evolution"

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