Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Federal Judge Rules Against Teaching "Intelligent Design"

Intelligent design was shot down by a federal judge today in Pennsylvania with a ruling that bans its teaching as an alternative to evolution in classrooms.

The case stems from a requirement by the Dover Area School District that a statement be read to 9th grade biology classes denigrating evolution and introducing intelligent design.

First read to students in January 2005, the statement points out "gaps" in Darwin's theory "for which there is no evidence" and introduces ID as "an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin's view." It then refers students to the ID textbook "Of Pandas and People" in the school library to gain "an understanding of what Intelligent Design actually involves."

Accordingly, in December of 2002, 11 outraged parents sued the district and its board on the grounds that the statement was unconstitutional. The case ended with this landmark decision today in Pennsylvania.

Federal judge John E Jones III, appointed by President George W Bush in 2002, wrote in his 139-page decision “Our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom." He then added "To be sure, Darwin's theory of evolution is imperfect, however, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis, grounded in religion, into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions."

"The overwhelming evidence at trial established that ID [intelligent design] is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory," he went on to say, "In fact, one unfortunate theme in this case is the striking ignorance concerning the concept of ID amongst board members. Conspicuously, board members who voted for the curriculum change testified at trial that they had utterly no grasp of ID.1"

"This wasn't just a quick and dirty lawsuit over what happened in Dover," ACLU of Pennsylvania Legal Director Witold Walczak said in an interview last week. "This was a six-week trial with no expenses spared by either side that put intelligent design on trial."


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