ACLU Files Lawsuit Over “Intelligent Design.”

ACLU files lawsuit over Intelligent Design

Harrisburg, PA (AP)

Two civil liberties groups representing 11 parents on Tuesday sued a school district that is requiring students to learn about alternatives to the theory of evolution.

The ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State said the lawsuit is the first in the nation to challenge whether public schools should teach “intelligent design,” which holds that the universe is so complex that it must have been created by some higher power.

The Dover Area School District was believed to be the first in the nation to mandated the instruction of intelligent design when it voted 6-3 on Oct. 18 in favor of including the concept in the science curriculum.

The ACLU contends intelligent design is a more secular form of creationism, a biblical-based view that credits the origin of species to God, and may violate the constitutional separation of church and state.

“Intelligent design is a Trojan horse for bringing religious creationism back into the public science classroom.” Witold Walczak, legal director for the state ACLU chapter, said during a news conference.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Harrisburg. The complaint alleges that the parents “perceive the district’s action as conveying a governmental message that students should subscribe to the religious views reflected in the assertion or argument of intelligent design.”

School district officials had no immediate comment on the lawsuit. Administrators have declined to discuss the mandate, which applies to ninth-grade biology classes at Dover High School.

School board member William Buckingham, who spearheaded the change as leader of the board’s curriculum committee, has said previously that he proposed the change as a way to balance evolution with competing theories that raise questions about its scientific validity.

One of the plaintiffs, Tammy Kitzmiller, expressed concern that the school board would mandate the teaching of “something that isn’t accepted as science.”

Hopefully the challenge in court will succeed, because this IS a blatant violation of separation of church and state in my eyes, and even in the eyes of my mom, and some others, who ARE Christians themselves (I am not a Christian per se, although like a lot of others, I find some good things to filch from the Bible for personal use. I.E. Don’t Steal, etc.). I don’t feel that this theory, which holds less weight scientifically than a goose down feather, has any place in a public school science curriculum.

This matter hits close to home, as I have family members who go to Dover High School, and my girlfriend is a teacher here where we live here in Warren. If the plaintiffs fail in this matter, then it leaves the door wide open for the religious wrong to force their narrow views and crackpot theories into public schools everywhere in my opinion. My girlfriend is still waiting for the Bushies to sneak faith-based crap into NCLB and this would open it up for them to do so, since they would have “legal precedent.”

[Editor’s Note: I was unable to find the original source used in the quote so I’ve linked to a reprint of the news item on the Yahoo! News service.]

68 thoughts on “ACLU Files Lawsuit Over “Intelligent Design.”

  1. Main Entry: sci·ence
    Pronunciation: ‘sI-&n(t)s
    Function: noun
    : knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through the scientific method and concerned with the physical world and its phenomena

    Source: Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary, © 2002 Merriam-Webster, Inc.

    Please help me here, but what portion of “intelligent design theory” falls under “the scientific method”?  Isn’t it sort of like saying “The can of Iced tea on my desk sure has a lot of ingredients in it.  It seems very complex.  I guess god created it.”  I can completely ignore any evidence I want with that simple conclusion.  Have the members of the Dover area school district actually passed any science classes beyond Jr. High themselves?

  2. I was wondering, whether is it possible for students who have been taught intelligent design to sue the school board for providing bad education that impacted on his earning potential or prevented him from going to a school of his choice.

  3. Though I was born, raised, and educated in Pennsylvania, I now live in the Bible Belt, and I have seen this sort of insidious intrusion for years. For me, the good news is that I’m a social studies teacher, so I can teach Darwin as an historical development in the History of Science. The bad news is that, each year, more students want to challenge even this approach to evolution. It’s like they want to make the theory go away.

  4. I’m still amazed that local school boards get to vote on what is and is not science! Do they also vote on what math to teach? Shouldn’t there be some national level board of scientists that determine what should be taught in science class?

    Illogical!

  5. So, how exactly do they teach it?

    Teaching evolution:
    Here’s the theory, here’s the proof.

    Teaching ‘intelligent’ design:
    Here’s the theory…

    Where’s the proof?

  6. I wonder if the “Intelligent” Design folks feel that we have learned all there is to learn about the world around us. I mean, it wasn’t too long ago that much of the science that we take for granted every day was too complex to understand (when I say “we,” I include christians).

  7. That’s an interesting thought Lordklegg…
    There’s a distinct rift between math and the sciences and thing like art and humanities.  Personally, I feel that this rift is preventative of a well-rounded education.  Kids in my high school were actually proud of not being able to do math.  Perhaps this bull partly results from that rift and too many religious right liberal arts majors?

    Amen, Spocko!

    As for the lawsuit, you go!  I’m from Ohio, one of the other retarded states whose school board has voted to include unintelligent design.  I hope they kick butt in PA and then come over to help those Ohioans find their brains.

  8. Sorry Les, original article as I read it appeared in the Warren Times-Observer. I am sure it would have also appeared in the Harrisburg Patriot-News.

  9. I don’t get the creationist’s point of view. “Intelligent Design”? Honestly, for me, evolution proves that there is some sort of intelligent design, not their cracked up theories. I mean, what other proof do they need for evolution? We’ve got proof down to the *genetic level*!!

    Reminds me of when I was in biochemistry with a Fundamentalist. (Yeah, I know…)

  10. YankeeDyke, your post reminded me of this quote:
    “Gravity cannot be held responsible for people falling in love.” – Albert Einstein

  11. Metalhead, change the second “theory” to “hypothesis” and the word “proof” to “evidence” and you’re there.

  12. Shana said, quoting Einstein: Gravity cannot be held responsible for people falling in love.

    Oh, yeah?  If there were no gravity, would people fall in love?  I doubt there would be any people around to fall in love.  Therefore, gravity is responsible for people falling: down, and in love.

    There was a nice cartoon last week in the New Yorker that showed a living room, with the family, dog, and furniture floating around, and the caption: “Did you pay the gravity bill?”

  13. Sorry Les, original article as I read it appeared in the Warren Times-Observer. I am sure it would have also appeared in the Harrisburg Patriot-News.

    Not a problem. I just wanted to make sure I had a link to the AP article in some form available in the entry.

  14. I sent yet ANOTHER letter to my newspaper (unpublished, of course – sigh) to wit:

    We don’t teach flat earth “theory” in geology class, why should we teach intelligent design “theory” in science class?  Just because some people believe it?

    SG

  15. SG- That’s what’s so sneaky about this latest round with the creationists, now repackaged as IDer’s: they claim there’s a controversy, and merely want both sides represented- a much easier sell than trying to ban the teaching of evolution.  The “Wired” article Sunfell mentioned-
    http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/evolution.html
    has a good discussion of this strategy, which has convinced some scientifically unsophisticated school boards that there is a controversy among scientists at all.  Very clever, these IDer’s- too bad they’ve gone over to the Dark Side of the Force.

  16. I think they should agree to teach ID, with the overt conclusion that Satan created the universe.  See how they like those “theories” then.

  17. GM- Yeah! Let’s bring back the Gnostics!

    So far from believing that the material world was created by God as good, some Gnostics went so far as to state that Satan created it when God wasn’t looking…

  18. You guys need to see this.

    In fact, I drew a cartoon about creationists (I’d put it online but my scanner’s broken). Basically it shows two people, a scientist and a creationist. The latter is shown with is fingers in his ears yelling ‘LA LA LA I AM NOT LISTENING’. If you could see it you’d laugh. My point is that I meant that cartoon to be a joke, but that appears to be exactly what creationists are doing.

  19. ID and evolution may be viewed as complimentary.  It is not anti-evolution, although some anti-evolutionists see it that way.

    Regards,

  20. consi said: ID and evolution may be viewed as complimentary.  It is not anti-evolution, although some anti-evolutionists see it that way.

    I think you mean “complementary, because ID and evolution, or at least their spokespeople, are rarely complimentary about one another.

    Be that as it may, that is not the issue here.  Buddhism and evolution might also be seen as complementary by Buddhists, but that doesn’t mean Buddhism should be taught in science classes.  ID is a religion and not a science.

  21. It is a sad comment on humanity that we have not matured enough to get past mumbo jumbo and accept life the way it presents itself to us everyday…

    We’re such mindless animals, to ourselves and to others…..But perpetuating ignorance should
    be a sin wink

    Merry * Christmas !
    (*mass consumerism holiday)

  22. Sorry for the double whammy here, but I don’t know when I’ll be able to get back (big Winter Solstice party here in the workshop).

    consi said, about ID: It is not anti-evolution

    Actually, ID is anti-evolution; it goes along with Darwinism only to a certain point (usually admitting natural selection within “types” at least) but then digs its feet in (for instance, Behe at the flagellum) and says “This is as far as evolution goes.  Anything beyond this is IC, which means ID”.

    How this can be construed as science beats me.  It’s like a Stone Age person who observes: “Hmmm. Clouds sometimes bring rain.  Maybe water in clouds” (science) but wonders where lightning comes from: “Hmmm.  Don’t see where lightning come from.  Must be big guy in sky make thunderbolts” (ID).

  23. Actually ALL ID can muster is that its Anti-Evolution. ID is NOT a “Theory” of its own, its really not even a honest hypothesis, ALL it can be is an argument against Evolution, A poor argument.
    Its quite silly really, their whole argument amounts to “Well that’s too complex to figure out, whelp that settles it, God Did It, lets go home and pray.

    Can you imagine if all humans were so stupid in all of history?
    We would all be in caves still wondering what we had done to piss off whatever Thunder God that keeps winging thunderbolts at us.

  24. We would all be in caves still wondering what we had done to piss off whatever Thunder God that keeps winging thunderbolts at us.

    Uh, that would be Zeus, Thor, or Gene Simmons! cool grin

  25. Actually, ID is anti-evolution

    zilch, not as I see it, although with most anti-evolutionists (literalist readers of Genesis.  I won’t cede the term creationist, which I hold myself out to be, so I’ve more accurately defined them)I believe you are most likely right. 

    A simple view of ID without getting bogged down in phlem or flagellen or cilia or silliness: Evolution is a theory about how organisms on this planet evolved.  It does not, nor does it attempt to, explain the origins of how the the compost from which the amino acids that have come to be us came into being. ID, as I understand it, explains that a Creator put the whole ball of wax in motion at the beginning with evolution as the design.  Some may say that makes for a weak Deity, but theology ain’t the business of scientists and science ain’t the business of theologians.

    Regards,

  26. ID, as I understand it, explains that a Creator put the whole ball of wax in motion at the beginning with evolution as the design.  Some may say that makes for a weak Deity, but theology ain’t the business of scientists and science ain’t the business of theologians.

    Does this make as much sense as:
    ID, as I understand it, explains that an alien life form from the planet Zurg put the whole ball of wax in motion at the beginning with evolution as the design.  Some may say that makes for a weak extraterrestial life form, but ufology ain’t the business of scientists and science ain’t the business of ufologians.

    Does to me.

  27. Consi:

    zilch, not as I see it, although with most anti-evolutionists (literalist readers of Genesis.  I won’t cede the term creationist, which I hold myself out to be, so I’ve more accurately defined them)I believe you are most likely right.

    Theistic evolution is fine, if a bit silly from our point of view.

  28. Shit. That should read UFOLOGISTS, not ufologians. No offence to serious ufologists intended. cheese

  29. consi said:  but theology ain’t the business of scientists and science ain’t the business of theologians.

    So you would agree that ID has no business being taught in science classes, which is the issue here?  That would be mighty welcome, coming from a Christian.

  30. ID is simply a theory that recognises intelligent design pattern in life. Who/what/where the intelligent being is, should not be the problem here. To dismiss ID because it may imply that there might be a God / Gods, is utterly silly. The question should be, is it true that the evidence show that life is more likely to be designed rather than happened by chance.

    I read many of the myths about ID in this page, go and read about those myths here:

    http://www.arn.org/docs/teachingdesign_cohen.htm?article_id=4761

    Darwinian Evolution has been protected from criticism. The credibility of evolution has suffered from a naturalistic assumption that protects it from the criticism of competing theories. Naturalistic theories of origins have been assumed to be true rather than proven to be true by evidence that rules out competing theories. This assumption has enabled evolutionary proponents to support Darwinian stories or “historical narratives” through the use of circular reasoning, speculation and false accounts of the kind discussed in Icons of Evolution (J. Wells, Regency Press, 2000). A naturalistic assumption allows evolutionary theory to accommodate itself to any evidence. The assumption robs it of falsifiability. Until evolutionary hypotheses are fairly and objectively weighed against the evidence for the competing design hypothesis, evolution will forever remain a speculative hypothesis.

    The above has been quoted from: http://www.intelligentdesignnetwork.org/ResponseToAAAS.htm

    “With such signs of forethought in the design of living creatures, can you doubt they are the work of choice or design?

  31. “With such signs of forethought in the design of living creatures, can you doubt they are the work of choice or design?

  32. Oh, and one more thing.  Scott, you say

    To dismiss ID because it may imply that there might be a God / Gods, is utterly silly.

    So, in your opinion, is Dr. Michael Behe “silly”?  Of course, I have my own opinion, but that’s of no moment here.  From Judge Jones’ ruling in the Dover case, where Behe testified:

    Consider, to illustrate, that Professor Behe remarkably and unmistakably claims that the plausibility of the argument for ID depends upon the extent to which one believes in the existence of God.

  33. If the facts are showing us that the variation of specieses couldn’t have been ‘evolved’ from simpler life forms, why should we only stick with the old evolution theory?

    Yes sure, religious people prefer the ID theory over evolution, but that doesn’t make the theory wrong.

    Besides, the school (from what I read ofcourse) was only telling the students that there is another theory called ID, its not really teaching ID as such. Whats wrong with that? Evolution theory hasn’t given us the answer, and it is only a theory afterall (  It’s Constitutional But Not Smart to Teach Intelligent Design in Schools )

    Another article:

    Intelligent Design Theory: Why it matters

    We now have a reliable scientific method, formalized by mathematician and philosopher William Dembski (in The Design Inference, Cambridge University Press, 1998), for detecting designed objects and distinguishing them from the products of chance and impersonal laws. Scientists already use the design inference intuitively in fields such as cryptography, archaeology and forensics. When applied to nature’s fine-tuned laws, DNA sequences and Behe’s irreducibly complex biochemical systems, the clear conclusion is that they are intelligently designed.
    (read the complete article on the url above)

    Oh, and I also read, that once, big bang was treated with suspicion just like ID now.

  34. We now have a reliable scientific method, formalized by mathematician and philosopher William Dembski (in The Design Inference, Cambridge University Press, 1998), for detecting designed objects and distinguishing them from the products of chance and impersonal laws.

    No, we don’t: we have what Dembski claims to be a reliable method, and Dembski is in no position to know what evolution is and is not capable of producing.

    I have nothing against telling students about ID, as long as it is not in a science class, since ID is not science.  It could be mentioned in comparative religion or political science classes, as another attempt to introduce religion into a properly secular forum.  But ID has shot itself in the foot so many times now that it is rapidly becoming history… LOL

  35. Oh, and I also read, that once, big bang was treated with suspicion just like ID now.

    Ah – a common variation on the ‘Galileo gambit’ and dumb as ever.  Scott, most new hypotheses are wrong.  The ones that have survived to become accepted scientific theory are supported by data, are correspondence with other fields, are supported by experiment (when practical) and are still subject to scientific inquiry.

    BTW – two things puzzle me and you might be just the guy to explain them.  First, why do creationists always bring in the big bang?  It has nothing at all to do with either abiogenesis or evolution.  Second, given that the big bang is the ONE big scientific theory that might support the notion of a god, why do so many creationists oppose it (as if scientific theories were up for popular vote)?

  36. That’s quite hillarious actually, since evolution doesn’t correspondence to other fields.

    Really? Explain then why it is the basis of every other scientific field in current study. The issue of thermodynamics as it relates to evolution has been covered at length on this site. If you familiarize yourself with the site, you’ll soon discover this for yourself. Here’s some more material that resolves the alleged inconsistencies between evolution and the second law of thermodynamics.

  37. I personally have no problem with both theories being taught in schools, however they need to be taught in the proper context. ie Evolution in science lessons as it is a valid scientific theory, and intelligent design in religious education as it is not a valid scientific theory, because it relies on theology (ie god made it happen) to explain itself.

    Why this argument is still being endlessly debated I don’t know. When the day comes that someone can scientifically prove the existence of god then perhaps ID will have a place alongside evolution as a valid scientific theory, until then it’s just another case of people insisting that apples are oranges.

  38. ie Evolution in science lessons as it is a valid scientific theory, and intelligent design in religious education as it is not a valid scientific theory, because it relies on theology (ie god made it happen) to explain itself.

    I think that’s a great idea. I too would have no problem with ID being taught in, say, a philosophy class. But the moment that conservatives try to claim that it is “science” and insist that it is thus taught is the moment that they have crossed the line.

  39. We’ve been there and done that one, Scott. Evolution doesn’t violate the laws of thermodynamics in any way. Try again.

  40. From source: http://www.refcm.org/RICDiscussions/Science-Scripture/evolution.htm

    For many years this (evolution) was the accepted view. It is still the view put forward in popular literature, the media and school text-books.

    But in “scientific circles” it has become an embarrassment. It contradicts the best established law in the whole of science. The Law in question is the Second Law of Thermodynamics. In language easily understood this law guarantees that any physical system subject only to natural processes follows a downward path to ever lower levels of energy, it becomes more disorganized – it suffers decay.

    For many years supporters of the theory attempted to overlook the contradiction between evolution’s requirement (self transformation to ever higher levels of organization), and the Second Law’s exactly opposite requirement, by claiming that the Second Law applies only to “closed systems” in which no energy enters from outside. Few now try to support this discredited position, (see, for example, the Mystery of Life) and changes in the definition of evolution itself have been brought in to address the problem.

    Another difficulty for the theory has come from microbiology. As scientists have learned how to examine life in ever greater detail, Darwin’s picture of organisms consisting of a few simple chemicals has given way to one of mind-boggling complexity even in the most humble of creatures. The lowly E coli bacterium possesses not only miniature electric motors of outstanding efficiency, but also the apparatus to build, repair, maintain and operate them – as well as the electricity-generating system to power them.

    As it has become possible to calculate the probabilities of evolution’s mechanisms producing evolution’s supposed results, ever growing numbers of scientists have become convinced that there are problems which the theory is unable to cope with. Many are now seriously considering intelligent design as an alternative.

    The “scientific” press is a tightly controlled unit which does not allow any neutral discussion of evolution, the time scale or Einstein. Any paper questioning orthodoxy, or submitted by a scientist known to be skeptical of orthodoxy, is simply denied publication. Any scientist questioning the orthodoxy is ostracized and outcast. Scientists are then able to set up a vicious circle to exclude debate. Such questions could only be seriously considered if they were discussed in the reputable journals. Any attempt to bring such discussion to the journals is prevented by editorial policy. The situation was brought into the spotlight in the chapter “The Scientific Mafia” in “Velikovski Reconsidered”. A recent example can be seen in Persecution of Richard Sternberg.

  41. Wow, Scott… your comment is so fabulously comprehensive.  In just six paragraphs I think you recycled most of the best-known bullshit canards of creationism or it’s hidey-cousin, ‘Intelligent Design’.  Good job.

  42. Well allright let’s say for a moment I agree with intelligent design for arguments sake, therefore I agree there is a creator again for arguments sake. When/if we find this creator, we should apply the intelligent design theory in relation to this ‘irreducibly complex’ being ie the creator, and start looking for his creator then right?

    Hmm are we starting to see a problem with this idea yet? If you are going to insist that every complex being/organism etc had to have a creator, then you are going to either be chasing down an endless path looking for the creator of the creator of the creator. Or you are not really supporting the intelligent design theory at all, but are just using it to support some idiotic notions from a nonsensical book. ( the bible )

  43. intelligent design as an alternative.

    And what does it look like? Can you show me one piece please?

    Any process will decay if you don’t continue to fuel it. My 8 years old knows that. Ok go block the sun and you are correct.

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