Intelligent Design Outlawed In PA

‘Intelligent design’ teaching ban

A court in the US has ruled against the teaching of “intelligent design” alongside Darwin’s theory of evolution.

A group of parents in the Pennsylvania town of Dover had taken the school board to court for demanding biology classes not teach evolution as fact. The authorities wanted to introduce the idea that Earth’s life was too complicated to have evolved on its own. Judge John Jones ruled the school board had violated the constitutional ban on teaching religion in public schools.

The 11 parents who brought the case argued that teaching intelligent design (ID) was effectively teaching creationism, which is banned. They complained that ID – which argues life must have been helped to develop by an unseen power – was tantamount to religious education.

The separation of church and state is enshrined in the US constitution.

The school board argued they had sought to improve science education by exposing pupils to alternatives to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. But Judge Jones said he had determined that ID was not science and “cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents”. In a 139-page written ruling, the judge said: “Our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom.”

He accused school board members of disguising their true motives for introducing the ID policy. “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 said.

He banned any future implementation of the policy in Dover schools. (bold emphasis mine)

The case, the first of its kind, sets an important precedent in a country where several states have adopted the teaching of ID, reports the BBC’s James Coomerasamy in Washington. Ironically, he adds, it is a somewhat academic ruling in the Dover area since parents there voted last month to replace the school board members who brought in the policy. That move provoked US TV evangelist Pat Robertson to warn the town was invoking the wrath of God.

A lawyer for the parents said the ruling was a “real vindication” for those families who challenged the school.

This article was taken from the BBC here:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4545822.stm

You can read more here:
http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/12/20/intelligent.design/index.html?section=cnn_topstories

7 thoughts on “Intelligent Design Outlawed In PA

  1. I don’t know if this is a hole big enough to sink ID.  Time will tell.

    Anyone interested in the gory details should also check out Judge Jones’ ruling.  Even though Bush appointed him, I’m afraid this ruling will preclude his being considered for the Supreme Court.  Too bad.

  2. I see my added summary was nixed. Anyhow, it amounted to this: The judge found that two of the board members had fraudulently placed the book “Of Pandas and People” in the school library. They did this as follows: 1) Held fundraisers at local Christian churches. 2) Laundered the money by passing it on to relatives. 3) Relatives purchased the texts and gave them back to aforementioned board members. 4) Board members then placed said texts into the school library.

    The publisher of the text was also issued a subpoena, and it was found that “Of Pandas and People” was originally a Creationist science manual. The publisher sought to avoid the earlier SCOTUS ruling banning the outright teaching of Creationism in the classroom by substituting the words “Intelligent Design” wherever “Creationism” was previously located in the book. The publisher admitted to this, and an original draft print of the manual was shown in court and compared with the revised version as found in the school library.

    These last two bits I learned by watching an interview with the two lead lawyers in the trial on PBS.

  3. I posted whatever was in the original entry, Jynxed. You sure you hit the update button after adding the additional material?

  4. Just out of curiosity… Do you have religious education in schools in the US?

    Obviously if the class teaches about ALL religions/religious philosophy/theology and so on it wouldn’t really break the seperation of church and state rule – which was of course created to stop any one religion from being officialy associated with the state.

  5. There are places that offer comparative religion courses and the subject of religion is touched upon in both history and social studies classes, particularly once you get into college, but also in some high schools. There’s nothing wrong with teaching about religion and its influence in public schools though a lot of places do avoid it because they’re run by idiots who don’t understand the distinction between studying and proselytizing.

  6. There are places that offer comparative religion courses and the subject of religion is touched upon in both history and social studies classes, particularly once you get into college, but also in some high schools. There’s nothing wrong with teaching about religion and its influence in public schools though a lot of places do avoid it because they’re run by idiots who don’t understand the distinction between studying and proselytizing.

    Thankfully we don’t take that view here. I always felt RE was a great idea, just as long as it never leans in the direction of any one religion (which it doesn’t in Scotland.) Without thinking about it too much I figured maybe if they had RE to teach their side of the debate they’d be happy… Needless to say it took a further (rather depressing) few milliseconds to realise that if RE was indeed taught in American high schools they would start banging on about getting stickers put on all non-Christian literature and how having a balance between all religions is unfair bias against the largely Christian population. There’s just no winning…

    On the subject of fundamentalists… My parents’ religion dictates that it’s members must encourage their children to study all religions and make their own choice… Their line is basically one of “how can God be pleased with his followers who never even make a conscious decision to worship him”, but in fact were only presented with worshipping him or heavy chastisation (for lack of a real word) from the family and community… In which case they are choosing between conforming and being rejected.

    Needless to say I’m very (very, very) thankful that they have that philosophy. grin

  7. Yes Les, I updated afterwards, but I figured it was just a kink in the system anyhow since I know you just upgraded to a new version, so no biggie smile

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.