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Federal Judge Rules Against Intelligent Design 2443

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the well-at-least-there's-an-ounce-of-sanity-out-there dept.
evil agent writes "CNN is reporting that U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III has ruled that Intelligent Design cannot be discussed in Dover, Pennsylvania biology classes. Dover Area School Board members had previously mandated that Intelligent Design be included in the biology curriculum. According to the judge, 'our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom.'" Update: 12/20 23:40 GMT by J : eSkeptic has a look back at the trial and what led to it. And the Discovery Institute has issued a press release.
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Federal Judge Rules Against Intelligent Design

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  • Well good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by butters the odd (729841) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @01:47PM (#14299841)
    Intelligent design isn't science, therefore it doesn't belong in a science room.
    • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @01:50PM (#14299882) Homepage Journal

      The Dover school board need just introduce a new course "Mysticism, Superstition and Things That Go Bump in the Night". Then they could teach ID.
      • Re:Well good (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SpryGuy (206254) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @02:37PM (#14300595)
        Why is the parent a troll? It's the truth. That's about the only place ID could or should be taught. I have no problems with ID being mentioned in mythology courses or even comparative religion classes. But it's not science (and in many ways is the opposite of science), and doesn't belong in ANY science classes.
        • Re:Well good (Score:5, Insightful)

          by misleb (129952) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @04:17PM (#14302130)
          Actually, ID (before it was hijacked by Creationism) technically belongs in a philosophy course. Creationism belongs in a sociology course. And the book of Genesis belongs in a mythology course.

          -matthew
    • by bestiarosa (938309)
      If ID was taught in Biology classes, also Pastafarianism [venganza.org] would have to be taught.
  • Well (Score:5, Funny)

    by Moby Cock (771358) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @01:47PM (#14299846) Homepage
    Thank God for that!
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @01:47PM (#14299848) Journal
    I would like to take this opportunity to thank the almighty spaghetti monster [venganza.org] for all that He has done for me.

    Not only has He used divine intervention in Dover but He has shown me the way! I await his presence in pirate heaven with the stripper factory and beer volcano.

    Believe.
    • by RatPh!nk (216977) <ratpH1nkNO@SPAMgMail.com> on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @01:57PM (#14299998)
      Amen! Praise be to FSM.
      From the book of Noodle Ch. 3 verse 17-19
      Anyone arrogant enough to reject the verdict of the judge or of the priest who represents the FSM your God must be put to death at the hands of the few pirates that are left, perhaps corellating well with the rise of global warming. Such evil must be purged. ...At the wrath of the FSM of hosts the land quakes, and the people are like fuel for fire; No man spares his brother, each devours the flesh of his neighbor, or a delicious noodley appendage, whilst the friend of the noodle can rest his weary feet in pirate heaven with the stripper factory and beer volcano.
      So said FSM, so it shall be DONE.

  • by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @01:47PM (#14299850)

    Lots of additional coverage on this decision is available at The National Center for Science Education [ncseweb.org] and The Panda's Thumb [pandasthumb.org], and the full text of the decision can be found here [uscourts.gov] (PDF warning).

    From the decision:
    Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Board's decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.
    Damn...what a smackdown.
    • by Moby Cock (771358) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @01:52PM (#14299900) Homepage
      From the BBC's coverage [bbc.co.uk]: It provoked US TV evangelist Pat Robertson to warn the town was invoking the wrath of God.

      Seems Pat wanted to see a smackdown of a different sort.
    • by Black Parrot (19622) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @01:55PM (#14299972)
      > Damn...what a smackdown.

      Also:

      "It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and
      proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and
      again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind
      the ID Policy."
      • by Gauchito (657370) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @02:26PM (#14300398)
        I was hearing a discussion about this topic on the BBC the other day, and one of the panel members made an excellent point: the same criticism ID'ers make about evolution can be made of a ton of other scientific theories (in all sciences, not just biology), so why aren't those theories criticized as well? They aren't because evolution is the typical battleground in the cultural war between religious and secular US, not Relativity or Gravity.

        Of course, ID is obviously (to us, at least) a euphemistic backdoor for the religious types, but his point, I think, is still a very, very good one. I know a lot of people who still waver in their opinion about the merits of ID (even non-religious people), mainly because they buy the attacks by the ID'ers. I've found that those people, however, accept their arguments thanks to ID's secular mask. Defending against every attack on evolution one at a time is a bad way to convince people, since you mostly just get them in that state where they stop discussing because they are tired of bringing up points they heard (or they don't remember any more) but aren't entirely convinced. Bring up a point (like the one the panel member made) that makes the ID'ers look like hypocrites, and any support for what they say quickly vanishes.
    • by Alsee (515537) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @02:42PM (#14300674) Homepage
      Bodyslam smackdown:
      It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.
      He outright called them liars! I wonder if there's any chance to hit them up with perjury charges.

      More:
      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, in violation of the Establishment Clause.
      And the coup-de-gras against the evolution equals atheism cranks:
      Repeatedly in this trial, Plaintiffs' scientific experts testified that the theory of evolution represents good science, is overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, and that it in no way conflicts with, nor does it deny, the existence of a divine creator.
      And for some in-your-face irony for anyone who attempts to attack the judge as some sort of leftwing atheist liberal pinko commie demonic-Democrat, the official US Court system website has Judge John E. Jones' biography [uscourts.gov] which begins:
      Judge John E. Jones III commenced his service as a United States District Judge on August 2, 2002. He is the 21st judge to sit in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Judge Jones was appointed to his current position by President George W. Bush in February, 2002, and was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate on July 30, 2002.
      For once George Dubbya actually appointed someone competent to the job! Three cheers for President Bush! Hip-hip-Hooray! ... ... ...
      Ummm... well ok... only one cheer for Bush :)

      -
  • by BushCheney08 (917605) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @01:47PM (#14299858)
    Something that the CNN article doesn't mention is that one of the judge's findings is that ID does not meet the criteria to be considered science.

    From a Bloomberg article: [bloomberg.com] In his opinion, Jones said the key issue is ``whether Intelligent Design is science,'' and said, ``we have concluded that it is not.''
  • Affect In Kansas? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by thoolie (442789) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @01:51PM (#14299899) Homepage
    Since this is a federal court ruling, does it affect the ID stuff going on in Kansas?
    • Re:Affect In Kansas? (Score:3, Informative)

      by taustin (171655)
      No. It isn't even usable as case law in the same federal district at this point, though it can be cited to support a particular line of thought. If it were to be appealed, and upheld, then it could be used as binding case law in the same district. The only way it can affect courts outside that district if if the Supreme Court rules on it.
    • by Black Parrot (19622) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @01:59PM (#14300018)
      > Since this is a federal court ruling, does it affect the ID stuff going on in Kansas?

      Not legally, since it's in a different federal district.

      If Kansas goes to court the judge may or may not look to the Dover case for precedent. Fairly often we get conflicting rulings on an issue in different districts, and no one knows where things stand until the supreme court takes a side on it.

      OTOH, I'm sure this will "affect" Kansas to the extent of having the creationists on the state board of education call a strategy meeting...
  • by Dan the Intern (649261) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @01:52PM (#14299922)
    I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover. If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to the Flying Spaghetti Monster, you just rejected Him from your city. And don't wonder why He hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted Pasta out of your city. And if that's the case, don't ask for His noodly forgivness because he might not be there.
  • Just a theory? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dark Paladin (116525) * <jhummel@johAUDENnhummel.net minus poet> on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @01:54PM (#14299952) Homepage
    Thank goodness.

    And I know I'm feeding the trolls, but I'm sorry, but the comment "It's not any less scientific than evolution" is a fascinating one to me.

    Let's break down the scientific method:

    1. Observation
    2. Hypothesis
    3. Experiment
    4. Results, start over at 1.

    Evolution we know happens (see the changing patterns of moths around pollution, etc). However, the Theory of Evolution as originally put forth by Darwin is based on the idea of "survival of the fittest": those species who have a mutation that enables them to survive better than their competitors will breed and pass along that mutation to their descendants, who will then continue the process.

    How did Darwin come up with this theory?

    1. He observed the various species on the islands, and how they were all similar (birds, I believe) and how each was best fit to his environment.
    2. He hypothesized that this condition arose because of his theory (see above).
    3. The experiment (mainly carried out by other folks looking at fossils): See if similar species have changed over time due to environment and had mutations that allowed them to survive. Usually this "experiment" involves saying "All right, we have Fossil A which we know to be 100,000,000 years old, and we have Fossil C which is 25,000,000 years old. Fossil C shows a better ability to survive the environment, and is the same kind of creature as A except for the mutations observed. Therefore, there should be Fossil B that is like Fossil A, only it includes some of the mutations of C but not all of them as the species adapted to better fit the environment. This fossil should be between 100,000,000 and 25,000,000 years old. If we find it, then we know we're right. If we don't, then either we need a better theory or need to keep looking." (For nit pickers who will say this is not a true "experiment", you are right - but these kind of "observational experiments" are perfectly valid when talking about cosmological experiments, such as testing the Theory of Relativity or the Big Bang Theory).
    4. Results: Over time, thousands of fossil records and observations of species has held up the Theory of Evolution. Adaptations have come into play (such as the "Survival of the Fittest and the Luckiest", which holds that sometimes pure chance comes into play of wiping out a dominant species, such as an asteroid, but when equilibrium is reached Survival of the Fittest is shown to work again).

    This leads to a "theory": a set of rules that *currently* work in explaining a phenomena. The Theory of Relativity has been held up by experiment (such as "can we find bended light around a large gravity source. Answer: Yes.). As long as no one comes up with a better scientifically proved theory, the theory is held up.

    Intelligent Design doesn't follow these rules. It goes like this:

    1. Observation: There's a lot of different species out there.
    2. Hypothesis: Some "intelligent designer" must of altered the species to allow them to survive in their environment.
    3. Ummmm....

    The "step 3" is important. With Intelligent Design, you *can't test it*. Actually, let me back up: you're not allowed to test it. The only way to prove/disprove Intelligent Design is to find a tablet between 100,000,000 and 25,000,000 million years old that says "Note to self: change DNA of duck billed platypus to make it better to survive. Love, ID."

    If you do bring up a changing fossil record and say "Look, we have a changing species over time", the ID'er will say "Ah, see - the designer changed the species". Again, no proof, no experiment needed.

    This is why ID is not science, or even a theory: it's a belief. It's a nice belief. Do I believe some God/Goddess/Higher Being made the Universe? Sure. Do I think that They put a hand in everything?

    Who cares? Until such a being gets on the Megaphone of the Cosmos and says "Hey, dudes - check out Chromosome #15 where I spelled out 'Jesus if fucking metal", I'll trust that They wrote the universe so that we could
    • by N8F8 (4562) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @02:24PM (#14300368)
      1. Observation

      Physical property X can vary from Y to Z but it doesn't. Slightest variation in X would preclude life.

      Ex: Boiling point of water, melting point of ice, enzymatic reactions, patterns of moulcules and crystals, etc....

      2. Hypothesis

      Possibly, some external stimulus is arranging the observed phenomena to ensure a suitable environment to enable life to exist.

      3. Experiment

      Like gravity, we are still looking for answers on how it works at the physical level and how to verify.

      4. Results

      ...see 3.

  • by Irvu (248207) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @01:55PM (#14299968)
    I am thrilled ecstatic over this decision. This judge clearly has brains and a willingness to use them. I am going to be happy.

    I am not, not going to assume that the fight is over. Keep in mind that it was a loss in the Scopes Monkey Trial that galvanized scientists to fight ever harder for strong science (read no religion) in the biology classroom, and the school as a whole.

    While I as a scientist am thrilled by this I also know that the people who oppose science are right now doing 2 things: 1) pasting this decision into a circular or 2 along with the choice words "activist judge" to raise more money/attention/support for their 'cause', and 2) digging in for another, longer fight.

    I will celebrate this, and keep vigilant at the same time.
  • by aquatone282 (905179) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @01:56PM (#14299978)
    It belongs in Philosophy.
  • by El Cabri (13930) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @01:57PM (#14299991) Journal
    Then all biologists should be charged with violating the DMCA, shouldn't they ?
  • by HangingChad (677530) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @02:07PM (#14300127) Homepage
    The ones trying to drag their small-minded dogma into the nations classrooms. Which part of...

    My kingdom is not of this world; (John 18:36)

    isn't clear?

  • by Gallenod (84385) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @02:14PM (#14300225)
    1. This particular "activist judge" was appointed by President G.W. Bush in 2002.

    2. It's unlikely that the current Dover school board will appeal the decision, making it unlikely that this particular case will ever get to the Supreme Court.

    3. That leaves the "sticker" case in Georgia, with it's more narrowly expressed disapproval of evolution as the case most likely to get to the Supremes. At last report, it appeared the appeals court might be inclined to overturn the Federal court decision against the stickers (http://www.cnn.com/2005/EDUCATION/12/16/evolution .debate.ap/index.html [cnn.com]).

    4. Some ID proponents advised against the former Dover school board pressing this case, as they felt it didn't have a good chance. Other school boards, however, will now simply become more careful about how they attempt to introduce ID into the classroom.

    While Dover was a slam dunk for science, this particular fight is far from over.
  • by BobSutan (467781) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @02:52PM (#14300832)
    Its simple really, if I want my kid to learn religion in school then I will send him to a religious school, catholic or otherwise. Faith is based on a belief, not facts, and that is not science. Since this was tought in a science class it is a just decision and our kids will be better for it.

    For those that believe ID is anything but a dressed up creationist view masquerading as a science of any kind, think again. Most people capable of critical thinking aren't fooled and thankfully neither was the judge.

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