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The AP, via Beliefnet:
Harrisburg, Pa. - "Intelligent design" is a religious theory that was inserted in a school district's curriculum with no concern for whether it had scientific underpinnings, a lawyer told a federal judge Monday as a landmark trial got under way.

"They did everything you would do if you wanted to incorporate a religious point of view in science class and cared nothing about its scientific validity," said Eric Rothschild, an attorney representing eight families who are challenging the decision of the Dover Area School District.

But in his opening statement, the school district's attorney defended Dover's policy of requiring ninth-grade students to hear a brief statement about intelligent design before biology classes on evolution.

I'll be writing more about this as things go on (I'm supposed to be reading background info Right. Now.), but for right now, let me toss out a few things:

  1. Dover is just one county over from us here in what is variously described as the Pennsylvania "T", Central PA, and "Penntucky". In fact, a few of the parishioners in my last church lived in Dover, and one is a band instructor in the Dover School District. It's conservative territory, to be sure, but here's the important thing: it's also a transitional area, hard on York city and the surrounding countryside. The New York Times describes it as "blue collar," but a better description would be "formerly rural". These are deeply traditional people, with social norms more commonly seen in Alabama or Georgia. They are keenly aware of the threat that sprawl presents, not just to land values, but to a way of life that seems to be slipping away by the year.  The members of the congregation I served were concerned with a 400-home development proposed just up the road. If it passed the zoning board in its initial form, it would have doubled the size of their borough.

    But Dover is also a refuge from the perenially crisis-afflicted city, which leads to a sense of insecurity. Like many suburbs, the draw to Dover is that it has good schools--at least better than most of the other districts around. Parents care about their kids' education--moral and secular. The combination of social conservatism and upward mobility is the fuel this controversy lives on. It's no accident that these cases pop up almost exclusively in suburban areas, or in states like Kansas, with deeply ingrained social rifts.

  2. Skip the arguments about facts and science and truth. This is about competing moral worldviews. Witness these statements by a member of the school board:
    This country wasn't founded on Muslim beliefs or evolution. This country was founded on Christianity and our students should be taught as such.
    ...
    Two thousand years ago, someone died on a cross. Can't someone take a stand for him?

    College prep and a firm indoctrination in the moral order of the universe are key to success in life.

    This is not about science.

  3. As the case goes on, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is undoubtedly looking on, his noodly appendages touched with compassion and carbohydrates.

Originally posted to pastordan on Mon Sep 26, 2005 at 07:08 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Crossposted (4.00)
    at some damn blog or another.

    Street Prophets: where the cookies live now...

    by pastordan on Mon Sep 26, 2005 at 07:07:39 PM PDT

  •  Even If It's Not About Science (4.00)
    it requires corrupting science.

    Baseball advocates aren't allowed to force batting practice on the football team to make sure the teams know "both" views of how to propel a ball.

    Science is science. It is not nonscience.

    This is an absolute black and white situation.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Sep 26, 2005 at 07:12:16 PM PDT

  •  Git'cher bible outta my beaker (4.00)
    and I'll keep my beaker outta yer bible.

    --Liberate your radio--

    by Sam Loomis on Mon Sep 26, 2005 at 07:12:29 PM PDT

  •  Bring it on (4.00)
    The creationists during the scopes monkey trial looked like fools when it was all said and done, and will this time too.

    "what is it? what can it possibly be about blow jobs and golf?" - Martian Visitor (Vonnegut)

    by Edanger6 on Mon Sep 26, 2005 at 07:13:17 PM PDT

    •  I hope you are right. (4.00)
      I don't understand how its gotten this far and is even being considered. Strange days indeed.
    •  Scopes Redux (none)

      An' here I sit so patiently
      Waiting to find out what price
      You have to pay to get out of
      Going through all these things twice.

      Oh, Mama, can this really be the end,
      To be stuck inside of Mobile
      With the Memphis blues again.

      Since fundamentalists believe they know God so intimately, how do they describe It?  Who or What Is the Intelligent Designer? Where does the ID Live?  Why did God give us science & minds, pleasure & pain?  

      I agree that they'd be wiser to insert ID in a Philosophy or Comparative Religion class, & not Science.  If ID is taught, why not Alchemy?

      I agree they are opening themselves up for a rude awakening.  This will not turn out the way they expect it to.

      Do they want to bring back stoning too?

      The concept of war is outdated. Dalai Lama

      by x on Mon Sep 26, 2005 at 09:30:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks (none)
    This is off subject but thanks for the publicity for my blog.  Did you hot link the picture from where I have it hosted or did you upload it to your own site?

    Evan Bayh 2008
    Miller for KY Governor 2007
    http://kydem.blogspot.com

    by dsolzman on Mon Sep 26, 2005 at 07:14:49 PM PDT

  •  Taking a stand for dead people. (4.00)
    So, "Two thousand years ago, someone died on a cross. Can't someone take a stand for him?"...

    230 years ago several somebodies died to give us freedom, including the separation of church and state.

    •  Two thousand years ago... (4.00)
      ...thousands of people died on crosses.  That's just the way the Romans kept order in the Empire.

      No thinking Christian would presume to limit him/herself to a first-century view of any topic.  I'm sure Luke was a fine physician in his day, but I wouldn't let him treat me now if his knowledge and skills weren't up to date.

      You can fool some of the people all of the time, and those are the ones you want to concentrate on. -- George W. Bush

      by KTinOhio on Mon Sep 26, 2005 at 07:19:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  doesnt anyone want to say it? (3.00)
    its a bunch of stupid WHITE people

    screwing up natural selection by breeding more stupid white people.

    the draw to dover is its WHITE!!!!!....and any non white people that happen to come thru know their place.

    these cases pop up in suburban WHITE areas.

    this country was founded by WHITE people on christianity

    they are keenly aware of the threat that NON WHITE people present

    its a refuge from the perennially crisis afflicted city where all the NON WHITE people live.

    the draw to dover is it has good schools with almost all WHITE people.

    I wish I had a penis on the back of my head.

    by anna in philly on Mon Sep 26, 2005 at 07:17:47 PM PDT

    •  Yep. (4.00)
      I wanted to say something about that, but I don't have the data in front of me. Dover is basically white, and York is heavily black, which is unusual for this neck of the woods. (Typically the minorities are Hispanic.) One of the leaders of the Aryan Nations(?) lived in Leola up until recently, a small town not too different from Dover.

      Street Prophets: where the cookies live now...

      by pastordan on Mon Sep 26, 2005 at 07:24:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  what's dover school district's county? (none)
        here's the 2000 census site for pennsylvania.

        york's racial/ethnic breakdown is:

        white: 60%
        black: 25%
        hispanic: 17%
        other: 9.4%
        multiracial: 3.8%
        asian: 1.4%

        crimson gates reek with meat and wine/while on the streets, bones of the frozen dead -du fu (712-770)

        by wu ming on Mon Sep 26, 2005 at 07:45:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Wow, that's 116.6% of their population (none)
          Is Haliburton billing on a per person basis? Or is this some form of intelligent accounting?
          •  latino/hispanic is a multiracial category (none)
            there's always some overlap. some states had non-hispanic white as a subcategory, but i didn't see it for york.

            crimson gates reek with meat and wine/while on the streets, bones of the frozen dead -du fu (712-770)

            by wu ming on Mon Sep 26, 2005 at 10:19:26 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  aha, york county (none)
          non-hispanic white: 91.5%
          black: 3.7%
          hispanic: 3.0%
          other 1.4%
          multiracial: 1.1%
          asian: 0.9%

          given that these numbers include the city of york, that's a pretty white county out there.

          crimson gates reek with meat and wine/while on the streets, bones of the frozen dead -du fu (712-770)

          by wu ming on Mon Sep 26, 2005 at 10:25:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  No such thing (none)
      There are IDiots who are black. There are some who are asian.

      It's about rejecting the modern world, broadly defined as everything since 1750. There are some people who haven't even gotten to the point of coping with a multi-ethnic society, because they still can't even cope with a multi-religious society.

      When the problem is racism, as it is with the Katrina Cleanup, then don't hesitate to say so. By the same token, don't make the accusation where it doesn't fit. The sad truth is that there are many other excuses than skin color for organized social bigotry.

      •  In my urban district (none)
        it is most often a contingent of black parents and community members who show up at board meetings asking for prayer to be put back into schools...prayer and spanking.  
    •  And The Less Science They Know (none)
      the more stupid white people they will breed.

      Just as schools that rely on abstention as the only sex education have a higher teenage pregnancy rate than schools that teach science and relationships.

      This is part of the plan, they want a nation of stupid, compliant slaves, and they are going about it in exactly the right way.

      These people play the looooong game.

  •  Why don't these people (4.00)
    accept responsibility for their own children?  Isn't that what conservatives are usually ranting and raving about?  Well, time for them to put their money where their mouths are...its no one's responsibility but their own to teach their children about their religious beliefs.

    If I were an educator I would be deeply offended.  Its like asking a teacher to be responsible for feeding your child.

    •  As a parent (4.00)
      I am deeply offended by these people telling me how to raise my child. My husband and I made a choice to teach our child what we believe as far as religion is concerned. I don't impose my religious beliefs on their children, they shouldn't impose their religious beliefs on my child. It goes back to the question: how strong is their faith in God? If everything and everyone must affirm that belief, I would say it's not very strong.

      The moral values crowd is a bunch of lazy people who deep down in their hearts want the government to do their job as parents.

      by phinky on Mon Sep 26, 2005 at 07:38:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly. (none)
        This is going to cause nothing but confusion.  There are many people I wouldn't want teaching my children about religion...and personally, I couldn't imagine taking that responsiblity on for a stranger's child.
      •  You cannot believe (none)
        what these folks can do.  When our son was five this nice little missionary lady asked if he could spend the weekend with them on a camping trip.  I said sure, they left from school on Friday afternoon and he returned about 2:00pm Sunday.  

        He was completely transformed into a religous nutjob, proclaiming that we weren't "true Christians".  (We were regularly attending church and very involved in all activities).  Needless to say, I called her up, gave her a piece of my mind and said if she ever spoke to my son again, I'd place a restraining order against her.

        I also need to add that whenever one of our kids had friends sleepover Saturday nights, I always informed their parents that we would all be attending church on Sunday morning and if they had a problem with that they needed to collect their child.

  •  I find it ironic (4.00)
    that I was taught about Darwin and natural selection in a Catholic high school biology class by a Roman Catholic monk while kids in public schools will (in some cases alread are) getting half-assed religion classes taught by lay people in science classes.

    To some extent, I understand the people who want "Intelligent Design" taught-what they really want is to make Darwin and evolution, modernity and all its associated problems just vanish, just to go away. I understand because I want all junk science, junk religion, and religous fanatic nut cases to go away-just vanish!

    One more thing-I think we should all make it a habit to never call it simply "Intelligent Design". I think we should all make a point to refer to it as "so-called intelligent design"-it fights the Orwellian language inversion at least a little bit!

    It is time Christians were judged more by their likeness to Christ than their notions of Christ. -William Penn

    by chicagochristianleft on Mon Sep 26, 2005 at 07:25:49 PM PDT

    •  Somebody at the new place (4.00)
      had a good diary the other day, the point of which he was gonna make sure his kid learned about evolution in school: he was sending him to a Jewish high school...

      Street Prophets: where the cookies live now...

      by pastordan on Mon Sep 26, 2005 at 07:33:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I read that diary... (none)
        the religious brother who taught me biology in high school was a mean sonofabitch, and he was also very smart and very qualified to teach science.

        I fear that the Catholic church's cozy new relationship with right-wing fundamentalist Christians will harm the kind of excellent education-including Darwin and natural selection-that I received in Catholic school.

        It is time Christians were judged more by their likeness to Christ than their notions of Christ. -William Penn

        by chicagochristianleft on Mon Sep 26, 2005 at 07:40:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Cranky... (none)
          because all he had was ontogeny recapitulates philogeny.

          That, and rubbing one out...

          People in Eurasia on the brink of oppression: I hope it's gonna be alright... Pet Shop Boys: Introspective

          by rgilly on Tue Sep 27, 2005 at 01:49:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Good Grief (none)
      Ignorance on parade.  Nowhere to my knowledge does the Quran refer to evolution.   Conflating the two as moral evils is beyond ignorance.  And the last I knew, Jefferson, Franklin et. al. were Deists which hardly qualifies as born again Christianity.  I suppose these individuals have never heard the term The Enlightenment either.  Do they know the apple fell from the tree? Or is gravity another theory requiring more proof?  I hope these people don't try to fly without mechanical assistance.  Or maybe the world would be better off if they just jumped off a cliff.  And maybe the schools should start teaching HISTORY as well as science.  

    Why would an intelligent designer design mosquitos? Just a moment of sadistic fun?

    •  That last one is a HARD question. (none)
      I'm from Winnipeg, so I find it very hard to concede any value at all to the mosquito. But if I really, really work at it... dredging the bottom of the excuse barrel here... (deep breath). Okay.

      Mosquitos are food for dragonflies. Dragonflies are wonderful.

      Um, so I mostly like them because they devour so many mosquitoes. But they are pretty. And graceful. And, ahh, so deadly to mosquitoes...

      Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is. - TNH

      by Canadian Reader on Mon Sep 26, 2005 at 07:44:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'd like to ask that school board member (none)
    how she'd feel about the following compromise:

    Fine, let them have their required statement about the alternative theory (sic!) of intelligent design (sic!), but allow the teacher to introduce the statement in his/her own words.

    I can just picture those introductions...

  •  This will never happen... (4.00)
    But I think every doctor and scientist who live in every town and county which proscribes to this should suddenly start praying and pulling out the bible every time someone comes into their office with a boo-boo. (No, not a real emergency... but you get the idea I hope.)

    Religious extremists are like cops. It's not that they are all bad or all good. It is that you can not tell the good from the bad.

    by RElland on Mon Sep 26, 2005 at 07:33:36 PM PDT

    •  Beautiful (none)
      on the questionnaire ask them whether they accept ID or eviolution.

      Those who tick the ID box get prayer for everything, nothing else, just prayer.

      We wouldn't want to interfere with God's great plan now would we?

      If she wants you to live in health and comfort, she'lldo that, if you suffer like shit, its just punuishment for something you did, like believing arrant fucking nonsense when there is plenty of evidence to the contrary.

  •  As a scientist (4.00)
    I feel no threats from theories. I have no emotional attachment to theories. To me, theories are tools. These tools help me explain my observations.

    To the extent a theory is useful, I will use it, no matter if it comes from the First Church of the Gooy Death in Del Rio, Texas.

    To the extent that a theory is not useful I won't use it.

    Intelligent Design theory is not a useful theory because it provides no:

    1. explanatory value
    2. expository value

    There is no framework for which to base investigations about the diversity of life. It does not assist in the advancement of understanding.

    It is not testable. What the hell are scientists supposed to do with it. Shitcan it. It is a piece of crap that has no scientific utility.

    Scientists don't choose theories based on whether or not the theory agrees with theor religious convictions. Scientific discipline demands an objective viewpoint that is not influenced by personal, emotional or religious convictions. If the individual scientist cannot make the break, then they are not doing science. They are doing something else.

    Just because a person can use scientific terms and speak the language of nature, this does not automatically convey scientific authority.

    ID is an interesting idea. It certainly can have a place in the curriculum as a religious theory -- but it is not science.

    "On Olympos, Scholic Hockenberry, there are no permanent friends or trustworthy allies or loyal mates... only permanent interests." -- Dan Simmons

    by Eloi Scientist on Mon Sep 26, 2005 at 07:34:14 PM PDT

    •  Ah, but again, (none)
      you're missing the point, and it's just that miss that people like the Thomas More Law Center depend on. ID isn't science, any idiot knows that. But for people like those who make up this school board, it is an emotionally-laden figure for Moral Structure. So to respond to it scientifically, even if it's to dismiss it, doesn't address the core issue: who are we as a community? And how are we going to raise our children?

      Street Prophets: where the cookies live now...

      by pastordan on Mon Sep 26, 2005 at 07:39:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Agree with pastordan (none)
        These people are interested in neither expository value nor explanatory value.  They are interested in command and control from on high which requires ignorance of actual process.
    •  One smal point (none)
      ID is not a theory never has been never will be. There is no such thing as Intelligent Design theory. It does not even come anywhere close to meeting even the minimal requirements to be given the title theory in science.

      SO STOP CALLING IT A DANG THEORY ALREADY!

  •  A perversion... (none)
    ...of religious beliefs intended to keep people from original thought and keeping them in line so that they can run the counters at McDoanld's and Walmart.  Create a class of nonthinking drones to provide an endless supply of low-paid workers for big business.  Long live feudalism.    

    Be the creature. (But not a Republican.) blogomni

    by boran2 on Mon Sep 26, 2005 at 07:47:02 PM PDT

  •  Co opting the word "Theory" (4.00)
    The ID promoters really are a strange lot. Seriously.

    I have talked to many in recent months, as a practicing scientist.

    Most have no actual comprehension on what "scientific theory" means. They do not understand that observation, replication of results, testing, refuting, and proving are required.

    They just say "A theory is an idea. This is our idea. So its a theory too."

    How do you even argue with such ignorance.

    Ingorance is bliss afterall.

    It really isn't just anti-evolution or pro-Christianity.

    It is anti-science, anti-critical thinking.

    And we wonder how this happens? You shouldn't. Most fundamentalist belief systems actually discourage, if not prohibit, critical thinking. You simply are taught to believe what your leaders tell you to believe. End of story.

    So now they believe ID is a "theory" and no one is going to tell them otherwise.

    And in their religiously inspired insanity they are now hell bent on forcing their religious doctrine into the scientific cirriculum of our public schools.

    Funny that we have wasted nearly 2,000 American lives and probably hundreds of thousands Iraqi and Afgani lives fighting the "evils of fundamentalism" yet we seem perfectly willing to let the Talibaptists (ie: fanatical fundamentalist zealots) run rampant here at home.

    "As individual fingers we can easily be broken, but all together, we make a mighty fist" Watanka Tatanka (Sitting Bull)

    by wild salmon on Mon Sep 26, 2005 at 07:50:55 PM PDT

  •  Theology (none)
    I agree with the sentiment expressed by everybody here. My 2 cents is to, in addition to all the ideas expressed above, to refer to ID as what it is, creationism..and even more specifically, the Telelogical Argument for the Existence of God. This "argument" has been around for centuries and has been taught in philosophy classes for years. In this context, one could also bring up the ontological argument, the cosmological arguement, et cetera. The original proponents of all these arguments are theologians and philosophers, and they all can be learned about in a philosophy class.
  •  I think (none)
    That we should read a statement in Physics class, that Gravity is just a theory and not a fact.  

    And that anybody that supports Intelligent Design should jump off a building to prove it.

    When I must guard my thoughts, feelings and words, lest I be unpatriotic...then my country is lost

    by crimsonscare on Mon Sep 26, 2005 at 08:11:57 PM PDT

  •  Erik von Daniken (4.00)
    So, these guys want kids to read Chariots of the Gods, and give equal time to notions of Humanity being a long-term genetics experiment of some alien patron race?

    I think our fundamentalist friends are opening a can of worms that their unimaginative devotion would as soon not, if they could but see the trouble that awaits them.

    Intelligent design opens up faith to examination under the microscope.

    I mean, really. I could write up a script declaring that those supposedly inert codons in  uman DNA are really the genomic batteground of two competing super-races (call them, oh, angels and demons), and that depending on your choice, you either commit yourself and your progeny more toward one evolutionary destiny or the other...and the competing sides are more than happy to nudge the choices their way in a contest spanning the eons.

    Hey, it's competitive with the six days legend, anyway. :)

    It's only Nero-esque if the city is burning. :)

    by cskendrick on Mon Sep 26, 2005 at 08:12:46 PM PDT

  •  Intelligent Design Proponents (4.00)
    are themselves usually the best argument against Intelligent Design.

    Wounded Warrior Project Give till it hurts. They already did.

    by soonergrunt on Mon Sep 26, 2005 at 08:36:06 PM PDT

  •  Seriously, (none)
    I'll take the FSM thing to the end....if they do get "intelligent" design through the courts...which they won't...we should really sue as a group...
  •  i'll be interested (none)
    to see where you go with this.

    I'd love to hear a religious perspective too.

    I've been atheist since forever, but I've got 12 years of Jewish religious education behind me nonetheless, and I have a strong hunch if I asked my old rabbi what he thought about this ID stuff he'd hate the thought of it going into public school science class.

    Anyhow, this sounds like it is shaping up to be an interesting perspective from you so I'll keep reading.

  •  So-called "Intelligent Design"... (none)
    ...also is a bolster/weapon against abortion. As "ID" addresses biology, then of course reproduction also is addressed. If "ID" is made culturally significant enough to gain the attention of the courts, then laws can grow around it to protect its "tenets," which also include attitudes toward stem cell research, cloning, toenail fungus, launching satellites into God's armpit (cheesing Him off big time) and, finally, the heartbreak of psoriasis.

    "When the winds of change blow hard enough, the most trivial of things can become deadly projectiles." -- despair.com

    by Newton Snookers on Mon Sep 26, 2005 at 11:49:32 PM PDT

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