"How did it come to pass that an opposition's measure of a president's foreign policy was all or nothing, success or "failure"? The answer is that the political absolutism now normal in Washington arrived at the moment--Nov. 7, 2000--that our politics subordinated even a war against terror to seizing the office of the presidency." - Daniel Henninger - WSJ 11/18/05
"the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts." - George Orwell

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

CNN - Intelligent Design fails in court

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- A Pennsylvania school district cannot teach in science classes a concept that says some aspects of science were created by a supernatural being, a federal judge has ruled.

Note: Apologies for the format, but reacting was easier piece by piece.

In an opinion issued Tuesday, U.S. District Judge John Jones ruled that teaching "intelligent design" would violate the Constitutional separation of church and state.
Interesting theory, er opinion.
Amendment 1 - Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

From what I’ve heard/read this “separation of church and state,” isn’t really in the Constitution, although I guess if you squint real tightly Mr. Magoo like, you can actually divine it from the above. Separation of Church and State is oft-quoted from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson (some slave owner, in case you’ve never heard of him). In 1802, he wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in response to one he received from them expressing their concerns about a lack of religious liberty in the state of Connecticut. As it was, many people that came to the new world did so to escape religious persecution; the Constitution contains Amendment 1 to address just this scenario.

I do realize of course that we’re not stepping on a freedom to practice religion, but isn’t it kind of eery that some people get so worked up about it like it’s some evil mojo?

"We have concluded that it is not [science], and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents," Jones writes in his 139-page opinion posted on the court's Web site. (Opinion, pdf)

Too bad ID is required to “uncouple itself” from its religious overtones. Can we, not ourselves “uncouple” any religious overtones in an effort toward keeping an “open mind” or practicing tolerance? Or is tolerance only to be afforded those of different colors, backgrounds, religions (other than Christianity and Judaism), etc, etc., etc.,...
Isn’t this “opinion” in some way antithetical the First Amendment? Sounds like there is some freedom for someone of something missing here, no? But I must be mistaken, since I do not posses an “open mind.”

"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," Jones writes.

So far as I understand it (some/much/I’ve no clue really), if certain portions of the theory are imperfect and cannot have an explanation rendered, would I be wrong to assume the scientific community may be taking it on “faith” that it will all pan out some day? At what point do we give up on the theory of evolution? How about some “timetables” or a theory “exit plan?”
When would we have given up on Newton’s laws on motion and universal gravitation, prior to Einstein’s input with General Relativity? Was 200 plus years from the Newton theory too long to wait? Was Newton’s taught at all during this time? Was that appropriate? They didn’t have a theoretical timetable then, did they?

Intelligent design claims the complexity of some systems of nature cannot be explained by evolution but must be attributed to a designer or supernatural being.

“Religion” doesn’t appear in the above sentence; did CNN “uncouple” this for me? If so, thanks; it’s much clearer to me now.

The Dover Area School District, about 25 miles from the state capital, sought to become the first in the nation to require high school science teachers to teach the concept of intelligent design as an alternative to Darwin's theory of evolution.
"Because Darwin's Theory is a theory, it continues to be tested as new evidence is discovered. The theory is not a fact," said the statement that the old school board approved in a 6-3 vote in October 2004. "With respect to any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind."

Versus your every day, ordinary run of the mill “open mind.” Remember, we only keep open minds with regard to theories, nothing else need apply.

That school board mandated the teaching for ninth-grade biology classes and directed school libraries to purchase an alternative textbook, "Of Pandas and People," which advocated the concept. The town has since voted out eight of nine board members.

Why’d this go to court? Sounds like the community redressed their grievances just fine and used the ballot box to communicate what they wanted. Last I heard this is how/was things work here.
"Of Pandas and People," silly name for a textbook, no? Are they sure this was for the ninth grade?

A lawsuit challenging the policy was brought in December 2004 by 11 parents in conjunction with the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State last December.

11 parents, huh? Any others mind or not mind it? God Bless the ACLU!! Wait one; I respectfully strike that from this rant to avoid the possibility of a litigious response.

Jones presided over a six-week trial that ended last month. His decision applies only to the Pennsylvania school district.
His decision would block the school district's plan "requiring teachers to denigrate or disparage the scientific theory of evolution, and from requiring teachers to refer to a religious, alternative theory known as ID."

This doesn’t sound very free speech “open minded” to me. Would the teachers really be denigrating/disparaging “evolution,” by references to ID?
Teachers will not be required to refer to a religious, alternative theory. Interesting that here it is an “alternative theory,” yet throw in the word “religion” and lordy, lordy, all hell is breakin’ loose (sorry, too religious?).
How about we remove the “religiousness” of it by referring to otherworldly aliens. Would this make it acceptable or just for nut jobs? I’m quite pleased that we have such knowing individuals as Judge Jones laying down the law. Without his knowledge of everything people would just be ignorant. I mean, we know all there is to know about everything, don’t we? Lot of scientists are going to be out of work after this one
Also, I don’t know the guy, but I would think Darwin himself would be turning in his grave over this one; he having been an “open minded” truth seeking scientist. (Assumption mine)

Jones says in his ruling that he did not doubt that intelligent design advocates "have bona fide and deeply held beliefs which drive their scholarly endeavors," but he also said scientific experts testified that Darwin's theory "in no way conflicts with, nor does it deny, the existence of a divine creator."

So what’s the problem?

Jones -- an appointee of President Bush, who backs the teaching of Intelligent Design -- defended his decision in personal terms.
"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," Jones writes.

No, not activist, but oddly versed.

"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 intelligent design, who in combination drove the board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy," he said.
Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said, "Children in public schools deserve top quality science education and freedom from religious indoctrination and today they were granted both."

A freedom from “religious indoctrination” versus an “over-reactionary indoctrination.” Students owe tanks to Barry Lynn of the Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the ACLU, Judge Jones, and 11 parents for sparing them the effort of discovering anything for themselves. For without impeding on “freedom of speech,” the children would be forced to think through things for themselves and develop and grow based upon “open minded” knowledge in seeking any truth.

In 1987, the Supreme Court ruled that Louisiana could not teach creationism because it would "restructure the science curriculum to conform with a particular religious viewpoint."
In 2005, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania further protected freedom of speech, by impeding on freedom of speech.

You just can’t please all the people all the time, can you?


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