This is an ongoing series of posts. The first three were linked to in the most recent, Dover (PA) vs. Darwin update III
The trial has wrapped up over the issue of 'Intelligent Design' should be taught in the public schools in Dover, Pennsylvania. Federal Judge John E. Jones III said he hopes to issue a ruling in January.
Patrick Gillen, a lawyer for the Dover Area School Board, argued that the concept was intended to call attention to "a new, fledgling science movement."
The policy requires students to hear a statement about intelligent design before ninth-grade biology lessons on evolution.
The statement says Charles Darwin's theory is "not a fact," has inexplicable "gaps," and refers students to a textbook for more information.
In fact, the same argument could and has been made by people who advocate for extraterrestrial origins for life, numerology, ESP and the notion that the whole Apollo program was shot in a Hollywood studio.
UFOlogists always claim that theirs is a 'new, fledgling science movement,' and that their pseudo-science is not published in scientific journals because of academic discrimination.
In fact, it is because they have yet to put forward a paper that tests their hypotheses by designing and conducting a rigorous scientific experiment.
The same is true of Intelligent Design advocates, but with a twist-- unlike advocates of UFO's, ESP, or that the world will end on Tuesday, they have the political power to try and legislate science even when the science itself they are trying to legislate is faulty. This is no different than what happened in the year 1910, when the Indiana Legislature tried to legislate the value of pi (you know, that little number that is about 3.14159...) as being 3.2; They came within one vote but lost when someone pointed out how this would certainly cause bridges to collapse all over the state. The fact that they came within one vote is frightening in itself.
And the fact is, that those who are pushing this legislation are not scientists, nor are those who they are convincing to pass the legislation (in this case a school board directive).
Now, I understand that they believe Intelligent Design to be true. In fact, so do I. But neither my nor their belief constitutes science. In following the scientific method, anyone is free to propose a hypothesis based on whatever evidence they can find, but to prove it requires carefully designed experiments or predictions based on the hypothesis that are verified, and in a manner that can be replicated.
And if Evolution is not taught in schools, who suffers for it? Not the school board members. Probably not the teachers (although I would have a problem personally, as a math instructor, if I was directed by a bunch of politicians what to teach in class and how to word it, and particularly so if I knew it was contrary to the established methods of mathematics). Those who suffer will the the students of Dover, Pennsylvania. This year there is a case (now a lawsuit against the University of California in which private schools that had taught creationism were suddenly confronted with the reality that their curriculum was not considered adequate for admission to the University because of deficiencies in the science curriculum, so their students were categorically not being accepted to any of the campuses of U.C. From what I have read about the case, U.C. has all of the needed documentation (including test data) to very likely win this case, and as such the students in these schools, undoubtedly some of them very bright, will suffer. And it is unlikely that any academically rigorous university in Pennsylvania (such as Penn) won't similarly consider a student who has studied in the Dover school system to be deficient in science. Perhaps this is unfair, but the fact is that universities are looking for the best prepared students they can find to master a tough curriculum that builds on what a student should already know when leaving high school. Watering down the standards to accomodate creationism just isn't part of the agenda (but I guess the good news for these students is that they can still go to Bob Jones University).