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« Dover Watch - The Eleventh Hour (Plus Cobb County Appeal!) The RantsRice Under Fire - Alas, Only a Flesh Wound »

Dover Watch - The Shot Ignored 'Round the World
2005.01.18 (Tue) 22:16

So strange that, with the Dover school district "Intelligent Design" statement being read today, the news on the Internet is, well...quiet. Perhaps this is because after all this build-up, the actual deed itself — the reading of this mockery of science education to high school science classes — was largely uneventful. No fire and brimstone, no earthquakes or floods, no magical deity riding a flaming chariot down from the sky to support the creationists and denounce evolution theory. The administrators read the statement, since the teachers almost unanimously refused to do so. Then the teachers attempted, as best they could, to teach some actual science to their science classes. As reported in an AP news article carried on Yahoo! News:

High school students heard about "intelligent design" for the first time Tuesday in a school district that attracted national attention by requiring students to be made aware of it as an alternative to the theory of evolution.

Administrators in the Dover Area School District read a statement to three biology classes Tuesday and were expected to read it to other classes on Wednesday, according to a statement from the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., which was speaking on the district's behalf.


"The revolution in evolution has begun," said Richard Thompson, the law center's president and chief counsel. "This is the first step in which students will be given an honest scientific evaluation of the theory of evolution and its problems."

Actually, Mr. Thompson, students have been getting an "honest scientific evaluation of the theory of evolution and its problems" from scientists and science educators for decades now — along with the answers and solutions to those problems. Once again, the creationists (it's getting to the point where we're tired of pretending to call them "Intelligent Designists") think that hotheaded zealots — who rely for the majority of their knowledge on a book written by religious control freaks millennia before the Industrial Revolution — can teach a scientific theory better than those who are actually versed in the theory itself, and all its antecedents and corollaries. They also seem to enjoy the idea of just presenting a question with no answers — because, of course, if students were supplied with the scientific answers to every bullshit anti-evolution claim (such as the amazingly ignorant "evolution is just a theory"), the goal of bringing them into the flock would be rendered totally unattainable.

The case represents the newest chapter in a history of evolution lawsuits dating back to the Scopes Monkey Trial in Tennessee nearly 80 years ago. In Georgia, a suburban Atlanta school district plans to challenge a federal judge's order to remove stickers in science textbooks that call evolution "a theory, not a fact."

The law center is defending the Dover district against a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of eight families by two civil-liberties groups that alleged intelligent design is merely a secular variation of creationism, the biblical-based view that regards God as the creator of life. They maintain that the Dover district's curriculum mandate may violate the constitutional separation of church and state.

The only problem we have with this passage is that there is nothing "secular" about intelligent design. It is religion disguised with scientific buzzwords and fancy rhetoric. You know who else disguises outlandish fairy tale beliefs with pseudo-scientific babble and, as one of our nieces would say, "high falutin'" talk? UFO abduction claimants, psychics and palm readers, and a whole host of alternative medicine practitioners. It doesn't make us buy their bullshit, and creationists — no matter what you call yourselves — it doesn't make us buy yours.

To continue:

"Students who sat in the classroom were taught material which is religious in content, not scientific, and I think it's unfortunate that has occurred," said Eric Rothschild, a Philadelphia attorney representing the plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit.

And this is perhaps the saddest thing of all about this whole fiasco — these people are fucking with the education of children. They are confusing them with an issue that adults can't even seem to agree on, and presenting it as being in the interests of their education. Bullshit, creationists — you're just trying to catch them while they're young and impressionable, and bring them to Jesus before they get smart enough to see through the bullshit.

Biology teacher Jennifer Miller said although she was able to make a smooth transition to her evolution lesson after the statement was read, some students were upset that administrators would not entertain any questions about intelligent design.

"They were told that if you have any questions, to take it home," Miller said.

Well this is interesting. In Selman v. Cobb County, the stickers that creationists forced into school science textbooks read, in part:

This textbook contains material on evolution.... This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.

So the creationists (Dover or Cobb County, they're all the same) want students to approach evolution "critically" and study it carefully, but when it comes to intelligent design? No questions or discussion allowed. Typical.

The AP article concludes:

The district allowed students whose parents objected to the policy to be excused from hearing the statement at the beginning of class and science teachers who opposed the requirement to be exempted from reading the statement. About 15 of 170 ninth-graders asked to be excused from class, Thompson said.

A federal judge has scheduled a trial in the lawsuit for Sept. 26.

Great, so perhaps the Dover class of 2009 will escape the confusing and deceptive creationist tactics forced upon the class of 2008. We can only hope.

We'd like to close with a wonderful passage from lawyer Joe McFaul's blog FAQ, brought to our attention by Timothy Sandefur on the Panda's Thumb:

Intelligent Design is a paradigm of junk science and abuse of the legal system, both in court, at the local school board level and and at state and federal legislative and executive branches of government. Furthermore, Intelligent Design, and its Scientific Creationism parent, have both been spearheaded by lawyers, from William Jennings Bryan in the 1920S, through Wendell Bird in the 1970s , to Phillip E. Johnson, today. To rebut the spurious claims of these fellow members of the bar, a very large number of scientists have had to take time from productive research to deal with the issue. I feel the obligation to undo the damage these lawyers have done.

Thanks for jumping into the fray, Joe — we're happy to have you.

— • —

In case you missed them, read our other Rants on Dover.

— • —
[  Filed under: % Creationism  % Government & Politics  % Religion  ]


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