2005-09-28

Intolerance: Darwin's Theory in USA Court Case

The 'opening shots' were 'fired' on 2005-09-26, Monday, in the first court trial to scrutinise the 'Intelligent Design movement' ('ID') . 'ID' proposes that life is so complex it cannot have emerged without the guidance of an intelligent designer -- it is seen as a religion-friendly alternative to Mr.Darwin's 'Theory of Evolution'...
'It is going to be the role of the plaintiffs to argue that "ID" is a form of religious advocacy,' says Eugenie Scott of 'The US American National Center for Science Education' in Oakland, California, which is advising the plaintiffs. 'The defence will argue that "ID" is actually science and is valid. 'We will argue the opposite.'
Backed by 'The American Civil Liberties Union', the plaintiffs in the civil case are 11 parents who believe their high school's board is encouraging children to consider 'ID' as an alternative to evolution because of the board's evangelical Christian motivations. It is unconstitutional to teach anything in US American schools that does not primarily have a secular motive and effect on pupils. The plaintiffs' advocates are deploying a double-barrelled strategy, aiming to show that 'ID' is not science -- and highlighting its similarities to 'creationism' (following an 'US American Supreme Court' ruling in 1987, it is now illegal to teach 'creationism' in schools). In his opening statement, Mr.Eric Rothschild, advocate for the plaintiff, said:
'"ID" is not new science, it's old theology. 'There is no controversy in the scientific community.'
The plaintiffs then called their first expert witness to the stand -- biologist Mr.Kenneth Miller of 'Brown University', Rhode Island. He criticised the content of a book 'Of Pandas and People' , which promotes 'ID' and was recommended by 'The Dover School Board' for students. Mr.Miller used several examples to argue that it inaccurately interprets Mr.Darwin's theories, e.g. that apes and humans share a common ancestry, and omits scientific research in order to denigrate the theory of evolution. He also said that 'ID' could not be considered as science because it is incapable of providing testable hypotheses. He explained the process of 'peer review' -- through which scientists critique each other's work -- and the process by which hypotheses are generated and then tested by experiment. These approaches have been employed for evolution, elevating it from hypothesis to theory, but not for 'ID', he said. A defence attorney cross-examined Mr.Miller, asking him to admit that evolution is 'just a theory' -- and that there are 'gaps' in Mr.Darwin's theory. Mr.Miller only partially agreed to modified versions of these statements, but defence lawyer Mr.Richard Thompson claimed at the end of the day that Mr.Miller had agreed to these statements. The case continues.
  • 2005-09-26, Mo: opening statements
  • First week: testimony from plaintiffs' expert witnesses, including scientists Mr.Kenneth Miller of 'Brown University', Mr.Robert Pennock of 'Michigan State University' and Ms.Barbara Forrest of 'Southeastern Louisiana University', followed by Mr.John Haught a theologian at 'Georgetown University'
  • Next two to three weeks: continuation of plaintiffs' case -- more expert witnesses including Mr.Brian Alters at 'Harvard University' and Mr.Kevin Padian at 'The University of California, Berkeley'.
  • Last two to three weeks: defence's case, including expert witnesses such as scientists Mr.Michael Behe, Mr.Scott Minnich of 'The University of Idaho' and Mr.Warren Nord of 'The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill'. Also, Mr.Dick Carpenter of the US American Evangelical Christian group 'Focus on the Family' and sociologist Mr.Steve Fuller of 'The University of Warwick', UK.
  • Early 2005-11: closing arguments
  • Early 2005-12: Judge's verdict
'Lawyers fire opening shots in Intelligent Design case', Celeste Biever, Yahoo! News, 2005-09-27,Tu

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