John E Jones III: 'Intelligent Design may be true, but it is not science'

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The Independent Online

From the judgment issued by the US District judge, on the teaching of Intelligent Design in schools, given at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

The religious movement known as fundamentalism began in 19th century America as a response to social changes, new religious thought and Darwinism. Religiously motivated groups pushed state legislatures to adopt laws prohibiting public schools from teaching evolution, culminating in the Scopes "monkey trial" of 1925.

The concept of Intelligent Design came into existence in 1987 after the Supreme Court made national the prohibition against teaching creation science in the public school system. The overwhelming evidence at trial established that Intelligent Design is a religious view, a mere relabelling of creationism, not a scientific theory. After a searching review of the record and applicable case law, we find that while Intelligent Design arguments may be true, a proposition on which the court takes no position, Intelligent Design is not science.

Expert testimony reveals that since the scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries, science has been limited to the search for natural causes to explain natural phenomena. This revolution entailed the rejection of the appeal to authority, and by extension, revelation in favour of empirical evidence. Since that time, science has been a discipline in which testability, rather than any ecclesiastical authority or philosophical coherence, has been the measure of a scientific idea's worth. While supernatural explanations may be important and have merit, they are not part of science.

To be sure, Darwin's theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation of every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypotheses grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions.

The breathtaking inanity of the School Board's decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.