Dover Intelligent Design Decision Criticized as a Futile Attempt to Censor Science Education

Dec 20, 2005, 00:00 ET from Discovery Institute

    SEATTLE, Dec. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- "The Dover decision is an attempt by an
 activist federal judge to stop the spread of a scientific idea and even to
 prevent criticism of Darwinian evolution through government-imposed censorship
 rather than open debate, and it won't work," said Dr. John West, Associate
 Director of the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute, the
 nation's leading think tank researching the scientific theory known as
 intelligent design. "He has conflated Discovery Institute's position with that
 of the Dover school board, and he totally misrepresents intelligent design and
 the motivations of the scientists who research it."
     "A legal ruling can't change the fact that there is digital code in DNA,
 it can't remove the molecular machines from the cell, nor change the fine
 tuning of the laws of physics," added West  "The empirical evidence for
 design, the facts of biology and nature, can't be changed by legal decree."
     In his decision, Judge John Jones ruled that the Dover, Pennsylvania
 school district violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by
 requiring a statement to be read to students notifying them about intelligent
 design. Reaching well beyond the immediate legal questions before him, Judge
 Jones offered wide-ranging and sometimes angry comments denouncing intelligent
 design and praising Darwinian evolution.
     "Judge Jones found that the Dover board violated the Establishment Clause
 because it acted from religious motives. That should have been the end to the
 case," said West. "Instead, Judge Jones got on his soapbox to offer his own
 views of science, religion, and evolution. He makes it clear that he wants his
 place in history as the judge who issued a definitive decision about
 intelligent design. This is an activist judge who has delusions of grandeur."
     "Anyone who thinks a court ruling is going to kill off interest in
 intelligent design is living in another world," continued West. "Americans
 don't like to be told there is some idea that they aren't permitted to learn
 about. It used to be said that banning a book in Boston guaranteed it would be
 a bestseller. Banning intelligent design in Dover will likely only fan
 interest in the theory."
     "In the larger debate over intelligent design, this decision will be of
 minor significance," added Discovery Institute attorney Casey Luskin. "As
 we've repeatedly stressed, the ultimate validity of intelligent design will be
 determined not by the courts but by the scientific evidence pointing to
     Luskin pointed out that the ruling only applies to the federal district in
 which it was handed down. It has no legal effect anywhere else. The decision
 is also unlikely to be appealed, since the recently elected Dover school board
 members campaigned on their opposition to the policy.  "The plans of the
 lawyers on both sides of this case to turn this into a landmark ruling have
 been preempted by the voters," he said.
     "Discovery Institute continues to oppose efforts to mandate teaching about
 the theory of intelligent design in public schools," emphasized West. "But the
 Institute strongly supports the freedom of teachers to discuss intelligent
 design in an objective manner on a voluntary basis.  We also think students
 should learn about both the scientific strengths and weaknesses of Darwin's
 theory of evolution."
     Drawing on recent discoveries in physics, biochemistry and related
 disciplines, the scientific theory of intelligent design proposes that some
 features of the natural world are best explained as the product of an
 intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection.
 Proponents include scientists at numerous universities and science
 organizations around the world.

SOURCE Discovery Institute