It's Time for Some Folks to Get Over Dover
Judge John E. Jones's 2005 ruling in the Kitzmiller v. Dover case, venerated each year by the Darwin faithful on the decision's December 20 anniversary, gave an easy out to critics who were hoping for a convenient way to dismiss intelligent design (ID). In several recent articles here I've looked back on Dover's unimpressive legacy.
But federal judges cannot settle scientific debates, and a court ruling has no ability to negate the evidence for design in nature. Spend a day in law school, and you'll quickly learn that judges are not inerrant. In this instance, the Kitzmiller v. Dover ruling contains many factual and legal mistakes, including that Judge Jones:
- Adopted a false definition of ID by claiming that ID requires "supernatural creation" and is merely a negative argument against evolution;
- Denied the existence of pro-ID, peer-reviewed, scientific publications and research that were testified about in his courtroom;
- Adopted an unfair double-standard of legal analysis where religious implications, beliefs, and motives count against ID but never against materialist theories of origins;
- Presumed it is permissible for a federal judge to try to define science, settle controversial scientific questions, and explain the proper relationship between evolution and religion;
- Attempted to turn science into a voting contest by claiming that popularity is required for an idea to be scientific.
An analysis of the ruling showed that over 90% of Judge Jones's section on whether ID is science was copied verbatim or nearly verbatim from an ACLU brief submitted about a month before the ruling was issued. Commenting on Jones's activism, anti-ID legal scholar Jay Wexler stated that "the part of Kitzmiller that finds ID not to be science is unnecessary, unconvincing, not particularly suited to the judicial role, and even perhaps dangerous both to science and to freedom of religion." (Jay D. Wexler, "Kitzmiller and the 'Is It Science?' Question," 5 First Amendment Law Review 90, 93 (2006).)
For comprehensive rebuttals to the ruling, see the resources at TraipsingIntoEvolution.com, such as Intelligent Design Will Survive Kitzmiller v. Dover, Dover in Review, or Whether Intelligent Design is Science. A comprehensive rebuttal to PBS's error-filled "Judgment Day" documentary about the Dover trial can be found at JudgingPBS.com.
Rumors of ID's Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
Despite the claims of some critics, the fundamentals of the ID movement are sound: Whether we look at ID's scientific research and peer-reviewed publications, educational initiatives and battles to protect academic freedom, or book, video, and other media publications, the ID movement has made great strides since the Kitzmiller v. Dover case. Most importantly, these advances are greatest in the area of research, where increasing empirical data confirms the argument for ID.
The more critics try to suppress ID, the more students are getting interested. Discovery Institute's Summer Seminars on intelligent design are proof positive that when the technical scientific case for ID is communicated in an undistorted and accurate manner, Darwinism doesn't stand a chance.
No wonder ID critics ardently promote the myth that ID is dead: the only way they can win the debate is if they convince people that there's only one side worth considering. Those who care more about scientific truth than about politics or power can rest assured that the future of ID is bright. The more ID proponents are granted free speech to make their case to the scientific community, the more others are going to agree.