Left Behinds

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Intelligent Design's Prognosis?

What's next for Intelligent Design? How are they spinning this defeat? Final stop: Supreme Court? Not so fast.

On the News Hour just now, John West, associate director of the Discovery Insitute (the think tank largely responsible for promoting ID), said in response to a question about upcoming court battles

The Dover decision had no precedental value. There are several cases out there percolating, with different fact scenarios. Some teachers want to teach ID regardless of what their school board says. ... I would say that if school boards are interested in ID, read the expert testimony from the case and determine whether ID is a scientific theory or not.

As Casey Luskin, an attorney for The Discovery Institute put it, this particular decision is 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," said Luskin.

The IDers are changing course. In that same statement, John West said that "anyone who thinks a court ruling is going to kill off interest in intelligent design is living in another world." Luskin said further that "in the larger debate over intelligent design, this decision will be of minor significance. 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 design."

They do rattle their sabers a bit about Church and State. Richard More, from the Christian activist Thomas More Law Center, for example, assures us that

The district court’s decision today continues along this path of applying a fundamentally flawed jurisprudence [in relation to the Establishment Clause separating Church and State]. Unfortunately, until the Supreme Court adopts a more coherent and historically sound jurisprudence, school districts like Dover will be at risk of costly lawsuits by the ACLU for adopting such modest curriculum changes such as the one at issue.

But overall it sounds like they've given up on fighting the Establishment Clause in the courts, at least for now. Why bother when they're doing so well in the "liberal media," where socialist organs like the New York Times, for example, recently did a long series on ID?

In an opinion piece in The Telegraph in October, Mary Wakefield predicted that "If the teachers lose [in the Dover case], the ID lobby will fade away." That seems way too premature.

Wakefield was summarizing a long, excellent meditation in The Spectator in which she considered ID from the perspective of an educated, thoughtful believer. Most telling was the beginning of her article, which revealed the stunning scientific ignorance of highly educated people on both sides of the debate. For example,

I remember a recent conversation with my mother: ‘Do you believe in evolution, Mum?’ ‘Of course I do, darling. If you use your thumbs a lot, you will have children with big thumbs. If they use their thumbs a lot, and so do their children, then eventually there will be a new sort of person with big thumbs.’

This utter lack of scientific understanding among even the best educated people in a largely secular country like the UK (where at least 30% are non-believers, as opposed to 3% here) suggests that ID proponents will always have ignorance, superstition, and gullibility on their side.

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