Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Harrisburg, Pennysylvania. - A federal judge who barred a Pennsylvania school district from teaching 'intelligent design' virtually copied findings suggested by the winning side in a key section of the landmark ruling, according to a Seattle think tank that promotes the concept and has criticized the decision.
But legal experts say it is common for judges in civil cases to rely heavily on findings proposed by lawyers when they write their opinions, and there is nothing wrong with copying those findings if the legal briefs have been well-prepared.
The Discovery Institute on Tuesday released a study* in which it compared the December 2005 ruling by U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III with findings proposed by lawyers for eight families who sued to have intelligent design removed from the Dover Area School District's biology curriculum. The decision equated intelligent design, which attributes the complexity of living organisms to an unidentified intelligent cause, with creationism.
Continued at "Dover: 'Intelligent design' ruling relied too much on plaintiffs"
In December of 2005, critics of the theory of intelligent design (ID) hailed federal judge John E. Jones' ruling in Kitzmiller v. Dover, which declared unconstitutional the reading of a statement about intelligent design in public school science classrooms in Dover, Pennsylvania. Since the decision was issued, Jones' 139-page judicial opinion has been lavished with praise as a "masterful decision" based on careful and independent analysis of the evidence. However, a new analysis of the text of the Kitzmiller decision reveals that nearly all of Judge Jones' lengthy examination of "whether ID is science" came not from his own efforts or analysis but from wording supplied by ACLU attorneys. In fact, 90.9% (or 5,458 words) of Judge Jones' 6,004- word section on intelligent design as science was taken virtually verbatim from the ACLU's proposed "Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law" submitted to Judge Jones nearly a month before his ruling. Judge Jones even copied several clearly erroneous factual claims made by the ACLU. The finding that most of Judge Jones' analysis of intelligent design was apparently not the product of his own original deliberative activity seriously undercuts the credibility of Judge Jones' examination of the scientific validity of intelligent design.
See Memorandum Opinion:
Introduction: On October 18, 2004, the Defendant Dover Area School Board of Directors passed by a 6-3 vote the following resolution:
Students will be made aware of gaps/problems in Darwin's theory and of other theories of evolution including, but not limited to, intelligent design. Note: Origins of Life is not taught.
On November 19, 2004, the Defendant Dover Area School District announced by press release that, commencing in January 2005, teachers would be required to read the following statement to students in the ninth grade biology class at Dover High School:
The Pennsylvania Academic Standards require students to learn about Darwin's Theory of Evolution and eventually to take a standardized test of which evolution is a part.
Because Darwin's Theory is a theory, it continues to be tested as new evidence is discovered. The Theory is not a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.
Intelligent Design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin's view. The reference book, Of Pandas and People**, is available for students who might be interested in gaining an understanding of what Intelligent Design actually involves.
With respect to any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind. The school leaves the discussion of the Origins of Life to individual students and their families. As a Standards-driven district, class instruction focuses upon preparing students to achieve proficiency on Standards-based assessments.
**Of Pandas and People: The Central Question of Biological Origins by Percival Davis, Dean H. Kenyon
Of Pandas and People gives evidence for intelligent design from origin-of-life studies, biochemistry, genetics, homology, and paleontology. In a unique manner, Of Pandas and People gives the pros and cons of both the biological-evolution theory and the intelligent-design concept. Pandas promotes a widely recognized goal of science education by fostering a questioning, skeptical and scrutinizing mindset. This supplemental biology textbook provides an extensive index, glossary, references, and suggested reading and resources to help familarize the reader with the material. Pandas is enhanched by the use of numerous diagrams, charts, illustrations and full-color pictures.