Skip to comments.With world watching, trial starts
Posted on 09/26/2005 12:14:08 PM PDT by Right Wing Professor
Members of the national and international press gathered outside the federal courthouse in Harrisburg this morning for the start of a trial that could determine the fate of intelligent design in public school.
The BBC, London Guardian and People magazine were among news agencies outside the courtroom, where the case of Kitzmiller v. Dover began at 9 a.m.
Julian Borger, a Washington-based reporter for the Guardian, said the interest in the United Kingdom is in the American school system. He said people in the UK don't have the ability to vote on what is or isn't taught in school.
"There are a small percentage of people who believe in intelligent design," Borger said, "but some also believe it's a peculiarly American phenomenon."
BBC producer James Van der Pool said: "There is no single view in the UK. There's a curiosity about how something like this can create such a stir.
"Evolution is more accepted in the UK," he added. "Our interest is whether there is anything in this (intelligent design). Is it an American affair and is it going to come over here (the UK)?"
The federal court case filed against the Dover Area School District and its school board over mention of intelligent design in biology classes was to begin with opening statements by the district's attorneys and those representing 11 parents who filed the suit in December.
The parents, along with the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, were expected to argue that the school board had religious motives in requiring a statement about intelligent design to be read in biology classes. They also contend intelligent design is based on religion.
The school board's attorneys from the Thomas More Law Center,
a Michigan-based public interest law firm that often represents Christians who say their rights have been violated, were expected to argue that the board had a secular purpose in mentioning intelligent design as an "alternative theory" to evolution and intelligent design is scientifically sound.
Intelligent design says living things are so complicated they had to have been created by a higher being, that life is too complex to have developed by evolution as described by biologist Charles Darwin.
The parents and their attorney assert that intelligent design is akin to creationism.
The first week: After opening statements, the parents' attorneys will begin to present their case. Their witnesses are expected to testify at least through the first week. Once the parents' attorneys have rested their case, the defense will have an opportunity to call witnesses.
Brown University professor and biologist Kenneth Miller was expected to take the stand first for the parents.
Miller, who teaches in Brown's Department of Biology & Medicine, is known nationally for his opposition to teaching "intelligent design" as part of public school science courses.
He has said that intelligent design fails to hold up to scientific tests, and that it is a philosophical concept that is not scientifically rooted.
Miller's testimony is scheduled to conclude tomorrow.
He will be followed by fact witnesses -- or those who can testify about the events that frame the case -- that neither side would publicly name.
Wednesday's testimony is expected to steer back to science with Rob Pennock, a Michigan State University professor of science and philosophy.
Pennock wrote the book "Tower of Babel: The Evidence against the New Creationism" and edited "Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics: Philosophical, Theological, and Scientific Perspectives," both published by The MIT Press.
Pennock is expected to share time Wednesday with intelligent design historian Barbara Forrest, a professor of philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University.
Forrest has written several scientific publications about intelligent design and co-wrote "Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design," with Paul R. Gross, published by Oxford University Press.
The book details the "wedge strategy" intelligent design proponents use to slowly push the concept into mainstream national education politics, according to the book's sleeve.
ACLU staff attorney Paula Knudsen said Forrest has researched the evolution of the creationism movement into the intelligent design movement, and she is expected to show the links between intelligent design and its alleged ancestor, creation science and creationism.
The week's final witness is expected to be Jack Haught, professor of theology at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and director of the Georgetown Center for the Study of Science and Religion.
He has written several books, including "Science and Religion: From Conflict to Conversation," and "Deeper Than Darwin: Evolution and the Question of God."
In a 2002 interview with the National Center for Science Education, Haught said intelligent design's scientific arguments are "theological diversions, not scientifically fruitful suppositions."
All media seats taken: As scientific, philosophical and theological witnesses converge on Harrisburg, so do representatives of the media.
The 40 courtroom seats available to the media have been grabbed by both local and national members of the press, ranging from The York Dispatch to the New York Times and National Public Radio.
The court's clerks have been expecting a hearty showing from the public as well.
About 40 courtroom seats are available to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. They will be distributed on the ninth floor, beginning an hour before the start of the trial. Spectators must be seated within 15 minutes before court is in session.
Passes may not be reserved in advance for members of the public.
Those who are unable to be accommodated in the courtroom will be directed to an auxiliary room where the trial will be broadcast through a closed-circuit audio feed.
The first dispatch from the Eastern Front.
This is an incredible waste of time and money...trying to prove the unprovable.
It seems pretty clear to me that the ID folks will not prevail in this case. The attempts to separate ID from creationism are doomed to failure, and that will be an end to this debate.
If a "higher being" did the design work, then those making that argument are going to be asked to identify what sort of being that might have been. They'll hem and haw and finally have to admit that it's a deity. Which deity? Well, any would do, since every religion has a creation myth of some kind. Are all deities equal? Did they form a committee to design the universe?
Are they all the same deity with different names, then?
Then the big question comes: How would science investigate a deity? Well, that would be impossible, of course, since a deity is obviously supernatural and out of the realm of scientific investigation.
So, no evidence for this "higher being" exists? Nope. Case over.
For crying out loud, public schools can't even teach children to read!!! How are they supposed to teach intelligent design, creationism, evolution, or anything?
Proof that even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
"Our interest is whether there is anything in this (intelligent design). Is it an American affair and is it going to come over here (the UK)?"
I think your interest is in feeling superior to Americans.
By the way, outside of the Free Republic I have heard nothing, zilch about this thing. No one I know has ever mentioned it. It's only a big deal among a few Americans and the British reporters who gather to laugh at them.
Agreed. God doesn't need lawyers to prove He exists: if He wanted us to know Him and love Him then He would enter creation as one of us! Hey God we're waiting! ... oh, hang on ...
There was a piece on it on NPR this morning. There are also front page articles in the Washington Post, New York Times, CNN, and FOXnews.
"There was a piece on it on NPR this morning. There are also front page articles in the Washington Post, New York Times, CNN, and FOXnews."
See. There ya go. It's being completely ignored by the MSM, for sure. This should be an interesting case, but I don't expect it will end up the way the school board wants it to end up.
And the cover of Time magazine a week or two ago.
"By the way, outside of the Free Republic I have heard nothing, zilch about this thing. No one I know has ever mentioned it. It's only a big deal among a few Americans and the British reporters who gather to laugh at them.
Perhaps you should get offline more often then, and read a little, or even watch a little TV news. It has been covered, is being covered, and will be covered. Or...you could come here are read the coverage.
I agree, and I think the Discovery Institute knows this. One of the key skills in lawyering is to choose your battles carefully. This is about the worst case to argue the ID side; there are paper trials proving religious motivation on the part of the school board members, and showing that the textbook they adopted (Of Pandas and People) simply took the word 'creationism' in their final draft and replaced it with 'intelligent design'.
Will be interested in seeing the proof that the evolutionary process leads to the appearance of new species.
Is there a witness list for this trial?
Ok, I take it back. The whole world is watching.... Sorry, doesn't work for me. It's an American thing and I doubt the average say Japanese is much interested.
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