Skip to comments.Witness: Movement's roots in creationism (Dover trial 10/6/05)
Posted on 10/06/2005 9:06:46 AM PDT by Right Wing Professor
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Day 6 ping!
HARRISBURG Defense attorneys in the case over intelligent design didn't want Barbara Forrest to testify. They repeatedly tried to keep the co-author of "Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design" off the stand or to undermine her testimony in U.S. Middle District Court on Wednesday.
Richard Thompson, defense attorney, said she wasn't qualified and offered irrelevant history. Nicholas Matzke, a consultant for the plaintiffs from the National Center for Science Education, said outside court that the defense wanted to exclude the testimony because it damaged the Dover Area School Board's case.
Wednesday, during voir dire a process during which attorneys ask questions about a witness' expertise defense attorney Robert Muise questioned Forrest's qualifications because she is not a scientist, theologian or philosopher of science.
He also attacked the research methodology for her writings, claiming she was selective. As an example, he said she failed to include a document by the Discovery Institute explaining the "wedge strategy."
Forrest, a professor of philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University, says the wedge strategy is a long-term plan to replace materialism with Christian convictions. She has tracked what she calls the intelligent design movement for years to show its roots in creation science, according to testimony.
The institute, in a document called "The Wedge Document: So What?" says it does not support theocracy, is not attacking science and does not have a secret plan to influence science and culture.
In court, she said that document was written after her book was published. Though she has written other materials about intelligent design, she said the Discovery Institute generates volumes of material and every piece isn't cited.
Forrest also said she isn't a scientist, didn't claim to be and has relied on scientists such as her co-author, Paul R. Gross.
Matzke said the National Center for Science Education chose the expert witness list for this case.
"They didn't want her on the stand because they knew she would be devastating to their case," he said.
Her testimony documents the wedge strategy, shows that "Of Pandas and People" has a history in creationism and shows that the book is representive of the intelligent design concept for Dover, he said.
Matzke said the defense's attempt to undermine Forrest was out of "desperation."
Wednesday's attempt wasn't the first by the defense to keep her off the stand.
On Sept. 6, defense lawyers filed a motion to exclude Forrest, citing similar reasons they addressed in voir dire. Federal Judge John E. Jones III denied the motion Sept. 22, yet left the ultimate decision to be made in court.
Jones said Wednesday it would be proper for Forrest to testify about the history and nature of intelligent design with the understanding that the defense may object to portions of her reports.
Muise made numerous hearsay objections as Forrest testified to documents tracing the history of intelligent design to creationist roots.
During cross examination, Thompson went after her views on religion, which plaintiffs' attorney Eric Rothschild said went too far.
After court, Thompson maintained that the defense doesn't believe she is qualified and that her knowledge doesn't pertain to this case.
"We didn't think (the history of intelligent design) was relevant to the case," Thompson said after court. "The school board didn't know any of this history.
"How much do you have to know? Every time you purchase a book, do you have to have a deposition of the book? Do you look at every draft?"
Thompson said the defense would continue to address the history of intelligent design during cross-examination scheduled to continue today.
What: Eleven people whose children attend or plan to attend Dover schools sued the school board and district, claiming the board's decision to make intelligent design part of the science curriculum violates the constitutional separation of church and state.
The district says it wanted to give fair time to an alternative to evolution theory. Evolution is widely accepted as fact and as the unifying concept of biology. Intelligent design says evolution can't explain the complexity of life and that an unnamed designer must have been at work.
When: Trial dates are today, Oct. 12, 14, 17 through 21, 24, 27; Nov. 2 through 4
Who: Judge John E. Jones III will issue his decision at a time of his choosing after the trial.
Why it matters: It's the most significant court challenge to evolution since 1987, and it's the first time a court has been asked to rule whether intelligent design can be taught in public schools. Experts say the case's outcome could influence how science is defined and taught in schools across the country. The lead defense lawyer said he wants to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In court today
Southeastern Louisiana University philosophy professor Barbara Forrest is scheduled to be on the stand again today as cross-examination continues. Freelance reporters Joe Maldonado of the York Daily Record/Sunday News and Heidi Bernhard-Bubb of The York Dispatch, who had been scheduled to testify today as to facts contained in articles they wrote about the Dover school board and its approval of intelligent design, will testify at a later date.
Quote of the day
"Creation means that various forms of life began abruptly through the agency of an intelligent creator, with their distinctive features already intact fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc." Version of textbook "Of Pandas and People," before 1987 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Edwards v. Aguillard striking down the concept of creation science as legitimate science.
"Intelligent design means that various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency, with their distinctive features already intact fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc." "Of Pandas and People," after 1987 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Edwards v. Aguillard.
Similar substitutions were made throughout the textbook, according to Wednesday's testimony.
HARRISBURG Along about the 658th hour of Dr. Barbara Forrest's stay on the witness stand, during Day Six of the Dover Panda Trial, I started looking for her horns. Never did see them.
It was right about the time that defense lawyer Richard Thompson was repeatedly asking about her various memberships in such seditious, treasonous and just plain evil organizations as the New Orleans Secular Humanist Association and the ACLU that it occurred to me to look for her horns.
They weren't there.
Now, it could be that she was hiding her tail under her trim black pantsuit, but frankly, I didn't really look.
The defense tried very hard to keep Forrest, a philosophy professor from Southeastern Louisiana University, from testifying by portraying her as being in league with the devil. The defense had a pretty good stake in keeping her off the stand. She is probably the foremost expert on the genesis, such as it is, of the movement to introduce unsuspecting kids to the idea of intelligent design creationism and, through that, to overturn our very idea of what science is and what it does.
But before asking her about that, Thompson wanted to probe her membership in the American Civil Liberties Union.
"When did you become a card-carrying member of the ACLU?" Thompson asked in a tone that suggested that such membership put her in league with Satan and the forces of evil.
Not just a member. "A card-carrying member."
Forrest answered that she joined the organization in 1979 because she believes in the Constitution and the ACLU defends that vital document.
Thompson then asked whether she supports everything the ACLU does.
Forrest said she believes in defending the Constitution.
And then Thompson asked whether she knew whether the ACLU has defended child porn as protected speech under the First Amendment.
Before Forrest could answer, one of the plaintiffs' attorneys, Eric Rothschild, rose and objected on the grounds of relevance. In other words, his objection was, essentially, what does this have to do with anything?
The judge cut Thompson off.
Which was too bad because the way it was going, I figured Thompson's next question would be something on the order of, don't you and your friends get together to watch snuff films while snacking on aborted fetuses?
It didn't get that far.
It did get into a discussion about logical fallacies, which was interesting because while accusing Forrest of committing logical fallacies, Thompson committed some himself.
So in addition to providing lessons in critical thinking and philosophy, the participants Thompson, mostly provided a literary lesson, giving the audience an ample dose of irony.
See, while he was accusing of Forrest of employing an ad hominem argument an argument in which you don't address the merits of the issue under debate and attack the messenger instead he was employing an ad hominem argument.
What great fallacy did Forrest commit?
Near as I can tell, she used the words of the people who came up with the idea of intelligent design to show that it's a religious idea one based on a narrow view of Christianity and not a scientific one.
She used their own words against them.
Evil, evil woman.
Using one's own words against him is not, in and of itself, an ad hominem argument. The words can be used that way, but if they speak for themselves, it's not ad hominem.
Now, if I were to call Thompson a doody head, that would be an ad hominem argument.
Forrest described the intelligent design movement's "wedge strategy," described in a document that the intelligent design people wrote, cleverly titled "The Wedge."
At one point, an attorney for the defense asked her whether she knew that that document was intended to raise money, that it was part of a fundraising plea. Forrest didn't know.
But by asking, was the defense saying that the intelligent design people had portrayed their theory as a religious idea just to get money out of people? Were they saying that they intended to prey upon people's faith to get them to open their checkbooks? Were they saying that it's OK to say anything when you're trying to wrest dollars from an unsuspecting public?
At the end of her direct testimony, it was clear how the so-called theory of intelligent design came about. In 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that teaching creationism in public schools was unconstitutional. The people who wanted to teach creationism in public schools people who believe teaching science in general and evolution in particular is responsible for all of society's ills had to come up with something else.
So they thought about it and rubbed a few brain cells together and came up with intelligent design.
Now, they admit, they have no theory and they don't really have anything in the way of science on their side.
Essentially, what they did was take their creationist literature and replace the word "creationism" with the phrase "intelligent design."
So in addition to committing sloppy scholarship, Forrest's testimony suggested they were lazy, too.
At one point, Forrest pointed out a document in which one of the authors of the intelligent design nontheory posited that belief in evolution leads to belief in, among other things, Scientology.
So that's what's wrong with Tom Cruise?
And now, for today's Moonie reference.
One of the founding fathers of intelligent design, Jonathan Wells, went to school to study biology and dedicate his life to bringing down Darwin after being urged to do so by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.
Couldn't he have just sold flowers at the airport like the rest of them? It would have saved us all a lot of trouble.
Ping for later
If "intelligent design" theory fits in with all the facts,
would that make it a legitimate theory? If so, what would
the difference make what it's "roots" are?
Couldn't someone argue that evolutionary theory is based on
the fact that ONLY one causation of physical findings is
allowed,(namely "nature" --whatever "nature" really is) and
its roots are in atheistic philosophy, and therefore it is not legitimate? Richard Lewontin has admitted that modern science won't let in creative acts by an outside agency, because it is not of the paradigm of raw, untrammelled "nature" which is widely accepted by many
observers and experimenters.
A good philosophical question to ask, is this...
Is the realm of "nature" only what we can observe (by any purely physical means), or is "nature" that which exists, whether we can observe it or not? How one approaches that
question will indicate where their bias, and experimental
methods will lead them.
If I were defending ID (and you couldn't pay me enough!) that's what I would try to argue. But there's so much evidence of the religious roots, and so little actual science produced.
Don't confuse philosophy with science.
I asked this on a previous thread, but it seems appropriate here too.
In CS/ID: What is your dataset? What are your methods?
Science relies on observation to establish data (facts), then through hypotheses and testing (falsifying) of hypotheses constructs a theoretical framework to explain the dataset.
CS/ID has the final answer already--God did it--so it does not need a dataset or any of the other methods normal to science.
If this is not the case, please enlighten me: What is your dataset? What are your methods?
" Intelligent design did not spring from Genesis, an expert testified Wednesday in the federal lawsuit against the Dover Area School District.
Rather, its inspiration came from the Gospel of St. John: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
And yet the very first line in the Book of Genesis is:
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. "
Amazing what some will be justified in doing by one simple passage in Phillipians--"For I have become ALL things to ALL men, so that by ALL means, I might save SOME."--is'nt it?
Given the opposition doesn't object to the Genesis words per se, I'd have to conclude that had any Genesis-promoting specifically non-Christian religious group had promoted "Intellegent Design", it wouldn't be objected to....
Can you say: "BUSTED"?
Hoist by his own petard! Game, set, and match!
Thanks for the ping!
I'm in tears after reading this! I nearly wet my pants!
This is the way to put an end to this Creationism/ID crap -- laugh it to death! Treat it as the intellectual joke that it is, and don't spare the rod!
I dunno. We've been trying to laugh liberalism to death yet it keeps coming back like the Terminator.
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