“There is no controversy in the scientific community about the strength of evolution.”
And with that opening statement from Eric Rothschild of Pepper Hamilton LLP, the Dover intelligent design trial was off this morning in Harrisburg. Opening statements and our first witness highlighted the day at the federal courthouse.
Eric’s opening statement traced the history of the issue with the Dover Area School Board, including memos, board retreat notes, and a report from local Fox affiliate WPMT in which board member William Buckingham refers to creationism.
“It’s OK to teach Darwin,” Buckingham said, “but you have to balance it with something else, such as creationism.”
As you can imagine, this was a rather interesting revelation, considering advocates of intelligent design claim that this concept is nothing like creationism.
“Creationists have adapted and created ‘intelligent design,'” charged Eric.
“They ignored accepted scientific knowledge. They ignored their own science teachers, who opposed the policy change,” Eric said.
Today’s sole witness was Dr. Kenneth Miller, biology professor from Brown University and the author of Biology, a widely used high school textbook. He called intelligent design “the argument of ignorance.”
“Intelligent design is not a testable theory,” Dr. Miller said, “and as such is not generally accepted by the scientific community.”
In opening arguments, opposing counsel Patrick Gillen referred to the Dover board’s decision as “a modest policy change,” a point that Dr. Miller addressed.
“The statement of the Dover School Board falsely undermines the theory of evolution,” he said. “It does a great disservice to Dover and the students of Dover.”
Dr. Miller and our legal director, Witold “Vic” Walczak, who handled direct questioning for our team, analyzed the four paragraph statement that Dover students hear at the start of their evolution unit.
“By holding this up as an alternative, the students will get the message in a flash,” Dr. Miller said. “The message is, ‘Over here you have a theory based on God, and over here is evolution, which is based in atheism’.”
Along with his publication of “forty-five to fifty-five” peer-reviewed articles (by his count), Dr. Miller is also the author of Finding Darwin’s God, in which he comes to terms with his scientific work and his Roman Catholic faith.
If you couldn’t make it to court today – and most couldn’t since there were only about 40 passes available to the public – Dr. Miller will speak at Lehigh University on October 12 on “Darwin’s Genome: Answering the Challenge of ‘Intelligent Design'” at an event sponsored by the university and its bio department.
Ironically, Lehigh University also happens to be the academic home of Dr. Michael Behe, the defendants’ lead witness. Check out the bio department’s statement on evolution and intelligent design.
Under cross-examination from the defense, Dr. Miller noted that “no theory in science is absolute truth.” Throughout his testimony, he made it clear that there is no reason to single out evolution from all other scientific theories.
“All scientific theories are subject to further testing.”
Submitted by Andy Hoover, community education organizer, ACLU of PA