Trial, Day 2 Continued

“Laced with Darwinism”

That was the theme of day two of Kitzmiller v. Dover, as a parent, a teacher and a school board member, all parents with children in the district, testified as to the religious intent of school board members in advocating for the teaching of intelligent design.

This afternoon, Dover parent and plaintiff Tammy Kitzmiller testified that she was drawn into the controversy while reading of the search for new biology books in the York newspaper. The paper quoted a statement of one school board member that a proposed biology book was “laced with Darwinism.” Kitzmiller’s attention was caught. As she explained today, she felt as though the school board was placing religious ideology in the schools, which affected her two school-aged daughters.

Next on the stand was plaintiff Aralene “Barrie” Callahan, who is a parent and former Dover Area School District board member. A board member for 10 years, Callahan recalled attending school board retreats at which members discussed creationism and the need to balance the ideology 50-50 with that of evolution.

Issues surrounding the teaching of evolution came up for Callahan as a parent, too. While, the school board had purchased textbooks for several other classes, they still had not ordered biology books. Callahan’s daughter had no biology book to study from at home because the book the board had originally chosen was “laced with Darwinism.” When Callahan questioned the school board, she was told that they were looking for a different, balanced, textbook.

When asked if she felt harmed by the school district, Callahan stated, “the school district is trying to influence my daughters religious beliefs.” Not only were the board members “demeaning the theory of evolution, but their actions hindered students from learning real science which could ultimately harm them when furthering their education.”

The last plaintiff’s witness of the day was former Dover physics teacher Bryan Rehm. Two of Rehm’s four children attend school in Dover.

Rehm recalled several lunchtime conversations in which teachers discussed the issue of the biology curriculum. After several discussions, the science teachers received a video by a school board member, called “Icons of Evolution.” After they viewed the movie, they met with board members, and voiced their concern regarding the teaching of intelligent design. The science teachers concluded that they were not comfortable teaching ID in biology or other science classes.

Rehm said that he further engaged himself in the debate by attending several board meetings. According to Rehm, the school board demonstrated their religious intent in advocating for intelligent design by making statements regarding creationism and Jesus dying on the cross 2,000 years ago.

Rehm’s testimony was consistent with accounts in two different York newspapers. However, the board members denied in depositions that they ever made such statements – even though they never asked the newspapers for retractions after the articles first appeared.

“There was no discrepancy in what I read in the York Daily Record and what I heard that night,” Rehm stated.

Rehm ended his testimony by relating how he has been harmed both professionally (he no longer is a physics teacher at Dover), and personally, due to the tensions growing within the community. Rehm expressed concern that teachers have not been respected for their opinions and their expertise. According to Rehm, it is the students within the school district who will ultimately suffer.

“There should be no debate,” Rehm said. “Science is science and religion is religion.”

Submitted by Jamie Mullen, legal assistant, ACLU of PA

9 thoughts on “Trial, Day 2 Continued

  1. While the anti-evolutionary crusaders are haranguing on about creationism’s newly designed
    “intelligent design,” their designer and God of Genesis continues to lack omniscience, omnipotence, and ubiquity. Christian fundamentalists, who assume they can simply monopolize God and proclaim the moral high ground by impaling evolution, are a disgrace to God. The Genesis literalists had better take another look at the biblical pornography that they allege to be the word of God. Their Lord and creator of evil would plant it on earth, long before Eve and Adam were even conceived.

    We quickly learn from Genesis that in order for Adam and Eve TO LIVE IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN they must abide by God demands for nudity, as He had no patience for modesty (a.k.a. “naked shame”). Nor would God tolerate widom and threatened them with death should they seek (eat) knowledge. They were commanded to procreate (“be fruitful”) by copulating (“cleave unto Eve”) and populate Eden, (“multiply”) requiring incestuous acts no less. Forgive me if I come across as an uptight, ice-cold prude, but these are not exactly the moral values that I espouse in a God. — Thank God!

    Nor apparently did Eve or Adam, for they ate God’s knowledge and according to Genesis (3:22) they gained all of His omniscience. Yes, I’m afraid it’s true — God’s no smarter than the religious fundamentalists. Indeed, the only knowledge that Eve and Adam acquired, was to notice — God preferred them nude! BECAUSE ADAM AND EVE GAINED A LITTLE MODESTY, GOD WOULD PUNISH ALL LIFE FORMS AND THEIR DESCENDANTS FOR ETERNITY: Death, birth defects, malevolence, disease, making incest/nudity against the law, plagues, pestilence, war, poverty,
    depression, starvation ……… and lets not forget that devil He allowed to dwell on earth and terrorize the hell out of us! But then again with gods like these, who needs devils?

    I suppose it’s all kind of titillating — if you’re a masochist. Nevertheless, sophistic attempts by religions to insinuate
    “naked shame” was something evil and carnal (when in fact it amounted to nothing more MODESTY) is carnal evil, and far from intelligent! This God is a very poor role model for humanity to follow. Paralogistic arguments will not ever change the fact that this insidious monster from Genesis is not a creator and religions should be ashamed for suggesting such a vile creature even could be. He not only denigrates God, he violates humanity. I understand that the religious fundamentalists simply want to obey their God and avoid knowledge, but to expose my children to their lack of morality — at school no less, is beneath contempt!

  2. The previous commenter’s statement, challenging religion itself, is not fruitful to the argument. While I myself am an atheist, even that requires a certain amount of faith in something that cannot be proven. Challenging others to defend their faith will not bring them to your side.

    It is imperative, however, that the division between faith and science is clarified for those of faith. Issues of knowledge and science; explanations for the material world, those should be given to science. Issues of spirituality and faith should be private and given to religion or practice.

    For instance, while I am an atheist, I look to Buddhism for spirituality; my path towards Zen, happiness, if you will. I understand that knowledge of the world belongs to science, and also that my spiritual beliefs and practice, such as avoiding the consumption of animal flesh, and the practice of meditation are mine, and should not be forced upon others.

  3. I appreciate the comments posted viz Genesis and the follow-up; unfortunately neither really has much merit in helping the case at hand. Although personal experiences and feelings are valid, this is really a legal issue, founded on a few basic arguments. (I do understand the social implications of the outcomes, but wish to focus on practical matters). To wit: is intelligent design science? Or conversely, by their new argument, is evolution a religion? How and where are we to determine these issues and ultimately how will this impact our education and competitiveness in the world? The problem is the profound ignorance about science and the scientific method in America; the vast, and I mean vast majority of Americans are poorly educated, especially in the sciences, and couldn’t tell you the difference between a theory and a scientific model, much less anything about natural selection or periodicity. Part of the answer is to educate, through these public cases, our general public and its public servants. Hopefully, by sheer repetition, some progress can be made. I apologize to the previous bloggers; no disrespect intended. Just trying to keep the focus.

  4. I would agree that my focus was off, being more or less an argument about the relationship that an individual must have with their personal belief and that of science.

    As far as the legal ramifications go, there is no argument. It is true that only science should be taught in science class, and anything else is a matter of faith, and thus religious in nature, and must be removed completely from the curriculum. Anything else is a diversion from established law.

    Our education system is in a level of disarray, and that is explained not only by religious dictat that counters scientific data, but also the sad lack of funding for our schools. This does not allow us to offer competitive salaries to teachers who often find it much easier to find a decent wage in private markets. This problem, once again, is outside of the scope of the argument at hand, but proof that the problem does not only lie in the lack of quality scientific education in this country, and the opposition to it by religious teachings.

  5. I know I am not helping the debate here, but as a scientist I just want to ask some questions. I unequivocally believe that there should be a separation of church and state, and as a foreigner with a Ph.D. from a left-leaning institution I will be food for fodder, but here they are:

    Shouldn’t we be asking for a greater separation of church and state? Point in case: most countries have a legal marriage and the religious marriage is optional. In the US there is no difference between them. The constitution is laced with the word “God”.

    The Bible and Christianity are laced with “mysteries” such as Mary’s virginity after birthing Jesus. If evolution is “simply questioned” in the science classroom, should we be “simply questioning” these issues at church? Wouldn’t this “exchange be fair?

    Were the Bible and the US Constitution written by superior humans, who wrote nothing but the truth? There is absolutely no reason to doubt what they thought, how they wrote it, who actually wrote it, when they wrote it, or even how it was translated?

    I am not trying to convince anybody because I think the problem here is pride e.g. You’re wrong, I’M RIGHT!

    I wish the ACLU success in this trial.

  6. I agree with you completely. The infusion of belief into any system that requires factual evidence to work effectively is catastrophic to the system. This is true of economic systems, the government, science, and many others.

    Unfortunately, some faiths contain data that might be considered ‘deprecated’; the creation story in the Book of Genesis is a good example of this. This is the result of previous religious attempts to explain what was occuring in the world to the satisfaction of their followers, so that faith could exist unquestionably.

    Today, we have science that is explaining many of these things, and the inability to believe that you can abandon a few of the stories of the bible (such as Genesis), and still have faith in the important ones (the resurrection of Christ), makes it impossible for these arguments not to happen.

    Even so, it just so happens that many sects of Christianity accept this ideal, but the failure of our educational system doesn’t really give our children something to fall back on in this situation.

    Fortunately, the advance of alternative religions in the United States, along with the disproval of ID about to occur before the begging eyes of million s of Americans, will force a new question: Why does half of the US population reject evolution so fervently? The answer is obviously the nature of religion in the US and our poor education system, but how are these problems rectified?

    Perhaps they never will be rectified, an increasingly apathetic public will further reject the public school system until equilibrium of various religions (buddhism, christianity, judiasm, islam, and atheism), or a heavy rise of atheism (which has been shown to have a positive correlation with a lack of sexual deviance, a reduction in abortion, and overall improvements in social systems, as documented at The Journal of Religion and Society, silence the entire debate.

    This will hopefully be a step in that direction.

  7. The constitution is laced with the word “God”.

    Uh, not to be nitpicky, but you might want to check you facts before make a long rant (I’M RIGHT) like this. What you state is actually explicitly NOT true. The US Constitution is devoid of the word “God.” The Declaration of Indepedence, on the other hand, does give us rights endowed by a “Creator” and is full of similar language (some particular odd choices of words: “Nature’s God” for example always stikes me as strange.) Maybe you are getting these documents mixed up? Because this is an important point: the US Constitution and even more imporantly the Bill of Rights are a very secular set of documents. (I note also that the Articles of the Confederacy also do not mention “God”.)

    We probably agree on the overarching issue in many respects: it’s just that this idea that of the Consitution laced with religion is just plain wrong and, in my humble opinion, this secularity is one of the outstanding features of the Constitution.

  8. Psalcido said:
    “The previous commenter’s statement, challenging religion itself, is not fruitful to the argument.” ???????????????????????

    Wittgenstein said:
    “… this is really a legal issue, founded on a few basic arguments. (I do understand the social implications of the outcomes, but wish to focus on practical matters).” … but … ahh … uhh … oh, never mind

    The Scientist said:
    “In the US there is no difference between them.” [Bible] “The constitution is laced with the word “God.” … does this mean scientists are now a danger to history courses?

    Bloggers blog on, mindful that religious flocks have righteous cause to demand their insidious creeds (Genesis) belong in science class, for we have our own peccadilloes and narcissistic obsessions with atheism, Buddhism, and — Bubba. By affecting cool pragmatism, we’ll remain blissfully oblivious that the
    “facts” in this case do indeed involve religions and a creation myth. Better yet, why not just confuse the U.S. Constitution with the Bible like the Christians bless their hearts!

    THE PROBLEM IS GENESIS! Instead of concern for religious sensitivities, how about concern for religious insensitivity? Why aren’t we morally outraged by religions depicting God as a vile creator who REFUSED HUMANITY KNOWLEDGE, DEMANDED THEIR IGNORANCE, AND PUNISHED THEM FOR GAINING MODESTY with death, disease, pestilence, malevolence, war, despair, birth defects, crime, devils, ……..! Why don’t we hold religions accountable when they define modesty as “naked shame,” in order to bewilder their fateful flocks? And where’s our unbridled indignation towards the followers of Christ for their hypocrisy and oxymoronic embrace of Genesis?

    How about displaying compassion for God, disgraced and denigrated by religions with their mendacious doctrine. Not only have religions alleged God wrote Genesis, (and She most certainly did not!) they have committed allegations of illegality that constitute Libel Per Se when in written form and Slander ‎Per Se when published orally.‎ Their defamatory statements‎ accused God of committing malicious crimes against humanity — and called Her a man! These defamatory statements, made by religions have caused God serious reputational damage and injury.

    The born again Antichrists — I mean, Christians will continue breeding anti-intellectualism and spreading the word of ignorance, for this is their agenda. Fundamentalists follow their emotional passions — not their intrinsic talents. The time has come for us to read (just the first three chapters — for the sake of evolution!) and understand the LITERAL meaning of Genesis. And academicians need to get off their intellectual high horses, stop patronizing creationists, and start challenging them on the merits of worshipping demonic gods. However, we must not allow prior misconceptions or indoctrination to replace the truth that is laid out in the book (Saint James Version) of Genesis. Nor shall we defer to theologians for interpretations or “meanings,” so that they may provide us pretty paralogisms, metaphors, and linguistic analogies well aware “the original intent behind Genesis” was far from moral.

    Without any accountability, creationists are allowed to monopolize God and demand their diatribe of knowledge hating (Genesis) creeds be acknowledged as “proof” that He created the earth — before the universe. Ironically, those who claim to believe in the Bible literally are always the first to provide antithetical interpretations to their doctrine. — Of course, Christians believe that prevarications, like all malicious acts are never sins for the followers of Christ. Scary, huh?

    Rational, pragmatic, methodical, logical, and analytical qualities make great scientists but when it comes to religious fanaticism, science needs our help. Emotions are involved and we can’t pretend otherwise. Besides, if we don’t help fundamentalists evolve, we’re doomed. Indeed, many a despot has and still can stir up Armageddon by calling on Christians to crusade, for they are always willing to comply. Hmmm, sounds familiar…

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