Podcasting Scientists and Online Perspectives

Listen to the podcast of National Center on Science Education’s Dr. Eugenie C. Scott and Nick Matzke offering synopsis and commentary on plaintiffs’ fact witnesses testifying on 2005/09/27. NCSE is “a nationally-recognized clearinghouse for information and advice to keep evolution in the science classroom and “scientific creationism” out.” They have a tremendous amount of resources about the trial on their website.

Legal Analysis from NPR and Slate:
Jurisprudence: Battle Over Intelligent Design
Madeleine Brand discusses the Dover trial with legal analyst Dahlia Lithwick on NPR’s “Day to Day.”

Also from Slate – a round up of blog coverage on the trial…
Darwin gets schooled
Torie Bosch, Slate (09/27/05)

An irreverant take on intelligent design sense by Paul Rudnick of The New Yorker…

And, finally, the controversy rears it’s head in California…
University of California Sued Over Bias – Against Creationism

LOS ANGELES – A group representing California religious schools has filed a lawsuit accusing the University of California system of discriminating against high schools that teach creationism and other conservative Christian viewpoints.

The Association of Christian Schools International, which represents more than 800 schools, filed a federal lawsuit Thursday claiming UC admissions officials have refused to certify high school science courses that use textbooks challenging Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Dover Case Attracts Worldwide Coverage

A tiny selection of today’s coverage…

“On second day, evolution trial delves into topic of faith”
Martha Raffaele, The Associated Press

“Pa. Case Is Newest Round in Evolution Debate ‘Intelligent Design’ Teaching Challenged”
Michael Powell, Washington Post

“Evolution Lawsuit Opens in Pennsylvania”
Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times

“A teachable moment on ‘just a theory'”
The Roanoke Times

Philadelphia Daily News Editorial Cartoon
Signe Wilkinson

“Parents challenge US ‘intelligent design’ teaching”
Julian Borger, The Guardian

“‘Intelligent design’ doctrine goes to US federal court”
China View

“US evolution court battle opens”
The Journal of Turkish Weekly

Check out the full coverage from the York (PA) Daily Record

Miller Cross Examined

This morning, the defendants’ counsel, Thomas More Law Center’s Robert Muise, completed their cross examination of biology professor Kenneth Miller. Miller was questioned about his knowledge of several well known scientists, including Francis Crick (of double helix fame), evolutionary scientist Stephen Jay Gould and paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson, “one of the founders of the ‘modern synthesis’ of evolution.”

Miller established his extensive knowledge of said scientists – Gould was a personal friend. Miller was aware that Crick was a Nobel Laurate. – and their theories. The questioning, then, jumped to a discussion on NASA and its search for extra terrestrial life life, as well as questions about whether Miller felt Crick’s theory contained supernatural undercurrents. Muise appeared to be implying that other credible scientists have made statements that could be interpretted as having some elements tied to the supernatural.

When questioned about this in the plaintiff’s redirect, Miller stated “just because scientists say something doesn’t make it scientific.”

Submitted by Jamie Mullen, legal assistant, ACLU of PA

Trial, Day 2

Judge John E. Jones III will hear testimony today from parents Tammy Kitzmiller and Aralene “Barrie” Callahan, both plaintiffs in the case. Kitmiller has said that she is involved with this case “to take a stand for a sound science education for my child.”

“Each year” says Kitzmiller, “the US science and math scores fall further behind the rest of the world. ID, introduced as a ‘scientific’ explanation, would only increase that gap. I’ve always encouraged my children to explore new ideas, try new things, to think outside of the box. But at the same time, I’ve stressed the importance of education and having a firm knowledge of the basics. To have a school muddy the waters of science – when within the scientific community there is no controversy – left me greatly disappointed. When and where my children learn about theological ideas should be my decision, not the Dover Area School Board’s.”

Hear from other parents involved with the case.

Intelligent Design Challenge, Day 1, starring Dr. Kenneth Miller

“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

Opening Statements

This morning, Eric Rothschild, a member of the legal team representing eight families in the Dover Area School District, outlined how the ACLU will demonstrate the religious intent behind the decision of the Dover Area School Board to incorporate intelligent design into the District’s 9th grade science curriculum.

Patrick Gillen, counsel for the Dover Area School Board, countered that the case is “not about a religious agenda.” Gillen comes to Pennsylvania from the Thomas More Law Center, defined on their website as a “a not-for-profit public interest law firm dedicated to the defense and promotion of the religious freedom of Christians,”

Read the AP story on today’s opening statements.

Washtington Post Science Section weighs in on evolution…
New Analyses Bolster Central Tenets of Evolution Theory
“Pa. Trial Will Ask Whether ‘Alternatives’ Can Pass as Science”
By Rick Weiss and David Brown
Washington Post Staff Writers

Kitzmiller v. Dover Trial Begins Today in Harrisburg

The trial begins today with opening statements and testimony from expert witness Kenneth R. Miller, Ph.D., a professor of biology at Brown University. Dr. Miller is a cell biologist whose work focuses on the structure and function of biological membranes and membrane proteins. He has published more that 50 research papers in scientific journals and coauthored several nationally-known high school and college textbooks. Dr. Miller has been on the Brown University faculty since 1982.

Dr. Miller has this to say about intelligent design: “Intelligent Design is a new anti-evolution movement that has been presented as an alternative to an older formulation known as “creation science.” It argues that an unnamed “designer” must have been responsible for much of the process, although it presents no evidence for the actions of such a designer. Theological explanations may be correct, of course, but they cannot be tested by methods of science and are therefore not science.” Read Dr. Miller’s entire statement.

Read the court documents, including a memo from the Dover Area School District science teachers, who chose to “opt out” of reading a statement on intelligent design during their biology lessons.

Welcome!

Welcome to Speaking Freely, the new blog of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. Our initial posts will be focusing on our challenge to the Dover School District’s policy requiring that students be taught “intellient design” as an alternative to evolution. The trial begins today in Harrisburg. We plan to bring you daily updates on the trial, along with special posts featuring the thoughts of clergy, educators, and others on the teaching of evolution.