What, or who, is on trial here?

Don’t drink the water. It’s been muddied.

In his cross-examination of Dr. Barbara Forrest, Dick Thompson, the director of the Thomas More Law Center, launched into Dr. Forrest’s membership in the ACLU, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, People for the American Way, and the New Orleans Secular Humanists Association (NOSHA).

When Thompson framed a question by listing a variety of stances the ACLU takes, our attorney Eric Rothschild objected, stating, “This has absolutely no relevance.”

Judge Jones agreed and said, “We could be here for days if we go into other issues.”

After Thompson questioned Dr. Forrest about her membership in NOSHA, her belief in the supernatural, and her belief in “the immortality of the soul,” Eric objected on the basis of a federal rule that prohibits questioning a witness on his/her religious beliefs in an attempt to impeach his/her credibility.

Earlier, under direct questioning, Dr. Forrest continued her examination of the development and motivation of the intelligent design movement. This included further investigation into “the wedge strategy,” including its three phases.

According to Dr. Forrest, the ID movement has moved forward with all three phases but, by the admission of the movement’s own leaders, is lacking in the scientific research, which is phase I.

In a question about the curriculum change at Dover, a Seattle Times article from March 2005, paraphrased the answer of Dr. Stephen Meyer, a fellow at the Discovery Institute, saying, “Intelligent design isn’t established enough for that yet.”

Dr. Forrest testified that ID leaders admit that the scientific research on ID is lacking.

Submitted by Andy Hoover, community education organizer, ACLU of PA

9 thoughts on “What, or who, is on trial here?

  1. I saw the ACLU lawyer in a debate last night on the PA CSPAN channel. I believe Witold Walczak is his name. I thought he made excellent, calm, reasoned arguements for the ACLU’s position. He took great pains to explain that the ACLU was NOT against talking about religion in public schools, or removing all traces of God from the public square. In fact during the QandA when some high school kid tried to set him up with the “Well atheism is a religion too and evolution is atheism” argument, he got a huge laugh from the crowd when he answered “If a science teacher, or ANY teacher is telling you that there is no God in the classroom, you call the ACLU and we will get the schoolboard to talk to that teacher” (or words to that effect).

    The other point that struck me the most was how the Institutes’s lawyer took great pains to try and prove that ID was NOT religious, but then in his next breath went on and on about how it is a GOOD thing to have religion in the schools. Which is it?

    From the tenor of the questions it was clear to me that most of the audience were creationists with prepared “gotcha” questions which of course are easlily answered or dismissed (like the atheism as religion question). It was also clear that no amount of reasoned, logical argument would ever sway a large fraction of these people. Deeply held religious belief trumps rationality and logic even in highly educated, highly intelligent people. Read the book “Why People Believe Weird Things” by Michael Shermer.

    -Berek Halfhand

  2. The motion to have the trial televised was rejected by the judge. The ACLU took no position on Court-TV’s request. I’d love to know more details, but I think Andy and the other pub ed people blogging here are doing a good job.

  3. gayboy-
    Thanks for the support! As you’ve probably guessed, the fact that we’re participating in the trial (and not just commenting on it) restrains us somewhat. (For instance, anything posted on this blog can be used in court.) Thanks for reading it, and we’re doing our best to get as much information out as soon as we can!

  4. Are the transcripts from day 2 available? I’ve read day one and I can’t stop laughing. I need more! You guys are making beautiful theater. I love especially the bit in the pm part of day 1 transcripts where he says, well, all the science that creationists have shown (cataclysmic flood shaping the world etc.) has in its entirety proven to be false after the process of scientific investigation so all they are left with is the untestable part. The non-science part. The non-scense part. The non-sense part. You see what I did there with just taking out some letters? ANyway, I really do want to read the transcrips. Are they posted?

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