In a case reminiscent of the famous 1925 Scopes Trial in Dayton, Tennessee, a federal judge ruled against efforts by the Dover, Pennsylvania, School Board to include mention of Intelligent Design (ID) in public school science classes. On December 20, 2005, U.S. District Judge John Jones issued a 139-page wide-ranging, detailed, sometimes angry, sometimes mistaken diatribe against creation thinking in any form.
Judge Jones book-length ruling included what pretended to be a lengthy history of science, although selective in its choice of events and rulings. Its conclusion is the most important issue in the debate, i.e., the modern definition of science used by the courts and some scientists. No longer is science the search for truth, it is the search for naturalistic explanations for all things. Any hint of supernatural causes or actions are therefore not science, and not allowable in the public schools under the separation of church and state. Students must be systematically shielded from mention of ideas which involve anything other than the materialistic.
In one place Judge Jones wrote, "We find that while ID arguments may be true, . . . ID is not science." (p.64.)
Throughout the ruling, ID is equated with creationism, an equivalence which both sides deny. True, all Christian creationists believe in intelligent design, and have done so for decades, but not all ID proponents are creationists.
Theirs is a big tent which includes eastern religions, agnostics, and evolutionists along with some creationists. The Judge erred in assuming religious motives to all ID advocates. Some may be so motivated, but in America, what is wrong with that? In this country, the government serves the people, and in poll after poll it can be seen that the vast majority of Americans believe in some form of God-directed origins.
The Court failed to recognize the difference between operations science, dealing with the present nature of the universe and how it operates, and origins science, how the universe came to be. Everything science observes today mitigates against naturalistic origins. Macroevolution doesn't happen today, nor is there evidence it happened in the past, nor could it happen given natural law as we know it. Other processes must account for the origin of things. Every young earth creationist, every advocate of Intelligent Design as well as every advocate of evolution believes in natural law. None resort to supernatural processes to account for the present operation of things. But present natural processes are not evolutionary. To teach natural law properly necessitates teaching its limitations too. To claim that natural law accomplished everything likewise necessitates the censorship of many scientific observations. According to the Judge's ruling, we can only teach our young people that no other processes were involved.
Obviously, creation, evolution, and intelligent design are views of history, the unobserved past, when they deal with origins. Each can, however, point to the intricate design of things in the present, and speculate about their history.
The apparent design of living things is likewise not in question. All sides agree to that. Our differences lie in our views of history, and the stories we tell about the unobserved past are historical reconstructions. The leading evolutionist, Richard Dawkins, writes, "Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose." (Blind Watchmaker, 1987, p.1.) Evolution attributes the source of design to random mutation and natural selection, despite the lack of modern examples. Intelligent Design attributes the design to an unidentified designer. Creationists identify the designer as the God of the Bible.
The Court also erred in presenting a false dichotomy between faith and science, placing one in the realm of unsupported belief and the other in the realm of observational truth. Yet creationists claim their beliefs are factual, based on observations. We didn't observe the creation event, (neither did evolutionists observe the origin of life or any form of life), but the observations science makes agrees completely with creation, and not with evolution. Censoring out an observation-based point of view cannot be good education.
The key to resolving the court's dilemma is to recognize that all views of origins are religious. We observe what is here, not how it originated. We see its unimaginable complexity and intricate processes operating in the present. Any speculation of past origins is fraught with philosophical overtones, and no one view should dominate public education.