Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Creationism/ID: He who screams loudest...

It has been almost a decade since the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial, in which a federal judge in Pennsylvania dealt a massive blow to attempts to introduce intelligent design (ID), an updated version of creationism, into the public schools. One of the reporters actively involved in covering the trial at the time, Lauri Lebo, recently gave a speech at Shippensburg University (also in Pennsylvania).

The student-run newspaper reported on the talk in an article titled "Science v. Religion: the impact of a trial." (by Ben Anwyll). The article's title is unintentionally ironic, since a note appended at its bottom underscores just how narrow that impact has been:
The Feb. 17 edition of The Slate ran a version of this article that said, "Intelligent Design is a religious explanation…" The correction is, "Intelligent Design is an explanation…". The Slate staff apologizes for the error.
There can be no reason for this correction other than that an intelligent design proponent complained about the characterization of ID as religious. Two quotations from the judge's decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover underscore just how unnecessary the newspaper's concession was in this particular case:
It is our view that a reasonable, objective observer would, after reviewing both the voluminous record in this case, and our narrative, reach the inescapable conclusion that ID is an interesting theological argument, but that it is not science.
we will enter an order permanently enjoining Defendants from maintaining the ID Policy in any school within the Dover Area School District, from requiring teachers to denigrate or disparage the scientific theory of evolution, and from requiring teachers to refer to a religious, alternative theory known as ID
So: 10 years after the trial a nearby college's newspaper still does not dare to stand by a description of ID that the judge declared "a reasonable, objective observer" would "inescapably" accept. Apparently reasonableness and objectivity are in shorter supply than one might have hoped.