Tuesday, September 27, 2005

PA Intelligent Design Trial Begins

Yesterday was the first day of the Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School Board trial in Harrisburg. A group of parents are suing to keep Intelligent Design Creationism from being taught in public schools.

The only witness yesterday was Brown University biology professor Dr. Kenneth R. Miller. Here is a statement he made about Intelligent Design before the trial started:
"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."

Seems pretty straight forward. He minced fewer words in his testimony on Monday:
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."

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."

In case you're curious, this is what is read to Dover 9th graders before their biology curriculum:
"The Pennsylvania Academic Standards require students to learn about Darwin's Theory of Evolution and eventually to take a standardized test of which evolution is a part.

"Because Darwin's Theory is a theory, it continues to be tested as new evidence is discovered. The Theory is not a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.

"Intelligent Design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin's view. The reference book, Of Pandas and People, is available for students who might be interested in gaining an understanding of what Intelligent Design actually involves.

"With respect to any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind. The school leaves the discussion of the Origins of Life to individual students and their families. As a Standards-driven district, class instruction focuses upon preparing students to achieve proficiency on Standards-based assessments."

Two more plaintiff witnesses will testify on Tuesday. Keep up with the proceedings at the PA ACLU blog.

And don't forget about His Noodly Goodness.

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