Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Capitalizing on ID: First the NCSE, then Forrest and Pennock, and now Judge Jones


In his 139-page decision, Judge Jones revealed his deficiencies in science. In his commencement address described below, he reveals his deficiencies in history. Note the passage in bold. Who among our nation’s founding fathers believed that the essence of religion is an Enlightenment rationalism that eschews design? None of them. Even Jefferson would be on the ID side in the current debate (inalienable rights conferred on us by a creator is not the language of the French philosophes).

Dover judge addresses graduates
Jones said founders saw religion coming through inquiry.

May 22, 2006 — CARLISLE – A federal judge who outlawed the teaching of “intelligent design” in Dover science classes told graduates at Dickinson College that the nation’s founders saw religion as the result of personal inquiry, not church doctrine.

U.S. District Judge John E. Jones gave the commencement address Sunday to 500 graduates at Dickinson College, his alma mater. Jones received national attention during a 2005 trial on whether intelligent design should be taught to students in Dover Area School District.

The founders believed that true religion was not something handed down by a church or contained in a Bible, but was to be found through free, rational inquiry,” said Jones, who was thrust into the national spotlight by last year’s court fight over the teaching of evolution in the Dover school district.

The founding fathers – from school namesake John Dickinson to Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson – were products of the Enlightenment, Jones said.

“They possessed a great confidence in an individual’s ability to understand the world and its most fundamental laws through the exercise of his or her reason,” he said.

“This core set of beliefs led the founders, who constantly engaged and questioned things, to secure their idea of religious freedom by barring any alliance between church and state.”

Following a six-week trial in 2005 that explored concepts in biology, theology and paleontology, Jones concluded that the Dover Area School Board had violated the separation between church and state.

Intelligent design holds that living organisms are so complex some kind of higher being must have created them. In his ruling, Jones called it “an old religious argument for the existence of God” and accused the school board of “breathtaking inanity” in trying to teach it.

In a 139-page opinion, Jones ruled that intelligent design was repackaged creationism, which courts had previously ruled should not be taught in science classes.

Jones struck down Dover Area School Board’s curriculum policy that required biology students to hear a statement that told them “intelligent design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Charles Darwin’s view.”

The school board had argued that it hoped to expose students to alternatives to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

The intelligent design case cost the district more than $1 million in legal fees – and cost school board members, who were turned out in November’s election, their seats.

Jones credited his liberal arts education at Dickinson, more than his law school years, for preparing him for what he calls his “Dover moment.”

“It was my liberal arts education . . . that provided me with the best ability to handle the rather monumental task of deciding the Dover case,” he said.

Daily Record/Sunday News staff writer Michele Canty contributed to this report.


Judge Jones' commencement address at Dickinson College is discussed on my blog at -- http://im-from-missouri.blogspot.com/2006/05/judge-jones-flunks-history-and.html -- and -- http://im-from-missouri.blogspot.com/2006/05/judge-jones-is-hot-speaker-on-lecture.html Larry Fafarman
The irony is that if Jones is right about the Founders' cycloptic infatuation with Enlightenment rationalism, then they would probably resent the fact that Jones appeals to their authority in order to establish the primacy of Enlightenment rationalism. If Jones thinks Enlightenment rationalism is the only way to think well, then he should actually make an argument for it rather than appeal to the magisterium of American civil religion. If Freud were around, he would accuse Jones of Pope-envy. fbeckwith
From what I've read from history the founders didn't agree on a lot of things. They probably be surprised our government has survived over 200 years. All 13 states had a different ideas how to run things. Smidlee
... we find that while ID [intelligent design] arguments may be true, a proposition upon which the Court takes no position, ID is not science.
The Court took no position on whether ID arguments are true? That alone should be grounds enough for reversal. Mung
Well, it's good to see that Jones doesn't possess a blanket ideological bigotry against traditional Christians or anything, coupled with a tendency to commit historical revisionism. Really, even outside of this case in particular, a judge has no business declaring what counts as "true religion", and one who does ought to recuse himself from any case where his biases might color his decision. Deuce
Typical Darwinian history rewritting. Soon they will say that there was no God believer among the scientists who gave a boost to modern science. Heck, don't be surprised if people (Darwinists) tell you that Mendel (the Christian) was actually an atheist. Reading wikipedia one would think that Mendel's research was based on Darwinism, yet according to Dr Jonathan Wells, Mendel's work owes absolutly nothing to Darwinism. Again we see Darwinism capitalizing on the sucess of true science (Mendel's genetics). Judge Jones follows the same path when he tries to tag the sucess and the influence of the Founding Father's beliefs with the the Endarkment..errr.. I mean, the "Enlightment", trying to separate it from the obvious Christians conections. One nation under God, and "rights given by the Creator" are NOT secular in anyway. Mats
I've heard two evolutionary biologists describe chills going down their spine when they read the Dover decision. Sounds like faith to me. I agree with your statement, but it doesn't look like what Jones said even goes against ID. "Free, rational inquiry"? Have we asked for anything else? tragicmishap

Leave a Reply