Courts Intelligent Design Laws Legal

Dover – It Was All About the Book

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This article lays it out and backs it up with quotes from the opposition.

The case stemmed from a school district’s requirement that teachers read a statement in biology class about gaps in evolutionary theory and point students to the pro-intelligent design text, “Of Pandas and People.”

The book’s history, uncovered by members of the Oakland center, proved critical to the outcome of the case. While combing through the center’s archives, staff member Nicholas Matzke noticed a 1987 advertisement for “Of Pandas and People” that referred to the upcoming book as a creation and evolution text.

So lawyers subpoenaed early drafts of the book. The first version was called “Creation Biology,” and drafts up until 1987 were full of references to creationism. But the wording changed after the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987 struck down a Louisiana law banning the teaching of evolution. References to creationism in the Pandas drafts after 1987 had been almost entirely replaced by intelligent design.

“Once we figured that out, it was really a slam dunk,” Matzke said. “How much clearer could the evidence be?”

“It was the single most powerful piece of evidence that we had in the case,” said plaintiff lawyer Stephen Harvey.

Distasteful as it is, I have to agree with Harvey and Matzke. The history of Of Pandas and People was the only formidable obstacle in a winning defense. Judge Johnson’s ruling was 139 double spaced pages. Just for a lark, and since it was easy to do with Adobe Acrobat, I searched for the word Pandas and found it was used 74 times in the ruling. That’s more than once per single spaced page. Clearly what was on trial wasn’t the school board. Clearly what was on trial wasn’t the 60-second statement read to the biology class that students could opt out of hearing. Clearly what was on trial was the book Of Pandas and People.

18 Replies to “Dover – It Was All About the Book

  1. 1
    Boesman says:

    “But the wording changed after the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987 struck down a Louisiana law banning the teaching of evolution.”

    This is news to me.

  2. 2
    Kimball says:

    “Clearly what was on trial wasn’t the school board. Clearly what was on trial wasn’t the 60-second statement read to the biology class that students could opt out of hearing.”

    Given that the school board statement specifically addresses the book, and the book was integral to the board position, “putting the book on trial.” Clearly translates directly to addressing the actions of the board. Beyond that, Jones’ findings regarding the actions and motives of the board members are hardly absent from the ruling.

    “Distasteful as it is, I have to agree with Harvey and Matzke. The history of Of Pandas and People was the only formidable obstacle in a winning defense”

    Rather blatantly “not” what was said.

    You do not believe the religious motivations of the Dover board to have been a formidable obstacle?

  3. 3
    Joseph says:

    If the book was so pivital in his decision then the judge should have allowed the publisher to defend the book/ itself in the court-room. Just look at the wording in “Origins of Species…”:

    “There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.”

    Creationism indeed…

  4. 4
    jon nickles says:

    You’re right, it was all about the book, it had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Behe admitted under oath that in order for ID to be considered “science”, the definition of science had to be REDEFNIED to include supernatural explanations.

  5. 5
    DaveScot says:

    Jon

    Behe admitted no such thing. He said astrology, 600 years ago when astrology and astronomy were the same art, would be science under his definition. If you care to argue he said something more than that feel free to provide a quote from the court transcript. Otherwise put a sock in it. Additionally, Kitzmiller was an establishment clause case. The constitution doesn’t say congress can make no law regarding an establishment of supernatural. Neither does it proscribe teaching bad science. If it isn’t an establishment of religion then it isn’t a constitutional issue. If a teacher wanted to present “evidence” of ghosts in a physics class, that’s supernatural and it’s bad science but it isn’t unconstitutional. I hope this clears up your misunderstanding.

    Kimball

    The lead attorney said the early draft of Panda’s and People was his single most powerful piece of evidence. What part of that didn’t you understand?

    I agree the book was brought into relevance by its mention in the statement. That doesn’t change the fact that it wasn’t the statement but the book that was on trial. The rest of the statement was virtually ignored.

    One or two members of a 9 member school board being religiously motivated doesn’t poison the well. Just like one person saying they want evolution taught because it makes them feel secure in their atheism (or Wicca or whatever) won’t poison the well for evolution. The first prong of the Lemon Test is to ask whether there is a secular motivation. All it takes is one good secular reason. It’s easy to show one good secular reason – the president of the United States recommends that evolution and ID both be taught so that the public understands what the debate is about. That is a secular reason.

    Joseph

    I too thought the book should have been defended by the publisher but someone made a point I couldn’t effectively argue. Both the defendants and the plaintiffs said they didn’t want the publisher’s lawyers involved in the case. If you were suing someone because you were injured in an auto accident and faulty brakes were the alleged cause, and neither you nor the defendant wanted the auto manufacturers lawyers involved defending their product, should a judge (on the request of the auto manufacturer) let the auto manufacturere become a third party to the case? Nope, it doesn’t work like that. If the auto manufacturer feels he’s been damaged he can sue someone over it separately but he has no right to intrude into someone else’s case. The publisher of Pandas is free to file suit against anyone they feel wrongly damaged them in the trial at this time. Maybe they will. But I bet they don’t.

  6. 6
    tinabrewer says:

    Not only will science have to be redefined, but it will have to suffer a tremendous diminishment in its own self-image, once humanity evolves to the point of recognizing how extremely narrow its limits really are. From the perspective of the spiritual, the material world(s) form but the tiniest and densest precipitation from out of the greater reality that is creation. Science, even at its highest state of development, will never be able to do anything more that describe and elucidate in greater and greater detail this tiny corner of reality. Its significance can never rise above this, and yet as a society we worship it in place of God. Gandhi once said “God gifted man with intellect that he might know his maker: man abused the gift that he might deny his maker” The worship of the intellect and the science which is its outgrowth are the greatest impediments to the free activity of the spirit. Note that I said THE WORSHIP of the intellect, and not intellect itself, a necessary tool for existence in the material.

  7. 7
    RyanLarsen says:

    Interesting that some people can readily acknowledge that there would have to be an existence which we know nothing about (ie– whatever spawned the big bang) but then turn around and deny the ability of science to acknowledge any existence which we don’t observe.

    If science accepts an “unknown existence” as an explanation for the big bang, why can’t anything else be attributed to that same “unknown existence?”

  8. 8
    RyanLarsen says:

    Another thought. If I can attribute the big bang to the “unknown existence” with an “uknowable mechanism” and call is science, can I attribute the bacterial flagellum to the same “unknown existence” and call it science too? I think the “unknown existence” that science acknowledges has greater explanatory power for the flagellem than the Darwinian mechanism. Anyone else agree?

  9. 9
    Kimball says:

    “The lead attorney said the early draft of Panda’s and People was his single most powerful piece of evidence. What part of that didn’t you understand?”

    What I don’t understand, Dave, is how you can recast “most powerful” as “only.”

    I said it was the only formidable obstacle. Absent the book and the 74 references Jones made to it I don’t think the case could have been won.

    The board did not “have” a secular purpose, and “one or two” members mischaracterizes the approach… The issue came up solely through the action and motives of those individuals.

    Yes they did have a secular purpose. The secular purpose was to expand the teaching of evolution to include the so-called gaps and to expose students to alternative hypotheses. And it was nine votes on the school board not one or two. In the United States a person’s religious convictions do not bar him from public office nor does his beliefs bar him from making laws that he thinks are right because of his religion. Everyone can cast votes motivated by their religion. If the law itself has secular justification that is all that is required. Religious motivation does not poison the well if there is valid secular reason too. For example, someone in congress may support the death penalty in murder cases because it follows from the biblical “An eye for an eye and a life a life”. Alone, that would be grounds for making the death penalty unconstitutional. However, if someone else supports capital punishment because it protects the public from the condemned murdering anyone else that’s a secular reason and it ruins the claim of unconstitutionality on establishment grounds. Only one secular reason is required. Only one person on the Dover board with a secular reason is required.

    Arguing that the book alone was on trial is an artificial distinction… Pandas was presented by the board and statement as representative of what ID involved, and therefore figured into the evidence summarized in Jones’ decision, amidst the evidence concerning ID brought into trial with the testimony of Behe, Minnich, Forrest, et al.

    I certainly agree Dover chose the wrong book to describe ID and with 74 references to Pandas in the ruling it’s clear this is overwhelmingly what Jones used to determine what was being taught in Dover. I can’t argue with Jones there. The book was the definitive reference for the trial. Not a word in it could be excluded or argued as not representing ID because Dover said that’s where students could learn more about ID. BIG mistake. In the words of Harvey – the most powerful piece of evidence he had. In the words of Matzke the thing that made the case a slam dunk.

    The purhase of the book was central to the actions and motives of the board (as well as their profound dishonesty under oath) and therefore figured significantly into that portion of the decision as well. Pandas appears prominent as evidence because it was distinctly relevant to the case, but the use of a different book would not have altered the motives or actions of the board nor amplified the credentials and background of the ID movement.

    Again, you can’t brand the entire board liars because one or two lied. It doesn’t work that way in America. The source of the book is irrelevant if there was any secular motive for its purchase. Just because a church makes a donation to a school doesn’t make the donation unconstitutional. A different book I believe would have made a world of difference. Of whether it would or would not is entirely speculatory on your part or mine as neither of us can turn back time, change to a different book, and observe the outcome.

    Beyond the discussion of topics not relevant to Pandas, Dave, putting the book on trial “is the same” as putting the board, the statement, and ID itself on trial, unless any of these entities manage to divorce themselves from association with the text… (i.e. the next attempt to introduce ID into curricula would be best served by choosing a text without creationist associations).

  10. 10
    Xavier says:

    What other book would have been more appropriate and available?

  11. 11
    John Davison says:

    Of course there are huge gaps in the fossil record but they are not gaps that will ever be filled. They are real gaps because intermediates simply have not existed. The gaps are to be expected from any system that involves the restructuring of large segments of information which is what chromosmes are. Such a system is bound to affect many separate features simultaneously. That is why the members of the so-called horse series have each to be placed in a separate genus. It is also why organisms can be so very similar at the DNA level yet so drastically different both morphologically and physiologically.

    Schindewolf was acutely aware of the gaps which is what prompted him to say that we might as well stop looking for the missing links as they never existed. That certainly does not argue against reproductive continuity. Quite the contrary. It fully supports Goldschmodt’s saltational perspective with which Schindewolf fully concurred. One of the most remarkable episodes in the history of evolutionary thought was the way two scientists in widely separated areas of inquiry, Schindewolf in paleontology and Goldschmidt in genetics, reached exactly the same conclusions. I don’t know that they ever met. I discuss this in detail in my Manifesto and recommend that anyone really interested in the undeniable reality of saltational evolution consult it and the original sources as well. You won’t find this material in the writings of Mayr, Gould, Provine or Dawkins, of that one can be certain. I know because I looked. Like so much else in the history of biologcal thought, this literature and its authors have not been allowed to exist by a ruling intolerant establishment that denies it ever had any critics.

    Referring to Schindewolf:

    “He shows by examples from the fossil material that the major evolutionary advances must have taken place in single large steps, which affected early embryonic stages with the automatic reconstruction of the later stages of development. He shows that the many missing links in the paleontological record are sought for in vain because they have never existed: “The first bird hatched from a reptilian egg.”
    The Material Basis of Evolution, page 395.

    The independently arrived conclusions of Schindewolf and Goldschmidt, scholars of the highest order, constitute powerful support for an evolution in which chance played no role whatsover, in short in one that was predetermined or, in a word, “prescribed.”

    I hope the Darwinians are listening. I hope it gives them the runs.

  12. 12
    Joseph says:

    DaveScott,

    I appreciate your response, but…

    Trials are about the finding of facts. Therefore it should not matter who wants what. This is not a kid’s game. In your scenario of the alleged faulty brakes, well the auto manufacturer would have to be involved- either that or the mechanic who last worked on them. That would be the only way to get ALL of the facts, Anything less than that and you have people testifying on matters they know very little about.

    As it was the defendents “experts” got away with lies that were believed by the judge. That is not justice in anyone’s book.

    On another note- ID does NOT say anything about the supernatural. What IDists say is that IF the data leads us to the metaphysical then so-be-it.

    Seeing that Newton, Kepler, Copernicus, Galileo, et al. ALL conducted science under the understanding they were uncovering God’s handiwork, what was it that made this methodology unacceptable? IOW who redefined science to get God out? And if that is so were those scientists cinducting science and should we disallow their work to be taught in science classrooms?

    How about Karl von Linne? He gave us binomial nomenclature. But he was trying to define the Created Kinds. That would mean all mention of him and his work should also be banned from science classrooms.

    On the “rules” of science:

    “In any case, as Thomas Kuhn pointed out, debate about methodological rules of science often forms part of the practice of science, especially during times when established paradigms are being challenged. Those who reject the “teach the controversy” model on the grounds that ID violates the current rules of scientific practice only beg the question. The present regime of methodological rules cannot prevent the controversy for the simple reason that those rules may themselves be one of the subjects of scientific controversy.” page xxv of Darwinism, Design and Public Education

  13. 13
    DaveScot says:

    Joseph

    Well, it wasn’t MY scenario. It was argument someone else made that sounded reasonable and I could not refute. It still sounds reasonable and I can’t refute it.

    I think at this point you need to provide me some case law that shows a similar circumstance where a federal judge admitted a third party into a lawsuit over the objections of both plaintiff and defendant. No one has done this that I know of. Third parties in this circumstance are given the opportunity to submit an amicus brief and the judge may or may not consider it. Mabye you can be the first one to show it’s not unprecedented to allow the third party’s lawyers to barge into the courtroom, depose witnesses, cross examine, call their own witnesses, etc. I don’t think it’s tenable. I bet you won’t find any precedent but will be pleasantly surprised if you do.

    And like I said – if the publisher of Pandas thinks he was damaged by lies he has every right in the world to bring suit against the purported liar. Even the federal gov’t can be sued for tort if they think Jones was negligent.

  14. 14
    John Davison says:

    The hell with the suit. Let’s start doing some experiments! That is what science is all about.

  15. 15
    Joseph says:

    A few more thoughts…

    The book “Of Pandas and People” was just a reference book put in the school’s library IF students wanted to read more about ID. It wasn’t mandatory reading. Also students, IF they wanted to, could look up ID on the internet. If the school has internet access that mean they have to install an “Intelligent Design” filter? Or is it OK to browse for ID because the internet was not mentioned in the Dover School “disclaimer”?

    Intelligent Design has evolved since then just as Darwin’s ideas evolved into the modern synthesis.

    When is the next publication (The Design of Life) due out?

    Now back to what DaveScot posted:
    If you were suing someone because you were injured in an auto accident and faulty brakes were the alleged cause, and neither you nor the defendant wanted the auto manufacturers lawyers involved defending their product, should a judge (on the request of the auto manufacturer) let the auto manufacturere become a third party to the case?

    If faulty brakes were the alleged cause that would have to be demonstrated. IOW you just can’t get on the witness stand and say “My brakes were faulty”, and then all is OK. Fortunately it doesn’t work that way.

    What would happen is the injured party would sue the alleged “damaging” party. An investigation would occur to see if the suit is warranted and who that party really is (or perhaps an investigation is what led to the suit). Once causation is determined that is when it goes to court. If faulty brakes were determined then the driver of the car could also join in the suit and perhaps a class-action suit might be warranted. Or it could boil down to the last mechanic who did a brake-job on the car or the faulty parts he/ she used. IOW the driver of the car may not be the defendant.

    In the Dover case the book was front & center. In order for its reality to be rightfully portrayed those most intimate with its publication should have been allowed representation during the trial. However that is only if outcome wasn’t already decided…

  16. 16
    Joseph says:

    John Davidson says:
    The hell with the suit. Let’s start doing some experiments! That is what science is all about.

    Yes John it is. However scientists should be able to come to ANY inference the data affords when conducting those experiments. IOW what good are experiments if every “conclusion” must exclude a design inference? What good is science under that scenario?

    All IDists want, at this point in time, is to allowed the design inference if the data affords it. What we do with that inference can be decided later.

  17. 17
    John Davison says:

    I know of not a single experiment that has been conducted with any living organism that in any way excludes Intelligent Design. I would love to hear about one. Any takers?

    You don’t have to be “allowed” anything by the mindless Darwimps. Jam it up or down their two major orifices. The choice is yours not theirs.

    How do you like them wrinkled up fermented Greek olives stuffed with all that feta cheese. Ugly aren’t they, but they sure do taste good. Yum yum

  18. 18
    Joseph says:

    John Davidson says:
    I know of not a single experiment that has been conducted with any living organism that in any way excludes Intelligent Design. I would love to hear about one. Any takers?

    A biologist responding on my blog had this to say:

    blog response

    ” But clearly, there is no scientific merit to either CSI/IC (as I’ve said, there’s never been any research to observe and test CSI/IC that has succeed in demonstrating either concept), and the overall conclusion (ID) is a baseless tautology.”

    He also told me that science has already determined that unintelligent, blind/ undiredcted processes were/ are responsible and told me to read “The Blind Watchmaker” (Lol!) and a biology text book.

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