Intelligent Design

Open Letter by Edward Sisson on Cobb County Appellate Decision

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Edward Sisson reviews the Cobb County appellate decision:

A fundamental problem with the Appellate decision is that it appears to accept an implicit assumption that “those who endorse evolution” do so because they have made a rational, independent evaluation of the scientific data offered as evidence for its truth. But if, in fact, they endorse evolution because they have chosen to give unquestioning deference to science experts, it may be appropriate to treat their position as simply another religious position, rather than being a position divorced from religion. This may affect the application of the constitutional test, if it appears that the plaintiffs are in effect trying to support their own religious views by suppressing the Sticker. The court should take evidence as to the reasons why, prior to filing the lawsuit, the particular individual plaintiffs “endorsed” evolution, rather than simply presume that their reasons for endorsing evolution were grounded in their science education. Surely plaintiffs who did not experience formal academic instruction in evolution should be questioned as to why they endorsed evolution prior to filing the lawsuit.

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2 Replies to “Open Letter by Edward Sisson on Cobb County Appellate Decision

  1. 1
    johnnyb says:

    That is an excellent question. The letter brings out several other questions which are frequently under-represented in this debate-that-isn’t-a-debate.

  2. 2
    leebowman says:

    Sisson relates that the Court of Appeals states in its ruling that the original trial judge screwed up the order of events that led to the sticker. Fabricated the events is more like it! Sisson worries that, given a second chance, the court will make up a scenario that sounds good, but is false. The decision should have been overturned on that basis alone, and I agree.

    The Cobb County decision, under appeal by the 11th District Court, has been vacated and remanded. Judge Clarence Cooper was found to have based his decision on false data (post trial citizen input), and false conclusions (or at least questionable conclusions). The 2300 name petition submitted was POST trial, and therefore irrelevant to the original complaint, and yet was used to support plaintiffs’ case.

    Cooper’s finding, that although the sticker wasn’t overtly religious, “… in the minds of a reader, the sticker might create doubts about evolutionary theory …”, but he agreed it was ‘secularly neutral’, and helped promote ‘critical thought’. It therefore passes the ‘Lemon Test’, of not promoting or endorsing religion (all three prongs).

    But he later reversed himself, stating, “… an informed, reasonable observer would interpret the Sticker to convey a message of endorsement of religion”. He also aluded to possible “religious motives” of board members, which the Appellate Court said was immaterial (well duh).

    The Appellate Court also questioned arguments presented by Kenneth Miller. Dr Miller’s assertion that the popular ‘colloquial’ definition of ‘Theory’ is derogatory to science was questioned by the Court, asking, “Does he have qualifications to testify as an expert on the popular meaning of the word ‘theory’? The answer of course is NO.

    Courts have historically ‘deferred to science’, and have easily bought into the ‘promotion of religion’ thingy. Jefferson in his original op ed piece was merely warning about ‘theocracy’, i.e. the danger of an ‘official’ state religion. The courts have gradually turned that into “you dare not hint of the possibility of a Creator, or do anything to open the door to that possibility.” To me, that smacks of doing what Jefferson also warned about; that of “prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

    As in Kitzmiller, the Dover case attempts to stonewall scientific inquiry, and to protect our little ones from thinking on their own. I can’t think of a better example of government meddling in the educational process. We need to get involved with the remanded case, and this time to ensure that it gets overturned, as it rightly deserves.

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