Guilt by Association: Intelligent Design on Trial

U.S. District Judge John E. Jones put Intelligent Design (ID) on trial in the Pennsylvania legal battle over the teaching of evolution in public schools. Judge Jones ruled that the Dover School Board violated the constitution in requiring science teachers to read a brief statement about ID and evolution before teaching about evolution in Dover Public Schools (click here to download the proposed statement).

In Judge Jones’s 139-page opinion, he charges that “ID is nothing less than the progeny of creationism” (p. 31). In other words, as far as Judge Jones is concerned, ID is simply creationism in sheep’s clothing. Judge Jones argues that ID has a religious pedigree linking it both to Christian fundamentalism (p. 19) and to scientific creationism (p. 21). These links, among other things, show that the Dover School Board curriculum takes a religious position that violates the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution.

This opinion ought to trouble any thinking Christian. Judge Jones did not so much evaluate ID on the basis of its own claims, but on the basis of its association with Christianity. That association consists mainly in the fact that many proponents of ID are themselves Christians. Judge Jones sets the precedent of outlawing any curriculum that can be shown to have been supported by Christians! The logic goes like this: If Christians support it, then it must be religious. If it is religious, then it violates the establishment clause of the U. S. Constitution.

On this logic, any idea taught in public schools that can be shown to have been supported by Christians violates the first amendment. What precedent does this set with respect to whether other controversial topics should or should not be included in public school curriculums? For instance, would it not be possible to rule that abstinence-only curriculums violate the first amendment because Christians by and large tend to support such curriculums?

This kind of guilt by association without considering the merits of the arguments sets a dangerous precedent indeed. Whether this logic will be applied in other cases remains to be seen. Let’s hope not.

5 Responses to Guilt by Association: Intelligent Design on Trial

  1. WLC December 22, 2005 at 8:49 am #

    This decision is wrong on many levels. This decision is based upon a prevision of the Constitution. Surely this will go to a higher court. This decision with this kind of reasoning is a blatant assault upon the freedoms this country was built on. This used to be a country that was based upon religious freedom but now it is a country based upon freedom from religion. It is pretty obvious that it is a selected religion from which our judiciaries are freeing us form, Christianity.
    Where will be in five years? Hopefully heaven!
    Wade+

  2. Bruno W December 22, 2005 at 11:40 am #

    Putting aside all the legal attempts and political efforts to teach ID, I have never been presuaded that ID is a science. I have a degrees in engineering and theology and ID sounds a lot more like theology than science. If we want to be taken seriously about our science, we’ll have to do just that, be scientific.

    Now, its important to note that many evolutionists are talking about more than just science, too. But instead of trying to play the game their playing, we should call them on the unscientific deductions they are making.

  3. Denny Burk December 22, 2005 at 10:23 pm #

    This post has been removed by the author.

  4. Denny Burk December 22, 2005 at 10:27 pm #

    This is precisely the point. Phiolosophical and Methodological naturalism has become the assumption of so much science today. That is why Darwinism is considered to be “scientific” while ID is not. Yet at the end of the day, neither theory can be proved or disproved by the scientific method. Nobody can recreate the origin of the universe in a test tube. Scientists are all dealing with the same set of facts and are trying to construct a theory of origins that has the most explanatory power for the known data. When Darwinists argue that the only valid explanations for the origin of the universe are naturalistic ones, they are simply assuming the very thing they are setting out to prove. How is that scientific?

  5. Bruno W December 23, 2005 at 1:55 pm #

    You’re right, it’s not scientific. That’s why we have to make a distinction between Evolution (as an ultimate explanation for the existence of the world) and evolution (observable, testable changes in nature). Honest scientists (which there are many) will say “science doesn’t answer the question ‘does God exist?’ and ‘is He the origin of the universe?'” Some don’t even argue that evolution as an explanation for all that is. What I’ve heard them say is, “the scientific data supports the gradual biological evolution of life.” What the Christian community also needs to consider are the many professing Christians who believe in the mechanism of natural selection. CT interviewed Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the Genome Project. He embraces evolution as a science and we would be foolish not to considered studied men and women like Dr. Collins as we attempt to formulate our scientific understandings.

    As a Christian father, I want my children to be taught science in the classroom. And as much as I believe in God Almighty as the source of all that is, I can’t call ID attempts scientific because they are not. They are presumptions (most of them good)about the world that can’t be tested. Nor do I want my children taught that the universe can be explained purely through natural processes and I will do my fatherly duty in making sure that I remain my children’s principle teacher. Thanks for the discussion.

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