Tuesday, January 10, 2006

ID Just Doesn't Know When To Quit

In his highly readable opinion on Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, US District Court Judge John E. Jones III meticulously explains how the Intelligent Design movement adapted its recent attempts to manipulate biology class curricula from a series of court-invalidated creationist strategies. He traces the history of fundamentalist opposition to evolution from the 19th century to the present, as reactionary Christian forces were pushed by the legal system from openly cowing public school districts into banning Darwinism outright through "balanced treatment" and "creation science" to its current machinations, which involve nominally subtracting God from the controversy. Now that Jones has prudently ruled against teaching ID in science classes, its supporters have found yet another as-yet-unplugged loophole: offering a high school philosophy course that purports to "teach the controversy" while in fact promoting ID.

To the extent that Intelligent Design has any place in the classroom, it should probably be addressed in a philosophy or sociology course that focuses on the advocacy movement itself rather than its dubious "scientific" pretensions. But it's clear from a cursory glance at its syllabus that the current class is nothing more than an attempted end run around the Dover decision:
In their suit, the parents said the syllabus originally listed 24 videos to be shown to students, with 23 "produced or distributed by religious organizations and assume a pro-creationist, anti-evolution stance." They said the syllabus listed two evolution experts who would speak to the class. One was a local parent and scientist who said he had already refused the speaking invitation and was now suing the district; the other was Francis H. C. Crick, the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, who died in 2004.

A course description distributed to students and parents said, "This class will take a close look at evolution as a theory and will discuss the scientific, biological and biblical aspects that suggest why Darwin's philosophy is not rock solid."
The California school board that approved this course has very closely followed the pattern of legal circumvention set by its ideological forebears and detailed in the Kitzmiller opinion. Fortunately, one unstated subtext of Jones' history is that every constitutional and statutory roadblock these religious fanatics encounter seems to drive them to adopt increasingly less effective measures. Perhaps one day they'll give up completely; until then, our justice system will continue to waste its resources on their futile crusade.