With this post we continue our examination of Judge Jones' much acclaimed opinion which he handed down in Kitzmiller v. Dover, and turn to his discussion of whether ID is science sensu strictu. Parenthetically, this is a question we find largely irrelevant to whether it should be permitted in science classes, for reasons we'll explain below.
The judge writes:
As previously noted, the Supreme Court held in Santa Fe that a public school district's conduct touching on religion should be evaluated under the endorsement test from the standpoint of how the "listening audience" would view it; and, if members of the listening audience would perceive the district's conduct as endorsing religion or a particular religious view, then the conduct violates the Establishment Clause.
Moreover, a review of the letters and editorials at issue reveals that in letter after letter and editorial after editorial, community members postulated that ID is an inherently religious concept, that the writers viewed the decision of whether to incorporate it into the high school biology curriculum as one which implicated a religious concept, and therefore that the curriculum change has the effect of placing the government's imprimatur on the Board's preferred religious viewpoint.
Accordingly, the letters and editorials are relevant to, and provide evidence of, the Dover community's collective social judgment about the curriculum change because they demonstrate that "[r]egardless of the listener's support for, or objection to," the curriculum change, the community and hence the objective observer who personifies it, cannot help but see that the ID Policy implicates and thus endorses religion.
Of course, many of those same letter writers believed that Darwinism is a religious concept as well, and they were moved to write because they're tired of that religious view being granted immunity and preference in our schools to the exclusion of all others. Evidently, however, the opinion of these folks on the religious implications of Darwinism is of little interest to the judge.
...we find it incumbent upon the Court to further address an additional issue raised by Plaintiffs, which is whether ID is science. To be sure, our answer to this question can likely be predicted based upon the foregoing analysis. While answering this question compels us to revisit evidence that is entirely complex, if not obtuse, after a six week trial that spanned twenty-one days and included countless hours of detailed expert witness presentations, the Court is confident that no other tribunal in the United States is in a better position than are we to traipse into this controversial area.
Aside from the fact that the judge probably meant to say abstruse, not obtuse, it is ironic that just a few days after his decision a philosopher from Amherst, Alexander George, published a column in the Christian Science Monitor in which he claimed that ID is indeed science, but that it's bad science and for that reason shouldn't be taught. His column pretty much dismantles the arguments of the "ID isn't science" brigades, and is really quite well done except for the interesting fact that, although he effectively argues that nothing about ID disqualifies it as science, he never really demonstrates that it's "bad" science. He merely asserts it.
Anyway, even if it were granted that ID is not science per se, it's certainly part of the domain of the philosophy of science and, specifically, the philosophy of biology. As such there is no reason for excluding it from a science classroom unless it is, indeed, bad philosophy, which no one has suggested it is. There is much philosophy taught in any science classroom, even bad philosophy (such as the standard scientific method), to which no one objects. Indeed, there's one bit of metaphysics that masquerades as science in our classrooms which Judge Jones has himself immunized from criticism - the idea that all of life has arisen as a result solely of blind, purposeless processes. We'd like to hear how the judge would subject that claim, a fundamental tenet of Neo-Darwinian evolution, no less, to scientific scrutiny.
Well. It's certainly true that there has been a tremendous waste of resources and time in the adjudication of this question, but one wonders whose fault that is, really. Is it the fault of some misguided board members who tried to the best of their abilities to neutralize the corrosive threat to their students' religious beliefs that the "universal acid" of Darwinism presents? Or is it the fault of the handful of parents and their abettors in the ACLU who were just scandalized that their board would ever dare to do such an innocuous thing as put a disclaimer in a textbook, clumsily worded though it was, suggesting that there may be other theories on the matter of origins that students could investigate if they're so inclined?