By now I'm sure everyone has heard that the Dover evolution case has ended in a stunning defeat for the ID folks. The judge has ruled unambiguously not only that the Dover School Board acted unconstitutionally, but that ID is not science. A quick run-down of the facts is available in this brief article from The New York Times. From that article:
The plaintiffs challenging the policy argued that intelligent design amounts to a secular repackaging of creationism, which the courts have already ruled cannot be taught in public schools. The judge agreed.
“We find that the secular purposes claimed by the Board amount to a pretext for the Board's real purpose, which was to promote religion in the public school classroom,” he wrote in his 139-page opinion.
As I've written before on this issue, the only question in these cases is whether the School Board in question has managed to hide its real intentions with sufficient cleverness to survive a constitutional challenge. It's comforting that Judge Jones, a George W. Bush appointee, seems to have had little trouble getting to the truth.
I'll say more after I've had a chance to read the decision. In the meantime, Ed Brayton has some excerpts from it here and here. Here's a taste, from Jones' conclusion:
The proper application of both the endorsement and Lemon tests to the facts of this case makes it abundantly clear that the Board’s ID Policy violates the Establishment Clause. In making this determination, we have addressed the seminal question of whether ID is science. We have concluded that it is not, and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.
To be sure, Darwin’s theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions. The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID Policy. It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.
Of particular interest is this:
Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Board’s decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.
I say this is of particular interest because, while the decision is only a few hours old, the Discovery Institute already its spin:
“The Dover decision is an attempt by an activist federal judge to stop the spread of a scientific idea and even to prevent criticism of Darwinian evolution through government-imposed censorship rather than open debate, and it won't work,” said Dr. John West, Associate Director of the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute, the nation's leading think tank researching the scientific theory known as intelligent design. “He has conflated Discovery Institute’s position with that of the Dover school board, and he totally misrepresents intelligent design and the motivations of the scientists who research it.”
I believe it was Stephen Jay Gould who pointed out that while creationists do well in public debates in front of lay audiences, they are lousy in court. Courts, you see, have strict rules of evidence and are, generally speaking, completely devoid of theatrical flash. In such an environment, creationism can't win.