Skip to comments.When Real Judicial Conservatives Attack [Dover ID opinion]
Posted on 01/09/2006 8:26:54 AM PST by PatrickHenry
If theres anything to be learned from the intelligent design debate, its that branding activist judges is the hobby of bitter losers.
For those who care about the fight over evolution in biology classrooms, Christmas came five days early when the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District ruling was handed down. In his decision, Judge John E. Jones III ruled that not only is the theory of intelligent design religion poorly dressed in science language, teaching it in class is an outright violation of the First Amendment.
The ruling was a concise and devastating demonstration of how law, precedent and evidence can come together to drive complete nonsense out of the courtroom. But if the aftermath of the event proves anything, it proves that nine times out of 10, if someone accuses a judge of being an activist, it is because he disagrees with the ruling and wants to make it clear to like-minded followers that they only lost because the liberals are keeping them down. Gratuitous overuse has, in just a few short years, turned the phrase judicial activism from a description of an actual problem in the legal system into a catch-all keyword for any ruling that social conservatives dislike.
During the months between the initial suit and the final decision, a high-powered law firm from Chicago volunteered some of its best to represent the plaintiffs pro bono, defenders of evolution and intelligent design mobilized, and few people really cared other than court watchers, biology nerds and a suspicious number of creationist groups. The trial went well for the plaintiffs: Their witnesses and evidence were presented expertly and professionally, and it never hurts when at least two of the witnesses for the defense are caught perjuring themselves in their depositions. Advocates for teaching actual science in school science classes were fairly confident that Jones was going to rule in their favor.
When it came, the ruling was significant enough to earn a slightly wider audience than the aforementioned court watchers, biology nerds and creationists. What drew interest from newcomers was not the minutiae of the trial, but the scope of Jones ruling and the scorn for the Dover School Boards actions that practically radiated off the pages. He ruled both that intelligent design was a religious idea, and that teaching it in a science class was an unconstitutional establishment of religion by the state. He didnt stop there, however.
It is ironic, he wrote, 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 intelligent design policy.
Such harsh language might provoke some sympathy for intelligent design advocates, if they hadnt immediately demonstrated how much they deserved it by responding not with scientific arguments for intelligent design or legal precedent to contradict Jones ruling but with ridiculous name-calling. The Discovery Institute, the leading center of ID advocacy, referred to Jones as an activist judge with delusions of grandeur. Bill OReilly also brought out the A word on his show. Richard Land, spokesman for the Southern Baptist Conventions Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and noted drama queen, declared him the poster child for a half-century secularist reign of terror. The American Family Association, having apparently read a different ruling than the rest of America, insisted that judges were so eager to keep God out of schools that they would throw out even scientific evidence for Him. Funny how so many creationist groups seemed to have missed the memo that intelligent design isnt supposed to be about God at all.
It was depressingly predictable that the intelligent design crowd would saturate the Internet with cries of judicial activism regardless of the actual legal soundness of the ruling. In only a few years, intellectually lazy political leaders have morphed an honest problem in the judiciary that deserves serious debate into shorthand for social conservatisms flavor of the week. The phrase has been spread around so much and applied to so many people that it only has meaning within the context of someones rant. It is the politico-speak equivalent of dude.
Only when one learns that Jones was appointed by George W. Bush and had conservative backers that included the likes of Tom Ridge and Rick Santorum can one appreciate how indiscriminately the term is thrown around. Jones is demonstrably a judicial conservative. In fact, hes the kind of strict constructionist that social conservatives claim to want on the bench. Their mistake is in assuming that the law and their ideology must necessarily be the same thing.
In the end, no one could defend Jones better than he did himself. He saw the breathless accusations of judicial activism coming a mile away, and refuted them within the text of the ruling. In his conclusion he wrote:
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 intelligent design, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Boards 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.
Jones knew his name would be dragged through the mud and issued the correct ruling anyway. One can only hope that the utter childishness of the intelligent design response will alienate even more sensible people, and that the phrase judicial activism will from now on be used only by those who know what theyre talking about. No bets on the latter.
Sure it can, because it is.
"Science", as it is normally understood, is based on reproducible experiments. Scientific theories must be falsifiable.
And so is evolutionary biology. Get a clue.
Here, learn something:
Evolution and Philosophy: Is Evolution Science, and What Does 'Science' Mean?Also, my own post on the scientific method as it relates to evolutionary biology.
Index to Creationist Claims, especially the following subsections:CA100-CA499: Epistemology
- CA100: Foundation of Knowledge
- CA100. Argument from incredulity
- CA110: Argument from Authority
- CA110. Evolution will soon be widely rejected.
- CA111. Many current scientists reject evolution.
- CA112. Many scientists find problems with evolution.
- CA113. Quote mining
- CA113.1. Darwin on evolution of the eye.
- CA114. Many famous scientists were creationists.
- CA118. Your arguments do not count because you are not qualified.
- CA120. An evolved mind is fallible, its conclusions untrustworthy.
- CA131. Darwin suffered from psychoneurosis.
- CA200: Theory of Science
- CA201. Evolution is only a theory.
- CA202. Evolution has not been proved.
- CA210. Evolution does not make predictions.
- CA211. Evolution can not be falsified.
- CA212. Evolution is ambiguously defined.
- CA215. Evolution is a useless theory.
- CA220. Evolution can not be replicated.
- CA221. Were you there?
- CA230. Interpreting evidence is not the same as observation.
- CA230.1. Evolutionists interpret evidence on the basis of their preconceptions.
- (see also CI402: Evolutionists refuse to see design.)
- CA240. Ockham's Razor says the simplest explanation (creation) is preferred.
- CA250. Scientific findings are always changing.
- CA300-CA499: Scientific Method
- CA301. Science is naturalistic. (see also CA601: Methodological naturalism)
- CA301.1. Naturalistic science will miss a supernatural explanation.
- (see also CI401: Science's method rules out design.)
- CA310. Scientists find what they expect to find.
- CA320. Scientists are pressured not to challenge established dogma.
- CA321. Scientists are motivated to support naturalism and reject creationism.
- CA325. Creationists are prevented from publishing in science journals.
- CA340. Evolutionists do not accept debate challenges.
- CA350. No gradual biochemical evolution models have been published.
- CA500. "Survival of the fittest" is a tautology.
- CA510. Creationism and evolution are the only 2 models.
- CA520. The Origin of Species does not address speciation.
But being nonreproducible and non falsifiable, evolution is thus "natural history" not "science".
Wherever did you get the bizarre and false notion that evolution is "nonreproducible and non falsifiable"? Try reading more science journals, and fewer creationist pamphlets.
ID has the same difficulties as a science. But ID admits its difficulties.
The problem "ID" has as a science is that it isn't a science in any respect. It's a postulate.
Reproducibility Without a time machine, how does one reproduce what occured years ago. The best you can do is reproduce what MIGHT have happened years ago. Thus evolution is not science.
Wow, what an ignorant statement. Read the above links to get a clue. Here's the short form: Science is not about reproducing *events*, it's about reproducing *results*, about reproducing *tests*.
Falsifiablity Evolution claims that the first cell was formed from random chemical reactions.
No it doesn't. See the previous posts on this thread correcting this misconception. Evolution is not abiogenesis. They're two different fields. Try again.
Why didnt some of those random chemical reactions result in the first bird, or first elephant, or first man, as well as the first cell.
Could you try that again, while remaining coherent?
Try disproving that.
Disprove why an artichoke didn't land on the Moon, smart guy!
If you have a meaningful point, feel free to try again, and actually make it next time.
If there is no experiment that would disprove a theory, the theory is non-falsifiable and thus unscientific, and is, at best, natural history.
No problem for evolutionary biology, because evolutionary biology is certainly falsifiable. See the above links, then come back when you actually know the first thing about the subject you're attempting to critique.
No Data: Even as natural history, evolution is in trouble. It's proponents can't even reproduce in a lab those chemical rections that formed the first cell.
Yo, dude: Evolution is not abiogenesis. Keep rereading that until it sinks in.
We are told that "most scientists" hold evolution to be a fact. That's a lot of scientists.
Yes it is. Over 90% of scientists in general, and over 99% of biologists.
Why can't all those scientists come up with a little experiment that duplicates their claim.
They can, and they have, countless thousands of times over. Try visiting a library.
Isnt that what scientists do?
Yes it is. And they do, even though you're ignorant of that fact.
Which raises an final question. Do they have ANY direct evidence supporting evolution's claims of how the first cell formed. Or do we take it on faith?
Ahem: Abiogenesis, evolution, DIFFERENT SUBJECTS. If you can't even get the easy stuff right, how can we trust you on the more advanced topics?
But yes, scientists have quite a bit of direct evidence supporting their provisional conclusions on how the first cells formed. Again, I refer you to those "library" thingies.
In addition, as a matter of principle, it is inconsistent with the American system of government to use the power of the state to promote a sectarian religious viewpoint; which as Jone's decision laid out, was what the Dover school board was attempting. And as Jones found the Board's actions violated the constitution of the State of Pennsylvania.
However, I am sympathetic to the views expressed here that power of the Federal courts has become extended beyond the original intent of the framers...not just on this issue by on a broad range of issues. How many Creationists while bitterly critical of Jones's and other Federal court decisions forbidding local governments from indulging in religious promotion happily cheer the DEA and the WOD?
The contest between whether religion should or should not be promoted in public schools cannot be fairly resolved within the current institutional system.
The 19th Century public school and compulsory attendance laws were motivated at least in part as an attack on earlier more-religious oriented education, most of it in non-public schools, and later as a way of as simulating the children of Catholic immigrants.
Rather than a focus on the separation of church and state; the real focus should be on the separation of school and state.
That way, parents who want their children to receive a religiously oriented education can do so; and if their religion includes a literal creation of all "kinds" 6,000 years ago, and no evolution or common descent; they can do so with using the subterfuge of "Intelligent Design." Parents who want their children to receive a sound scientifically based education can arrange for that; without having the texts and classes watered down under pressure from fundamentalists.
With parental (consumer) choice, we should expect that both the religiously-orientied and non-religious private schools would produce much better education and student achievement than the current near-monopoly, politicized government school systems.
"Yes. The Bible says He is."
A. That counts nothing for "science", since anyone can write anything they desire in a book.
B. Bible also says that God, although powerful, can't defeat an army if that army has iron chariots. I'm sure you don't believe that, do you? Yet, by your standard of "It's in the Bible, therefore it's True"...we must start teaching God is no longer omnipotent.
"And the Lord was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron." (Judges 1:19)
Most people believe in astrology too. What is your point?
The argument that religion not be taught in science class is sound. Inserting religion into the teaching of the scientific method and the advances in knowledge that method has wrought will contaminate the procedures taught with the unfalsifiable.
"Second, the sharp distinction between religion and science is artificial. If God exists, then arbitrarily ruling out all discussion of that fact hardly contributes to teaching the truth.
The sharp distinction is a necessary restriction defined by the process of critical thinking.
"Religion and science have their separate areas, but Christianity traditionally believes that there can be no contradiction between true religion and true science. Darwinists, of course, although they will pretend otherwise, are basically atheists.
To accomplish this 'true science' it is required that any scientific finding running counter to a particular creation myth be ignored and/or rationalized away. This religious 'true science' spends more time twisting and shouting while attempting bend evidence than actually doing science. I notice a little twisting and shouting in some creationist's attempts to redefine Christianity.
"I'm not talking about partial evolution within species, which is really not controversial. I'm talking about Darwin's General Theory of Evolution, which was his only real "contribution."
His contribution is the recognition of the mechanisms of evolution.
The general theory is a hypothesis, not a proven fact, and frankly, the accumulation of evidence over 150 years argues persuasively that it is false.
The Evolutionary Synthesis is a theory (or as some consider, a group of theories). The change from a single population to two non-breeding populations has been observed. Speciation has been documented. That this speciation does not match the creationist 'kind' to 'kind' change is very important. All change takes place at the species level (including sub-species (races)), all other taxonomic classifications are simply pathways from one species to another. There is no requirement that anything other than incremental and cumulative parent population - daughter population divergence take place for radical morphological variation. If not taken in isolation, the ancient fossil record, which is just a set of sequential temporally separated snap shots, the modern fossil record, an area where the 'gaps' are smaller and less pronounced, and the gradual change directly observed in extant species gives a very clear picture of the results of evolution. Other scientific observations such as Plate Tectonics shows the results of cumulative changes taken over time when few limits exist. Creationists have to hypothesis, research and test such putative limits to evolution before claiming evolution just doesn't work.
I have heard many make the claim that the evidence for evolution is actually evidence against evolution but have seen little by way of explanation.
"The only way it can maintain itself is by striking what amounts to a kind of Muslim assertiveness. Darwinism must never be changed and never questioned. It must be taught to children in their formative years, and they must hear nothing to put it into question.
The tenets of evolution have gone through countless revisions and corrections as more evidence is unearthed and technology improves. Each correction brings the theory closer to perfect accuracy (although that perfection will never be reached).
Yes. The Bible says He is.
Sorry, try again. He asked for *proof*. I regret to inform you that replying, "this book says so, and we know we can trust this book because the book says we can", falls far short of *proof*. In fact, it's the fallacy of circular reasoning, in direct parallel to this example, which I'm sure everyone can agree is less than convincing, and hardly "proof" of the existence of Hank or his claims.
Take another stab at it, if you wish, or admit that you don't have "proof" after all.
You already tried this previously, when in this post on a previous thread you claimed you had "irrefutable proof" of the existence of God, then when pressed on the matter, you finally retreated *twice* from it, as detailed in this post of mine.
Stop using the word "proof" if you don't understand what it actually means.
4:15 And the LORD discomfited Sisera, and all his chariots, and all his host, with the edge of the sword before Barak; so that Sisera lighted down off his chariot, and fled away on his feet.
4:16 But Barak pursued after the chariots, and after the host, unto Harosheth of the Gentiles: and all the host of Sisera fell upon the edge of the sword; and there was not a man left.
Do you believe in astrology? What is your point?
Both, really. And a few other things, like separation of economics and state. But that's for another thread.
I imagine we are all free to use whatever words we feel appropriate. If evolution offers no proof, why are you complaining? And I wonder where the first little baby ape-like creature came from?
I guess that's the difference between the Canadian and the US educational systems. The school boards here can determine which classes are taught at which schools and what level of knowledge can be taught in which grade, but they cannot change the content of what is taught. No 2+2 = 9, no '2 hydrogen atoms combines to make iron', no 'the atmosphere is made up of oxygen', no Lysenkoism.
Some kind of lizard turns into another kind of lizard.
Another *species* of lizard.
Can apes and humans mate? I know - lots of jokes there -
"There are some things even an ape won't do"...
but can they?
Actually, that's an open question. No one's willing to test it, for obvious ethical reasons. But whether they can or not, what's your point?
No one has a problem with adaptation - it is often quite obvious. But I have yet to see proof that humans used to be apes.
Again, drop the "proof" canard. And again, why do you keep ignoring the clear and overwhelming evidence that has been posted countless times? Why do you just keep reverting to repeating your "I haven't seen anything" over and over again? Why not actually *look* at the evidence for a change, and honestly *deal* with it? The vast majority (99+%) of biologists, familiar with the evidence, have been convinced that it is solid, and conclusively demonstrates that man and the other apes share common ancestry. There is *vast* evidence supporting that conclusion, and none to the contrary. Deal with it.
"4:15 And the LORD discomfited Sisera, and all his chariots, and all his host, with the edge of the sword before Barak; so that Sisera lighted down off his chariot, and fled away on his feet.
4:16 But Barak pursued after the chariots, and after the host, unto Harosheth of the Gentiles: and all the host of Sisera fell upon the edge of the sword; and there was not a man left. "
A. Those must not have been iron chariots. In Judges 1:19, God clearly establishes his lack of ability to defeat those!! Unless YOU are questioning GOD'S DIRECT WORDS?! Blasphemer!!
B. Remember to also teach that God's real name is JEALOUS.
"For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God." (Exodus 34:14) "
C. Remember, too, not to work on the Sabbath lest ye be KILLED for your transgression, so sayeth the Lord, whose name is JEALOUS. Also, put out that fire on the Sabbath that's keeping your house warm, infidel!!!
"Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the Lord: whoseoever doeth work therein shall be put to death. Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the sabbath day."
D. Do you have a stubborn, rebellious teenager? Teach him (not her - daughters escape God's wrath here) that his actions make him eligible for DEATH:
"If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them; Then shall his father and mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of the city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear." (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)
"And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death." (Exodus 21:17) "For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he that cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him." (Leviticus 20:9)
By all means - let's teach the Bible and ALL that it commands us to do. People will then see what a joke it is to take it as 100% literal fact.
Color Pattern Diversity in a Classic "Ring Species,"
So. are the bottom left and bottom right (E. e. eschscholtzii and E. e. klauberi) the same lizard? They happen to be the 'far ends' of this particular ring that have met together.
You can "imagine" any rationalization you wish to cling to.
Shall we start calling you Humpty Dumpty? Or would you like to stick to the standard meanings of common words?
"...and that shows that there are three hundred and sixty-four days when you get un-birthday presents -- -"
"Certainly," said Alice.
"And only one for birthday presents, you know, There's glory for you!"
"I don't know what you mean by 'glory,' "Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. "Of course you don't -- till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!'"
"But `glory' doesn't mean `a nice knock-down argument,'" Alice objected.
"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in a rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master -- that's all."
Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again.
"They've a temper, some of them -- particularly verbs, they're the proudest -- adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs -- however, I can manage the whole lot! Impenetrability! That's what I say!"
"Would you tell me, please," said Alice, "what that means?"
"Now you talk like a reasonable child," said Humpty Dumpty, looking very much pleased. "I meant by "impenetrability' that we've had enough of that subject, and it would be just as well if you'd mention what you meant to do next, as I suppose you don't intend to stop here all the rest of your life."
"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone.
"When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."
-- excerpt from "Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There", by Lewis Carroll
If evolution offers no proof, why are you complaining?
Because you're playing word games as a substitute for honest discussion.
And I wonder where the first little baby ape-like creature came from?
Did you not read the prior posts? Or just not understand them?
THEY ARE STILL LIZARDS!
The OT deals with the laws but you probably already know that. Skip to the NT for grace.