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Victories against intelligent design

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AP article

judge's opinion (139 pages!)

[Edit: If this judge had any sense of humor, he would have waited until Christmas to issue this opinion. Another comedic opportunity lost.]

[Edit v.2: Start reading particularly at p. 136 under "Conclusion." Some of that writing will bring tears of joy to your eyes.]

Edited by Groovenstein
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Thanks for that reference. It was also good to see that, apart from losing in court, the school board also got booted out by the voters.

The ID camp seems to use a two-step argument:

  1. Evolution is only a theory
  2. ID is not a religious theory

Of these, the ID guys seem to have lost on #2.

What about #1? It was probably true in Darwin's day. I wonder if -- with all the new facts discovered since Darwin -- one could make a case that evolution is no longer a theory. I do not know, I wonder.

Liriodendron, any thoughts on the use of the term "theory"?

[Edited: I have split the posts about the epistemology of Biology into a thread of their own.]

Edited by softwareNerd
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I should make a couple brief remarks for those who don't understand my comment in the heading of this thread. The "certiorari" to which I referred is what happens when the Supreme Court says it will hear a case. (See the Wikipedia entry for more detailed info.) Basically, what I'm saying is that this seems like a case the Supreme Court might take up in a year or two. I say in a year or two because if it's appealed (as it most likely will be) it will first go through the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. I don't know the Third Circuit's docket speed, and I don't know how long it takes for the Supreme Court to review a petition for cert. If the Supreme Court grants the petition, it will probably be a few to several months before oral argument is heard, and from there a few to several months before an opinion is issued.

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. . . ID is not a religious theory . . . Of these, the ID guys seem to have lost on #2.

One of the things I like about this opinion is that the judge used even stronger language than that. He didn't just say ID is a religious theory. He said ID is not science. "In making this determination, we have addressed the seminal question of whether ID is science. We have concluded that it is not . . . ." 136.

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This part makes me smile:

[Defendants' actions]subject Defendants to liability with respect to injunctive and declaratory relief, but also for nominal damages and the reasonable value of Plaintiffs' attorneys' services and costs incurred in vindicating Plaintiffs' constitutional rights.
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I enjoyed the part where the judge chided the posturing Christians for blatantly lying in an attempt to cloak ID in science. The judge is apparently a Christian himself and was highly offended that his fellows would resort to such antics in order to sneak ID into the schools. It's great that he called them on their hypocracy; he left them without a leg to stand on and it didn't come from someone they could smear as a sectarian, activist judge. Put a broad grin on my face.

(Understand that I don't think the judge's religious beliefs are actually important to the decision he wrote. It's just a bit of gravy.)

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He was a Bush appointee too. Theres a bit of irony there since Bush said he wanted ID to be taught alongside evolution. The "experts" on NPR said it is not likely that it will be appealed (any time soon?) since the plaintiffs are no longer on the Board of Education - so to be appealed, this will need another set of dunderheads to try to put ID in another school system (I think).

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The "experts" on NPR said it is not likely that it will be appealed (any time soon?) since the plaintiffs are no longer on the Board of Education - so to be appealed, this will need another set of dunderheads to try to put ID in another school system (I think).

Ah, I see when I picked up the scent of cert I failed to pick up the scent of a mootness possibility. I don't remember the details of mootness from Con Law since we covered it for all of about fifteen minutes, so I have no idea whether it's moot as to these plaintiffs, nor, if it is moot, whether this would be one of those "capable of adjudication, but evading review" cases. (See Roe v. Wade for what I'm talking about. Basically, pregnancy is nine months, but the appeals process takes longer than that, so without the capability exception pretty much every case involving reproductive rights would be moot and thus never decided.) I hope I'm not dropping the ball on an easy (for a lawyer) question. :D

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The quoted excerpt below is a brief discussion of the basic principles of mootness from Lewis v. Continental Bank Corp., 494 U.S. 472 (1990). There is also some discussion on the evading review stuff at the end of section II of the opinion. I have pulled out all the citations so you can actually read this. The citations with links are available in the link I gave.

___

Under Article III of the Constitution, federal courts may adjudicate only actual, ongoing cases or controversies. To invoke the jurisdiction of a federal court, a litigant must have suffered, or be threatened with, an actual injury traceable to the defendant and likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial decision. Article III denies federal courts the power "to decide questions that cannot affect the rights of litigants in the case before them," and confines them to resolving "`real and substantial controvers[ies] admitting of specific relief through a decree of a conclusive character, as distinguished from an opinion advising what the law would be upon a hypothetical state of facts.'" This case-or-controversy requirement subsists through all stages of federal judicial proceedings, trial and appellate. To sustain our jurisdiction in the present case, it is not enough that a dispute was very much alive when suit was filed, or when review was obtained in the Court of Appeals. The parties must continue to have a "`personal stake in the outcome'" of the lawsuit.

___

As a side note, I know that the Supreme Court of Massachusetts can and does issue advisory opinions. (I recall them having issued one on a proposed gay marriage ban a couple years ago.) I do not know anything about the rest of the state courts Supreme as to whether they can issue advisory opinions.

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  • 1 month later...

Chalk one up for the good guys.

The Ohio Board of Education voted 11 to 4 Tuesday to toss out a mandate that 10th-grade biology classes include critical analysis of evolution .... (emphasis mine)

These Christian guys are really smart. Who can object to "critical analysis" of anything. SO, the tactic is to single out a specific thing that you do not agree with and ask for a critical analysis of that. Hats off to them -- Carville and Rove could be proud of such tactics!

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These Christian guys are really smart. Who can object to "critical analysis" of anything.

If you follow the history of this fight, you'll realize that they really are not smart at all. The only thing they are capable of doing is coming up with various catch phrases to describe the same thing:

Let's teach Creationism.

No.

Let's teach Intelligent-Design.

No.

But teachers have "academic freedom" to do it.

No.

Let's offer "critical analysis" of evolution.

No.

Nothing but little catch phrases. As soon as one of them gets shot down, they reword it a little bit and try again. Nothing too smart about that in my opinion. :)

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Who can object to "critical analysis" of anything.
This is just soooo true, and I only recently came to appreciate how it is a technical concept. I used to read "critical analysis" literally, where it contrasts with "uncritical acceptance", and since just accepting on faith was a bad thing, using your critical faculty to find the truth should be a good thing. What I didn't understand is that critical analysis refers to simply giving your personal opinion of a matter: it doesn't have to do with fixed facts, it's all about expressing opinions. A teacher may, if he decides, guide the discussion by nodding approvingly over correct views and questioning incorrect views (for example you can tell a person who expresses an incorrect view to "think about it"), and giving his own opinion especially after the children in the class have had a chance to say their say.
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  • 2 weeks later...

Another victory for reason, sweet because it happened in conservative Utah.

The Origins of Life bill, in its initial form, would have required teachers to issue a disclaimer to their students saying that not all scientists agree about evolution and the origin of species. It did not mention any alternative theory to Darwinism,...
Interesting, I suppose the ID guys think that if they cannot inject ID into the curriculum, at least they can inject doubt.

The bill was amended

leaving only that the state board of education "shall establish curriculum requirements relating to scientific instruction."
Even so, it lost by a 46-28 vote.
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