God And Man In Pennsylvania: Part VI
In the battle over the teaching of intelligent design in the public schools of Dover, Pennsylvania, the latest casualties in the war were eight of the nine board members who originally endorsed the idea in the first place: (emphasis added)
The court verdict in a landmark lawsuit on "intelligent design" is weeks away, but voters in Dover, Pa., delivered their judgment this week by sweeping out eight of nine school board members who decided that ninth-grade science students must be told the concept is an alternative to evolution.Meanwhile, on yet another front in The War Over Intelligent Design, the state school board of Kansas has just voted 6-4 to approve new science standards that support the teaching of I.D. in that state's public schools.
The board stirred controversy by requiring a one-minute classroom statement about the idea that parts of life and the universe are so complex that an intelligent designer best explains them. That put Dover at the center of a national argument over whether intelligent design is science or religion.
All nine board members backed the classroom statement, but only eight were up for re-election. They all lost to challengers who argued that the discussion doesn't belong in science class.
School districts and legislatures across the country are weighing policies that raise doubts about evolution and in some cases mandate the teaching of intelligent design. Most of the efforts have died in court or legislative committee, but a supportive ruling in the Dover federal court case could brighten their prospects.
Proponents say the Dover board requirement encourages critical thinking; opponents say it promotes a religious viewpoint, because the designer has to be God.
Federal Judge John Jones says he'll rule by early January on whether the requirement violates the constitutional separation of church and state. Eric Rothschild, attorney for the 11 parents who challenged the board's policy, says the court case remains important, despite the election. "Other state and local school boards are watching this, some with a very strong intention to teach intelligent design."
Related: A Shrewdness of Apes, (also here) Joanne Jacobs
Archive: God And Man In Pennsylvania: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V