Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The ID problem

Only 5 weeks into the semester and I've actually started researching my paper for Education Law. As I mentioned before, I'm to write on Intelligent Design - the history of religious instruction in schools, the evolution (get it?) of ID, the current status of ID in the US and in Texas, and then attempt to draft an ID program that could pass Constitutional muster.

I started my research by looking up the recent decision Kitzmiller v. Dover Area Sch. Dist., 400 F. Supp. 2d 707. It's an 82 page ruling that goes into the history of ID. The ruling in the case was much deeper than the quick conclusion we all heard on the news a short time ago. The conclusion essentially said that it was "obvious" to everyone that ID was simply creationism in disguise. It didn't go into any explanation of the source of the court's conclusion.

The current incarnation of ID stems ultimately from Thomas Aquinas, who syllogized: Wherever complex design exists, there must have been a designer; nature is complex; therefore nature must have had an intelligent designer. Both experts for both the plaintiff and the defendant proffered essentially the same argument, except the defense used the term "purposeful arrangement of parts."

There's much more history, including the "Monkey trial," Edwards, Effington, and the Lemon test. It's a very good, but long, decision that does a good job explaining one of the fundamental problems with ID. It'll be interesting to see if ID can be introduced as a curriculum on its own. I'm looking forward to writing this paper.


JMJanssen said...

I don't know how you personally feel about the subject. I myself am quite against ID being taught in public schools. For many of us, it has little to do with ID being creationism in disguise, and more to do with ID not being scientific. That is, ID does not work using the scientific method. It is ultimately relying on a supernatural, unobservable phenomenon. ID has yet to produce any testable hypotheses and will not.

Currently there is a two-headed move among ID proponents to find testable hypotheses, and/or to change science so it includes supernatural, unobservable phenomenon. The latter would put us pre-Enlightenment.

I don't know if it would help your paper at all, but http://www.talkorigins.org/ is a fantastic resource for the ID/Creationist vs. Science arguments, and also their subsite http://www.talkdesign.org/ .

Bellejar said...

Did you read the part where they changed the name from creation science to intelligent design, because of some court decision.

Steve said...

Without going back to look it up, I think that was the Edwards decision, back in 1987.

Of all the damning evidence considered at trial, I think the most damaging were the statements by one of the board members who announced his intent to get religion back into schools.

That seems to be the number one killer of all ID or other religious legislation in public education

Steve said...


Thanks for the articles, I will certainly look at it.

There is a difference between the philosophical argument of ID v. Darwinism and the legal debate of introducing the concept into school. My paper is on the latter.

As Bellejar noted, the entire concept of Intelligent Design stems from past failed attempts to reintroduce religion into schools, most direcly Edwards v. Aguillard, U.S. 578, 107 S. Ct. 2573, 96 L. Ed. 2d 510 (1987). It was after that decision came down that the proponents of creation science switched to Intelligent design (a modern equivalent arguably could be the subtle change from "domestic spying" to "terrorist surveillance"). Given that information, any attempt to incorpporate ID into curriculum looks to have a significant hurdle to jump if it wants to clear the Lemon test (Must have legitimate secular nonreligious purpose for the activity, the primary effect of the activity neither advances nor hinders religious belief or practice, and the activity does not foster excessive entanglement between the governmental entity and religious concerns) and the Establishment clause.

At least, that's what I'm gleaning from my research for the paper. Ahh, substantive writing requirements for graduation. I still think it's possible to introduce ID, but it will be difficult to come up with one.

Bellejar said...

Steve, I agree with you completely about the board member. I read the whole opinion in the latest case and really enjoyed the historical information included.

JMJanssen said...


Gotcha. The legal argument is a part I am not familiar with. I hope you post your paper once you're done with it.

Matthew said...

Kitzmiller v. Dover Area Sch. Dist. sounds like a good resource for your paper.

Steve said...

It's outstanding. I just need to find more cases to support it, namely Texas and Fifth Circuit cases.