HARRISBURG, Pa. - A federal judge has ruled "intelligent design" cannot be mentioned in biology classes in a Pennsylvania public school district, deciding the latest chapter in an ongoing debate over evolution and the separation of church and state.Read it here.
The Dover Area School Board violated the Constitution when it ordered that its biology curriculum must include "intelligent design," the notion that life on Earth was produced by an unidentified intelligent cause, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III ruled Tuesday.
Jones said advocates of intelligent design "have bona fide and deeply held beliefs which drive their scholarly endeavors" and that he didn't believe the concept shouldn't be studied and discussed.
"Our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom," he wrote.
I agree with the judge that religious authority should not intrude into discussions of "science." I am also encouraged by the judge's statement to the effect that:
Jones said advocates of intelligent design "have bona fide and deeply held beliefs which drive their scholarly endeavors" and that he didn't believe the concept shouldn't be studied and discussed.There are real moral and ethical problems raised by Darwinian principles as usually applied in public discourse. Think, for instance, of the ethical dilemmas presented by "social Darwinism," "eugenics," Nazi race theory, etc. There should be some place in public education for discussion of these problems. The question emerges, however, whether such discussions, which imply the existence of some moral authority, violate some constitutional test. It will be interesting to see just how this whole issue plays out.
UPDATE:Carl Zimmer, over at the Loom, has read the decision and has excerpted some salient points. For you masochists out there, he has a link to the entire 139 page decision. Check him out here.