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NOVA to air doc on the intelligent design dustup in Dover, PA

Back in November 2005, there was an epic battle between reality-based people and the advocates of intelligent design in Dover, Pennsylvania. The fundies watched as all of the ID folks were swept off of the school board. Russ covered it on the Blend:

While Kansas has decided to turn to the Bible for its high school science curriculum, the good people of Dover, PA, voted out all of the Intelligent-Design-Is-Our-Type-of-Science (IDIOTS) supporters on their school board in favor of candidates who understand that science is science and religion is religion and ne'er the twain shall meet:

(Baptist Press) All eight seats on the nine-member Dover Area School Board that were up for election Nov. 8 were narrowly won by candidates affiliated with the Citizens Actively Reviewing Educational Strategies (CARES). The organization’s platform calls for removing Intelligent Design from the district’s science curriculum.

The school district is a defendant in a federal trial over its policy to inform ninth-grade science students about the existence of Intelligent Design. Testimony in the case ended in early November. U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III is expected to issue a ruling by early January.

One of the winners in the board election, Bryan Rehm, is a plaintiff in the lawsuit against the school district. Last year he and 10 other parents, facilitated by the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, sued the district. The plaintiffs alleged that exposing the students to Intelligent Design was putting religion in the classroom.

The bible beaters were so incensed that Giuliani endorser Pat Robertson declared God's wrath would descend on Dover.

“I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city,” Robertson said on his daily television show broadcast from Virginia, “The 700 Club.”

PBS is airing the backstory behind the outcome on NOVA, “Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial,” a two hour documentary, on Tuesday at 8PM.

Paula Apsell, senior executive producer of the episode on the case:

In 2004, the Dover, Pennsylvania school board established a policy that science teachers would have to read a statement to biology students suggesting that there is an alternative to Darwin's theory of evolution called intelligent design. Intelligent design, or ID, claims that certain features of life are too complex to have evolved naturally, and therefore must have been designed by an intelligent agent. The Dover high school science teachers refused to comply with the policy, refused to read the statement. And parents opposed to the school board's actions filed a lawsuit in federal court.

…Dover's lawyers tried to argue that ID is science and, therefore, that teaching it does not violate the principle of the separation of church and state in the Establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution. At the end of the trial, Judge John Jones issued a 139-page verdict supporting the teaching of evolution and characterizing intelligent design as a religious idea with no place in the science classroom. It was a landmark decision, all the more so because Judge Jones was appointed by President Bush and nominated by Republican Senator Rick Santorum.

There are courtroom re-enactments and first-hand interviews. Michael Behe, Scott Minich, and Steve Fuller were the “expert” ID witnesses in the trial, but only Fuller agreed to participate in the documentary, though all were invited.

Hat tip, Val.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding