Intelligent decision on intelligent design

Federal District Judge John Jones had a decisive, but, alas, probably not final, judgment on an ongoing high-school controversy: “The overwhelming evidence is that intelligent design is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism and not a scientific theory.”

The supporters of intelligent design are persistent, though, and this much-watched Pennsylvania case will not be the end of it, but Jones’ 139-page opinion is a valuable blueprint to other supporters of classic science who will be forced to fight this backdoor attempt to insinuate the biblical version of creation into the classroom.

The case arose when the Dover, Pa., school board voted to require science teachers to read a statement that implied that intelligent design had equal scientific validity with Darwin’s theory of evolution, which, moreover, had “gaps” and “problems.”

The board’s order referred students to a book called “Of Pandas and People,” which, the court learned, had been edited to replace “creationism” with “intelligent design” after an earlier unfavorable court decision.

The judge found that the board “consciously chose to change Dover’s biology curriculum to advance religion,” a decision, he said, of “breathtaking inanity” leading to an “utter waste of monetary and personal resources.” Decisions don’t get more definitive than that.

The voters of Dover issued their own verdict and, in November, ousted the intelligent-design supporters from the school board en masse.

Intelligent design holds that life is so complex that it must have been designed by some superintelligent force or being. As science, the proposition has the drawback of being unable to be tested or replicated in any meaningful way. And, according to a recent New York Times report, the intelligent-design movement may be running out of steam, having failed to attract academic support or peer-reviewed papers. And many leading theologians and religious scholars see no conflict between their faith and evolution.

Just as creationism mutated into intelligent design, many observers believe intelligent design will return in a new guise, perhaps as something called sudden-emergence theory. Creationism, thus, is changing in response to its environment; it is, in a sense, evolving in a Darwinian sort of way.

(Contact Dale McFeatters at McFeattersD(at)