NOVA is the premiere science program on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) here in the US. There is rarely a bad program or one that lacks any interest for the average viewer. This coming Tuesday, NOVA will have a timely and important show for those of us who support separation of church and state and Evolution.
Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial will highlight the court case from 2005 against the school board in Dover Pennsylvania, who had decided to require district science teachers to read a statement to biology students suggesting that there is an alternative to Darwin’s theory of evolution called intelligent design. Parents opposed to the policy filed the lawsuit in federal court.
After six weeks of testimony, Judge John E. Jones III, appointed to the Federal courts by George W. Bush, concluded in his ruling, “The overwhelming evidence at trial established that ID [intelligent design] is a religious view, a mere relabeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory.”
The ruling caused two states, Kansas and Ohio, to change their plans to allow ID into their schools and ended hopes of religious right people of getting their religious beliefs on science forced into the schools.
Paula S. Apsell, Senior Executive Producer of NOVA, explained why the Dover trial was so important to science and why NOVA is devoting a 2 hour special to it:
This is not just any case; it’s an historic case as well as a critical science lesson. Through six weeks of expert testimony, the case provided a crash course in modern evolutionary science, and it really hit home just how firmly established evolutionary theory is. The case also explored the very nature of science—how science is defined. Perhaps most importantly, the trial had great potential for altering science education and the public understanding of science.
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.
If the decision had gone the other way, it could have had dire consequences for science education in this country. We know that state boards of education in Kansas and Ohio were considering changing science standards and curriculums to accommodate intelligent design, and they since have decided against it in the wake of this verdict.
The program is scheduled for broadcast on Tuesday November 13th at 8 PM (it may vary in your area so check your local listings)
For further info see the program’s website:
Related postings here on Secular Left:
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