I enjoy Nova (a show on PBS, for those who don’t know) immensely and, unfortunately, am often too busy to check it out. Luckily last week I had my wits about me and taped it because I heard they were having a show about the Dover trial.
To give a bit of history: A school board in the bible belt in the States decided it would be fun to make teachers read a one-minute statement that basically explained to the fresh-minded 9th graders that Evolution “is only a theory” and that Intelligent Design (ID) is a viable alternative explanation – not only a complete misinterpretation of what constitutes a scientific theory that, by the way, has withstood 150 years of intense scrutiny, but also a false dichotomy…I digress.
The teachers refused to read the statement and also refused to replace the current text, Ken Miller’s aptly-named “Biology”, that was “laced with evolution” with the suggested alternate ID textbook “Of Pandas and People”. Several parents sued the school board for infringing on their First Amendment rights after the school higher-ups read the one-minute statement to the class, despite teachers’ protests, and several copies of “Pandas” mysteriously appeared on the school’s doorstep from an “anonymous donor” for use as a sister text to “Biology”.
Eventually the “star witness” of the defense Michael Behe had to admit, based on his own line of faulty reasoning, that astrology is a perfectly legitimate science based on the definition that he requires for ID to count as science too. This is arguably irrelevant to the case itself, but hilarious nonetheless. The prosecution eventually provided evidence, based on early drafts of “Pandas”, that the message of ID was rooted in religion and therefore was a violation of rights for the message to be taught in school. The depositions and later testimony of certain school board members and public figures also damned the case, so to speak, for the school board by demonstrating that there was a religious motivation for teaching ID in the school as opposed to am “open-minded” scientific one.
As of this posting, the episode can be viewed online on Nova’s website: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/id/
I also encourage everyone to take a look at the rest of the site, as there’s many an interesting topic to discover.