Monday, May 29, 2006

Reflections

The following referenced article contains some revealing comments by Judge Jones of Dover school district fame. My comments are interspersed and identified.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06142/692107-85.stm

'Judge in 'intelligent design' case reflects
Monday, May 22, 2006'

The Associated Press

"CARLISLE, Pa. -- A federal judge who outlawed the teaching of "intelligent design" in science class told graduates at Dickinson College that the nation's founders saw religion as the result of personal inquiry, not church doctrine.

U.S. District Judge John E. Jones gave the commencement address yesterday to 500 graduates at Dickinson College, his alma mater.

"The founders believed that true religion was not something handed down by a church or contained in a Bible, but was to be found through free, rational inquiry," said Judge Jones, who was thrust into the national spotlight by last year's court fight over the teaching of evolution in the Dover school district."

[Bradford]: There was a variety of views among the founding fathers as to what constituted "true religion." Acknowledging this is an essential step in avoiding the type of self-serving doctrinaire pronouncements that frequently accompany constitutional rulings about the "establishment clause." While the founding fathers clearly favored the freedom to choose one's own religious conviction, one man's view as to what is rational is another's view of the irrational and the founding fathers were aware of this.

"The founding fathers -- from school namesake John Dickinson to Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson -- were products of the Enlightenment, Judge Jones said.

"They possessed a great confidence in an individual's ability to understand the world and its most fundamental laws through the exercise of his or her reason," he said.

"This core set of beliefs led the founders, who constantly engaged and questioned things, to secure their idea of religious freedom by barring any alliance between church and state."

[Bradford]: The concern among the founding fathers was that the government not favor one religious sect at the expense of others. The experience of Oliver Cromwell in England was influential. What Jones and his admirers have done is to take this to a level never conceived by the founding fathers. Inferring intelligent causality from nature has nothing to do with favoring any particular religion. The link between intelligence and God is a secondary inference and not one particularly favorable to Islam as opposed to Christianity or Judaism or Hinduism...

Following a six-week trial last year that explored concepts in biology, theology and paleontology, Judge Jones concluded that the Dover Board of Education had violated the separation between church and state.

Intelligent design holds that living organisms are so complex they must have been created by some kind of higher being.

[Bradford]: This has become a trite cliche favored by opponents of ID. Most IDers argue that intelligence better explains both the origin and diversity of both life and the universe it is found in than standard theories.

"In his ruling, Judge Jones called it "an old religious argument for the existence of God" and accused the school board of "breathtaking inanity" in trying to teach it."

[Bradford]: It can be used to argue for the existence of God just as evolution and abiogenesis have been used by prominent atheists since Darwin to argue that God does not exist. The comment is irrelevant.

The school board had argued that it hoped to expose students to alternatives to Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

The case cost the district more than $1 million in legal fees -- and cost school board members, who were turned out in November's election, their seats.

Judge Jones credited his liberal arts education at Dickinson, more than his law school years, for preparing him for what he called his "Dover moment."

"It was my liberal arts education ... that provided me with the best ability to handle the rather monumental task of deciding the Dover case," he said.

[Bradford]: I note he did not credit his scientific expertise.

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