A clear solution to the debate over biological origins has evaded scientists and philosophers for millennia. Since the ancient Greeks, thousands of pages of debate from scholars on all sides have yielded two types of answers: those which invoke only material causes and those which explore the possibility that intelligence had a direct role in shaping life. Yet in 2005, one United States federal judge thought he could settle this longstanding question of science and philosophy once and for all.
Traipsing into Evolution is a critique of federal Judge John E. Jones’s decision in the Kitzmiller v. Dover case, the first trial concerning the constitutionality of teaching intelligent design in public schools. In this concise yet comprehensive response, Discovery Institute scholars and attorneys show how Judge Jones’s Kitzmiller decision was based upon faulty reasoning, non-existent evidence, and a serious misrepresentation of the scientific theory of intelligent design. Despite Judge Jones’s protestations to the contrary, his attempt to use the federal bench to declare evolution a sacred cow turns out to be a textbook case of good-old-American judicial activism.
Judge Jones opinion highlights the pressing need to affirm and defend the right of teachers and students to express honest disagreement with the claims of Darwinian evolution. For all of his concern about the illegitimacy of requiring teachers to mention intelligent design or to “denigrate or disparage” evolution, Judge Jones showed no similar interest in the freedom of teachers and students to express opinions that might be critical of Darwinian evolution. As a result, his opinion is likely to be used by defenders of Darwins theory as a pretext for censoring even completely voluntary expressions of dissenting scientific views by teachers and students.
Teachers seeking to “teach the controversy” over Darwinian evolution in todays climate will likely be met with false warnings that it is unconstitutional to say anything negative about Darwinian evolution. Students who attempt to raise questions about Darwinism, or who try to elicit from the teacher an honest answer about the status of intelligent design theory will trigger administrators concerns about whether they stand in constitutional jeopardy. A chilling effect on open inquiry is being felt in several states already, including Ohio, South Carolina, and California. Judge Jones message is clear: give Darwin only praise, or else face the wrath of the judiciary.
Ironically, in the 1980s when the Louisiana Legislature tried to pass an “Academic Freedom Act” to permit teachers to teach “creation science,” the Supreme Court replied by saying that the announced a purpose of protecting academic freedom was a “sham,” because the act “does not give schoolteachers a flexibility that they did not already possess to supplant the present science curriculum with the presentation of theories, besides evolution, about the origin of life.” In other words, the Supreme Court thought it was so clear that teachers had the academic freedom to present alternative theories that an act permitting them to do so was superfluous.
After Kitzmiller, no one can seriously maintain that academic freedom to study all of the evidence relating to Darwinian evolution is secure. As a consequence, administrative guidelines, even legislative enactments, are needed to provide clearer protection for the rights of students and teachers to critically analyze Darwins theory in the classroom. Otherwise it is the Supreme Courts own rulings that will be made a “sham.”From the Conclusion, “The Need to Protect Academic Freedom”
Traipsing into Evolution Official Site