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Traipsing into Evolution

Intelligent Design and the Kitzmiller v. Dover DecisionDavid K. DeWolf, John G. West, Casey Luskin and Jonathan Witt

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.

Excerpt

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 Darwin’s 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 today’s 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 Darwin’s theory in the classroom. Otherwise it is the Supreme Court’s own rulings that will be made a “sham.”

From the Conclusion, “The Need to Protect Academic Freedom”

Resources

Traipsing into Evolution Official Site

David K. DeWolf

David K. DeWolf is a Professor of Law at Gonzaga School of Law in Spokane, Washington and a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture. A graduate of Stanford University and Yale Law School, Professor DeWolf has clerked for the Honorable Stephen Bistline of the Idaho Supreme Court. He has written a briefing book for public school administrators, Teaching the Controversy: Darwinism, Design and the Public School Curriculum.

John G. West

Senior Fellow, Associate Director, and Vice President of Discovery Institute
Dr. John G. West is Vice President of the Seattle-based Discovery Institute and Associate Director of the Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. Formerly the Chair of the Department of Political Science and Geography at Seattle Pacific University, West is an award-winning author and documentary filmmaker who has written or edited 12 books, including Darwin Day in America: How Our Politics and Culture Have Been Dehumanized in the Name of Science, The Magician’s Twin: C. S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society, and Walt Disney and Live Action: The Disney Studio’s Live-Action Features of the 1950s and 60s. His documentary films include Fire-Maker, Revolutionary, The War on Humans, and (most recently) Human Zoos. West holds a PhD in Government from Claremont Graduate University, and he has been interviewed by media outlets such as CNN, Fox News, Reuters, Time magazine, The New York Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post.

Casey Luskin

Casey Luskin is an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution. He earned his B.S. and M.S. in Earth Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied evolution extensively at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His law degree is from the University of San Diego, where he focused his studies on First Amendment law, education law, and environmental law. He conducted geological research at Scripps Institution for Oceanography (1997-2002).

Jonathan Witt

Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Jonathan Witt, Ph.D., is a senior fellow and senior project manager with Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. His latest book is Heretic: One Scientist’s Journey from Darwin to Design (DI Press, 2018) written with Finnish bioengineer Matti Leisola. Witt has also authored co-authored Intelligent Design Uncensored, A Meaningful World: How the Arts and Sciences Reveal the Genius of Nature, and The Hobbit Party: The Vision of Freedom That Tolkien Got, and the West Forgot. Witt is the lead writer and associate producer for Poverty, Inc., winner of the $100,000 Templeton Freedom Award and recipient of over 50 international film festival honors.