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Mass Media Funk

a commentary on mass media stories about the scientific, the paranormal, the supernatural, and anything else that yanks at my eyebrows.

Note: Mass Media Funk is now Skeptimedia.

60

unintelligent design

November 29, 2007. I watched the Nova program "Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial" and just shook my head at the displayed ignorance of former Dover school board members Bill Buckingham and Alan Bonsell. I'm not talking about their religious beliefs (which are quite archaic) but their views on education and the Constitution. They think it's okay for government agencies to require citizens to study the teachings of a particular religious sect. It doesn't matter to them what the Constitution says or what judges have ruled regarding the Establishment Clause. They know what's true and what's good and that's all that matters. Or so they thought. Judge John Paul Jones III ruled against them in the Kitzmiller case and let them know that he did not appreciate the way they lied and tried to deceive the court about their motives and behaviors regarding the burning of a student art work depicting human evolution from an ape-like ancestor and regarding a creationist text, Pandas and People, that had been bought and placed in the school library by Bonsell's father.* The two were unrepentant. Bonsell still doesn't understand why his anti-evolutionist stance shouldn't be taught in public school science classes. Buckingham is so deluded that he cursed the judge and projected many of his own inadequacies onto the court.

After the Dover case was finished I wondered what the ID folks would do next. They failed at repackaging creationism as science. The judge ruled that ID is not science. It's a science stopper. It turns out that the ID folks do have a plan. If at first you don't succeed, repeat the procedure no matter how stupid you look. Turn now to Polk Country, Florida, for a repeat of the Dover fiasco. At least two bloggers have written about Florida's version of Buckingham and Bonsell known as Kay Fields and Tim Harris. You might want to read what Florida Citizens for Science and Pharyngula have to say about Dover's doppelgangers before reading what I have to say about them.

Despite the ruling by a federal court that intelligent design is a religiously motivated story and to teach it in a government-funded school violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution of the United States of America, four of seven school board members in Polk county support teaching ID alongside evolution in public school science classes.* Actually, it wouldn't be taught alongside evolution because Florida's State Standards do not use the term 'evolution.' Florida requires its students to learn about "biological changes over time." The state board is considering new standards that would mention evolution for the first time.

At a recent Polk country school board meeting, the board listened without comment to Florida Citizens for Science members speak against the proposal. However, one board member, Margaret Lofton, added her voice of support to the testimony of an eighth-grade science teacher who proclaimed living organisms are so complex that they must have been created by some kind of higher force. Lawrence Hughes has taught at Union Academy in Bartow for 16 years. "The laws of nature don't support change from one organism to another organism," he asserted.* Really? Maybe he meant to add "in my neighborhood." 

Hughes told a local interviewer after the board meeting that "a lot of evidence supports intelligent design." Really? Of course, Mr. Hughes didn't say the evidence was compelling or of very high quality. His testimony could be taken as evidence that at least some things in nature are not so intelligently designed. Hughes also said that "the scientific evidence to support evolution from apes is not there." One thing's for sure: the ignorance and arrogance of Buckingham and Bonsell live on in Polk county, Florida, as does contempt for the Constitution and the rule of law, and contempt for science and reason. Whatever else one might say about intelligent design, it sanctifies faith and belief, and belittles science and reason.

* AmeriCares *

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