The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Science Tuesday: Another nail in the creationist coffin

Well, I think I've sufficiently recovered from my personal war on Christmas cookies to get back to blogging. The broadband helps, but access will be sporadic for the rest of this week. On the other hand, having a respite from the daily outrages of our GOP-controlled nation is really a relief. If only we didn't have so much fighting to do.

In last week's edition of his newsletter What's New, physicist Robert Parks tacks a nice epilogue onto the Dover, Pennsylvania, replay of the Scopes trial. I'll let him do the talking:

"Our conclusion today," wrote United States District Judge JohnE. Jones III, "is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as analternative to evolution in a public school classroom." You must read 137 pages to get to that line, but it's time well spent. Jones, a conservative Republican appointed by George W. Bush,reviews the "legal landscape" of church-state separation, andthen addresses the key question of whether ID is science orreligion. He does so, "in the hope that it may prevent theobvious waste of resources on subsequent trials." Science, heobserves, "rejects appeal to authority in favor of empiricalevidence," whereas, "ID is not supported by any peer-reviewedresearch, data or publications." Not only does he enjoin Doverschools from teaching ID, he says the parents who brought suitare entitled to damages. That may cool the ardor of other schoolboards thinking of hopping in bed with the Discovery Institute. In the Senate, Rick Santorum (R-PA), who had earlier praised the Dover School Board for "teaching the controversy," was so movedby the Jones decision that he severed his ties to the Thomas Moore Law Center, which had defended the Board.

The latest tactic, to frame teaching creationism as "fair," was awfully clever. But it's good to see that the courts are still upholding the law. Just three more years of nutty appointees to go.... And dig that last sentence (emphasis mine). Santorum is almost a year away from his re-election bid, and he's already floundering. As one of the most prominent panderers to the fundamentalist right, it's a good sign to see him having to disown them.