Re: Bill Buckingham testifies in Dover...

From: Ted Davis <>
Date: Sun Oct 30 2005 - 07:53:47 EST

From start to finish, the Dover school board has put on a circus, with the
superintendent stuck in the middle between the wishes of his bosses and the
requirements of the law. I did what I could locally to persuade people to
take different actions in this situation--I even offered to do a private
session for the board, or a public session for the community, on intelligent
design in all of its aspects, but at no time was I even contacted about even
discussing it. People had their own ideas about what they were going to do,
and they were not about to be persuaded otherwise.

It's a fact that TDI sent attorneys to Dover last year in an effort likewise
to persuade the school board not to do what they did. They did what they
could on that front in this specific case, but years of failing to clarify
various issues, years of underscoring small differences between many TEs and
most IDs coupled with years of failing to underscore very large differences
between most IDs and all YECs, have born fruit. Most people in the general
public, including most school board members anywhere, are utterly clueless
on these subtleties--which I've been able successfully to explain to some of
the journalists covering the trial, but not to most others apparently.

In the poltiics of science, as I keep saying, the politics drives the
science. And when religion is a factor in the culture wars, as it most
clearly is here, then the politics utterly obscures the science.

About six months before the Dover district adopted the policy, Messiah
sponosored a symposium on creationism and the law in downtown Harrisburg,
just a couple of blocks from the capitol. Ed Larson ran it for us, and his
view is that a public school teacher can make reference to criticisms of
evolution, *if* it is clearly for a secular educational purpose *and* it is
not religiously motivated. Thus, the case in Wash state was almost
certainly religously motivated and failed as a legitimate example. Dover
failed for the same reason, but it is possible that the judge will go
further and say that all references to criticisms of evolution (or "gaps" as
the Dover statement has it and Mike Behe's testimony had it) are religiously
motivated. The judge in that case would be wrong, quite obviously, but it
is possible that he will rule that way. As Michael Ruse himself puts in his
latest book, (The Evolution-Creation Struggle, p. 200f): "This parade of
successes [for evolutionary biology] is not intended to deny the large gaps
in our knowledge of evolutionary mechanisms that remain." Many scientists
sneer at Behe's reference to "gaps," but Ruse himself--the most influential
witness at the Arkansas trial--makes reference to them here. Of course he
goes right on to say that there is thus plenty of "unfinished business to
keep researchers working away," and that's appropriate. But it is also
appropriate to point out "large gaps" in our knowledge of mechanisms,
precisely what Mike Behe said in court.

As it happens, the Dover district sent a representative to the Larson
seminar; I had forgotten that, but it came up in testimony 10 days ago.
Apparently they still thought it was OK to do what they did. We'd have had
4-6 legislators there also, except that Gov Rendell dropped his budget on
the legislature the night before, so they all cancelled out except one. You
can't plan an academic seminar for the public at the last minute, and things
that happen at the last minute can screw up anything you plan. Reporters
and legislators want to do things yesterday and forget about them tomorrow,
when new things are on their plates. We academics don't work that way.

Received on Sun, 30 Oct 2005 07:53:47 -0500

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