Re: Judge Jones sided with the Discovery Institute and ruled against the Dove...

From: Pim van Meurs <>
Date: Wed Dec 28 2005 - 23:47:19 EST

I disagree the issue of ID being science was raised prominently by the Discovery Institute's Amicus brief filing and required an answer as the scientific nature of ID was essential to the ruling. David is under the impression that it is sufficient for a court to rule on one of the prongs without fully supporting its arguments. Remember that even if one prong fails, all three prongs of the Lemon test need to be satisfied. In other words, if the Judge's ruling were found to be incorrect based on the Dover School board's behavior, there would be other reasons why the final decision was still correct.

It's interesting to speculate about the Judge's motives but why not rely at least on what the Judge himself wrote. rather than jump to speculations?

The issue of ID not being science has been decided by science, the Judge merely present the scientific arguments and ruled that indeed ID is not science. And for good reasons. After all, would we have the tobacco industry rule on what is good medical science when it comes to smoking? In the end, the judge looked at the evidence and ruled. That is well within the realm of what judges typically do.

The reason why I am as a scientist happy with the ruling is because it accurately represents scientific concensus. Namely that ID is scientifically vacuous. In addition, the inability of ID to present any scientifically relevant contribution to science further strengthens this conclusion. Of course, ID, being based on an argument from ignorance, was doomed from the beginning.

The judge explained his reasoning for his ruling. It's an excellently written ruling. And yes, perhaps the judge hoped that the amount of effort spent in his court would benefit other cases.


----- Original Message ----
From: David Opderbeck <>
To: "" <>
Cc: asa@calvin.ex
Sent: Wednesday, December 28, 2005 7:44:13 PM
Subject: Re: Judge Jones sided with the Discovery Institute and ruled against the Dove...

Wayne, you're not getting my point. There are many ways in which this judge could have done a "respectable job" with this case that would have stood up on appeal. Most of them --- 95% of them -- didn't require a detailed written opinion on the nature of "science." If you understand how trial courts work, and you have any experience appearing before trial courts, there's no way you can interpret this opinion as merely crossing i's and dotting t's in ancitipation of appeal. The judge was angry, and I think part of this opinion was venting that anger. He also, I think, quite clearly wanted to make his mark on this political debate -- and he succeeded, in spades.
 Moreover, the issue was whether ID is science.
 No, that was not the issue in terms of the governing law. The issue was whether this particular school board violated the establishment clause through the particular policy it adopted in its local school district. That issue could, and in my view should, have been decided under the establishment clause jurisprudence without the foray into science and ID generally.
 Suggesting we scientists all think or behave as one unified political cell
 I didn't suggest that. You have to be pretty naive, though, to believe that the Dover case wasn't at least in part politically motivated. As a lawyer, I wish the case could have simply been about the law applied to the particular dispute. As a scholar, I wish the discussion of ID and what constitutes "science" could be held at an intellectual level among scientists, historians and philosphers of science. What we've gotten instead -- most unfortunately in my view -- is litigation brought by an organization with a political agenda against folks with a different political agenda that has produced a politicized judicial opinion.
 What I'm shocked at, honestly, is that scientists such as yourself seem so comfortable with this decision. I understand that you think the result and opinion were correct, so I suppose it seems to some people that the right side "won" this time. What about the next time and the next and the next? Is nasty, brutish litigation between warring interest groups how we want to debate important and interesting questions about science, faith and truth in our society? Why would anyone committed to the scientific enterprise be happy about that?
 On 12/28/05, Dawsonzhu@aol.c wrote:
  David Opderbeck wrote:

  Only in relatively unusual cases in which the court wants to establish precedenor weigh in on an important legal or policy question does the court craft a lengthy opinion. Usually you get a memorandum order or a less polished opinion. Have you handled cases before the courts in the Third Circuit? Where are you getting your infomation about the common practice of those courts?

Fine that the "modus operandi" is this way, but why should it be called "bad"
that a polished opinion was produced? Judge Jones was surely aware that
his decision would be challenged if any "t" was not crossed or any "i" not
dotted. It seems bizarre and peculiar that anyone should complain about
someone doing a thorough job in a respectable profession.

Moreover, the issues was whether ID is science. That has to be a matter
 that is settled from the very beginning. Suggesting that we scientists all
behave and think as one unified political cell is being about as equitable as
those who suggest that _all_ lawyers as dishonest, corrupt, or easily
corruptible with worldly rewards. Whereas I expect some people
really fit these respective molds, it is unfair to the rest who are honest in
both camps and increases the level of distrust.

by Grace alone we proceed,

Received on Wed Dec 28 23:48:22 2005

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