This Legal Maelstrom

None of this should have happened in the first place, but since it did, at least the judge said what’s what. At least he didn’t do a lot of grovelling and respecting and protected space-providing and beseeching and apologizing. At least he came right out and said that the creationist side lied – and lied repeatedly at that. And since he said it, we can repeat it. A judge said it, in a decision, so no one can accuse us of libel if we say what the judge said. So: they told lies! Repeatedly! And they got caught doing it! Nyah!

Said the judge: “It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.”

It is, isn’t it. Very ironic. Not at all surprising, since we see the bizarrely truth-avoiding way they characterize atheists and atheism in whingeing article after whingeing article in newspapers and magazines – but very ironic. How satisfying it is for a change to see someone in a position to do something about it, point that out.

As P Z says at Panda’s Thumb, the judge’s decision is joyful reading for us on the side of science.

First, while encouraging students to keep an open mind and explore alternatives to evolution, it offers no scientific alternative; instead, the only alternative offered is an inherently religious one…Second, by directing students to their families to learn about the “Origins of Life,” the paragraph performs the exact same function as did the Freiler disclaimer: It “reminds school children that they can rightly maintain beliefs taught by their parents on the subject of the origin of life,” thereby stifling the critical thinking that the class’s study of evolutionary theory might otherwise prompt, to protect a religious view from what the Board considers to be a threat.

There it is, you see – that idea of protection again. Well, the only way to ‘protect’ ideas that have no evidence and no good arguments to back them up, is via various kinds of suppression and distortion, is via stifling critical thinking. That’s why it’s a bad idea to protect weak ideas. But those are just the ideas that a lot of well-meaning fools are keen to protect. But you can’t have the one without the other. You can’t have the bad idea-protection without the damage to the beneficiaries’ ability to think properly. That’s what protection means in this context. It means protection from critical thinking, which means protection from any kind of real thinking, as opposed to daydreaming. It means protection from having one’s ‘beliefs’ ‘attacked’ as the fatuous Guardian editor put it – ‘attacked’ meaning questioned, disputed, argued with, challenged. In other words protected from every process that enables people to learn how to think clearly. What a tragic, pathetic idea of protection.

To be sure, Darwin’s theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions. The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID Policy. It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.

Yes, I do particularly like that bit. I do indeed.

…this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Board’s decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.

Utter waste? When they got to spend a whole day listening to Steve Fuller’s incoherent ravings? How can that be?

No, of course that’s a joke. Having to go to court to prevent nonsense from being taught in the science classrooms is indeed an utter waste of resources, just as it would be a waste to have to go to court in order not to have flat-earth cosmology taught in the science classrooms. If people want to protect their beliefs, they should swap their brains for small piles of cotton wool, and let it go at that.

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