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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I.D. D.O.A. 

Problems with our broadband service yesterday prevented us from remarking on the President's latest ventures into criminality, and the scathing invective we had prepared for you on Monday is on Tuesday, alas, a bagful of stale muffins, redolent of the day-old bin. We are told that stale muffins soaked in brandy are not half bad, and we hope to bring you the results of our attempt to confirm that hypothesis soon. In the meantime, however, we do have one excellent piece of news to report, courtesy of Zemblan patriot M.F.:
A federal judge ruled today that a Pennsylvania school board's policy of teaching intelligent design in high school biology class is unconstitutional because intelligent design is clearly a religious idea that advances "a particular version of Christianity."

In the nation's first case to test the legal merits of intelligent design, Judge John E. Jones III dealt a stinging rebuke to advocates of teaching intelligent design as a scientific alternative to evolution in public schools.

The judge found that intelligent design is not science, and that the only way its proponents can claim it is, is by changing the very definition of science to include supernatural explanations . . . .

In his opinion, the judge said he found the testimony of Barbara Forrest, a historian of science, very persuasive. She had presented evidence that the authors of an intelligent design textbook, "Of Pandas and People, merely removed the word "creationism" from an earlier edition and substituted it with "intelligent design" after the Supreme Court's ruling in 1987. "The evidence at trial demonstrates that intelligent design is nothing less than the progeny of creationism," Judge Jones wrote . . . .

"A thousand opinions by a court that a particular scientific theory is invalid will not make that scientific theory invalid," said [defense lawyer Richard] Thompson, the president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, a public interest firm that says it promotes Christian values. "It is going to be up to the scientists who are going to continue to do research in their labs that will ultimately determine that."
Hear, hear, Mr. Thompson! We do hope the hooey-merchants "continuing" to "do research" in their "labs" will pick up the pace a little, because so far they have not been able to put forth a single concrete, falsifiable hypothesis about how Intelligent Design might have worked -- no who, no what, no when, no where, and most definitely no how. Not nohow!

How did star witness Michael Behe, the Great White Hope of ID by virtue of his advanced degree in biochemistry, comport himself on the stand? Our learned colleague P.Z. Myers of Pharyngula combed through the judge's opinion and plucked out a few rich quotes about the shame of Lehigh:
  • [I]t is notable that both Professors Behe and Minnich admitted their personal view is that the designer is God and Professor Minnich testified that he understands many leading advocates of ID to believe the designer to be God.

  • Consider, to illustrate, that Professor Behe remarkably and unmistakably claims that the plausibility of the argument for ID depends upon the extent to which one believes in the existence of God . . . As no evidence in the record indicates that any other scientific proposition's validity rests on belief in God, nor is the Court aware of any such scientific propositions, Professor Behe's assertion constitutes substantial evidence that in his view, as is commensurate with other prominent ID leaders, ID is a religious and not a scientific proposition.

  • First, defense expert Professor Fuller agreed that ID aspires to "change the ground rules" of science and lead defense expert Professor Behe admitted that his broadened definition of science, which encompasses ID, would also embrace astrology. Moreover, defense expert Professor Minnich acknowledged that for ID to be considered science, the ground rules of science have to be broadened to allow consideration of supernatural forces.

  • Moreover, cross-examination revealed that Professor Behe's redefinition of the blood-clotting system was likely designed to avoid peer- reviewed scientific evidence that falsifies his argument, as it was not a scientifically warranted redefinition.

  • We therefore find that Professor Behe's claim for irreducible complexity has been refuted in peer-reviewed research papers and has been rejected by the scientific community at large.

  • The one article referenced by both Professors Behe and Minnich as supporting ID is an article written by Behe and Snoke entitled "Simulating evolution by gene duplication of protein features that require multiple amino acid residues." (P-721). A review of the article indicates that it does not mention either irreducible complexity or ID. In fact, Professor Behe admitted that the study which forms the basis for the article did not rule out many known evolutionary mechanisms and that the research actually might support evolutionary pathways if a biologically realistic population size were used.
Just another liberal activist judge, you say? Welllll-l-l, not exactly.

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