Science class is for real science—and "intelligent design" isn't that. It's more akin to religion. So concluded Judge John E. Jones III, who ruled Tuesday that Dover, Pennsylvania's policy promoting intelligent design (ID) is inconsistent with both the U.S. and Pennsylvania constitutions. In his decision, Jones expressly linked ID to creationism, a long-standing belief among some religious groups that the creation story in Genesis is to be interpreted literally. Since its inception in the 1990s, ID advocates have disavowed any ties to creationism, claiming instead that ID is science, sort of. Said Judge Jones (a Republican, appointed by President Bush), "In making this determination, we have addressed the seminal question of whether ID is science. We have concluded that it is not, and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.... 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." Though the decision is garnering massive national attention, the citizens of Dover already resolved the question democratically in November when they ousted the school board members who supported the teaching of ID (see here). Now Dover students can go back to learning science in line with Pennsylvania's academic standards, which do an excellent job handling the teaching of evolution and natural selection, according to our recently released State of State Science Standards 2005. But losing this battle won't end ID's war on evolution, nor rectify the serious shortcomings in other areas of K-12 science education. As Paul Gross notes in the science standards report, "most of the states indulging in some downplaying of evolution were also weak in other ways."
"Judge bars 'Intelligent Design' from Pa. classes," by Laurie Goodstein, New York Times, December 20, 2005
"Banned in biology class: Intelligent Design," by Peter Grier and Josh Burek, Christian Science Monitor, December 21, 2005