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In Dover: what she said, and what he wanted to say

Barbara Forrest, Southeastern Louisiana University philosophy professor testified in the case against Dover?s school board adding intelligent design to the science curriculum yesterday and today. School district attorneys had opposed the testimony, and possibly for good reason. She outlined the Discovery Institute?s ?wedge strategy? and presented a substantial smoking gun in early versions of the book Of Pandas and People to which Dover students are referred to in the paragraph teachers must r

By | October 6, 2005

Barbara Forrest, Southeastern Louisiana University philosophy professor testified in the case against Dover?s school board adding intelligent design to the science curriculum yesterday and today. School district attorneys had opposed the testimony, and possibly for good reason. She outlined the Discovery Institute?s ?wedge strategy? and presented a substantial smoking gun in early versions of the book Of Pandas and People to which Dover students are referred to in the paragraph teachers must read to their students. Using exhibits obtained from the book?s publishers Forrest showed how the words ?creation science? in early drafts had been routinely changed to ?intelligent design? ? presumably in reaction to the 1987 Supreme Court ruling that creationism not be taught in schools.

William Dembski, senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, edited the book, but was released from his charge as an expert witness for the defense because of a lawyer conflict. So Dembski didn?t get his day in court, but that hasn?t stopped him from testifying even though he says Dover?s policy ?isn?t particularly astute.? His ?expert testimony? appears online both on his blog and through the machinations of Discovery Institute press office who disavowed the Dover school board?s actions but continue to attack witnesses for the plaintiff. In Dembski?s blog, which hardly disavows any sort of wedge strategy, he calls on Providence (with a capital P) to eke out a victory for ID.

That actually sounds like a more active designer than I?d imagined from most of the ID rhetoric. In a challenging Times Op Ed piece from Saturday (that somehow slipped past their new subscription wall) Kenneth L. Woodward laid out why reasoning such as Dembski?s, who calls no less that Aristotle to his cause, relegates a creator/designer/god into the realm of something that can be reasoned about. I didn?t think that was what faith was about, and apparently the controversial cardinal Schoenborn, who had caused uproar last April when he came down hard on evolution, appears to be coming to that conclusion too. Could ID lodge a harmful strike against real faith rather than against Darwin? It?s a question I?ve noticed a few more people asking lately.

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