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The Dover Downs

We?ve finally seen the first full week of witnesses for the defense in Kitzmiller vs. the Dover area school board. Lawyers defending the board called intelligent design shogun, Michael Behe. The biochemist, unsupported by his Lehigh University employers, argued for three days that ID is not creationism ? that ID doesn?t specify a creator, leaving room for a god or gods, past or present, that must have gotten this whole crazy thing started. But oddly enough his ?because-I-said-so,? argument ac

By | October 24, 2005

We?ve finally seen the first full week of witnesses for the defense in Kitzmiller vs. the Dover area school board. Lawyers defending the board called intelligent design shogun, Michael Behe. The biochemist, unsupported by his Lehigh University employers, argued for three days that ID is not creationism ? that ID doesn?t specify a creator, leaving room for a god or gods, past or present, that must have gotten this whole crazy thing started. But oddly enough his ?because-I-said-so,? argument actually sounds a lot stronger than the defense of Dover District Superintendent, Richard Nilsen. His defense as to whether or not creation was brought up repeatedly at school board meetings and retreats ranged from?I don?t remember? to ?I don?t know.? And when that couldn?t get him out of a corner, he blamed the media. News reports last year from the York Dispatch and the York Daily Record stated that board members had talked about creationism in meetings. These were false according to Nilsen ? mistakes ? both of them ? independently. Why not request a correction? He responded that it would take him 12 hours a day to address all of the mistakes made by the media. You don't have to address them all, Richard, just the ones that might cause problems for you later. But how would he know that this might be problematic? On Thursday, Nilsen testified that district solicitor, Steve Russell, had advised him that there shouldn?t be a problem in adding ID to the curriculum. This conflicts with a memo from Russell entered into the trial on Friday which advised Nilsen not to pursue the ID inclusion because of the comments made by board members and an underlying relationship between ID and creationism that even the Thomas More Law Center (which is defending the school board pro bono) recognized. So, if warned about what the board members may or may not have said, why wouldn?t Nilsen try to actively correct the public record? It appears that Russell?s memo as well as the news reports are just more annoyances for Nilsen to write off. The school principal, he had said was ?constantly exaggerating,? when she warned him about creationist comments from board member, Alan Bonsell, comments that matched Nilsen?s own notes taken at a retreat. Moreover, Nilsen had no idea why school science teachers would take their names off the science curriculum draft just because ID had been added. Gee, do you think they might have predicted litigation? This week, we?ll hear more testimony from the assistant superintendent Michael Baska, who aired some of his failed recollections Friday afternoon. He seems to remember Bonsell wanting 50-50 balance between teaching evolution and some other theory, but he couldn?t remember what that theory was. We?ll also hear another expert testimony from Steve Fuller, a sociology professor from the UK that portrays science as a ?social construct.? Could it be as interesting a construct as this small town school district that pulls out all the stops to stand up for what they believe in by saying that they just can?t remember? Sounds to me like they need more than a bake sale.
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