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Pennock on Dover: The crumpling of the Wedge


Robert T. Pennock, the Michigan State University professor of philosophy who testified for the plaintiffs in Kitzmiller v. Dover, assesses the outcome of the trial in a recent essay [Link broken] for Science and Theology News. "Creationists had been spoiling for this fight since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against so-called 'creation science' in the 1987 Edwards v. Aguillard case," he writes, adding, "For 15 years they had been sharpening their arguments, skirmishing now and then, and preparing for such an epic showdown. They were even cocky. William Dembski publicly wagered a bottle of single-malt scotch that should it ever go to trial whether ID could be taught in the public school science classes that it would pass all constitutional hurdles. Now it was time."

Despite their assiduous preparation for the trial, Pennock relates, "the Wedge crumpled. This was not just because the court found that ID advocates on the school board had lied to disguise the religious purpose of the ID policy. The judge seriously considered the ID claim that it is not religion but real science, but he found the arguments completely unconvincing. The court found that even the defense had to admit that ID was trying to redefine science. As in earlier creationism trials, the court ruled that calling something science does not make it so. ... Zealots will never see reason, but let us hope that more pragmatic heads understand that it is time to lay down their swords and shields and wedges. The ID battle was lost at Dover."

Pennock's essay was one of a suite of articles responding to the Kitzmiller decision. Also contributing were Robin Collins [Link broken] [Link broken] (suggesting that "intelligent design" should be regarded as "not as a part of science but as a hypothesis that could potentially influence the practice of science"), Evan Fales [Link broken] (taking issue with "two unsound arguments used to deny that ID is science"), Steve Fuller [Link broken] (expressing concern about "the idea that religious motives alone can disqualify an inquiry from being considered scientific"), Paul R. Gross [Link broken] (arguing that Collins's suggestion merely reiterates the claim that "mainstream science unfairly and unnecessarily excludes ID from the study of life's history"), and Alvin Plantinga [Link broken] (wondering, with respect to the philosophical aspects of the Kitzmiller decision, "how can one hope to settle these matters just by a judicial declaration?").