This evening PBS aired “Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial.” I sat riveted for the entire two hours. Fascinating looks at the people and testimony in the Kitzmiller vs. Dover case in Pennsylvania a few years ago, where the judge had to decide whether an effort to inject Intelligent Design (ID) into the school’s science curriculum was a violation of the U.S. Constitution. Key to the decision was whether ID is simply another name for Creationism, and hence a religious view, not science.
PBS.org has a big section devoted to the program, and also a rapidly growing forum. It’s sad to see how much of the forum immediately fell into the eternal debate of which side is right and what idiots or heathens the other guys are.
Actually I felt the network did an outstanding job presenting the testimony of both sides, taken directly from court records, media accounts, and other sources of the time. It made a compelling story for those of us who’d picked up only bits and pieces before.
In my mind, it was a balanced presentation, but that may be because I’m a secularist and the Darwinists won, quite handily I thought. I understood what the ID supporters were getting at and appreciated it. But the fact remains that they changed their terminology from “creationism” to “Intelligent Design” in an effort to conceal its religious roots and get it into the public schools when they knew religion would not be allowed in the school. What intrigued me about the whole thing was that the judge in the case was a Bush appointee and a believer in ID. Still he adhered to the Constitution rather than his personal beliefs. That’s a tribute to the strength of the Darwinist case and to the courage of a judge who believed in upholding the law.
Nice job, PBS.