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Monday, December 26, 2005

Timeline: Recent Dover ruling against teaching ID in US schools

I haven't followed the Dover case much, principally because lots of competent bloggers were doing it. And in truth I have hardly had time to blog anything recently. But a correspondent kindly wrote me to offer the following timeline of court cases and their effect on the intelligent design controversy, for what it is worth. My comments appear in brackets:

1982 McLean v. Arkansas, hailed as the beginning of the end for dissent from Darwinian evolution.

1984 Thaxton, Bradley, Olsen publish The Mystery of Life's Origin. Apparently they forgot to study the McLean decision.

(Thaxton is chemist Charles Thaxton, who — I think — coined the term "intelligent design" in 1988 ( see By Design or by Chance? , p. 172). Bradley is Walter F. Bradley, distinguished professor of engineering at Baylor University.

1985 Michael Denton publishes Evolution, A Theory in Crisis. Mike Behe reads the book shortly thereafter, thereby displaying his ignorance that important scientific questions are usually settled by federal judges.

(Denton and Behe are both biochemists. Denton considers himself a post-Darwinian ( equivalent to a post-Darwinist like me) and Behe is a key figure in the intelligent design community.)

1986 Richard Dawkins publishes The Blind Watchmaker , a vigorous defense of Darwinism against various doubters. Dawkins also apparently didn't realize the McLean decision had already settled matters. A long string of books aimed at the same end (defending Darwinism) follow over the next 15 years.

1987 Edwards v. Aguillard. Now, it's REALLY the end of dissent from Darwinism. Look, we mean it this time!

1987-8 Phil Johnson, in London, reads Denton and Dawkins at the same time, writes the core of Darwin on Trial. The manuscript begins to circulate informally, being used among other places in an evolution graduate seminar at the Univ of Chicago taught by David Raup. Raup not only forgot about McLean, he neglected to genuflect to THE AUTHORITY OF US SUPREME COURT, dammit!

(Phillip Johnson was a professor of constitutional law, and he looked at Darwinism from the perspective of a prosecuting attorney.)

1991 Darwin on Trial is published, and read by hundreds of thousands (probably millions) of people who show a distressing lack of respect for judicial authority.

1993 The Pajaro Dunes meeting, the kernel of what would become the much larger ID community.

(My correspondent is talking about a meeting that Johnson convened, of scientists who were interested in ID — to find out what they had and didn't have. I saw a DVD of the Pajaro Dunes meeting in 2002. It made a profound impression on me, perhaps because it confirmed my news judgement of a year or so earlier that ID was bound to be major news.)

1996 Darwin's Black Box is published, and widely reviewed.
Someone forgot to send a memo about McLean and Edwards to the editors at the Free Press who won Mike's MS in a competitive auction with other publishers.

(Yes, I remember hearing about that from a publisher's agent.)

1996 The Mere Creation meeting at Biola. The ID community continues to grow.

1998 Dembski's The Design Inference is published.

(Dembski's book was peer reviewed and published by Cambridge University Press.)

2000 Wells's Icons of Evolution is published. Can't these people use Lexis or Westlaw? Don't they know that precedent is binding?

(Wells's book took on textbook representations that paint a much rosier picture of Darwinian evolution than the evidence supports.)

And so on, down to 2005, when we find:

2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover, logging in at 139 pages. It's all over! No more dissent! Darwin rules, and evolution is the story of the year on the cover of Science.

Bottom line:

Speaking for myself, I am unaccustomed to letting federal judges do my thinking for me. And I expect, on the basis of past history (above) that we will see great things to follow yet another judicial catastrophe.

(In 2005, the Pope started using the term "intelligent design" to talk about the Catholic Church's view of origins.)

Well, so far my prediction that ID would be big news by the mid-decade has held up. Yup, journalism is the first draft of history.
If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

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