Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Is the Discovery Institute simply trying to be cute?

The Discovery Institute is the major force behind the Intelligent Design movement in the US and it is now alleging that the teaching material associated with the recent PBS documentary, Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial, brings religion into classroom. huh?? Here is the story from New Scientist:
In a bizarre twist to the evolution wars, supporters of intelligent design are accusing the producers of a TV science documentary series of bringing religion into US classrooms. The Discovery Institute, based in Seattle, Washington, alleges that teaching materials accompanying Judgment Day: Intelligent design on trial, broadcast on 13 November, encourage unconstitutional teaching practices.
You may be wondering why. Well here it is straight from their own website:
The PBS teaching guide is a companion piece to the NOVA docudrama about the 2005 Dover intelligent design trial and claims to provide for teachers “easily digestible information to guide and support you in facing challenges to evolution.” The guide instructs teachers to introduce religion into science classes with discussion questions like “Can you accept evolution and still believe in religion? A: Yes. The common view that evolution is inherently antireligious is simply false.”

“This statement oversimplifies the issue and encourages teachers to prefer certain religious viewpoints in the classroom, betraying Supreme Court law concerning religious neutrality,” says attorney Casey Luskin, program officer for public policy and legal affairs at Discovery Institute.

“The Supreme Court ruled in Epperson v. Arkansas that the government must maintain ‘neutrality between religion and religion’," says Randal Wenger, a Pennsylvania attorney who filed amicus briefs in the Kitzmiller v. Dover case. "Because the Briefing Packet only promotes religious viewpoints that are friendly towards evolution, this is not neutral, and PBS is encouraging teachers to violate the First Amendment's Establishment Clause.”
Seriously, this is their main argument. So, I guess in a post Dover-trial world, the Discovery Institute is now reduced to fighting these kinds of frivolous battles. Stay tuned - the next big battle will be on the definition of "is".