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11 December 2008

EVOLUTION WATCH - Judge copied ACLU in anti-intelligent design ruling

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

EVOLUTION WATCH - Judge copied ACLU in anti-intelligent design ruling

Study: 90% of 'masterpiece' Dover opinion
error-filled 'cut-and-paste' job by 'activist'verbatim

Posted: December 12, 2006
11:00 am Eastern

By Art Moore


Judge John E. Jones III
A historic judicial ruling against intelligent design theory hailed as a "broad, stinging rebuke" and a "masterpiece of wit, scholarship and clear thinking" actually was "cut and pasted" from a brief by ACLU lawyers and includes many of their provable errors, contends the Seattle-based Discovery Institute.

One year ago, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones' 139-page ruling in Kitzmiller v. Dover declared unconstitutional a school board policy that required students of a ninth-grade biology class in the Dover Area School District to hear a one-minute statement that said evolution is a theory and intelligent design "is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin's view."

University of Chicago geophysicist Raymond Pierrehumbert called Jones' ruling a "masterpiece of wit, scholarship and clear thinking" while lawyer Ed Darrell said the judge "wrote a masterful decision, a model for law students on how to decide a case based on the evidence presented." Time magazine said the ruling made Jones one of "the world's most influential people" in the category of "scientists and thinkers."

(Story continues below)

But an analysis by the Discovery Institute, the leading promoter of intelligent design, concludes about 90.9 percent – 5,458 words of his 6,004-word section on intelligent design as science – was taken virtually verbatim from the ACLU's proposed "Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law" submitted to Jones nearly a month before his ruling.

"Judge Jones' decision wasn't a masterpiece of scholarship. It was a masterpiece of cut-and-paste," said the Discovery Institute's John West in a phone conference with reporters yesterday.

West is vice president for public policy and legal affairs for the group's Center for Science and Culture, which issued a statement saying, "The finding that most of Judge Jones' analysis of intelligent design was apparently not the product of his own original deliberative activity seriously undercuts the credibility of Judge Jones' examination of the scientific validity of intelligent design."

Judge will not comment

WND reached Jones' deputy, Liz O'Donnell, at the judge's chambers in Williamsport, Pa. But she said Jones would not comment.

"He appreciates being given a chance to comment, however, other than advising anyone to read his opinion, he will not comment on any Discovery Institute release," she said.

O'Donnell said Jones has read Discovery Institute's two-page press release but not the full 34-page document that includes side-by-side comparisons between the ACLU's text and his opinion.

She declined an offer to have the study sent to Jones for his perusal and response.

Bruce Green, director of Louis Stein Center for Law and Ethics at Fordham Law School, told the Associated Press it is not typical for judges to adopt one side's proposed findings verbatim, although there's "not a rule that categorically forbids it."

"Courts have sometimes criticized the practice, especially when it looks like the judge didn't do any independent thinking," Green said.

'We were stunned'

The Discovery Institute has opposed the Dover school board policy because it thinks attempts to mandate intelligent design are counterproductive. But the group became involved in the case as part of its effort to ensure courts do not restrict an open discussion of evolution in schools.

Proponents of intelligent design say it draws on recent discoveries in physics, biochemistry and related disciplines that indicate some features of the natural world are best explained as the product of an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection. Advocates include scientists at numerous universities and science organizations worldwide.

West, who noted Jones has been giving speeches on his ruling, said the Discovery Institute found out only in September that there had been "extensive copying going on."

"We were stunned," said West, who pointed out Jones even copied several clearly erroneous factual claims made by the ACLU.

Jones, for example, claimed that during the trial, biochemist and Discovery Institute fellow Michael Behe dismissed articles supposedly explaining the evolution of the immune system by saying they are not "good enough." But the court record shows Behe said the opposite: "It's not that they aren't good enough. It's simply that they are addressed to a different subject."

In another example, the judge claimed "ID is not supported by any peer-reviewed research, data or publications." But University of Idaho microbiologist Scott Minnich testified there are between "seven and 10" peer-reviewed papers supporting intelligent design.

The Discovery Institute said its study, written by West and David DeWolf, a law professor at Gonzaga University, showed the ruling "reflected essentially no original deliberative activity or independent examination of the record on Jones' part."

"The revelation that Judge Jones in effect 'dragged and dropped' large sections of the ACLU's 'Findings of Fact' into his opinion, errors and all, calls into serious question whether Jones exercised the kind of independent analysis that would make his 'broad, stinging rebuke' of intelligent design appropriate."

West and DeWolf point out Jones has described the breadth of his opinion as being the result of a "fervent hope" that it "could serve as a primer for school boards and other people who were considering this [issue]," which they see as a tacit admission he was a judicial activist.

Even an opponent of intelligent design, they note, Boston University law professor Jay Wexler, says the "part of Kitzmiller that finds ID not to be science is unnecessary, unconvincing, not particularly suited to the judicial role, and even perhaps dangerous to both science and freedom of religion."

West and DeWolf conclude: "The new disclosure that Judge Jones' analysis of the scientific status of ID merely copied language written for him by ACLU attorneys underscores just how inappropriate this part of Kitzmiller was – and why Judge Jones' analysis should not be regarded as the final word about intelligent design."

West contended the critics who saw the Dover decision as a major setback for intelligent design clearly were wrong, citing a recent New York Times report about a gathering last month of scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies where there was "a rough consensus" that the theory "of evolution by natural selection" was "losing out in the intellectual marketplace."

"A year after Dover, it's the Darwinists who seem filled with gloom, not us," said West.

He pointed to a number of recent developments. In March, the Lancaster School District in California agreed on a philosophy of science policy stating "Darwin's theory should not be taught as "unalterable fact." In June, South Carolina adopted a science standard requiring students to learn how "scientists ... investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory." In September, legal scholar Francis Beckwith was granted tenure at Baylor University amid opposition from Darwinists. Beckwith believes ID can be taught in public schools without violating the Constitution. Last month, the Ouachita Parish School District in Louisiana enacted a policy protecting teachers who cover both evidence for and against Darwinian evolution.


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Related commentary:

What are Darwinists so afraid of?

Seeing God in science

ACLU and Charles Johnson Agree: Keep God out!

Charles Johnson made a post in which he reproduces Judge Jones' interview. What Charles was careful enough to say that Jones was apointed by Bush. Not only that, Charles was careful enough to cite Jones' words in which he says that he is a "I am a person of faith. I’m certainly not an atheist or an agnostic and I see some divine force somewhere".

Even though Jones sees "some divine force somewhere", he failed to say where does he see that mysterious divine force. Is that divine forse seen through science? Or science belongs to atheism, as many atheists believe?

Anyway, what is important about Charles' post is that he totally "forgot" to mention that judge Jones' decision was almost 90% copied from the ACLU!

Nice going, Charles. Now you are on the ACLU side? Great!

I know that something is wrong when a "conservative" sides with the anti-american, anti-God, anti-Christian, anti-capitalism, pro-homosexual , pro-infanticide ACLU in a legal decision.

Don't forget this: Charles Johnson sided with the ACLU AGAINST the Christians in a legal case.

07 December 2008

Tiktaalik Not a Missing Link

Dec 4, 2008 — Has all the colorful artwork of the fish-a-pod been for naught? Three European biologists that Neil Shubin’ famous Tiktaalik fossil, supposedly of a fish evolving into a four-footed land dweller (see 05/03/2006, 11/13/2008) and achieving near iconic status in the media (01/16/2008) is not a missing link after all.
The situation is much more complex, argued Boisvert et al in a letter to Nature.1 Those who enjoy the full jargon can follow their reasoning:
The pectoral fin skeletons of Panderichthys and Tiktaalik share certain unusual features such as a blade-like radius and a longitudinal ridge-and-groove on the flexor surface of the ulna. These can tentatively be interpreted as attributes of the ‘elpistostegid’ segment of the tetrapod stem lineage and thus ancestral for the tetrapod forelimb. Given that recent phylogenies consistently place Panderichthys below Tiktaalik in the tetrapod stem group, it is surprising to discover that its pectoral fin skeleton is more limb-like than that of its supposedly more derived relative. In Tiktaalik4, like in ‘osteolepiforms’ and rhizodonts (more primitive fish members of the stem group), the ulna and ulnare are of similar size. The axis of the fin comprises two more elements distal to the ulnare, and the distal radials are arranged pinnately around this axis. In contrast, in Panderichthys and tetrapods, the ulna is much longer than the ulnare, the ulnare is the last axial element, and the distal radials/digits are arranged in a transverse fan shape11 (Fig. 3). It is difficult to say whether this character distribution implies that Tiktaalik is autapomorphic,2 that Panderichthys and tetrapods are convergent, or that Panderichthys is closer to tetrapods than Tiktaalik. At any rate, it demonstrates that the fish-tetrapod transition was accompanied by significant character incongruence in functionally important structures.
Being translated, that last sentence says that if these fossils represent an evolutionary line from fish to tetrapod, the features are all mixed up and out of sequence – including the “functionally important structures.”
1. Boisvert, Mark-Kurik and Ahlberg, “The pectoral fin of Panderichthys and the origin of digits,” Nature 456, 636-638 (4 December 2008) | doi:10.1038/nature07339.
2. Autapomorphic means a derived trait unique to any given taxon, i.e. shared by the ingroup taxa, but excluded from its outgroup taxa. Convergent refers to traits that appear similar but are not phylogenetically related.
If this tale were told by Paul Harvey, “the rest of the story” would undo the first of the story. It wouldn’t bother the evolutionists, though, because that’s what Darwinism is all about, anyway: telling a good story (see 12/22/2003 commentary).
Next headline on: FossilsEvolutionary Theory

06 December 2008

Darwinian Moonbat and Charlie Agree: Censor is Good

Darwinist Charles Johnson posts a story that shows how darwinian fundamentalists got terrified when a Zoo decided to work in cooperation with the Biblical Creation Museum.

The only point I want to address in here is the following:

"On November 30, 2008, biologist and blogger P. Z. Myers complained about the promotion at his blog Pharyngula, writing, “the Cincinnati Zoo has betrayed its mission and its trust in a disgraceful way, by aligning themselves with a creationist institution that is a laughing stock to the rest of the world, and a mark of shame to the United States,

"Biologist" and "blogger". Did he write what he did because he is a blogger and biologist? Or would it be because he is a rabid atheist, desacrator and one who promulgates violence against those who don't agree that the living world created itself? This is what atheist darwinist Myers said:

"The only appropriate response should involve some form of righteous fury, much butt-kicking, and the public firing of some teachers, many school board members, and vast numbers of sleazy, far-right politicians…I say, screw the polite words and careful rhetoric. It’s time for scientists to break out the steel-toed boots and brass knuckles, and get out there and hammer on the lunatics and idiots."

Nice friends you have there, Charlie!


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