The “breathtaking inanity” of Intelligent Design

Dig this:

"A federal judge barred a Pennsylvania school district yesterday from mentioning "intelligent design" as an alternative to evolutionary theory in a scathing opinion that criticized local school board members for lying under oath and for their "breathtaking inanity" in trying to inject religion into science classes.

U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III, a Republican appointed by President Bush, did not confine his opinion to the missteps of a local school board. Instead he explicitly sought to vanquish intelligent design, the argument that aspects of life are so complex as to require the hand, subtle or not, of a supernatural creator. This theory, he said, relies on the unprovable existence of a Christian God and therefore is not science."

WaPo called Jones’s decision "an exclamation mark on a courtroom battle widely hailed as the successor to the Scopes "Monkey Trial" of 1925; WaPo writers David Brown and Rick Weiss add:

"When evolution’s defenders find themselves tongue-tied and seemingly bested by neocreationists – when they believe they have the facts on their side but do not know where to find them – this 139-page document may be the thing they turn to."

This whole sordid episode, fostered by idiots the unevolved, has been a collossal waste of taxpayer money and intellectual bandwidth. The scary part of it is that there is a uncomfortably large swath of anti-Americans who want to impose their religous views on the rest of the nation.

Yes, I said anti-American, because that is precisely what that philosophy is: It violates — quite selfishly — the very basis of the Freedoms this nation was founded on.   

Guess that leaves Gay Marraige and the War on Christmas as the remaining issues who’s intelligent nefarious design is to distract the populace from issues of Guns and Butter . . .


Defending Science by Defining It
David Brown and Rick Weiss
Washington Post, Wednesday, December 21, 2005; Page A20

Judge Rules Against ‘Intelligent Design’
Dover, Pa., District Can’t Teach Evolution Alternative
Michael Powell
Washington Post, Wednesday, December 21, 2005; Page A01

Case No. 04cv2688

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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. Norman commented on Dec 24

    Intelligent Design? It is never reported that the Vatican’s science expert has declared that ID does not belong in the science depts of schools but is a religious matter. Give the guys in Rome some credit.

  2. Barry Ritholtz commented on Dec 24


    No one mentioned either the Vatican or Rome.

    I am at a loss to understand your reference — What are you talking about?

  3. Larry Nusbaum, Scottsdale commented on Dec 24

    OMG! In one post, you have stated so perfectly all of my thoughts on this subject. I really believe the other side would like to rewrite that US Constitution so that it was whittled down to two laws:
    1st Amendment – BAN ON GAY MARRIAGE
    2nd Amendment – BAN ON ABORTION
    Barry, think of how fast we can get our kids through law school!

  4. D. commented on Dec 24

    At least 75% of the US is not Catholic so who cares about the Vatican when it comes to ruling the country???

  5. wcw commented on Dec 24

    I think his point, however indelicately put, is that when even the folks who brought you the Inquisition have come to terms with evolution that perhaps it’s time to stop packing schoolboards in order to challenge it.

  6. friech commented on Dec 24

    Being a christian myself, I would not want the state or school board to take an interest in educating my children about God or creation in any circumstance. I feel that this is my responsibility as a parent.

  7. Zephyr commented on Dec 24

    The creationist view is not limited to Christian faiths. Many religions include this tye of belief. Intelligent design is based on early man’s attempt to describe what he had little or no science to explain. It is not science, but conjecture and myth which (in various forms) has become part of the teachings or beliefs of many religions and peoples. I think it is best left to be taught in religion, philosophy or cultural studies classes.

    However, as long as intelligent design is to be examined I like this particular variant:

    At least it is fun.

  8. cm commented on Dec 24

    Unfortunately, religion does not only have a spiritual dimension, but in practice it has been used as a tool of social control and “management” by the elites since the dawn of civilization. ID falls under the same rubric.

  9. Jonathan commented on Dec 24

    Stick to the finanical discussions. Your personal rant has once again proved more offensive than helpful. If you would just investigate your own assertions more closely, I think you’ll find that most conservative Christians are some of the most pro-American people you can meet.

    Empty accusations don’t help to establish a solid base of supporters of your beliefs. Instead of calling names, how about justifiably acknowledging the positive impacts that Christians – yes those “anti-American” believers in creation – have had on our nation.

    My challenge to you, Barry, is to show me where anyone has proven macro evolution to be fact, and not just theory…how did you call it earier? “Conjecture” “Philosophy”? Evolution is a theory. Your assertion that teaching something else also as a theory itself violates all the freedoms that this country is founded on. Your assertion is, in itself, anti-American because now you are proposing limiting discussion of an alternate idea – you are limited free speech in an educational environment.

    To me, that is anti-American. Why can’t we allow full discussion on these ideas? And that is what they are – Ideas for discussion.

    If you consider me to be “unevolved”, then I guess I’ll need to be happy in my lesser status than you.

    Boo, Barry. Stick to your forte.

  10. Jonathan commented on Dec 24

    Oh, by the way…Merry Christmas to you all!

  11. Barry Ritholtz commented on Dec 24

    I am sticking to my expertise: Analysis and evaluation of complex systems . . .

    I find it unproductive to “prove” anything — what I will do is attempt to persuade about issues that are either unknown or ambiguous.

    Intelligent Design is neither: It is a nonscientific faith based belief system poorly disguised as science.

    I believe the judge got it right, and if you wish to debate it, I point you to his decision:

    As far as I’m concerned, this useless distraction has now been put to rest. Next topic please.

  12. Jon H commented on Dec 24

    Jonathan writes : “Evolution is a theory.”

    So is gravity. We know it happens, but how is rather a mystery still. Far more of a mystery than evolution.

    Are you going to suggest a supernatural explanation for gravity?

  13. Marcin commented on Dec 24

    I don’t think that most scientists that believe in ID want it taught in public schools [the more important question is should there be public schools.] The thing that always escapes debate is whether neo-Darwinism is a scientific theory. I don’t think either of them is, nor should they be taught in public schools. Neo-Darwinism is based on just as much conjecture as Creationism.

  14. M1EK commented on Dec 24

    Jon H, you anti-religious secular humanist Christmas-hating liberal fruitcake,

    As a matter of fact, us True God-Fearin’ ‘Merkins already have an answer for the THEORY of so-called ‘gravity’. Here it is:

    Praying for your immortal soul, you sad heathen sack,

  15. Larry Nusbaum, Scottsdale commented on Dec 24

    Posted by: Jonathan | Dec 24, 2005 3:32:47 PM


  16. Larry Nusbaum, Scottsdale commented on Dec 24

    Jon H, you anti-religious secular humanist Christmas-hating liberal fruitcake,
    As a matter of fact, us True God-Fearin’ ‘Merkins already have an answer for the THEORY of so-called ‘gravity’. Here it is:
    Praying for your immortal soul, you sad heathen sack,


  17. Andy commented on Dec 24

    Speaking of Gay Marriage… after getting everyone all worked up over it, where’d it go?? Oh, wait, it’s not an election year. Of course, it’s not an issue this year.

    Where’d Gay Marriage go? Check out this little tidbit: (sorry, gotta do the free sign-up, but they haven’t sent me any e-mail in a year, so seems safe):

    Seems the moral minority is just waiting for next year’s elections before bringing out the gay bogeymen again.

  18. B commented on Dec 25

    I’m surprised this post didn’t illicit more responses. Too bad. :) Maybe I can help. Off topic humor and controversial subjects are always fun.

    I consider myself a very spiritual person (happy holidays to all) but I’m not sure what planet the religious right came from. Notice no capitalization there because they aren’t PROPER. Intelligent Design has some logical merit to those who illogically believe in a higher power. That includes myself. But, it has absolutely no basis in scientific fact of what we know today. Zero. It has no more room in our science class rooms than the majority of today’s science teachers who believe dinosaurs and humans roamed the earth together. Too much Elmer Fudstone, I do believe. (A truth of some sorts I read many years ago in a local newspaper but could not find any link on to post here. Actually, if you Google this topic, there are many posts about people in general believing this.)

    Both Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton, likely the most brilliant scientist to have lived in the last 400 years, were more convinced at their death of the presence of God. But, what is God? Who is God? Islam’s God? A Jewish God? A Mormon’s God? A Buddhist God? A Hindi God? A God of all? A God of none? I know one thing very clearly as much as the air I breathe. Just as the Pharisees weren’t recognizable to Christ, neither would be the religious right in America. A painful point to those who so severely wish us to believe his guidance rules their lives.

    Even the Catholic Church, to their credit, has given up trying to convert the world and no longer considers it part of their practiced political dogma.

    On a day where we celebrate a great man, and maybe more, who preached unconditional love, kindness and compassion for all men and women, should we wonder if the religious right are America’s version of terrorists? They’ve hijacked the Republican Party and turned me into a Libertarian. Isn’t hijacking on the list of Patriot Act offenses punishable by bunga bunga? Btw, the Patriot Act is another religious right act meant to push me out of the Republican Party.

    Just a few pleasant thoughts to ponder on this great day.

  19. Larry Nusbaum, Scottsdale commented on Dec 25

    B: Is this bashing the religious right day. Or, should we keep I.D. out of the public schools? Because, I want their rights to express whatever is on their collective minds protected and respected.
    I also want our rights under the US Constitution to be maintained, protected and upheld.

  20. B commented on Dec 25

    This is express myself day. I’m just gearing up for the Gay Pride Parade. You know…..Under the US Constitution and all. I’m sure you support my right to do so. Correct?

  21. B commented on Dec 25

    On a day of peace, I’d simply like to say that one day I hope to grow up and be as enlightened as you, Larry. Your intellectual insight is my guiding light that I wake up to every day.

    Merry Christmas from all of us here at the Gay Pride Parade. God be with you.

  22. Larry Nusbaum, Scottsdale commented on Dec 25

    B: I couldn’t tell if your prior post was sarcastic or not. (bad forum). but, I meant what I said in both of mine. So you know, I am a strong supporter of everything gayrights. (of course, I support many rights, including my right to also be idiotic at times). I call San Francisco my home (since 1977) and Scottsdale my second home. I am no intellectual as you can tell from my posts. I know only three subjects intimately: Baseball, Real Estate and Everything else.

  23. Idaho_Spud commented on Dec 26

    Barry you should stick to whatever you like to discuss, and not let anyone tell you what you should stick to!

    You are very often correct, and always entertaining ;)

    Besides it’s time for the heathen humanists to have a voice again.

  24. Idaho_Spud commented on Dec 26

    Uh oh yeah… Happy Holidays.

  25. Larry Nusbaum, Scottsdale commented on Dec 26

    I have absolutely no problem with endorsing the idea of gay marriage…………….providing, of course, that it’s between a man and a woman.

  26. Jonathan commented on Dec 28

    I’ve been away from the blogosphere for a while this week, but have enjoyed catching up on this posting. Just a quick follow up to a couple of posts:


    Larry, 2 challenges to you:
    1. The idea of Creation is believed by more than Christians. I.D., though a Christian idea, is an attempt to allow scientific thought and evaluation of mulitiple “possible” alternatives.

    2. The US Constitution makes no statement – none – that says that Christian ideas cannot be taught in public schools. Don’t pull out the “separation of church and state” claim…it’s not in the Constitution. Barring establishment of a state religion is in the Constitution, and teaching I.D. is far from this! And, oh, by the way, the US Constitution doesn’t establish public, government run schools. Neither of these ideas can be defended by referencing the US Constitution.

    Hey Jon H. (like the name, by the way!), Gravity is not a theory, it is a scientific law proven by evidence. Evolution is not a “law”, it still is scientific theory because there has yet to be evidence to prove it. Brush up on your high school science.

    Thanks to all for a lively discussion! I hope you each have a prosperous and healthy New Year!

  27. Newton commented on Dec 31

    “Gravity is not a theory, it is a scientific law proven by evidence. Evolution is not a “law”, it still is scientific theory because there has yet to be evidence to prove it.”

    A beautiful summary of the type of scientific ignorance driving otherwise reasonable (it is assumed) individuals going for intelligent design.

    Gravitation *is* a theory. It is based on the observation of facts, on the basis of which rules have been expressed. These rules are no more that a guess that the facts generalize, which so far in the case of gravity has worked quite well. (Not completely, though. Classical gravitational theory at sub-Planck dimensions does not work at all; Current theoretical work at that scale is progressing yet still in the dark).

    Evolution is a theory just the same, based on natural observations . And so far, it has worked exceedingly well, while any alternative has not. (ID is not even an alternative, since it is not a scientific theory: it invokes the supra-natural and as a result, anything is possible since it does not rely solely on observations of nature. It is highly suggested that you read the judge’s ruling, along with enquiring on something called scientific method, defined, oh, a few centuries ago and adopted by all scientists, irrespective of their religious belief.


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