New Dover Documents

The NCSE has posted several new post-trial documents in the Dover case. Essentially, since the testimony phase of the trial ended both sides have been filing briefs with the court making formal arguments for their position and responses to the other side's position. Both sides filed long briefs called "Findings of Fact", and then filed responses to each other's briefs. You can find these briefs in this directory, with those filed by the defense indicated with a "Ds" in the title, and those filed by the plaintiffs with a "Ps" in the title. In particular, there is the plaintiff's response to the defense's findings of fact and the plaintiff's response to amicus briefs filed by the Discovery Institute and the Foundation for Thought and Ethics. The latter is particularly interesting and pointed in its argumentation. I'll post a long excerpt below the fold (hat tip to Nick Matzke for the link and the text):

In short, the amicus briefs add nothing new to the argument for intelligent design as science. What could have been helpful to the Court, and was uniquely in control of the amicus organizations, is some explanation why the Discovery Institute's and FTE's own descriptions of their mission and activities as Christian apologetics are not dispositive of the religious nature of intelligent design.5

As one obvious example, the Discovery Institute does not explain -- literally does not say a word about - the organization's Wedge Document (P140), which sets forth the goals and objectives of the intelligent-design movement. The Governing Goals of the Discovery Institute are "[t]o defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies" and "[t]o replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God." P140. The Wedge Document is no anomaly, but rather reflective of the positions of the Discovery Institute and the intelligent-design movement's leaders, such as Phillip Johnson (originator of the "Wedge" strategy described in the Wedge Document), 10: 16-17 (Forrest), William Dembski (avowed Christian apologist who advocates intelligent design as the theology of John the Apostle translated into the technical language of information theory), P357; 11: 18,48-50, 55 (Forrest), and Stephen Meyer (director of the Discovery Institute, and advocate of intelligent design as "the God hypothesis.").6 P332; 552 (Pennock); 11: 31 (Forrest)

Similarly, the FTE declines to address facts that it is best situated to explain. Numerous documents in evidence reveal FTE to be a religious organization with religious objectives, not a scientific one pursuing scientific aims. P12; P28; P168A; P566; P633; 10:90-92, 96-101 (Forrest). The FTE ignores all this evidence in its amicus brief.

In a pre-trial hearing in this case, FTE president Jon Buell attributed religious descriptions of his organization, in legally required public filings he had signed, to mistakes by lawyers and accountants. The Court can decide whether Mr. Buell and the FTE were filing false documents with the federal government and the State of Texas, or whether they were instead misrepresenting themselves to this Court, by disowning the religious agenda stated in those documents. The overwhelming evidence from Mr. Buell's own writings regarding his and FTE's Christian, creationist objectives gives the Court ample basis to make that judgment. P12; P28; P168A; P566; P633; 10:90-92,96-101 (Forrest). Either way, the FTE's submission is entitled to no credence or respect from this Court.

This is particularly true of the FTE's rationalization for the substitution of the phrase "intelligent design" for "creation" in versions of Pandas prepared after Edwards. FTE makes the impossibly silly argument that by discarding the words "creation" and "creationism" found in early drafts, the FTE expressly rejected creationism. FTE Brief at 17. The only way the drafting history of Pandas could be interpreted as rejecting creationism is if the authors had discarded not just the word, but the explanation of what the word means -- "various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency with their distinctive features already intact -- fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc." The retention of the central creationist concepts using a different term, "intelligent design," dictates only one inference: intelligent design equals creationism.

If this were not true, surely the FTE would have provided an explanation in its brief for why Pandas was written by two admittedly creationist authors, one of whom was an advocate for creation science in the federal courts, and for why Buell thought that the Edwards ruling on creation science would matter so much to the financial success of Pandas. P350; 10: 102-104, 126-128 (Forrest). But there is no discussion of these facts.

In summary, the amicus originations [sic] have a lot of explaining to do. But they studiously avoid their own words and history, which reveal the religious content of intelligent design.

What all three amici are clearly devoted to is getting the Court to blame any Establishment Clause violation on the defendant board members -- without addressing the facts that show that the Board was right in understanding intelligent design to be a religious, God-friendly alternative to the theory of evolution. FTE has stated in a fundraising letter that if the Court "rule[s] narrowly, focusing only on the school board's action and not ruling on the status of Pandas ... that would be great news."7 (emphasis in original). The Discovery Institute and the FTE, having provided the Dover Board with the idea and the materials to advance its religious agenda, are content to throw the Board under the legal bus, so long as it does not involve the exposure of intelligent design as an inherently religious proposition.

The reason for this approach is obvious: it allows the FTE and Discovery Institute to fight on in the culture wars -- perhaps in school boards in Kansas or Ohio -- where they may be able to exert greater control over the message broadcast by government officials, avoid the type of rigorous cross-examination applied in this case to expose intelligent design's alleged scientific underpinning to be an empty vessel, and suppress the kind of revealing acknowledgments of the religious reasons for promoting intelligent design made by Dover school board members.8 As FTE and Discovery Institute attorney Wenger recently explained to a church audience, the Dover Board could have improved its case for intelligent design by being "clever as serpents."9

Plaintiffs argued at the close of trial that the challenged policy at issue in this case would not have been any more constitutional if the Dover Board had been more circumspect about its objectives, or better at covering its tracks, because intelligent design is an inherently religious proposition, and a modern form of creationism. By availing themselves of the opportunity to submit amicus briefs, but not contesting the evidence of their religious and creationist words and actions, the FTE, Discovery Institute, and their affiliated scientists have effectively admitted the validity of that evidence.

Pretty devestating stuff, especially about the FTE. The FTE's absurd rationalizations demonstrate, again, how far these alleged defenders of moral virtue will go in lying to achieve their goals. It takes serious chutzpah to argue that a book that was written by two creationists, written originally as a creationist textbook, then suddenly changed the favored terminology to "intelligent design" - using the same definition regardless of the term used - is really a rejection of creationism. Apparently, though, lying is just fine as long as it is convenient for achieving one's objectives. And these are people who say they're against "situational ethics" (and who blame evolution for it!).

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