Friday, September 30, 2005

Ex-official: Board broke with curriculum policy

Carol H. Brown, a former school board member in Dover Area School District, testified yesterday that meetings last summer took on the flavor of an "old-time Christian tent revival," and that she was called an atheist and told she was going to hell by fellow board members.

Brown testified for the plaintiffs in a federal trial that is considering whether "intelligent design," the concept that says biology presents evidence of a master designer for the universe, can be taught in a public school science course.

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Kitzmiller v. Dover Area, America's first test of whether intelligent design can be mentioned to school students in a science course, has, as expected, become a case of wide-ranging subject matter. Evolution and intelligent design are the main topics, but attorneys and witnesses also have jousted over Christianity, philosophy, geology, astronomy, chemistry, academic freedom, metaphysics, genetics, Einsteinian law and gravitational theory.

Though the case, which will likely be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court at its conclusion, has serious implications in the realms of science, politics and public education, it has had its lighter, sci-fi moments.

Several times, space aliens have been mentioned as the theoretical identity of the intelligent designer. Time-traveling cellular biologists from the future also were credited.

This week, Dover's attorney's also noted that some serious psychologists continue to research psychic powers, in turn suggesting that real scientists can in fact investigate subjects considered to be paranormal or supernatural.

In the past, when you asked ID proponents exactly who the intelligent designer might be if not God, you could expect an awkward silence or lot of hemming and hawing. It's a relief to know they've got crack paranormal scientistslike Peter Venkman, Egon Spengler and Ray Stantz on the job.

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