Intelligent Design on Trial

Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial is a documentary in the “Nova” series that examines the trial of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, a controversial legal battle sparked by a group of science teachers who refused to comply with an order to teach intelligent design (ID). Through scene re-creations, interviews and expert testimony, the program presents the arguments of both sides and illuminates the conflict that thrust the people of Dover into the worldwide spotlight. A fantastic documentary about the absurdity that is “Intelligent Design.” The film explores the religious right’s conscientious attempt at infiltrating the public school system. They wish to inject faith-based teaching into science classes, and they’re willing to bend their strict morality to do so. The film explores the ‘debate’ between ID and evolution by showcasing a trial that took place in Dover, Pa. Somewhat similar to the insanity shown in the Scopes trial in the 1920s, this court case involved a group of teachers who refused to teach ID as science. simply because it’s not. And it’s also about how the school board (on which sat a number of religious folks) who tried to get this pseudo-science into the curriculum. And this doc goes about showing why this isn’t really science and how scientists know that it is not. The doc is put together so well — it’s smart, it’s explanatory, it’s relevant. I highly recommend this doc to all, and especially to people who think it wouldn’t be so bad to teach ID in science class. This shows why that is simply an absurd idea. Apparently those who want to “teach the debate,” as this documentary discusses, are eager to provide an opening for Christianity to take a foothold in schools and use the concept of a ‘designer’ as a sanitized word for God to open the door. Indeed, there is an amusing discovery during the trial where researchers find the “missing link” between creationism and ID. To teach this “debate” in a classroom would do the same disservice to the young as teaching slavery might not have been wrong because the Bible does not condemn it, or that germs might not exist in a health class because no messiah ever discussed them. Such lessons undermine the very purposes and processes the classes are trying to teach. As Americans fall further and further behind in world rankings for science and math, the idea of taking more time out of classes to discuss non-scientific nonsense, concepts that do not engage rigorous thinking, is an insult. The biology teachers who testified in the trial and spoke on this program were aghast at the suggestion. In all, this NOVA production does an excellent job of profiling the debate, re-enacting the case, and contextualizing the urgency of this issue. Documentary “Nova” series 2007 NR 112 minutes.

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