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Dover 'intelligent design' decision to be topic of national forum

The panelists, nationally known leaders in fields including theology, biology and constitutional law, will explore in particular the continuing debate over how and what to teach students from kindergarten through 12th grade about the origins of life. More than a dozen states have announced their intention to rethink the standard rules of biology instruction.

During "Keeping Science and Religion Separate in Schools: The Vigil After Dover," the panel will consider the future of such efforts in the aftermath of the widely reported decision by federal Judge John E. Jones III in the case of Kitzmiller et al. v. The Dover Area School District et al.

On Dec. 20, 2005, Jones handed down a detailed, 139-page decision that declared unconstitutional the Dover school board's attempt to force teachers to read a statement to students that suggested intelligent design (ID) is as valid a theory as evolution to explain life's beginnings. Jones wrote that what he saw presented at the six-week-long trial showed "overwhelming evidence . . . that ID is a religious view, a mere relabeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory." Requiring the teaching of ID thus violates the First Amendment's proscriptions for separating church and state issues, he said.

As the nation's first trial of the ID theory, the case became a magnet for media attention. Scientists and other scholars hailed Jones' ruling as a landmark decision in their struggle against anti-evolution groups throughout the country that dates to the famous Scopes "Monkey Trial" of 1925. But ID advocates dismissed the decision as that of an activist judge, promising further attacks on the teaching of Darwinian-based evolutionary theory.

Those issues will be considered by the FSU-based forum, moderated by Deborah Blum, professor of journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Pulitzer Prize-winning science journalist. Blum will moderate a panel of six scholars that includes Eugenie C. Sc
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Contact: Frank Stephenson
frankstp@mailer.fsu.edu
850-644-8634
Florida State University
25-Apr-2006


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