Getting Over Dover by Phillip E. Johnson

Getting Over Dover

As readers will know, on December 20 of last year, federal district judge John E. Jones of the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced his decision in a heavily publicized case involving the Dover, Pennsylvania school board. The board had required teachers in high-school biology classes to read a statement mentioning gaps or problems in Darwin’s theory.

It informed students that there are alternative theories, including Intelligent Design, and urged them to keep an open mind with respect to any theory. It also told them of the availability of a reference book titled Of Pandas and People, “for those interested in gaining an understanding of what intelligent design actually involves.” When teachers refused to read the statement in their classes, the board arranged for an administrator to come to the class and read it to the students.

Even before the court decision, the voters of the district had elected new members to the school board, who formed a majority that quickly rescinded the requirement. Some of us thought or hoped that the lawsuit might be declared moot, as the challenged policy had become a dead letter.

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Phillip E. Johnson is Professor of Law (emeritus) at the University of California at Berkeley. He is the author of Darwin on Trial, The Wedge of Truth, The Right Questions (InterVarsity Press), and other books challenging the naturalistic assumptions that dominate modern culture. He is a contributing editor of Touchstone.

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