Monday, November 21, 2005

Take Your Penn and Write to NPR!

Penn Jillette (of Penn & Teller) read his "This I Believe" essay on NPR this morning. It was excellent; a perfect statement of strong atheism, but one that a weak atheist or agnostic can also fully endorse and agree with.

The transcript (and audio) can be found at

I will write a message of praise to NPR later today, as soon as I have some time to compose something concise and coherent. I urge everyone to do the same. I am sure NPR will get all kinds of hate mail due to Penn's essay. They should also hear from people who are not sick in their heads!


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Dover Monkey Trial May Be Moot

The entire intelligent-design-pushing Dover school board was ousted in yesterday's election:

I am not a lawyer, but it seems pretty clear that the judge in the trial over ID now has an option of proclaiming the case moot and closing it without issuing any opinion.

It may be interesting to see if the school board makes a motion to dismiss the case as moot. The old, lame-duck, board has a reason to do it, to avoid a court ruling that would bar them from doing the same thing if they ever get elected again. Avoiding the ruling may also help the like-minded school boards elsewhere. On the other hand, such a motion would be a signal that they expect to lose in court, on top of the already suffered loss in the election.

It would not make sense for the new board to seek dismissal of the case. However, the judge may prefer to dismiss it anyway.

From the source (link above):
It should be noted that the incoming board members from the Dover CARES campaign have a platform plank saying that “intelligent design” will be taught in Dover public schools. However, the venue of such instruction will not be the science classrooms, where it was out-of-place, but rather an elective course on comparative religion, where it fits perfectly.

I agree that there is nothing unconstitutional in teaching about ID as a religious doctrine, and also that there is nothing unconstitutional about a comparative religion class. On the contrary, it is good policy to have such a class, and to include current religious controversies in it.

The good news is that a good fight pays off. Conventional wisdom is that people hate litigation and that even when secularists (or other progressives) win cases in court, they lose in the public opinion and, hence, in elections. As it often happens, conventional wisdom was wrong.