More "Monkey Girl" business
There is no question that the book is rabidly pro-Darwinist. Instead of merely presenting the pro-and-con arguments and letting the readers decide for themselves, the book flatly states,
Jones concluded -- correctly -- that the evidence in favor of evolution is convincing and compelling, and that the counterarguments are far less so (page 340) . . . . . .
Arguably, evolution has been more rigorously tested, and enjoys more evidence in its support, than any other theory in the history of science. (page 346)
Expert critics of the Kitzmiller v. Dover decision are unfortunately underrepresented in the acknowledgments in the "Preface and Acknowledgments," but Humes is not entirely and maybe not even partly to blame for that -- as I have pointed out, Discovery Institute's Casey Luskin, one of the most prominent expert critics, inexcusably rejected Humes' request for a full interview, and I don't know if any other expert critics refused a full interview. The only expert critics I know in the list of interviewees are scientist Michael Behe, Kansas Board of Education member Steve Abrams (a veterinarian), Philip Johnson (one of the founders of the ID movement), and lead defense attorney Richard Thompson from the Thomas More Law Center (the TMLC website has not commented on the decision since the day after it was issued). In contrast, 9 expert supporters of the decision are listed. Several plaintiffs and defendants are listed, but I have seen no evidence that any of them are experts on the scientific and legal questions involved. A local news reporter is also listed. As mentioned before, Judge Jones was interviewed, and so he is listed. Because expert critics Casey Luskin, William Dembski, and John West are all not in the list of interviewees, the book is probably less balanced and less accurate than it otherwise might have been.
The last chapter and the epilogue, which discuss the aftermath of the decision, do not acknowledge that a lot of the criticism of the decision is legitimate and paint Judge Jones as a martyr who has been subjected to death threats and who is fighting for judicial independence. For example, Humes offers no answer to the following criticism of the decision:
"Judge Jones found that the Dover board violated the Establishment Clause because it acted from religious motives. That should have been the end of the case," said John West, associate director of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture. "Instead, Judge Jones got on his soapbox to offer his own views of science, religion, and evolution. He makes it clear that he wants his place in history as the judge who issued a definitive decision about intelligent design. This is an activist judge who has delusions of grandeur."(page 336)
The mere fact that Judge Jones immodestly showed absolutely no reluctance to try to impose on the entire country -- and maybe the entire world -- his own dogmatic personal views about controversial and often unanswerable metaphysical questions strongly suggests that he was biased. There is other evidence that Jones was biased, e.g.: (1) his commencement speech at Dickinson College showed hostility towards organized religions by essentially saying that they are not "true" religions; and (2) the opinion's ID-as-science section was virtually entirely copied from the plaintiffs' opening post-trial brief while ignoring the defendants' opening post-trial brief and the plaintiffs' and defendants' answering post-trial briefs.
Also, the book says of the Discovery Institute's book Traipsing into Evolution,
Jones is attacked for "conflating ID with fundamentalism," and after making this accusation, the book excoriates him by offering extensive information about how the intelligent design movement has nothing at all to do with Christian fundamentalism . . . the truth is that nowhere in Jones' opinion does he conflate intelligent design with fundamentalism. The Discovery Institute just made this up. (page 343)
For crying out loud*, one of the main purposes of the Kitzmiller opinion was to conflate intelligent design with fundamentalism.
The book review in the Wall Street Journal says, quoting the first page of the first chapter of the book (page 3),
Mr. Humes says that the Founding Fathers "adamantly fashioned a nation in which government and religion were never to interfere with each other" in part because of "learned deists" like "Jefferson and Franklin and Washington." As it happens, none of these men had a hand in writing the First Amendment, but even granting Mr. Humes's point about deist skepticism, the claim is overstated. The history of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause--along with its inconsistent interpretation by the Supreme Court--shows it to be far more complex than Mr. Humes allows.
So the Founders were not just "deists" but were "learned deists." For crying out loud*, I wonder where in hell some people got this cockamamie idea that the Founders were a bunch of full-time professional philosophers like Voltaire and Rousseau. Wikipedia says of the delegates at the Constitutional Convention,
There were thirty-two lawyers, eleven merchants, four politicians, two military men, two doctors, two teacher/educators, one inventor, and one farmer. The Convention was mostly made up of Christian faiths including Congregationalist, Dutch Reformed, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Quaker, and Roman Catholic. Also a few Deists were in attendance.
Different "experts" have called the Founders nearly everything from a bunch of atheists to a bunch of bible-pounding fundies. Also, many people just plunge headfirst into debates about the religious beliefs of the Founders without ever questioning the dubious notion that those beliefs should govern our interpretations of the Constitution. As for deism, ironically one of the tenets of deism is the teleological argument of design!
The Wall Street Journal review also says,
Mr. Humes quotes a lot of people; at times, he even tells us what they were thinking. But these conversations and thoughts aren't footnoted, and there is no bibliography. We don't know whether he talked to the people he quotes or to people who talked to them, or drew from court records or newspaper accounts.
The end of the book does have 14 fine-print pages of notes about sources. Maybe better documentation would be called for in a scholarly book, but this book was intended for popular consumption.
Finally, this book appears to accept the "contrived dualism" of just two alternatives -- evolution theory and intelligent design. As I have pointed out many times, there are also non-ID criticisms of evolution, e.g., criticisms concerning co-evolution and the propagation of beneficial mutations in sexual reproduction. The Darwinists promote this "contrived dualism" idea more than the ID proponents do.
The controversy over the case may appear to be a tempest in a teapot. The Kitzmiller decision is, for crying out loud*, just an unappealed decision of a single federal district court judge. I am confident that I remember correctly that the 9th Circuit federal court of appeals once had a rule that no district court opinion could be cited in any court of the 9th Circuit, except of course in regard to res judicata or collateral estoppel involving the same parties and issues ( that is perfectly in character for the 9th Circuit -- the 9th Circuit was the leading opponent of the new federal court rule allowing citation of unpublished opinions ). Then I learned to my surprise that McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education, which is also an unappealed district court decision concerning evolution education, is widely regarded as a landmark decision and has often been cited by the courts. McLean was cited in the Supreme Court case of Edwards v. Aguillard (footnote #10 of the opinion of the court) and the name of the case appears 28 (!) times in the Kitzmiller opinion. So I think that a big reason why the Kitzmiller decision has remained so controversial is that opponents of the decision are trying to discredit it (and appear to be succeeding, despite claims to the contrary) in the hope of discouraging other judges from citing it in other cases.
For more of my articles about "Monkey Girl," just click on the label. These labels are a great help -- they often save me the trouble of listing related articles and they even help me find articles.
* I picked up the expression "for crying out loud" from "Fatheaded Ed" Brayton, the blogger on Dispatches from the Culture Wars. It's his trademark expression. I decided to look up its origin and I found that it is a "minced oath" that is a euphemism for "For Christ's sake." LOL In other words, it should be spelled, "For Chri-ing out loud." I'll be goldarned!