Judgment Day: Intelligent Design On Trial
"Certain Features of the Universe and of Living Things are Best Explained by an Intelligent Cause,
Not an Undirected Process Such as Natural Selection"
|Judgment Day: Intelligent Design On Trial
"Certain Features of the Universe and of Living Things are Best Explained by an Intelligent Cause,Not an Undirected Process Such as Natural Selection"
NOVA captures the turmoil that tore apart the community of Dover,
Pennsylvania in one of the latest battles over teaching evolution in
Featuring trial reenactments based on court transcripts
and interviews with key participants, including expert scientists and
Dover parents, teachers, and town officials, "Judgment Day: Intelligent
Design on Trial" follows the celebrated federal case of Kitzmiller v.
Dover School District. This program was coproduced with Paul G. Allen's
Vulcan Productions, Inc.
In 2004, the Dover school board ordered
science teachers to read a statement to high school biology students
suggesting that there is an alternative to Darwin's theory of evolution
called intelligent design––the idea that life is too complex to have
evolved naturally and therefore must have been designed by an
The teachers refused to comply. Later, parents
opposed to intelligent design filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing
the school board of violating the constitutional separation of church
"There was a blow-up like you couldn't believe," Bill
Buckingham, head of the school board's curriculum committee, tells NOVA.
Buckingham helped formulate the intelligent-design policy when he
noticed that the biology textbook chosen by teachers for classroom use
was, in his words, "laced with Darwinism."
NOVA presents the
arguments by lawyers and expert witnesses in riveting detail and
provides an eye-opening crash course on questions such as "What is
evolution?" and "Is intelligent design a scientifically valid
Kitzmiller v. Dover was the first legal test of
intelligent design as a scientific theory, with the plaintiffs arguing
that it is a thinly veiled form of creationism, the view that a literal
interpretation of the Bible accounts for all observed facts about
A War On Science: Intelligent Design
During the trial, lawyers for the plaintiffs showed that
evolution is one of the best-tested and most thoroughly confirmed
theories in the history of science, and that its unresolved questions
are normal research problems--the type that arise in any flourishing
U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones III
ultimately decided for the plaintiffs, writing in his decision that
intelligent design "cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and
thus religious, antecedents."
As part of his decision, Judge Jones
ordered the Dover school board to pay legal fees and damages, which were
eventually set at $1 million.
"Judgment Day captures on film a
landmark court case with a powerful scientific message at its core,"
says Paula Apsell, NOVA's Senior Executive Producer.
"Evolution is one
of the most essential yet, for many people, least understood of all
scientific theories, the foundation of biological science. We felt it
was important for NOVA to do this program to heighten the public
understanding of what constitutes science and what does not, and
therefore, what is acceptable for inclusion in the science curriculum in
our public schools."
For years to come, the lessons from Dover
will continue to have a profound impact on how science is viewed in our
society and how it is taught in the classroom.