It isn’t usually the cases that don’t make it to the Supreme Court that get the coverage, but the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District decision, which ruled that Intelligent Design is a form of creationism and thus cannot be mandated in school curricula, has inspired at least two, soon to be three, full general-interest books. The case has also proven a durable fuel for blogs on both sides; the decision, though legally binding, has far from resolved the tooth-and-nail conflict between Intelligent Design advocates and scientists. And, as seen in the analyses of those who covered the event, the ruckus raises systemic questions about how we can talk about issues when we talk about issues in America.
It’s obvious that Edward Humes, author of “Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America’s Soul”, is solidly in the science camp. He highlights the shortcomings of claims made by members of the Discovery Institute, the originators and proponents of Intelligent Design, and the overtly but denied religious agendas of its legal supporters, even as he praises the research and presentations done by the plaintiffs’ witnesses and lawyers. Gordy Slack, who wrote “The Battle over the Meaning of Everything: Evolution, Intelligent Design and a School Board in Dover, PA”, has said in public interviews that despite a religious family, he also was rooting for science. And Lauri Lebo, the author of the upcoming account of her tenure as the lead local reporter for the York Daily Record (the book is tentatively titled “The Devil in Dover: Dogma vs. Darwinism is Small-Town America”), wrote to me that “I knew one side was lying,” even as she strove for objectivity.
Humes noted that a large part of the American psyche craves fairness above all, and this desire to be fair has lead to an almost post-modern equal privileging of viewpoints—for example, the thought that a “debate” between ID and evolution would be a great way to present the issue.