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York Daily Record Reports on Dover

Laurie Lebo of the York Daily Record interviewed me about being dropped as an expert witness in the Dover ID case (go here for the story). The Thomas More Law Center, a public interest law firm which had hired me as an expert witness, did not want the Foundation for Thought and Ethics, which publishes the ID textbook that is under dispute in the Dover case (Of Pandas and People) and for which I am the academic editor, to provide me with additional legal counsel when the ACLU was to depose me on June 13th. I was actually looking forward to being deposed and expect I would have gone along with the Thomas More Law Center, except that Thomas More was going to let Stephen Meyer have additional legal representation. This disparity (Meyer could have separate legal counsel but not me) put me in an impossible situation with my employer FTE — how was I to justfiy to FTE my refusal to let their attorney be present when Thomas More was permitting Discovery to provide additional legal counsel for Stephen Meyer? When I indicated that I would need to have FTE’s counsel at the deposition, the Thomas More Law Center fired me as an expert witness. For your convenience, I include the York Daily Record story here:

Experts won’t back Dover
School district lawyer claims conflict with intelligent-design advocates

By LAURI LEBO
Daily Record/Sunday News
Sunday, June 19, 2005

At bottom: · Dover and intelligent design

Seemingly, they’re would-be allies.

But a disagreement last week over legal representation means three experts with connections to the pro-intelligent design Discovery Institute will not be testifying in a federal court case on behalf of the Dover Area School Board.

The three experts — William Dembski, Stephen Meyer and John Campbell — were slated for testimony on the debate over intelligent design.

But last week, their names were removed from the list before they could give depositions in the case.

Eric Rothschild, plaintiffs’ attorney with Pepper Hamilton, said he was baffled by the decision.

Meyer is the director of Discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture, which funds research projects related to intelligent design. Dembski and Campbell are senior fellows there.

Dembski, a mathematician and scientific philosopher, said the Thomas More Law Center, which is defending the school board, basically fired him because he wanted to have his own attorney present during the depositions.

He said he’s puzzled and frustrated by Thomas More’s refusal to let him participate.

“I felt like I was in the crossfire,” Dembski said.

Even though Discovery is probably the country’s leading proponent of intelligent design, it opposes the Dover Area School Board’s decision to make the concept regarding life’s origins part of its science curriculum.

Its members say they don’t oppose intelligent design being taught in the schools, they merely oppose it being mandated.

In December, 11 parents filed a lawsuit against the decision, arguing that the board violated the First Amendment clause prohibiting the establishment of religion.

While Dembski said he disagrees with many aspects of Darwinism, “there is still a long way at hammering out ID as a full-fledged research program. That said, there is nobody I know that says intelligent design should be mandated. I think this is the problem with Dover. It’s not a way you build consensus and help education along.”

But Richard Thompson, Thomas More president, said the decision to not use the three experts had nothing to do with their positions on intelligent design and whether it should be mandated in a classroom.

Rather, he said he objected to the experts bringing along their own lawyers, calling it a “conflict of interest.”

“The case involves the school board and the parents,” he said. “Now, if you have attorneys coming in and representing the experts and their attorneys are saying, ‘Don’t answer that question,’ then you have a conflict with the aims of the school board.”

Thompson said the problem arose in the past several weeks when the Discovery Institute insisted that its people have separate legal representation.

But Thompson said the defense remains well represented.

Scott Minnich of the University of Idaho and Michael Behe of Lehigh University, along with Warren Nord, a University of North Carolina professor, and Dick Carpenter of Focus on the Family, have already given their depositions and are prepared to testify.

Behe and Minnich are also Discovery fellows. They gave their depositions before the debate over legal representation began.

No one at the Discovery Institute returned repeated calls for comment.

In addition to his connections with Discovery, Dembski is also working as an editor and writer for the Foundation of Thoughts and Ethics, publishers of the pro-intelligent design book, “Of Pandas and People.”

Last month, the nonprofit textbook publisher filed a motion to join the fight against the lawsuit. The lawsuit could harm the Texas company’s financial interests and educational goals since “Of Pandas” is being used in the district, its attorneys argue.

“FTE primarily will focus on plaintiffs’ purpose to destroy both intelligent-design theory as a viable scientific explanation to the origins of life and FTE’s ability to market textbooks,” according to a motion filed Monday in U.S. Middle District Court in Harrisburg.

Dembski said he thinks the whole issue is unfortunate.

“Discovery and Thomas More have their differences,” he said. “I have a lot of loyalty with Discovery.”

Dover and intelligent design

On Oct. 18, when its school board voted 6-3 to approve science curriculum changes, the Dover Area School District is believed to have become the first district in the country to include intelligent design in its high-school biology curriculum.

Intelligent design is the idea that life is too complex to have evolved solely through natural selection and therefore must have been created by some intelligent force.

Its supporters say it’s about fairness — giving time to alternative views to evolution.

Its critics say it’s not science, but a way of forcing Christianity into biology class. In December, 11 parents filed a federal civil-rights suit against the district.

On Jan. 18 and 19, as part of the school board’s mandate, district administrators read a statement to ninth-grade biology students in which intelligent design was mentioned.

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3 Responses to York Daily Record Reports on Dover

  1. Let me encourage readers to look at and compare Ed Brayton’s comments on these developments at the Pandasthumb: http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archives/001160.html.

  2. Conflicting Explanations for Withdrawal of Dover Experts?

    I reported yesterday about William Dembski, John Campbell and Stephen Meyer being withdrawn as expert witnesses by the Thomas More Law Center in the Dover lawsuit. There is now developing some contradictory explanations for that withdrawal. The York Da…

  3. Brayton says:

    the makeup of the universe itself is well outside the reach of “aliens”, because aliens, like humans, are part of the universe itself.

    Shakespeare says:

    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

    Pronouncements like Brayton’s are premature at best. Current physics and cosmology estimates that we have characterized only 5% of the matter & energy in the universe. Less than the tip of an iceberg.

    I’m taking the

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