A group of parents from Dover, Pa. began their attempt to block their school district's decision to have intelligent design \theory"" covered in biology classes this Tuesday when opening arguments in their Federal court case began.
Despite intelligent design's failure to meet the requirements of logic that would warrant its even being termed a hypothesis, there are many people who view this trial as a battle between two equal and opposite theories which will result in a compromise or victory for one.
The major danger of this case is that those who view it as a true test of Darwin's theories lack the basic knowledge necessary to distinguish between theories, hypothesis and blind faith, and that the damage their ignorance may cause to American education will take years to repair.
With just a little help from their local biology teacher, and perhaps a little reading, these folks could be spared the public humiliation their faith-based ""theory"" is about to receive as it strays from the safety of its home in religious circles and into the courtroom and public spotlight.
Basically, the argument believers of intelligent design make is that Darwin's theory is incomplete because it does not account for the complexity of living creatures. In other words, they insist that the human body must have been designed by a higher power simply because of its complexity.
This reasoning is not based on any observation or evidence in particular, and it even fails to explain this obvious question: If humans are so complex that they needed to be designed by someone else, then who designed the designer?
Undeterred by this logical gut-punch, intelligent designers characteristically soldier on to say their inability to know who designed the designer is not really so bad given that Darwinism cannot point to the origin of the first piece of living matter. They claim the arguments are similar because they both lack a similar thing.
Their claim of convergence between Darwinism and intelligent design in early biological pre-history has served as the foundation for today's drive for intelligent design instruction in schools, and for the President Bush's assertion that ""both sides ought to be properly taught.""
The rebuttal of this outrageously optimistic claim of convergence by the intelligent design puppets and their creationist masters has been handsomely laid out by many academics, but has been explained most effectively by Oxford's famous Darwinist, Richard Dawkins.
In his 2004 book ""A Devil's Chaplain,"" Dawkins argues that faith-based hypothesis for explaining the world should not to be given equal treatment as scientific ones because they are neither transparent nor do they provide justification to be considered as legitimate except for the fact that someone thought of them.
If one were to treat the theories equally, Dawkins suggests that one would also have to be open to the theory that there is a teapot orbiting the sun. The fact that the orbiting teapot theory cannot be proven wrong would, if one follows the logic of convergence theory, make it just as possible as the theory that there is not a teapot circling the sun.
Although at first the teapot argument may seem like a straw-man argument for intelligent design, it is really a precise equivalent. The intelligent design hypothesis has no foundation. It is simply a counter-factual which arrogantly assumes that it must be disproved in order to be left out of biology textbooks.
In light of Dawkins' elegant arguments, the Pennsylvania trial appears even more absurd and less relevant. Some unlucky lawyers are trying to defend a decision that an uninformed school board made to allow a teapot-in-orbit-like hypothesis to be considered the equal of a much more complete theory and taught in its schools.
The outcome of the trial will not be known for several weeks, but it is important that its implications are not overblown. It is not a battle between two competing ideas for acceptance in the broad spectrum of human knowledge, but rather a giant misunderstanding.
The school board that approved intelligent design's inclusion in biology curriculums must have simply not known that a hypothesis that cannot be disproved does not automatically gain theory status. This small mistake may have disastrous effects both for Darwinism, as its credibility is weakened by having to defend itself against utter nonsense, and for intelligent designers who risk having their rightfully free religious beliefs scorned.