Nathan Stubbs

Intelligent Design on trial

by Nathan Stubbs

Tonight on PBS, the science program Nova takes on a subject that has been making headlines in Louisiana since the state Legislature passed the controversial Louisiana Science Education Act last year. The act opens the door for public school school boards and science teachers to supplement their curricula with additional material related to teaching alternatives and weaknesses to the theory of evolution. Proponents say the act encourages healthy scientific debate while detractors say the law is a backdoor way of bringing intelligent design and religion into the classroom.

Tonight’s Nova special explores the landmark 2004 federal court ruling on the issue of intelligent design. Kitzmiller v. Dover was the first direct challenge in U.S. federal court against a public school district that required the presentation of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution. The trial staged a debate between national experts on both sides of the issue and deeply divided the small town of Dover, Pa. In a ruling that has sparked considerable praise and criticism, Judge John E. Jones III — an appointee of President George W. Bush — concluded that intelligent design is a religious view and therefore could not be taught in the public schools.

Nova’s "Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial" airs tonight at 7 p.m. The show's Web site also includes several other features related to the program including a preview, exclusive interviews and background information on the Dover tiral.