Interview with Judge John Jones, III — Dover, PA ID Trial Judge

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by Dan Margolies
Kansas City Star (Kansas), page B10
December 9, 2007

In 2005, federal Judge John Jones III found himself in the national spotlight when he presided over a trial about the introduction of intelligent design into public school classrooms.

Jones, who was appointed to the federal bench in 2002 by President Bush, ruled that the Dover, Pa., school board violated the constitutional ban on teaching religion in public schools when it sought to introduce intelligent design in high school biology courses.

His 139-page decision concluded that intelligent design — the notion that life is too complex to have arisen though natural selection and must have been designed by an intelligent agent — was not science and “cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.”

The case was the subject of a two-hour edition last month of the PBS program “Nova,” and its significance was such that Time magazine in 2006 included Jones in its Time100 list, the 100 most influential people in the world.

On Thursday, Jones was the keynote speaker at the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association’s annual meeting at the Muehlebach Hotel. Jones addressed nearly 1,000 lawyers and judges and spoke about judicial independence.

Before his speech, he sat down with Kansas City Star business and legal affairs reporter Dan Margolies to talk about the Dover case. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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Fantasy flick set to smash Rings trilogy

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by Dominik Lemanski
Daily Star Weekend (UK), page 28
November 18, 2007

Fantasy flick The Golden Compass is set to clean up at cinemas this Christmas.

The £90 million epic is tipped to unleash a money-spinning series bringing in more cash than even the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

In addition, film bosses have launched a marketing blitz and are expecting a bumper Christmas as fans flock to buy a string of spin-offs, including a computer adaptation developed by LA-based Shiny Entertainment for Sega.

The Chris Weitz-directed flick comes from the same studio, New Line Cinema, as the Lord of the Rings trilogy which won 17 Oscars and made £1.5 billion.

Starring Nicole Kidman, 40, and Daniel Craig, 39, The Golden Compass is based on British Author Philp Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, which has sold more than 14 million copies worldwide.

In the film, young heroine Lyra Belacqua, played by British newcomer, Dakota Blue Richards, 13, battles a mysterious cult accused of stealing kids.

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Philip Pullman’s Controversial “Golden Compass”

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Special effects shine more than the stars
by John Hiscock
Daily Telegraph (UK), page 7
November 20,  2007

The first instalment of Philip Pullman’s hugely successful trilogy of fantasy books, His Dark Materials, has had a troubled transition to the screen. The adaptation has managed to upset both Christians and atheists, the former because of the book’s anti-religious themes and the latter because those very themes have been watered down and virtually excised from the film.

In addition, the original writer-director, Chris Weitz, quit when he realised the size of the task facing him, returning only when his replacement, Anand Tucker, also left the project after running into creative differences with studio bosses.

But an early screening of The Golden Compass in Los Angeles reveals that the investors who put up the £90 million cost of the film can rest easy — though it lacks the impact or charm of The Chronicles of Narnia, the special effects are extraordinary and the film is sure to be a success with young audiences.

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Evolution must be taught

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Mail & Guardian (South Africa), page 28
02 Nov 2007

Your story last week about the teaching of evolution in schools refers. There are only two ways known to us in which new species could have appeared on Earth — either fully formed by miraculous, instant creation or by evolutionary change in older species. Religious groups that accept the first method are “creationists” who believe their creation stories are literally true.

But creationists can study evolution without believing what they read. Our Bill of Rights confers freedom of religious belief on every citizen, and life sciences teachers must respect this freedom.

Other religious groups, such as the Catholic Church, accept findings about evolution and concern themselves with the human soul. Such faiths view their creation stories as allegories, symbolic of God’s creation.

Many evolutionary biologists are adherents of these religions, and religious people who accept evolution have a range of personal beliefs about God’s role in the evolutionary process.

Charles Darwin, for instance, was a creationist during the voyage of the Beagle. He later became an evolutionist and abandoned creationism, but remained religious for many years.

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Evolution, God can co-exist

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by Kevin Mayhood
Columbus Dispatch (Ohio), page B4
November 15, 2007

Atheists at one extreme and Christians promoting intelligent design at the other are ignoring evidence that supports evolution and the presence of God, says a scientist who helped map the DNA of humans.

“ DNA is a language, it is how God spoke life into you and me,” Francis Collins told two audiences yesterday.

Collins, author of The Language of God, is an atheist turned believer, a physician and genetics expert who is director of the National Human Genome Institute. He told several hundred students at Ohio State University and another audience of hundreds at COSI that religion and science actually support each other.

At COSI, Collins was part of a panel discussion called “ The Intersection of Faith & Evolution: A Civil Dialogue.” Collins was largely supported by the other panelists: two more scientists and a religious historian and teacher.

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2-hour ‘Nova’ reviews Pa. ‘intelligent design’ trial

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by Jonathan Storm
Philadelphia Inquirer (Pennsylvania), page D1, D40
November 13, 2007

The board members who battled to include “intelligent design” alongside evolution in the Dover, Pa., public school curriculum weren’t very intelligent themselves, tonight’s Nova reveals in “Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial,” a two hour special beginning at 8 on WHYY TV12.

To make their case, they offered a book that had been altered, overwriting the text to take “creationist” out and drop “design proponents” in. But it didn’t work very well. The words came out “cdesign proponentsists.”

And the judge who adjudicated the lawsuit brought by parents against the school board 100 miles west of Philadelphia in 2005, a judge who was nominated by former Sen. Rick Santorum, a creationist activist, and assumed to be safely in the fundamentalist fold, wasn’t blinded by science.

He ruled that intelligent design “is a religious view … and not a scientific theory,” and barred it from the classroom.

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Atheists arise: Dawkins spreads the A-word among America’s unbelievers

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by Ewen MacAskill
Guardian (UK), page 3
October 1, 2007

It is like Daniel going into the lions’ den, though Professor Richard Dawkins might not appreciate the biblical comparison. Britain’s leading atheist is spearheading a campaign in America to challenge the dominance of religion in every day life and in politics, insisting that the millions of US godless deserve to be heard too.

Atheists in the US “have been downtrodden for a very long time. So I think some sort of political organisation is what they need”, he said.

Maybe David and Goliath would be a better analogy. Religion is palpable in US schools, places of work and public institutions. God is invoked by soldiers and politicians in a way that would seem inappropriate in Britain. George Bush used God as one of the reasons for invading Iraq. In Congress, where godlessness can equate with being unelectable, only one representative, Pete Stark, is prepared to admit to being a non-believer.

According to a study published last year by the University of Minnesota, Americans distrust atheists more than any other minority group, including homosexuals, recent immigrants or Muslims.

Now the best-selling author of The God Delusion and chair of public understanding of science at Oxford has set up an organisation to help atheists round the world, including the US.

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Dawkins rails at ‘creationist front’ for duping him into film role

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by Ewen MacAskill
Guardian (UK), page 6
September 28, 2007

Among the films being shown tonight at the Atheist Alliance convention taking place near Washington is, unsurprisingly, Monty Python’s Life of Brian. What will not be showing are trailers for a new movie, Expelled.

Some of the world’s best-known atheists, including British scientist Richard Dawkins, appear in the documentary, but they are unhappy with it. They say they agreed to appear in a documentary called Crossroads, but have ended up instead in Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.

They had expected Crossroads to be a debate about creationism versus Darwinism, but Expelled supports intelligent design (ID), a variation on creationism. The premise of Expelled is that scientists sympathetic to intelligent design are penalised by being denied academic posts.

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