Judgement Day: Intelligent Design on Trial

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Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial is an award winning NOVA documentary on the case of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, which concentrated on the question of whether or not intelligent design could be viewed as science and taught in school science class. It aired in on PBS in November 2007 and features interviews with the judge, witnesses, and lawyers as well as re-enacted scenes (no cameras were allowed in court).

The documentary was praised by Nature, and described as accurate by the National Center for Science Education. Variety magazine also gave the documentary a positive review, and said it was one of the year’s most important television projects, that “should be shown not just in every U.S. high school but in houses of worship as well.”

In contrast to the positive reception the film has been given, creationist and intelligent design supporters have criticized the documentary. The Discovery Institute produced a website critical of the broadcast. Answers in Genesis claimed the evidence for evolution presented by scientists in Judgment Day was fallacious. The Institute for Creation Research (ICR) also claimed the film was not balanced. WKNO-TV, the local PBS affiliate in Memphis decided not to air the documentary because of the “controversial nature” of the subject, but has since promised to broadcast it in 2008.

Judgement Day: Intelligent Design on Trial, 9.5 out of 10 based on 61 ratings

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  • AnarchoRationalist

    Well, this is an okay documentary. On the one hand, it does go in depth into the science of evolution and the science of intelligent design. On the other hand, I can observe a clear bias against ID. If it acknowledged it’s bias, that would be acceptable, but really this documentary presents itself as if it were objective, which it clearly isn’t.

    Personally, I find the idea of putting evolution or intelligent design on trial to be very offensive. A court is not an empirical or rational device, it’s a state system. You don’t appeal to a church to decide whether grass is green or not. The grass is green because of it’s physical makeup in relation to my sensory apparatus, not because a man in a dress decides that it is.

    Is evolution supported by evidence? On one hand, traditionally scientists attempted to prove evolution with the fossil record, which would be an inferred conclusion which is based on logic, not observation and is not science. On the other the genetic evidence certainly seems to suggest a lineage. It’s murky because you can’t observe evolution directly, except in the way that Darwin did, and that only demonstrates what ID terms “micro-evolution” or changes within species. You can’t directly observe “macro-evolution” or change from one species to another, so you have to use instruments and that is based on intent.

    Is Intelligent Design science? Yes, it’s been posited in a scientific way, and experiments can be run to test it. Is there evidence for it? No there is not, but that doesn’t mean much. There wasn’t evidence for evolution until there was. Science should not be dismissed just because it contradicts the status quo. There should be no status quo in science, come to think of it.

    Science itself is based on the reasoning that empiricism, or sensory data, can create knowledge. Knowledge means an idea about reality that corresponds with reality. This is the philosophical foundation of science, and like all philosophy it is subject to epistemological nihilism. There is no foundation for any line of reasoning, because any proof of one’s reasoning will rely on more reasoning.

    So, it seems that some scientists who aren’t philosophically educated have invested faith in empiricism, in the conclusions of scientists following the scientific method. This is called materialism, it’s a philosophy.

    What I see, is two groups of people with opposing belief systems, both believing themselves to be right, pushing their faiths on each-other. What else is new?

    The real tragedy is the state, with it’s ridiculous court systems and it’s monopoly on the school system. That is the basis of this documentary is it not? People fighting over what will be taught to their children in the state education camp? That’s the tragedy. People fighting each-other, rather than fighting the system that has created the conflict.

    • Scottgardin

      Seriously?
      Evolution has far more behind it than just fossil records. One easy example would be in the domestication of animals, which have changed greatly over the years due to simple selective breeding. Evolution in progress.
      Intelligent design is not even close to science. And you posit that it can be proven through experiments? Where are these? How would such an experiment be conducted?
      I think the world needs to wake up and realize that religion is no longer culturally relevant in this world, and no matter how much they would like to believe that some “God” came along and created everyone, this has been proven not to be the case. Evolution is FACT.

      • Mark

        domestication of animals? do you understand how genetics work?? you can get a rottweiler from a wolf but you cant get a wolf from a rottweiler. The domestication of animals shows specific selection of genetic traits along with genetic loss of information ie the rottweiler does not have the genetic info to breed a wolf

        Evolution is not fact

        tell me how the first self replicating cell was created, woops I mean happened

        when you explain that to me you will have taken the first step out of many thousands in proving evolution is a fact

        • Hobbes

          What would that have to do with anything? He’s simply demonstrating that we’ve witnessed a form of selection, artificial selection, which could be easily substituted with natural selection, which forms one of the foundations of evolutionary theory, the other being micro-evolution, both of which have been observed. And in response to your question(?) about the first self replicating cell, no one knows for sure exactly when the first self replicating cell appeared on Earth. It would also be prudent to make clear that that isn’t even relevant to evolutionary theory, but is in the domain of abiogenesis. Biological evolution is only about what the name states, the evolution of biological organisms over time.

    • IagreeWITHjane

      1) No scientific theory is ever regarded as 100% truth. Gravity is just a theory, and yet people are not fighting whether or not it should be taught in physics class. Gravity as a theory is not contested because it is observable in the everyday world and experiments have been done that demonstrate its existence. The same is true of evolution.

      2) Of course different people have different views of how species were formed. In my opinion children should be exposed to different opinions IN THE CORRECT SETTING. Evolution is a SCIENTIFIC theory and should thus be taught in SCIENCE class. Creationism and intelligent design are RELIGIOUS theories and should be taught in a RELIGION class.

      3) Saying we should teach creation/intelligent design in school to “expose children to other theories” is a flawed argument. If we really wanted to expose students to other theories we would be pushing for ALL creation myths/stories to be taught in school, not just the Juedo-Christian story. Pushing one religion’s story is essentially pushing that religion.

      4) People who advocate creationism to point out the flaws in evolution, might want to look at the flaws in their own theory. In the book of Genesis there are TWO creation stories. In the first, man and woman are created at the same time: “and God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”
      In the second story Adam was created before Eve.
      In the first story there is no mention of the Garden of Eden
      The Garden of Eden is central to the second story.

  • Robert

    This is a very well made documentary, and it’s worth watching if you have the time. It does come off as biased against Creationism aka “Intelligent Design”, but only in the sense that it is not a credible SCIENTIFIC theory as is Evolution. That’s not to say that Evolution theory doesn’t have its flaws, because it undoubtedly does. It’s more to say that the scientific method, the absolute foundation for all science, mandates that controllable tests be run again and again in order to prove hypotheses. While there may be plenty of hypotheses that support Intelligent Design, controllable tests can not be run to prove these hypotheses due to the “take it for its word” nature of the theory itself. How can Intelligent Design claim to be a credible “scientific” theory if it doesn’t adhere to the very foundation of modern science?

  • Mr Weaven

    Good documentary, it is slightly biased but rightly so. Intelligent design seems to be the religious community desperately trying to shoe-horn their beliefs into a scientific framework. It was roundly de-masked as trying to do such in a righteous judicial decision.

  • Wecantsee

    How could science be even bias? for what benefit could they get when siding with Evolution? and I think only Theist would say it is biased because in the inside of them, they are still clinging for this motivating-religions, why don’t they even try to unbelieve everything and try to examine examine everything they have to believe without bias, rather than choosing your belief first then saying that something under tests and logical reasoning which are against your chosen belief is contrary to reality?

  • Oli

    The documentary is worth watching. Over all, it is something I side with (be warned it is biased in favour of Evolution).
    ID is not a science, and although I do see the want to have options in a school, the options are there. Science class is there for science to be taught. It is widely accepted that Evolution is a theory, not a theorem, law, or any of the other absolute terms. Chruches are the schools of creationism, are they not? If they want ID to launch, if they want it to be widely accepted, make a church or a group, or whatever all the other creationism people are doing. ID is creationism, evolution is science. If you want your kid to have options, send them to a church and tell them you are educating them and there are options, do not broadcast it in a science class. After all, you don’t read fiction books to cite when writing an essay in school.

    • Bryan

      Look up what a ‘scientific theory’ actually is, Oli.  There is so much biological and scientific evidence for evolution that it is overwhelming, to say the least.  A theory in regards to the scientific method, is a set of ideals that are widely accepted as correct, with the backing of rigorous experimentation and data to support it.  I don’t blame you for holding this notion that a ‘theory’ is just a ‘theory’ in a linguistic sense, like the majority of people commonly mistake it to be.  Anyone who is scientifically literate will tell you that there is a major difference between Einstein’s ‘theory of relativity’, and someone proposing a personal ‘theory’ about how the universe ought to work.  One of the key differences from a scientific theory is that new data and information constantly adapts and changes the theory as more is discovered.  It is not reinforced to support the initial hypothesis at all, it is actually the contrary.  The scientific community tries its hardest to disprove hypotheses all day long.  The fact that evolution is so widely accepted in the biological and scientific community is just that:  no matter how hard scientists try to disprove evolution, they cannot.  The more they try, the more data turns up to support its claims in the first place.  This is the difference between someone proposing a hypothesis (the linguistic sense of the word ‘theory’ you’re falsely referring to), and the scientific community recovering data and proof of a hypothesis (what a ‘scientific theory’ actually is).  I hope that helps.

  • Jane

    1) No scientific theory is ever regarded as 100% truth. Gravity is just a theory, and yet people are not fighting whether or not it should be taught in physics class. Gravity as a theory is not contested because it is observable in the everyday world and experiments have been done that demonstrate its existence. The same is true of evolution.

    2) Of course different people have different views of how species were formed. In my opinion children should be exposed to different opinions IN THE CORRECT SETTING. Evolution is a SCIENTIFIC theory and should thus be taught in SCIENCE class. Creationism and intelligent design are RELIGIOUS theories and should be taught in a RELIGION class.

    3) Saying we should teach creation/intelligent design in school to “expose children to other theories” is a flawed argument. If we really wanted to expose students to other theories we would be pushing for ALL creation myths/stories to be taught in school, not just the Juedo-Christian story. Pushing one religion’s story is essentially pushing that religion.

    4) People who advocate creationism to point out the flaws in evolution, might want to look at the flaws in their own theory. In the book of Genesis there are TWO creation stories. In the first, man and woman are created at the same time: “and God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”
    In the second story Adam was created before Eve.
    In the first story there is no mention of the Garden of Eden
    The Garden of Eden is central to the second story.

  • Anonymous

    …keep evolving

  • http://michael-h-b.myopenid.com/ Michael

    There simply is no scientific theory of intelligent design. There is only a religious theory. Why is that so difficult to understand?

    • Mambo Bananapatch

      Religious people reject reason. There is no way for them to understand a scientific theory.

  • Diggy

    Why is this under atheism and not evolution?

  • HateMe

    Why is this in atheism and not evolution?

  • Anonymous

    An absolutely fascinating documentary.

    Various people have said they detected a bias against the intelligent design proponents. Hmmm. Some of these proponents came across as non-scientific, one even admitting to mis-speaking in the court case. The ID case attempted to use SOME science to justify itself, but not the whole picture. This was exposed by the plaintiff case.

    I did not feel that there was noticeable bias in the documentary itself, except for the bias that science has. Science is biased against ignorance and fabrication or even untruths. Science is biased towards rigorous checking of evidence in an impartial manner.

  • Ttt60

    hahahahahahaha – Judge is a jackass cause he saw through BS! – Church is separate from state Simple as that no questions asked, and I D is sooo sooo very clearly a religious agenda. Must be deaf dumb and blind to not see that

  • Anonymous

    Since OOTS was written, not a single piece of evidence has emerged EVER to contradict the general theory. A theory that is today being confirmed in enormous detail by genetic science, a field that was unknown to Darwin. That is a very strong scientific theory. 

  • Teddy Mcd

    At 6:49 a lady says, “In the beginning God created – to me that’s all I need to know.”

     How bizarre – how truly bizarre! I mean folks like her and there are many and more spend more time deciding what color socks to wear than where they came from.
    And if you ask them – certainly most of them – why they believe what they do – they answer because the bible tells me so. But, what we know from many surveys is that they have not read the bible. Could that be because god told them not to- read the bible. Sorta like the admonition in Genesis where god says to Adam and Eve (formally his rib), and I paraphrase, “Uh-uh, no no that tree there is the tree of knowledge – best not eat from that one for you will surely die.” I use this comparison for a reason in that once you read the bible you realize it is not knowledge, in fact with minimal reflection you come to understand that it is a pack of contradictions that tries to hold itself together via lies and deceits and trickery and fraud and humbug. And once you realize that the bible is not knowledge you can then  turn to science/knowledge for there you will be welcomed with facts, and figures and reality and truth – and oh yes, doubt too, because the guiding principle of science is not faith but doubt.

    You see the best way to prove something is correct/true is to try and prove it is wrong – that my friend is science’s duty to humankind.

  • explorerguy

    Interesting DeRosier’s counter argument: “here’s a set of proteins that have the same function”. He won with the argument. BUt listen to what he says” The same function” We all know that Yersinia Pestis flagelum DOES not have the same function as a motor with rottary. And to end the argument they say’ That’s why Behe’s argument falls apart’> HELLO!!!! Dress the king in invisible gold. THis is hillarious…and so filled with deceiving  sophistry that is it just amazing. I am glad the evolutionists are catholics too, it’s good to know. Because design infers a designer and religion it is rejected too and people in the sciences will not even admit anything that questions or points out say the quirks and controversies in the fossil record and the geological layers. THese are never talked about. Of course scientists are very aware of things in life and reduce every human experience to naturalism. Admitting there is a designer is a threat to them because it would mean that there is some purpose in life, and that we are probably responding to some authority we do not know about and many may not be inclined to know. That’s the spiritual hidden truth that science faces. The pitfalls of the logics the inability to test evolution of systems are never a thought and now there’s a tactic of fear just like fear of the government. THis trial only started to bring to light the conflit that is in every man and woman to understand his her own existence. There’s very little moral or existential transcendent reasons why we are, the marvel humans are. 

  • explorerguy

    Knowledge has become compartmentalized. Science has lost its track to integrate things. Science and philosophy should have never been separated. Instead this is a huge fragmentation in the understanding of life and the limitations of what we can aspire to know and those things we can only dream someday to unlearn. As long as this dichotomy or fragmentation remains scientists will be doing their thing totally oblivious that whatever mindset emerges from their way of seeing the world and life spills into the unconscious ideas of our human identity and change, as it has, our ways we relate to our own kin, to the planet, and to the universe. I am ashamed of the title Dr of Philosophy PhD. 

  • Learties Quosodrome

    There is a series of children’s novels called the Spiderwick Chronicles, they say they are telling a tale that is true, there in no disclaimer in the back saying they are fictitious. So by the same reasoning and logic as a lot of these people, i.e the Bible tells me so. The Spiderwick Chronicles are true because they tell you so.

  • Matt

    ‘Christian science’, what a load of bull. What Christians fail to understand is that you cannot start with in idea (creationism) then try to find a theory that fits with the idea. 

    Science is about starting with nothing and finding the truth. Dawins theory must always be retested but until we find something better, Dawins theory is the most probable theory we have.  

  • Xemu

    …maybe Bill and Allen should have just tried to add ID to the curriculum at Catechism school. or did ID take longer than 6 days?

    …That’s why Scientology is starting to look so appealing! A simple explanation for everything…Xenu the dictator of the “Galactic Confederacy” who, 75 million years ago, brought billions[4][5] of his people to Earth in a DC-8-like spacecraft, stacked them around volcanoes and killed them using hydrogen bombs. Official Scientology scriptures hold that the essences of these many people remained, and that they form around people in modern times, causing them spiritual harm.

  • Name

    People keep talking about this film having a bias… I disagree completely. I think both sides were given equal opportunity to persuade, but one side happened to have a case that was severely flawed to begin with.

  • Berecynthos

    What ‘bias’? If a documentary is made to distinguish the difference of cows and corkscrews, will it be biased for pointing the obvious? ID is essentially a refined, ‘science-like’ (to the untrained, unscientific, mind) ‘goddidit’. Let’s see where all the previous ‘goddidits’ got us:

    The Sun? No it is not the ‘disk of Helios’, nor is it Amon Ra.
    Trees are not deities.
    The coming of winter does not mean that Persephone is imprisoned in Hades.

    At a point in time, it was valid that ‘science’ or at least the ‘birth of science’ had co-evolved, in an anthropological and sociological meaning of the term ‘co-evolved’ from religion or at least a likely shaman-like belief system which combined rational observation with irrational deduction. But since that point, humanity has come forward a lot. The philosophical argument exists that there might still be some functionality for religion or non-science in ‘firing up’ our imagination to perform and improve our science… but this is not all that likely. After all, philosophy and religion has not remained stagnant either — they have also changed, and there is a reason we do not sociologically feel ‘close’ to our earlier shamanic or ritualistic forms of knowledge and understanding. There are perfectly fine ‘religion-like’ faith systems, which are co-developed along science’s rationality and logic and which do not try to contradict or catechize our knowledge-based system.

    Evolution is not a ‘theory’. It is observable, it *has* been observed, and the fact that there are some ‘gaps’ in it does not make it any less of a testable, provable, science. The only major problem is that the artifacts it studies are hard to find and have usually had to endure a lot to be preserved up to this day.

    You ask, ‘why can’t you prove inorganic matter gave ‘birth’ to organic matter’? Well, the answer is that you can infer — without certainty- this gradual evolution because you do not really require an intact, complete, cell to have a first instance of life. Cell organelles could have been, very likely and realistically, at one point, independent of the cell structure before being incorporated in it. We have found cells that can do this, which was a very recent discovery by the way.

    Evolution is a process that occurs, and it can be studied scientifically through several scientific methods. Chickens are descended from theropod dinosaurs, and we have a common ancestor with primates. Get over it.

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