This is not a Scopes trial

A recent article summarizes the legal battle between the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a former employee who is claiming discrimination in his dismissal: JPL, former employee fight over religion in science. Overall, it’s a decent article but there are a few errors. First of all, this is most certainly not “reminiscent of last century’s Scopes Monkey Trial.” I roll my eyes every time a reporter compares a conflict involving evolution to Scopes. Of course, I understand that’s a way to draw in readers but I think it’s lazy reporting. The conflict described in the article is barely known outside the circle of people directly involved and it lacks any big personalities. I wish reporters would find some other way to connect readers to the events.

“I thought I might be the next `Expelled,”‘ Coppedge testified, making a reference to the Ben Stein movie which details the perils faced by those in the scientific community who support intelligent design.

No, it doesn’t “detail the perils.” See Expelled Exposed.

Such a win could influence legislative battles over the teaching of evolution in schools in Tennessee, Florida, Texas, Missouri, Kentucky, Oklahoma and New Mexico, where over the past 18 months there have been “attempts to wind back the clock,” Luhn said.

We haven’t had any major legislative battles over the teaching of evolution in Florida for a few years. I don’t know what Luhn is referring to.

“The end goal is to get to place where intelligent design and the criticism of Darwinism can rise and fall on its own merits,” West said.

Um, West, that’s already happened. They both have already been judged on their own merits. Intelligent design failed. As mentioned elsewhere in the article: “Intelligent design, when you look at it, it’s not science.”

Perhaps intelligent design proponent’s best weapon in their fight for legitimacy is evolution itself. Like all science, evolution is fraught with gaps which science can’t explain, Rosenau said.

“Can’t explain” is a bad choice of words. “Haven’t explained yet” would have been much better. And adding that such gaps in current knowledge are what drive scientists would have been nice, too.

Overall, the folks representing the National Center for Science Education were well represented in the article and made some good points while the opposition came off as just whiny.