When I told my mother about my all time favorite film she thought I might like a PBS Nova episode from 2007 called Judgment Day: Intelligent Design On Trial which had some very similar themes to the film. She was right. I loved watching Nova whenever I could catch an episode and this episode was a nice companion to the film.
The episode is about a small town divided by the belief that evolution should or shouldn’t be taught in public school. When a creationist gets elected to the school board he triggers events that snowball into what I can only describe as a fiasco. The school board latches on to a theory called “Intelligent Design” and try to have it be taught in schools alongside evolution. The thing is I remember this incident because I was a freshmen in high-school when the court case happened and I remember my parents talking about it.
The case itself is interesting. For the episode Nova did dramatic reenactments based off of the court transcripts and spliced interviews from the residents in between the court clips. The sound bite that left the deepest impression on me was a local woman saying that because she believed that God created everything she didn’t need to know anything else. I logically understand that she has the right to believe whatever she wants, but she and the other creationists do not have the right to impose that belief on everyone else. The court case came about when 11 parents sued the school district saying that teaching intelligent design violated the separation of church and state.
As the case took place in the U.S. the burden of proof is on the accusers. The parents assembled a team of experts to prove that a) Intelligent Design was not a science or scientific theory and therefore was no appropriate to be taught in public school; and b) that the purpose behind Intelligent Design was to promote a religious agenda. The defense argued that Intelligent Design was a scientific theory and that evolution, which they argued was flawed, shouldn’t have a monopoly in education and that students should be given access to alternative theories.
My interest in both the film Denial (2016) and Judgment Day: Intelligent Design On Trial (2007) leans more towards the idea of free speech and what both cases mean for the right of free speech. If I ever wanted to do a collage paper on them I would pick that at my topic.
The case is also interesting to me because I’m not Christian. I wasn’t raised Christian because my parents stopped going to church for the same reason I still don’t; Organized religion is too political for me. I’m a agender. I can’t find a local religious group that will accept this. Gender roles play a part in many religions and I don’t fit into those gender roles. I’m missing out on the community aspect of religious gatherings, but I would rather be my own intelligent person, not someone else’s design.
I won’t go into too many details about the court case, but the Nova episode was really interesting to watch and there are full versions of it available on Youtube.