Interview with Judge John E. Jones III

The journal PLoS Genetics has published a wonderful interview with Judge John E. Jones III. A conservative federal judge in the US District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Judge Jones was recommended for his current position by PA senator Rick Santorum and appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush in 2002. Judge Jones ruled for the plaintiffs in Kitzmiller versus Dover Area School District striking down a school board policy exposing students to intelligent design creationism in the public classroom.

In the PLoS Genetics interview Judge Jones is asked about his own personal views on creationism and evolution. After saying that as a judge he can review a case independent of his personal views he adds,

"I am a person of faith. I'm certainly not an atheist or an agnostic and I see some divine force somewhere. That said, having had a pretty good education, a great liberal arts education at Dickinson College, I must say that I never had any substantial doubts about evolution generally. I had forgotten, admittedly, a lot of what I had learned about evolution back in college. Moreover, a lot had happened since the '70s, so my understanding was rudimentary. But I never had a crisis of confidence about evolution or a reason to doubt that it constituted a valid theory and good science."

Brown University biologist Ken Miller was an expert witness in the trail and recently gave a wonderful lecture on evolution and intelligent design as part of the Cincinnati Museum Center's Dury Science Lecture Series. Here's what Judge Jones had to say about Dr. Miller's testimony in the PLoS Genetics interview,

"I will always remember Ken Miller's testimony in the sense that he did A–Z evolution. And then got into intelligent design. And having laid the foundation with the description of evolution, got into why intelligent design doesn't work as science, to the point where it is predominantly a religious concept."

Contrast this with Judge Jones opinions of the expert witnesses for the defense, particularly Lehigh University professor Michael Behe,

"Another remarkable moment on the science side was Michael Behe, who was the lead witness for the defendants, and a very amiable fellow, as was Ken Miller, but unlike Miller, in my view, Professor Behe did not distinguish himself. He did not hold up well on cross-examination."

That a conservative self-proclaimed "person of faith" appointed to the bench by President Bush rules so desisively against the teaching of intelligent design creationism speaks volumes for the validity of the evolution position and the vacuity of intelligent design from a scientific and, in so much as the idea is applied to public education policy, legal stance.