An expanded version of this article is coming out next week in the St Louis Post-Dispatch too.
Fifteen years ago Sunday, U.S. district court judge John E. Jones delivered his landmark Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District ruling: Intelligent design is not scientific, is religious in nature and therefore should not be taught as a scientific alternative to evolutionary theory in public schools. This was a big victory for science education in the United States. But that momentous trial in Dover, Pa. is worth celebrating for another reason.
In these divided times, it is easy to despair as the culture wars cloud nearly every public policy debate. The Dover trial, however, reminds us that science can cut through these differences. While the origins debate is often framed as a zero-sum game with religious creationism on one side and evolutionary science on the other, the space for common ground is large and growing.
The work of science is secular, but that doesn’t make it atheist. Science can be spiritual, but that doesn’t make it religious. Science serves no sect, race or political party. It brings light to our world, literally, and can comfort the suffering, feed the hungry, clothe the naked and give greater purpose to our lives. Many recognize these as either religious or secular values, but these are our common values.