John Freshwater Trial Update (09 Jan)

QUICK BACKGROUND: This is an administrative hearing to determine whether John Freshwater will be fired as an 8th-grade science teacher in Ohio. He’s accused of burning a student, teaching religion in his science class, and failing to follow the school district’s orders. Freshwater says the district wants to fire him only because he refused to remove a Bible from his desk.

This is a report on Friday’s proceedings from the Mount Vernon News, Princehouse testifies in Freshwater hearing. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

Dr. Patricia Princehouse, lecturer in philosophy and evolutionary biology at Case Western Reserve University, was Friday’s sole witness in the contract termination hearing for John Freshwater. Princehouse gave a detailed analysis of handouts Freshwater has given his students over the years. Some of the topics involved include giraffes, woodpeckers, dragons and dinosaurs.

Things are finally getting more interesting than Freshwater’s lawyer endlessly cross-examining an investigator about why he didn’t talk to this person, and why he didn’t ask that question, etc. Let’s read on:

She attributed the material to a creationist Web site called allaboutgod, and one called answersingenesis, which she said is “beautifully done.” She said the worksheet and others of its ilk would be damaging to science education. She said they also seem to “promote some Christian views and demote other Christian views.”

Material from creationist websites is “damaging to science education”? Who knew? Here’s more:

Speaking to a question on the worksheet about I.D. (intelligent design), Princehouse said, “Science deals with the laws of nature. An intelligent designer is a theological concept, not a scientific one.” She believes the effect of the worksheet would be damage to students’ understanding of how science is conducted. Referencing the other handouts as well, Princehouse said, “This is not how science is conducted. … Material such as this are inappropriate in a science class and teaches students to disregard basic chemistry and standard physics. … Scientific theory deals with natural causes, not spiritual ones.”

How did the school district find this witness? She’s great! Moving along:

Princehouse also gave a presentation titled “The Evolution of Creationism,” in which she traced the history of the movement, discussed the different types of creationism and how creationism relates to intelligent design.

Princehouse is to the Freshwater case what Barbara Forrest was to the Dover case. Here’s another excerpt, describing the cross-examination by Freshwater’s lawyer Kelly Hamilton:

Concerning the origins of the earth and man, Hamilton asked whether in America there is a conflict between religious factions and scientific factions. “Some religious factions think so,” she replied. She said there is actually more debate between different religious views than between religious and scientific viewpoints.

Great answer! Now get this exchange — it’s a classic:

“Do you believe the giraffe, woodpecker, dinosaur and dragon handouts are religious in nature?” asked Hamilton.


“To attack evolution?”

“To discourage people from taking evolution seriously.”

We are informed that the hearing will resume on Wednesday, 14 January.

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2 responses to “John Freshwater Trial Update (09 Jan)

  1. mightyfrijoles

    Have no fear, first there was the Wedge Strategy. Soon there will be the Sludge Strategy – it will seep in between your toes.

  2. As a resident of Ohio I have been keeping an eye on this case. Thank you Dr. Patricia Princehouse for standing up for SCIENCE in the classroom!