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Judgment Day - Intelligent Design on Trial

4.4 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial captures the turmoil that tore apart the community of Dover, Pennsylvania in a landmark battle over the teaching of evolution in public schools. In 2004, the Dover school board ordered science teachers to read a statement to high school biology students about an alternative to Darwin s theory of evolution called intelligent design the idea that life is too complex to have evolved naturally and so must have been designed by an intelligent agent. The teachers refused to comply, and both parents and teachers filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing the school board of violating the constitutional separation of church and state.

Now, NOVA explores the arguments by lawyers and expert witnesses in riveting detail and provides an eye-opening crash course on questions such as What is evolution? and Is intelligent design a scientifically valid alternative? Featuring trial reenactments based on court transcripts and interviews with key participants and expert scientists, this gripping program presents the celebrated case of Kitzmiller v. Dover School District.


Judgment Day is just the sort of thoughtful programming that celebrates how sensible people - faithful and otherwise - can use science and reason to combat fundamentalism. --Adam Rutherford, Nature

I think it's important for people to see this ... If you glibly embrace intelligent design, or if you're in that 48 or 50 percent who believe creationism ought to be taught in school, I hope [you] will watch this. --Judge John E. Jones III, quoted in the Philadelphia Inquirer

Leave it to the respected PBS science show NOVA to put some common sense back into the often hysterical debate over whether intelligent design is science or religion - and remind us that Darwin's theory of evolution is a solid one that should be taught in science classes. --Rick Bird, Cincinnati Post

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Nova
  • Directors: Nova
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: February 26, 2008
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000YY6VIC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,284 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Judgment Day - Intelligent Design on Trial" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

"Judgement Day - Intelligent Design on Trial" ranks as among the finest documentaries I have seen on the so-called "creation vs. evolution" debate. Why? It does a most admirable job showing the cultural fissures which emerged in Dover, PA in the immediate aftermath of its pro-Creationist school board's decision to "introduce" Intelligent Design creationism into the science classrooms of Dover High School. There is ample testimony from local residents like former board members Alan Bonsell and Bill Buckingham, Dover science teacher Berta Spahr and reporter Lori Lebo, whose words dramatically illustrate the ample tensions that were present in the small Pennsylvanian town from the summer of 2004 through December 2005; tensions which erupted quite literally in a "cultural" civil war which pitted father against daughter (Lori Lebo's Fundamentalist Protestant Christian father against a daughter who was quite skeptical of his devout religious faith.) and neighbor against neighbor. There is also excellent commentary from Intelligent Design advocates philosopher Steve Fuller and retired law school professor Philip Johnson in defending Intelligent Design, but there is indeed ample, persuasive remarks in defense of valid scientific education and the validity of modern evolutionary theory as sound science from the Pepper Hamilton lawyers who were the lead attorneys for the plaintiffs, and notable scientists like paleontologists Kevin Padian, and Neil Shubin, cell biologist Ken Miller and physical anthropologist Eugenie Scott, the Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education. Last, but not least, Judge John E.Read more ›
1 Comment 22 of 23 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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This is a very nicely done DVD outlining the case of Kitzmiller et. al. v. Dover School Board. If you are reading this, you doubtless know the gist of the case: a handful of maverick school-board members decide to disapprove of the "standard" biology textbook (the "Dragonfly" book by Miller and Levine, which has been used for quite a while). Instead, they wnt to teach a more "intelligent-design-friendly" text and....a logal battle ensues.

This DVD is a very engaging recount of the trial's action. The most memorable part of the film - and what sets it apart from other films that profile the case - is that this one reenacts pieces of the case, using actors to read from the actual transcript. In other words, we actually get to watch the moment when Ken Miller (the co-author of the "Dragonfly book") tears the very Christian lawyer from the Thomas Moore Law Center to shreds over his "just a thoery" remark. It really happened, and now, we get to see it brought back to life. If you value science, you will find this as entertaining as I did.

While the film's goal is to primarily profile the case, it also serves as a great explanation and defense of evolution. We hear, for instance, about what makes evolution falsifiable, and some of the most recent 'tests' it has undergone (with flying colors). We get the cursory tour of genetics and how it operates as the fundamental mechanism of evolutionary theory.

But most of all, this film is about the trial. The passion of both sides is well captured through interviews with many of the participants: we hear both from board members and plaintiffs, the Thomas Moore Law Center and the ACLU. I do not want to say, hosever, that this film is balanced. (It is a pro-science program, and as such, it is very pro-evolution).
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15 Comments 52 of 60 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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While it's obvious that Nova has a bias toward science, I think the documentary did a good job of giving air time to those on both sides of the issue in this documentary on the Dover trial on Evolution vs Intelligent Design. They did dramatize court room testimony, but it was taken from court transcripts so I would assume the dialog to be fairly accurate. It was clear about halfway through that many of the opponents to the theory of Evolution had very little understanding of what a scientific theory is. They mentioned this in the documentary, but I wish that they would have given it a bit more time as I believe this is one of those fundamental misunderstandings that some have with science and how it works. Science is simply the best means we have for finding out the truth. So if Nova is bias toward science, you could say that they are simply bias toward the truth.
2 Comments 44 of 51 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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I recommend this documentary. While NOVA is science oriented, thus ID (creationism) doesn't get the NOVA backing (as the trial shows ID to be non-scientific) - they do portray arguments and illustration from both sides of the fence. This includes the very poor analogy of someone writing in the sand as being evidence for design just as the earth is evidence for design, etc which NOVA didn't rebut but left standing. The film progresses from the onset of the Dover incident to the verdict with interviews and dramatizations along the way.

It can be seen from other sources that creationists often twist, distort and otherwise deceive and this same behavior is caught in the Dover incident. Unfortunately, the creationists don't admit to this and just write off the judge as unfair, the portrayals unfair and the deceit as an honest mistake. The final interview with the school superintendent after the judge's decision is very revealing. The judge makes the point that you need not abandon faith to see what evidence provides us - evolution. The arguments and drama is enjoyable. Check it out...
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Judgment Day - Intelligent Design on Trial
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