Testimony in the Dover Area School District's intelligent design trial continued yesterday with what has been the most contentious day since the trial began last week.

In the morning, debate centered on whether to allow expert testimony from intelligent design historian Barbara Forrest, a professor of philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University who has studied intelligent design for the past eight years.

The parents' legal team called Forrest to testify about the links between the intelligent design movement and creationism, but school board attorney Robert Muise with the Thomas More Law Center objected to Forrest's being entered as an expert witness.

He made a point of noting some areas Forrest is not an
expert in: science, religion, mathematics, biochemistry, the genetic code, bacterial flagellum, blood clotting and the immune system.

Muise argued that Forrest was not qualified to give her opinion on intelligent design, especially since she never interviewed proponents of intelligent design for her research.

He said that was similar to a Civil War historian determining that the South won because only Southerners were interviewed for research.

But Judge John E. Jones III said Forrest was not a typical expert and "is blazing new territory."

The trial is the first time intelligent design has been weighed by the courts.


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Jones credited Forrest for the amount of time she has been studying the movement. He admitted her as an expert on scientific methods and the nature of the intelligent design movement, with the stipulation that testimony not stray from those areas unless noted.

One of the parents' attorneys, Eric Rothschild from Pepper Hamilton LLC, questioned Forrest but was frequently interrupted by Muise's objections. Muise at times objected to almost every question being asked, arguing most often that her testimony was "hearsay."

Discussed 'wedge': Forrest said intelligent design's stance on just about every issue is "right out of the creationist's playbook."

Much of her testimony centered on a paper titled "The State of the Wedge," published in 2001 by Phillip Johnson. Johnson is a proponent of intelligent design and program adviser at the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, the largest supporter of intelligent design research.

She said the paper laid out the strategy for proponents of intelligent design to "wedge" their way into classrooms and science over 20 years: how to unify Christians in order to promote the idea of a creator, challenge evolution and "overthrow" science's methodology in order to accommodate Christian beliefs.

The goals listed in the paper included getting churches and seminaries to take a more literal stand on the story of creation as told in the Bible and repudiate scientist Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution, Forrest testified.

The paper described how to build alliances with churches, the media and legal firms that could deal with the "resistance to the integration of design theory into public school curricula."

Forrest produced a variety of documents in which the leading proponents of intelligent design are speaking of the movement in religious terms, or being quoted as such.

She testified that in a paper titled "Starting a Conversation About Evolution," Johnson said "God is objectively real as Creator" in intelligent design.

Showed 'Pandas' draft: As Forrest gave testimony, the parents' legal team projected on a large screen the papers of which she spoke. Some of her testimony focused on proving that the proponents of intelligent design are really previous supporters of creation science before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional in Edwards V. Aguillard in 1987.

One of the visual aids included a timeline showing how the publishers of "Of Pandas and People," the book referenced in Dover's statement about intelligent design, used the phrase "intelligent design" instead of the word "creation" throughout a draft of the book after the decision came down in Edwards V. Aguillard.

A description of creationism in the draft was projected on the screen beside a description of intelligent design in the published books. The two read almost the same, except mention of an intelligent "creator" was changed to an intelligent "agent."

The publisher, the Foundation for Thought and Ethics, is incorporated in the state of Texas as a religious and educational group dedicated to "making known the Christian Gospel," according to its articles of incorporation. Forrest also testified that one of the book's authors, Dean Kenyon, contributed writings to creationism books in the 1970s.

Attack on memberships: On cross-examination, school board attorney Richard Thompson, also with the Thomas More Law Center, pointed out that Forrest has been a "card-carrying" member of the ACLU since 1979 and is also involved in Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the two groups that are providing legal assistance for the parents. She testified that she is also a member of secular humanist organizations.

Thompson asked Forrest if she believes that nature, not the supernatural, is "all there is."

"That is my view," she said.

Thompson's cross-examination of Forrest was expected to continue today.

-- Reach Christina Kauffman at 505-5434 or ckauffman@yorkdispatch.com.