As the defense begins to present its case this week supporting the Dover Area school board's decision to include intelligent design in biology classes, attorneys will set out to undo the past three weeks of testimony from expert scientists, former board members and parents.

Since the trial began Sept. 26, professors have testified that intelligent design is "bad science," and the offspring of a decades-old movement to include creationism in public schools.

Parents, two Dover Area High School science teachers and two former board members have testified the board made religious remarks and called people who opposed the board "atheists" and "un-Christian."

Thomas More Law Center attorney Patrick Gillen said the defense will start by debunking the testimony of Kenneth Miller, a biologist, professor at Brown University and co-author of a widely used high school biology textbook.

Supporter up first: Set to take the stand this morning was biochemist Michael Behe, Lehigh University professor and a top supporter of intelligent design.

Behe, who has debated Miller on the concept of intelligent design, is expected to present evidence that intelligent design is not a religious movement, but rather a viable scientific alternative to the theory of evolution.

Behe's scientific argument for intelligent design includes a concept called "irreducible complexity," which means that some things could not have been pieced together in the manner described by evolution; without one part, some living things would not function at all, so they had to have been created all at once.

The concept is in keeping with the intelligent design argument that, for example, birds were abruptly created with wings and feathers and fish were created with gills and fins.

According to evolution, these animal's unique characteristics evolved over millions of years.

Iowa State University professor Scott Minnich is also scheduled to take the stand to present scientific testimony as the defense makes its case.

Both are fellows of the "Discovery Institute," the largest organization supporting
scientific research into intelligent design.

Religious motives: The defense attorneys will have to establish that intelligent design is not akin to Christian creationism and also that the school board did not have religious motives for including intelligent design.

Superintendent Richard Nilsen and assistant superintendent Michael Baksa are expected to take the stand this week.

Gillen said Friday that Nilsen and Baksa were "at the center" of the board's discussions and the decision to include intelligent design.

The two will explain "how it actually happened..." Gillen said.

In his deposition, Nilsen said he could not remember many of the controversial statements the parents allege and newspapers reported as coming from board members.

Perhaps the public's most eagerly anticipated testimony will come from former board member William Buckingham, the board's most outspoken proponent of intelligent design.

Buckingham announced his plans to resign from the board about two months before the trial started, saying he was moving south because of health problems.

Witnesses for the parents testified that Buckingham made many religious statements, referencing the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and saying the country was founded on Christianity and students should be "taught as such."

Could not remember: In his deposition, Buckingham said he did make a comment that the separation of church and state is "a myth," but he could not remember making some other statements, that they were taken out of context or that they were made at other times.

Gillen said Buckingham "...needs to come forward and tell everyone..." what he did or didn't say.

Buckingham, as well as two York reporters who quoted Buckingham in newspaper articles during the time the board was discussing intelligent design, will be called by the parents attorneys.

At least one of the reporters is expected to take the stand Oct. 27, but attorneys said they weren't sure when Buckingham will testify.

Newspaper articles: Gillen and his fellow Thomas More Law Center attorneys have had a standing objection to any testimony related to newspaper articles, calling the articles "hearsay."

Judge John E. Jones III ruled that the reporters' testimony must be limited to the content of the news articles they wrote.

Even if the two reporters testify that their works are accurate, Gillen said the defense could continue to fight the admission of their articles into the record.

He said there is no case law that permits newspaper articles to be made part of the record in a case of this nature.

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