The Harrisburg courtroom was packed yesterday with reporters and members of the public who came to see the second half of Dover's intelligent design trial.

The defense began presenting its case by calling its star witness -- Lehigh University professor, biochemist and top intelligent design scientist Michael Behe.

Thomas More Law Center attorney Robert Muise started the questioning in a simple format, asking, for example, if Behe had an opinion about whether intelligent design is creationism. Then he asked Behe to explain why.

Behe said intelligent design is not creationism, but
a scientific theory that makes scientific claims that can be tested for accuracy.

Behe testified that intelligent design doesn't require a supernatural creator, but an intelligent designer: it does not name the designer.

He said evolution is not a fact and there are gaps in the theory that can be explained by intelligent design.

There is evidence that some living things were purposefully arranged by a designer, Behe claimed in his testimony.

Gave examples: One example is the bacterial flagellum, the tail of a bacteria that quickly rotates like an outboard motor, he said.

The bacterial flagellum could not have slowly evolved piece by piece as Charles Darwin posited because if even one part of the bacteria is removed, it no longer serves its original function, Behe said.

Biologist and Brown University professor Kenneth Miller testified for the parents about two weeks ago. He showed the courtroom diagrams on a large screen, detailing how the bacterial flagellum could be reduced and still work.

Also showing diagrams, Behe said Miller was mistaken and used much of his testimony in an attempt to debunk Miller's testimony.

Miller was wrong when he said that intelligent design proponents don't have evidence to support intelligent design so they degrade the theory of evolution, Behe said.

But Behe also said evolution fails to answer questions about the transcription on DNA, the "structure and function of ribosomes," new protein interactions and the human immune system, among others.

By late in the afternoon, Behe was supporting his arguments with complex, detailed charts, at one point citing a scientific article titled "The Evolved Galactosidase System as a Model for Studying Acquisitive Evolution in the Laboratory."

Most of the pens in the jury box -- where the media is stationed in the absence of a jury -- stopped moving. Some members of the public had quizzical expressions on their faces.

One of the parents' attorneys made mention of the in-depth subject matter, causing Muise to draw reference to Miller's earlier testimony.

He said the courtroom went from "Biology 101" to "Advanced Biology."

"This is what you get," Muise said.

Board responds: Randy Tomasacci, a school board member with a Luzerne County school district, said he was impressed with Behe's testimony.

Tomasacci represents Northwest Area School District in Shickshinny, a board that is watching the Dover trial and is contemplating adopting an intelligent design policy.

"We're going to see what happens in this case," he said.

Some of his fellow board members are afraid of getting sued, Tomasacci said.

Tomasacci's friend, Lynn Appleman, said he supports Dover's school board.

He said he thought Behe was "doing a good job" during testimony, but "it can get over my head pretty quick."

Former professor Gene Chavez, a Harrisburg resident, said he came to watch part of the proceedings because the case is "monumental."

He said he had doubts about the effectiveness of Behe's testimony.

"I think he's going to have a hard time supporting what he has concluded," Chavez said. "I think he is using his science background to make a religious leap because it's what he believes."

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