On the stand, Buckingham countered that neither he nor anyone on the board had ever used that word. “We’d say intelligent design and they’d print creationism,” he complained of the newspapers. In court, Pepper attorney Stephen Harvey ran a video of a Fox 43 television news report that showed Buckingham wearing a cross-and-American-flag lapel pin. In it, he told the interviewer, “My opinion [is that] it’s OK to teach Darwin, but you have to balance it with something else, such as creationism.”

For advice on how to make science education better for Dover’s kids, Buckingham sought out the Thomas More Law Center, a public-interest law firm that refers to its work as “our ministry” and styles itself “the sword and shield of people of faith.” President and chief counsel Richard Thompson told him that the popular ID book Of Pandas and People would provide the 50/50 balance he was looking for and that the center would back the board in case of legal action. Talk of creationism disappeared from the meetings, and the board began to push for intelligent design.

In public and in sworn depositions, Buckingham and Bonsell repeatedly asserted that they did not know where the district’s ample supply of Pandas had come from. But under Harvey’s questioning, Buckingham specified that, though he never exactly “asked” for money, he did tell the congregation at Harmony Grove Community Church that “there is a need, if you want to help.” He collected $850 and wrote a check to Bonsell’s father, who then purchased and donated the books.

“There are consequences for not telling the truth,” Rothschild warned in his summary argument. He would be proved right. The Kitzmiller trial would show that the pattern of bad faith and cover-up extended beyond the fumbling intrigues of a small-town school board.

Intelligent design can trace its lineage across three generations of failed attempts to supplant or dilute evolution in the classroom. Early in the 20th century, state legislatures made it illegal to teach Darwin’s ideas. The Tennessee law at issue in Scopes is an example. Those laws were eventually ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in Epperson v. Arkansas (1968). Religious proponents then tried to introduce “creation science” into schools, arguing that evidence can be found supporting the biblical account of creation and that it should be taught in science classes alongside evolution. The “balanced treatment” statutes that followed were struck down by the high court in Edwards v. Aguillard (1987), which cited those laws’ “preeminent purpose” of advancing “the religious viewpoint that a supernatural being created mankind.” The landmark ruling left open the door for teaching legitimate “scientific theories … with the clear secular intent of enhancing the effectiveness of science instruction.” Not long after Edwards, intelligent design stepped through that door.

In her testimony, Professor Barbara Forrest, a philosopher at Southeastern Louisiana University, explained that intelligent design is just another word for creationism. Forrest is coauthor of Creationism’s Trojan Horse, which chronicles the tactics of the ID movement. She told the court that biology professor Dean Kenyon, while advocating for creation science in the Edwards hearing, was also at work on a creationist textbook that would be published in 1989 as Of Pandas and People.

When the Supreme Court outlawed the teaching of creationism, the Foundation for Thought and Ethics, publisher of Pandas, resolved the setback by deleting references to creator and creationism and replacing them with designer and intelligent design. The rest of the text remained mostly the same. As a legal strategy for getting around the Edwards decision, Forrest explained, the ID movement had scrubbed references to God, creationism, and the Bible from public pronouncements and put in their place an unnamed designer whose identity, they said, could not be ascertained by scientific investigation. Comparing a pre-Edwards manuscript of Pandas with the published edition, she found about 150 replacements, demonstrating how the ideas of creationism remained in the book even as the words that named it were cut and intelligent design(er) was pasted in. “They’re virtually synonymous,” she maintained.

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Last modified 03/01/06

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COVER STORY: Intelligent Demise
By Peter Nichols

MAR|APR 06 Contents
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