Day 6 ping!
HARRISBURG Defense attorneys in the case over intelligent design didn't want Barbara Forrest to testify. They repeatedly tried to keep the co-author of "Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design" off the stand or to undermine her testimony in U.S. Middle District Court on Wednesday.
Richard Thompson, defense attorney, said she wasn't qualified and offered irrelevant history. Nicholas Matzke, a consultant for the plaintiffs from the National Center for Science Education, said outside court that the defense wanted to exclude the testimony because it damaged the Dover Area School Board's case.
Wednesday, during voir dire a process during which attorneys ask questions about a witness' expertise defense attorney Robert Muise questioned Forrest's qualifications because she is not a scientist, theologian or philosopher of science.
He also attacked the research methodology for her writings, claiming she was selective. As an example, he said she failed to include a document by the Discovery Institute explaining the "wedge strategy."
Forrest, a professor of philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University, says the wedge strategy is a long-term plan to replace materialism with Christian convictions. She has tracked what she calls the intelligent design movement for years to show its roots in creation science, according to testimony.
The institute, in a document called "The Wedge Document: So What?" says it does not support theocracy, is not attacking science and does not have a secret plan to influence science and culture.
In court, she said that document was written after her book was published. Though she has written other materials about intelligent design, she said the Discovery Institute generates volumes of material and every piece isn't cited.
Forrest also said she isn't a scientist, didn't claim to be and has relied on scientists such as her co-author, Paul R. Gross.
Matzke said the National Center for Science Education chose the expert witness list for this case.
"They didn't want her on the stand because they knew she would be devastating to their case," he said.
Her testimony documents the wedge strategy, shows that "Of Pandas and People" has a history in creationism and shows that the book is representive of the intelligent design concept for Dover, he said.
Matzke said the defense's attempt to undermine Forrest was out of "desperation."
Wednesday's attempt wasn't the first by the defense to keep her off the stand.
On Sept. 6, defense lawyers filed a motion to exclude Forrest, citing similar reasons they addressed in voir dire. Federal Judge John E. Jones III denied the motion Sept. 22, yet left the ultimate decision to be made in court.
Jones said Wednesday it would be proper for Forrest to testify about the history and nature of intelligent design with the understanding that the defense may object to portions of her reports.
Muise made numerous hearsay objections as Forrest testified to documents tracing the history of intelligent design to creationist roots.
During cross examination, Thompson went after her views on religion, which plaintiffs' attorney Eric Rothschild said went too far.
After court, Thompson maintained that the defense doesn't believe she is qualified and that her knowledge doesn't pertain to this case.
"We didn't think (the history of intelligent design) was relevant to the case," Thompson said after court. "The school board didn't know any of this history.
"How much do you have to know? Every time you purchase a book, do you have to have a deposition of the book? Do you look at every draft?"
Thompson said the defense would continue to address the history of intelligent design during cross-examination scheduled to continue today.
What: Eleven people whose children attend or plan to attend Dover schools sued the school board and district, claiming the board's decision to make intelligent design part of the science curriculum violates the constitutional separation of church and state.
The district says it wanted to give fair time to an alternative to evolution theory. Evolution is widely accepted as fact and as the unifying concept of biology. Intelligent design says evolution can't explain the complexity of life and that an unnamed designer must have been at work.
When: Trial dates are today, Oct. 12, 14, 17 through 21, 24, 27; Nov. 2 through 4
Who: Judge John E. Jones III will issue his decision at a time of his choosing after the trial.
Why it matters: It's the most significant court challenge to evolution since 1987, and it's the first time a court has been asked to rule whether intelligent design can be taught in public schools. Experts say the case's outcome could influence how science is defined and taught in schools across the country. The lead defense lawyer said he wants to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In court today
Southeastern Louisiana University philosophy professor Barbara Forrest is scheduled to be on the stand again today as cross-examination continues. Freelance reporters Joe Maldonado of the York Daily Record/Sunday News and Heidi Bernhard-Bubb of The York Dispatch, who had been scheduled to testify today as to facts contained in articles they wrote about the Dover school board and its approval of intelligent design, will testify at a later date.
Quote of the day
"Creation means that various forms of life began abruptly through the agency of an intelligent creator, with their distinctive features already intact fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc." Version of textbook "Of Pandas and People," before 1987 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Edwards v. Aguillard striking down the concept of creation science as legitimate science.
"Intelligent design means that various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency, with their distinctive features already intact fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc." "Of Pandas and People," after 1987 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Edwards v. Aguillard.
Similar substitutions were made throughout the textbook, according to Wednesday's testimony.