Transcript of the Program
Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial
PBS Airdate: November 13, 2007
NARRATOR: Dover, Pennsylvania: like much of the United
States, Dover has become a town divided.
BONSELL (Dover School Board Member): I personally don't believe in Darwin's
theory of evolution.
ESHBACH (Dover Science Teacher): Saying that you don't believe in evolution is
almost saying, for us, well, "We don't believe that the Civil War
ever took place in the United States."
NARRATOR: Dover is split between those who accept Charles Darwin's
theory of evolution and those who reject it. And that rift between science and
scripture nearly destroyed the community.
of trouble first appeared after a Dover High School student painted a mural
showing the evolution of humans from ape-like ancestors.
SPAHR (Dover Science Teacher): It was a lovely piece of artwork, very well done
artistically, and it did not offend me in any way.
NARRATOR: But some in Dover were offended by the idea that
humans and apes are related, and that mural was removed from the classroom and
soon spread to the local school board. Angry that only Darwin's theory of
evolution was being taught, the board required students hear about a controversial idea, at odds
with Darwin, called "intelligent design."
BUCKINGHAM (Dover School Board Member): To just talk about Darwin to the exclusion of
anything else perpetrates a fraud.
NARRATOR: But many say intelligent design is the fraud.
R. MILLER (Brown University): Intelligent design is a science stopper.
PADIAN (University of California, Berkeley): It makes people stupid.
NARRATOR: Eleven Dover residents sued their school board to
keep intelligent design out of the classroom. And almost overnight, Dover was
catapulted to the front pages of the nation's newspapers and the front
lines in the war on evolution.
C. SCOTT (National Center for Science
Education): Trials tear
communities apart. They set neighbor against neighbor. Nobody wants to do this;
you do it when you have to.
NARRATOR: With Dover split down the middle, a federal court
would decide if intelligent design is legitimate science or religion in
disguise. And the verdict would have consequences that reach far beyond the
classrooms of Dover.
FORREST (Southeastern Louisiana University): It's about religion, politics and power.
NARRATOR: Up next on NOVA: Judgment Day:
Intelligent Design on Trial.
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NARRATOR: In October, 2004, a war broke out in the small
town of Dover, Pennsylvania.
JENNINGS (ABC NEWSCAST): Today,
the teachers in a rural Pennsylvania town became the first in the country
required to tell students that evolution is not the only theory.
NARRATOR: It started when the Dover Area School Board
passed a policy requiring that its high school science classes include a
controversial subject called intelligent design.
of intelligent design claim that many features of living organisms are too
complex to have evolved entirely through the natural process of evolution, as
Charles Darwin proposed. Instead, they claim, some aspects of those organisms
must have been created, fully-formed, by a so-called "intelligent designer."
And advocates contend intelligent design is a bold, new scientific theory, with
the power to overthrow the theory of evolution.
MUISE (Thomas More Law Center): It's scientists debating science based on the
evidence–not any religious text or authority–and it's clearly
properly the subject of a science class.
FULLER (University of Warwick): It's, in fact, opening the path of inquiry to
new ways of thinking about things.
JOHNSON (University of California,
Berkeley School of Law): If
evolution by natural selection is a scientific doctrine, then a critique of
that doctrine is a legitimate part of science as well.
NARRATOR: The Dover school board demanded that science
teachers read their students a one minute statement claiming that gaps in the
theory of evolution exist, and putting forward intelligent design as an
alternative. The statement also directed students to an intelligent design
textbook called Of Pandas and People that would be made
many Dover residents and an overwhelming number of scientists throughout the
country were outraged. They say intelligent design is nothing but religion in
disguise, the latest front in the war on evolution.
C. SCOTT: The goal of intelligent design
is to try to re-Christianize American society.
design is not, anywhere, a scientific concept. It's not a field of
science. It's not being actively researched by anyone.
MILLER: It's a violation of everything we mean and
everything we understand by "science."
NARRATOR: The stage was set for a battle that would pit
friend against friend and neighbor against neighbor.
BUCKINGHAM: It was like we shot
somebody's dog. I mean, there was a blowup like you couldn't
JOHN E. JONES, III (U.S. District Judge): It was like a civil war within the community, there's
NARRATOR: Before it was over, this battle would land the
school board in federal court.
cameras were allowed in the courtroom, so to bring this historic showdown
between evolution and intelligent design to light, NOVA has dramatized key
scenes from court transcripts.
was a six-week trial in which modern biology was Exhibit A, and hanging in the
balance was not just the Dover biology curriculum. The future of science
education in America, the separation of church and state, and the very nature
of scientific inquiry were all on trial.
Dover, Pennsylvania, the debate over religion and evolution has long been
SPAHR: We live in a community
that has a great many fundamentalist churches.
MUMMERT (Dover Pastor): I've never appreciated the fact that my
children are being taught to believe in evolution as opposed to creationism.
FORREY: "In the beginning, God
created..." To me, that's all I need to know.
NARRATOR: Located in the southeastern part of the state,
about 20 miles from the capital, it's a quiet, rural place, home to about
20,000 people, more than a dozen churches, and one high school.
of the first people in Dover to sense that trouble was brewing was Bertha
Spahr. She had been teaching science at Dover High School for almost 40 years.
In the spring of 2003, she received some disturbing news from the school
district's assistant superintendent.
SPAHR: He actually came
to my classroom one evening after school and said, "Bert, I think I need
to give you a heads up. There is a school board member who is talking about
equal time...whether it be 50 percent...but certainly equal time for
creationism. And I think you need to be aware of this." That's when
the red flag went up.
science teacher, Bryan Rehm, heard this too.
REHM (Dover Science Teacher): I had actually laughed at him because I thought that
was the funniest thing I'd heard. I mean, creationism was ruled out in
public education and science when I was in junior high school.
NARRATOR: When Bertha Spahr asked which school board member
was interested in creationism being taught alongside evolution, she was told it
was a local businessman named Alan Bonsell, who had recently joined the school
BONSELL: My family and I
have been very blessed here, and I've had family that have lived in the Dover
area for 100 years. So it was something that...to give back. And I thought
that I could help to try to make Dover, you know, the school district, a better
NARRATOR: When Bonsell had questions about how evolution
was taught at Dover High School, Bertha Spahr and her biology teachers agreed
to meet with him.
BONSELL: I had a meeting
with some of the science teachers in the high school just to see what they
taught or didn't teach in the high school science class.
MILLER (Dover Science Teacher): And creationism really didn't come up at that
meeting, it was more, "how do we teach evolution?" And he seemed
very satisfied. He was okay with how we taught, and we thought everything was
good, and we went on our merry way.
ESHBACH: If you'll recall, he did
enlighten us, at that time, that he did not...wasn't his belief that
evolution is how things came about.
MILLER: Right. That's correct.
ESHBACH: He felt the Earth was not much
more than 4,000 years old.
BONSELL: I personally
don't believe in Darwin's theory of evolution. I'm a
creationist. I make no bones about that.
NARRATOR: Creationists like Bonsell reject much of modern
science in favor a literal reading of the Bible. They believe the Earth is less
than 10,000 years old, and that God created everything fully-formed, including
humans, in just six days.
most mainstream religions made peace with evolution decades ago, many
creationists still see evolution as incompatible with their faith. And both
creationism and evolution are no strangers to the court. Their legal battles
stretch back to the famous Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925.
York As Bertram T. Cates/Clip from Inherit the Wind): As I told you yesterday, Darwin's theory
tells us that man evolved from a lower order of animals.
NARRATOR: In that case, a high school science teacher in
Tennessee, named John Scopes, was accused of violating state law by teaching
March as Matthew Harrison Brady ): I
hereby place you under arrest.
NARRATOR: Loosely portrayed in the classic film Inherit the
Wind, the trial turned into a courtroom showdown between legendary lawyer
TRACY As HENRY DRUMMOND Clip from Inherit the Wind): The defense wishes to place Dr. Keller on the stand
so that he can explain to the gentlemen of the jury the exact meaning of the
theory of evolution.
NARRATOR: ...and three-time presidential candidate
William Jennings Bryan.
REED As PROSECUTER TOM DAVENPORT/Clip from Inherit the Wind): If you had a son, Mr. Sillers, what would you think
if that sweet child came home from school and told you that a godless
TRACY As HENRY DRUMMOND Clip from Inherit the Wind): Objection!
NARRATOR: Scopes was found guilty of teaching evolution,
and slapped with a mere hundred-dollar fine. But the verdict would have a
chilling effect on science education throughout the country for the next three
C. SCOTT: After the Scopes trial, textbook
publishers decided that evolution was just too controversial a subject, and so
they just quietly removed it from the textbooks. And for most of that time, the
textbook was the curriculum, and, so, if it wasn't in the textbook, it
didn't get taught.
NARRATOR: The chilling effect of the Scopes trial did not
thaw until the 1960s. But as publishers slipped evolution back into their
textbooks, creationists fought to teach their views in science class as well.
the next 30 years, the two sides battled it out in court. The fight culminated
in 1987, when the Supreme Court decided that teaching creationism in public
school science classes violated the separation of church and state mandated by
the constitution in the Establishment Clause, which prevents the government
from promoting or prohibiting any form of religion. To this day, teaching
creationism in public school science classes anywhere in the United States
remains a violation of students' constitutional rights.
Dover school board member, Bill Buckingham, a retired policeman, was appointed
by Alan Bonsell to head the curriculum committee. It was his job to review all
requests for new textbooks.
9th grade biology teachers had asked for a widely used book, co-authored by
biologists Ken Miller and Joe Levine. But Buckingham did not like what he saw.
BUCKINGHAM: In looking at the biology book
the teachers wanted, I noticed that it was laced with Darwinism. I think I
listed somewhere between 12 and 15 instances where it talked about
Darwin's theory of evolution. It wasn't on every page of the book,
but, like, every couple of chapters, there was Darwin, in your face again. And
it was to the exclusion of any other theory.
NARRATOR: And at a school board meeting in the summer of
2004, Buckingham made it clear he wasn't comfortable approving that book.
The school board put the purchase on hold.
what was it about Charles Darwin's theory that Buckingham objected to?
published his theory of evolution in 1859, in a book called On the Origin of Species, and it has been
sparking controversy ever since. It was the culmination of work Darwin started
more than two decades earlier, after sailing around the world on a ship called
that expedition, Darwin collected thousands of plants and animals that were
unlike any he had ever seen before. And when he returned home to England, he
became particularly fascinated by the many different birds he had found on a
remote chain of islands off the coast of South America called the Galapagos.
R. MILLER: There was a bird that looked to
him like a warbler, and another one that looked to him like a woodpecker, and
another one that looked like a finch, and so forth. And he wasn't sure
what these birds were. But they were all clearly adapted for very different
ways of life. Some ate insects. Some, for example, picked up small seeds. Some
could crush the large seeds of certain plants which were found on the
Galapagos. So they had different appearances, different beaks, different styles
NARRATOR: When Darwin asked for help identifying these
birds, he was in for a surprise.
R. MILLER: He was floored. He was stunned to
discover that the expert ornithologists in Great Britain told him,
"They're all finches. That's not a woodpecker, it's a
finch. That's not a warbler, it's a finch."
NARRATOR: But why, in this small chain of islands, had he
found finches with such different characteristics?
reasoned: in nature, individual organisms compete for limited resources like
food. If, for example, a bird is born with a slightly larger beak than the
other members of the population, that might give it an advantage on an island
where large seeds are more common.
many generations, birds with large beaks would be more likely to survive and
reproduce, handing down this advantageous beak shape to greater numbers of
offspring than those with smaller beaks.
called this process "natural selection," because the forces of
nature, such as the environment of an individual island in the Galapagos,
select those organisms best suited to that environment. And he believed that,
over time, this could give rise to new species.
R. MILLER: What Darwin pointed out was a
general principle, which is easily observed in nature: species are not fixed,
that with natural selection pushing or pulling or splitting, species can change
NARRATOR: Darwin thought all the different kinds of plants
and animals we see around us today, including humans, could have arisen by this
called the gradual evolution of new species from old "descent with
modification," and he pictured the relatedness of all living things as a
great tree of life, with each twig a different species ultimately springing
from a common ancestor.
SHUBIN (University of Chicago/The Field
Museum): As you follow the
family tree farther and farther back, say, from our twig, which–we're
just one twig on this vast tree–what you see our similarities with apes;
and going further down, our similarities with other mammals; further down, our
similarities with reptiles; further down, our similarities with amphibians,
fish, all the way down to worms, and jellyfish and so forth. What you see is a
continuity of life on the planet, because we're not exceptional in any
great degree, we're just a twig on a giant evolutionary tree that
NARRATOR: The common ancestry of all forms of life was one
of Darwin's great insights. But he recognized disturbing implications in
the idea that humans had evolved from ape-like ancestors.
R. MILLER: In the eyes of a lot of people,
once Charles Darwin had proposed that natural processes could have produced
every species on this planet, including us, they felt that took God out of the
NARRATOR: And about a century and a half later, many people
in Dover, like the United States as a whole, agree. To this day, somewhere
between a third and half the U.S. population does not accept evolution.
BUCKINGHAM: I find it personally offensive,
because I'm a Christian. I believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God,
and that the Book of Genesis tells it like it is as to how we came into being. God
didn't create monkey and then take man from a monkey. He created man.
NARRATOR: In Dover, hostility to the theory of evolution
had already erupted in vandalism after a student at the high school painted a
16-foot mural depicting the evolution of humans from ape-like ancestors. The
mural was on display in a science classroom, when someone removed it from the
school and burned it.
as Bill Buckingham continued fighting the purchase of the biology book at
school board meetings, the science teachers began to suspect that he had been
SPAHR: This idea of man
and monkey came into the conversation, and I immediately remember saying to him
"Does this have anything to do with that mural that disappeared?"
ESHBACH: And that's when he made the
remark that he gleefully watched it burn.
MILLER: Right, sort of under his breath,
though we heard what he said.
NARRATOR: Though Buckingham denied any involvement in the
incident, when he reportedly announced he was searching for a biology book that
included evolution and creationism, the school board meeting erupted in chaos.
REHM (Dover English Teacher): Typically, a school board meeting is a very dry
thing, couple of people show up
because they have a certain issue they want to discuss. But these meetings
would be hundreds of people, and it would be hot, and people would be upset,
and it was a zoo. It was just an absolute madhouse.
KITZMILLER (Dover Parent): Ludicrous, bizarre...there's many
adjectives I could use. They were disrespectful to the public, disrespectful to
the teachers. They didn't want to listen to anybody. They were just on
their own agenda.
BONSELL: Sometimes in a
democracy, and when you have nine different personalities together, and you
have a controversial issue, in the heat of the moment, somebody might say
something they wish, 10 minutes from now, they wouldn't have said.
NARRATOR: The controversy engulfing the school board caught
the attention of local newspaper reporters, including Lauri Lebo, who grew up
in the area.
LEBO (Journalist): From the first time I heard school board members
were talking about creationism, I thought this could become a big issue. I
didn't realize how big, but I certainly knew I was intrigued by it.
NARRATOR: Lebo began reporting on the controversy. But her
interest in the issue was not just professional, it was also personal.
Lauri's father had been the owner of a local radio station, but the
oldies format wasn't paying the bills, and the electric company was about
to put him off the air.
next day a gentleman came in who belonged to a local church...wanted to
lease programming on the radio station and offered to pay a decent sum of
money. And overnight the radio station became Christian radio station. My
father became born again.
NARRATOR: In her articles, Lebo would write about the 1987
Supreme Court ruling that would keep Buckingham from introducing any
creationist text into biology class. In the meantime, Buckingham was in touch
with two organizations known for questioning Darwin.
was a public interest law firm in Michigan called the Thomas More Law Center.
Headed by former public prosecutor Richard Thompson, famous for his efforts to
convict assisted suicide advocate Jack Kevorkian, the firm bills itself as
"the sword and shield for people of faith."
THOMPSON (Thomas More Law Center): Bill Buckingham contacted me as a private citizen,
and also as someone who was concerned that the biology textbook presented only
one side. And he thought there should be other alternative theories involved. And
that's when I introduced him to the theory of intelligent design and
indicated that I thought that that theory could be taught alongside the theory
of evolution and pass constitutional muster.
BUCKINGHAM: I asked, you know, if there
were any reference books out there, and they gave me the title of the book Of
Pandas and People.
NARRATOR: He also found a conservative think tank in
Seattle, named the Discovery Institute, which calls itself "the
nation's leading intelligent design proponent."
sent Buckingham a DVD and other material on intelligent design. In these
materials, Buckingham found a view that did not seem to conflict with his own.
For example, according to the book Of Pandas and People, "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, et cetera."
in the DVD he got from the Discovery Institute, Buckingham found more support
for intelligent design.
DISCOVERY INSTITUTE DVD: One hundred and
fifty years ago, Charles Darwin transformed science with his theory of natural
selection. Today, that theory faces a formidable challenge. Intelligent design
has sparked both discovery and intense debate over the origin of life on Earth.
And, for a growing number of scientists, it represents a paradigm, an idea with
the power to once again redefine the foundations of scientific thought.
NARRATOR: Both the DVD and book use the same example to
illustrate intelligent design's central tenet, explained here by
proponent Steve Fuller.
way to get into the concept of intelligent design is by imagining what it would
be like to run across something like this on the beach: "John Loves
Mary." I mean, this is the sort of design that's very unlikely just
to have assembled itself just from sand blowing randomly over even a very long
period of time. Rather, it shows a sign of some sort of intelligence
that's behind it.
NARRATOR: And just as those words on the beach are clearly
the product of an intelligent being, the claim is that some aspects of life
itself must be the product of a designer.
BUCKINGHAM: Intelligent design, in my way
of thinking, states that life is too complex to happened at random, that there had to be a designer,
something to shape how things went, so to speak. In the Book of Genesis, the
designer would be God.
NARRATOR: But in the materials Buckingham received, God is
never mentioned. The mysterious designer is called an "intelligent
cause" or "intelligent agent."
by a law professor named Phillip Johnson, intelligent design began to emerge in
JOHNSON: This whole Darwinian story, it
seems to me, has been very much oversold. Everybody is told that it's
absolutely certain and certainly true. And because it's called science,
it has been proved again and again by absolutely unquestionable procedures. But
this is not true. It's an imaginative story that has been spun on the
basis of very little evidence.
NARRATOR: An emeritus professor at the U.C. Berkeley law
school, Johnson wrote a book called Darwin on Trial, in which he
laid the groundwork for the intelligent design movement.
years, he's been making the claim that evolution may produce small-scale
changes–like the different finch beaks Darwin observed–but for
humans to come about requires the intervention of some kind of intelligence.
JOHNSON: That is the basic intelligent
design proposition: that the unintelligent causes, by themselves, can't
do the whole job. An intelligent cause had to be involved.
NARRATOR: Armed with information on intelligent design, Bill
Buckingham returned to the school board.
LEBO: He had been told that intelligent design was a good
compromise between his religious beliefs, is what he told me. And Alan Bonsell
told me that, too–and what the courts will allow. They were both very
clear on that, that this is their compromise even though they believe in
creationism. This would, this would, sort of, bridge the gap for them.
NARRATOR: But the science teachers were not convinced.
REHM: The first reading of it, "an intelligent agent created life."
That's creationism. It's Biblical creationism, you know? All I have
to do is take out "intelligent agent" and put in "God,"
and, voila! We have the story of Genesis. So there is no question in my mind
what intelligent design was.
NARRATOR: Now Buckingham was ready to take a stand.
ESHBACH: He came up with the ultimatum
that the only way that they would vote for the textbooks was that we adopted
the book Of Pandas and People as a sister or companion textbook.
NARRATOR: But when he put it before the school board, he
came up two votes short. The board chose to purchase only the standard biology
book co-authored by Ken Miller. Pandas was shelved.
might have been the end of the story, but a few weeks later, 60 copies of Pandas turned up in Bertha's
Spahr's department, a gift to the school from an anonymous donor.
without consulting the teachers, members of Buckingham's curriculum
committee drafted the outlines of what became a bold new policy for the science
department. It was brought before the full school board for a vote, and after a
heated debate, it passed, six to three.
its final form, the policy mandated that all students in ninth grade biology be
read a one minute statement telling them that Darwin's theory is not a
fact and that it contains gaps. Suggesting intelligent design as an
alternative, it directed students to the 60 copies of Pandas that would be available as a
school board members who voted against Buckingham's proposal resigned in
Kitzmiller is the mother of a 9th grade student who would be read the one
minute statement at Dover High. She called the A.C.L.U. to see what could be
KITZMILLER: I just didn't agree with
what they were doing. I did not like how they were trying to mix religion and
"VIC" WALCZAK (American Civil Liberties
Union of Pennsylvania): We had
parents, we had students, we had teachers, all calling us and saying "Hey,
there's a problem here. Can you help us?" And we said, "Sure,
we'll help you."
NARRATOR: On December 14, 2004, 11 parents of Dover school
students, including Tammy Kitzmiller and Bryan and Christy Rehm, filed a
lawsuit in federal court in Pennsylvania, alleging the Dover school board was
violating their constitutional rights by introducing religion into science
class. They would be represented by the A.C.L.U., which had joined forces with
the organization Americans United for Separation of Church and State and
Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton.
HARVEY (Pepper Hamilton, LLP): Eric said at the time, "This is the case I
been waiting for my entire career."
NARRATOR: The School Board would be represented by the
Thomas More Law Center, the firm that had told Bill Buckingham about the Pandas
court date was set. And as depositions were being taken, the science teachers
took a stand of their own against reading the intelligent design statement.
MILLER: We stepped up and said,
"We're not going to read it."
SPAHR: We met together
and agreed that as a unit we would stand together.
ESHBACH: I mean, I have principles and
standards of my own, and there was no way that I was going to go into a science
classroom of mine and make a statement about this so-called intelligent design,
knowing full well that it was not science.
NARRATOR: They notified the board of their refusal in a
memo that proclaimed, "Intelligent design is not science. Intelligent
design is not biology. Intelligent design is not an accepted scientific theory."
the teachers refusing to read the one minute statement, Dover's assistant
superintendent walked into ninth grade biology class on January 18, 2005 and
Assistant Superintendent, Dover,
Pennsylvania School District: The
Pennsylvania Academic Standards require students to learn about Darwin's theory
of evolution and eventually to take a standardized test of which evolution is a
part. Because Darwin's theory is a theory, it continues to be tested as
new evidence is discovered. The theory is not a fact. Gaps in the theory exist
for which there is no evidence.
NARRATOR: On September 26, 2005, almost exactly a year
after the school board devised the intelligent design policy, six weeks of
testimony in the case of Kitzmiller versus Dover Area School District got
underway in federal court in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
JOHN E. JONES, III (Dramatization): Good morning to all of you. Are you prepared to
ROTHSCHILD (Pepper Hamilton, LLP/Dramatization):
Yes, I am.
JOHN E. JONES, III (Dramatization): You may do so.
ROTHSCHILD (Dramatization): My co-counsel and I represent 11 parents who are
challenging the Dover Area School District's change to its biology
School Board members announced their interest in the topic of evolution in
starkly religious terms. They looked for a book that could provide a religious
alternative to evolution, and they found one here in Of Pandas and People.
did everything you would do if you wanted to incorporate a religious topic in a
science class and cared nothing about its scientific validity.
T. GILLEN (Thomas More Law Center/Dramatization):
Patrick Gillen, your Honor, on behalf of
the defendants in this action, the Dover Area School District and its board of directors.
The board believed that intelligent design was not creationism. They knew what
that was, the Book of Genesis. They believed it was a legitimate educational
goal to make students aware of the existence of another scientific theory.
experts will show this Court that intelligent design theory is science, it is
not religion. This expert testimony will also demonstrate that making students
aware of gaps and problems in evolutionary theory is good science education. It's
good liberal education.
NARRATOR: By the time the trial started, challenges to the
teaching of evolution had cropped up in dozens of other states. And intelligent
design was attracting some heavy hitters.
Santorum, then Pennsylvania senator, had commended the school district for its
intelligent design policy. And President Bush had thrown his support behind
intelligent design, saying, "Both sides ought to be properly taught so
people can understand what the debate is about."
the eyes of the nation were on Dover, the latest battleground in the war on
"VIC" WALCZAK: I don't
want to sound melodramatic, but I actually think very important things were at
stake. One is the future of science education in this country.
HARVEY: If the school board can do this,
what would prevent them from doing more things like this in other classes? Presenting
pseudo-science or pseudo-math or pseudo-history in promotion of one particular
religious view? It's wrong.
T. GILLEN: Does science education have to
be so narrow, so technical, so deferential to the existing paradigm that we
can't even introduce students to what may be the next great theory?
NARRATOR: Presiding over the case would be Judge John E.
JOHN E. JONES, III: I could never have
imagined, in August of 2002, when I took my seat, that I would be presiding
over a case that would attract, literally, worldwide attention.
NARRATOR: Jones had been recommended for his position on
the bench by Senator Santorum and appointed by George W. Bush. Before becoming
a judge, Jones was head of Pennsylvania's liquor control board, where he
banned the sale of Bad Frog beer because it showed a cartoon frog making an
ROTHSCHILD: Initially, you find out
you've got a judge that's been appointed by President Bush, who has
come out himself in favor of intelligent design, and that makes you a little
NARRATOR: Members of the defense, however, were optimistic
about their chances in Jones's courtroom.
the Dover school board had done...they weren't requiring that
intelligent design be taught, and they weren't removing evolution from
the classroom. So, it seemed to me this was pretty modest. And so I did think
it had a pretty good chance, if it was presented properly, of being accepted.
THOMPSON: We didn't have to show
that, you know, one theory was better than the other, merely that it was a
credible theory, and that the students would gain something by understanding
the controversy surrounding the theory of evolution and the origin of species.
NARRATOR: The parents who opposed intelligent design, or plaintiffs, had launched the
lawsuit, so the burden of proof was on them.
because the parents were asking for the teaching of intelligent design to be
halted, an order that only a judge can render, there would be no jury. Instead,
the jury box was packed with reporters and writers from around the globe,
including one with a surprising connection to the case.
CHAPMAN (Charles Darwin's Great-Great-Grandson): I think of myself as being a sort of living
disproof of evolution, because my great-great-grandfather was Charles Darwin,
who obviously wrote one of the most important books of the last 2,000 years, and
I'm a screenwriter. This is not evolution in the right direction.
NARRATOR: To win, the plaintiffs' lawyers would have
to show the judge that the Dover School Board's one minute statement
promoted religion or that board members had religious motivation.
addition, both sides asked the judge to rule on a fundamental question:
"Is intelligent design science or not?"
"VIC" WALCZAK: In order to
show that intelligent design is not science we had to talk about, well, "What
NARRATOR: For help, the plaintiffs turned to researcher
Nick Matzke and his colleagues at an organization called the National Center
for Science Education, which tracks challenges to evolution in public schools.
MATZKE (National Center for Science
Education): The last time any lawyer
took biology was probably in 9th grade. And I spent months and months on
e-mail, at meetings, explaining science, explaining evolution to the lawyers.
NARRATOR: To make their case before a judge who had no
particular scientific training, the lawyers for the parents assembled a team of
as their first witness they called biologist Ken Miller, co-author of the
textbook that Bill Buckingham had called "laced with Darwinism."
"VIC" WALCZAK (Dramatization): Dr. Miller, what is evolution?
R. MILLER (Dramatization): Most biologists would describe evolution as "the
process of change over time that characterizes the natural history of life on
"VIC" WALCZAK (Dramatization): And what was Darwin's contribution to
R. MILLER (Dramatization): Darwin pointed out there's a struggle for
existence, whether we like to admit it or not. He realized that those organisms
that had the characteristics that suited them best in that struggle, those were
the ones that would hand those characteristics down to the next generation, and
that, therefore, the average characteristics of a population could change in
one direction or another and they could change quite dramatically. And
that's the essential idea of natural selection.
NARRATOR: Starting with Ken Miller, the plaintiffs walked
Judge Jones through the conflict at the heart of this case.
testified how Darwin's theory pictures the history of life as a tree,
with species gradually evolving into others over millions of years, producing
new branches and twigs, a process that gives rise to all the variety of life,
from bacteria to Darwin's finches to ourselves.
intelligent design takes a different view, as the movement's own
literature shows. Intelligent design teaches a history of life in which
organisms appear abruptly, are unrelated, and linked only by their designer.
really being advocated is the idea that organisms poofed into existence through
the miraculous act of an intelligent designer, i.e., God. That's the view
that intelligent design promotes.
NARRATOR: So how can scientists be so sure Darwin's
tree accurately represents the history of life on Earth?
it turned out, the latest in a large body of evidence to refute intelligent
design and support evolution was coming to light just as this case was
SHUBIN: I remember thinking to myself, when all this was
going on, "Wait'll they get a look at this, because it's just
NARRATOR: Darwin believed that evidence for his idea of
common ancestry would be unearthed in the form of transitional fossils. For
example, if, over millions of years, fish gave rise to land animals, as
evolutionary theory predicts, we should find fossils of extinct creatures that
are part fish and part land animal.
1999, paleontologist Neil Shubin and his colleagues set out to find just such a
SHUBIN: What evolution enables us to do is to make specific
predictions about what we should find in the fossil record. The prediction in
this case is clear-cut. That is, if we go to rocks of the right age, and the
rocks of the right type, we should find transitions between two great forms of
life, between fish and amphibian.
NARRATOR: Many scientists think life began in the water, at
least three and a half billion years ago. More recently, about 375 million
years ago, the tree of life branched as primitive fish evolved into amphibians,
such as today's frogs and salamanders, which live part of their lives on
with this prediction, Shubin and his colleagues organized an expedition to one
of the most desolate places on Earth, the Canadian Arctic, about 500 miles from
the North Pole, where rocks of just the right age are exposed. Here, they hoped
to fill a gap in the branch of the evolutionary tree that leads from primitive
fish to animals with four limbs, or "tetrapods," by finding a
fossil of an animal that shared characteristics of both.
after three summers of digging through hundreds of tons of rock in this harsh
environment, they had found little of interest. They returned the next year for
one last try.
SHUBIN: Money was running out. This was it. We were told
this was our last year up there. And then, in 2004, in the third day of the season, a colleague of mine was
removing rock and discovered a little snout sticking out the side of the cliff,
just exactly like this. And he removed more rock and more rock and more rock,
and it became clear this was a snout of a flat-headed animal. And that's
when we knew. Flat-headed animal at 375-million years old? This is going to be
NARRATOR: They called it Tiktaalik, which means
"large, fresh water fish," in the language of the local Inuit
people. And it's one of the most vivid transitional fossils ever
discovered, showing how land animals evolved from primitive fish.
SHUBIN: Over here you have a fish of about 380-million years
old. And, just like any good fish, it has scales on its back and fins. You
compare that to an amphibian, and you find a creature that doesn't have
scales, and it's modified the fins to become limbs, arms and legs. And
the head's very different. It has a flat head with eyes on top and a
we see when we look at the fossil record, at rocks of just the right age, is a
creature like Tiktaalik. Just like a fish, it has scales on its back, and fins.
You can see the fin webbing here. Yet when we look at the head, you see
something very different. You see a very amphibian-like thing, with a flat
head, with eyes on top. It gets even better when we take the fin apart. When we
look inside the fin, as in this cast here, what you'll see is bones that
compare to our shoulder, elbow, even parts of the wrist–bone for bone. So
you have a fish, at just the right time in the history of life, that has
characteristics of amphibians and primitive fish. It's a mix.
NARRATOR: And just as evolutionary theory predicts,
Tiktaalik suggests a tree of life, with one species giving rise to another over
millions of years.
discovery of Tiktaalik was still being written up at the time of the trial, so
it couldn't be used as evidence. But Shubin's colleague,
paleontologist Kevin Padian, showed the judge examples of other fossils with
transitional features that support Darwin's tree of life.
testimony in the trial was basically taking a day and showing the judge how we
do our work and what the evidence is.
NARRATOR: How dinosaurs evolved into birds, as seen in
creatures like Archaeopteryx which has a long tail and teeth like a dinosaur,
but feathers just like a modern bird. How ancestors of modern reptiles evolved
into creatures now extinct that share a common ancestor with mammals. And, how,
surprisingly, whales evolved from large land animals that returned to the
where the Pandas book says we can't go from A to B, there
are no fossils and we don't know how to study them, actually, we've
gone from A to B and to C, D, E, F and G. We have the fossils; we have the transitional
features; we have the ways of analyzing them with many different lines of
evidence. And we're looking for the picture that accounts for the most
lines of objective evidence.
NARRATOR: With each fossil, Padian refuted Pandas
claim that different life forms appear suddenly, by showing how fossils of
extinct organisms bridge the gaps between species, resulting in a picture of
gradual evolution, just as Darwin proposed.
reporters in the courtroom were just amazed that we knew all this stuff. And
how come they hadn't learned about this stuff before? And the reason is
it's not in textbooks because the creationists fight so hard to keep it
out. That's been a big influence.
ROTHSCHILD: The court took a break. And I
remember the judge saying something like, you know, "biology class
adjourned," you know, "for lunch." And he was, you know,
smiling. And it was clear that we had the judge interested in science.
NARRATOR: Lawyers for the parents may have impressed the
judge and reporters. But many in Dover wondered, "Why is evolution taught
as fact if it's 'just a theory?'"
BONSELL: Maybe Darwinism
is the prevalent theory out there today, but it is a theory. It isn't a
law of science. It isn't, you know, a fact. It is a theory.
BUCKINGHAM: We just wanted alternative
views talked about, too. We weren't, we weren't saying, "Don't
talk about Darwin." Talk about Darwin, it's a theory. But
that's what it is, it's not Darwin's law, it's not
Darwin's fact, it's Darwin's theory.
ESHBACH: To say it's just a theory
is really a bit insulting to science because in science, a theory holds more
weight than just a fact does.
PADIAN (Dramatization): And here I think the term "theory" needs
to be looked at the way scientists consider it. A theory is not just something
that we think of in the middle of the night after too much coffee and not
enough sleep. That's an idea. A theory, in science, means a large body of
information that's withstood a lot of testing. It probably consists of a
number of different hypotheses and many different lines of evidence. Gravitation
is a theory that's unlikely to be falsified, even if we saw something
fall up. It might make us wonder, but we'd try to figure out what was
happening rather than immediately just dismiss gravitation.
PADIAN: Facts are just the minutiae of
science. By themselves, they can be right or wrong. But a theory is something
that has been tested and tested over and over again, built on, revised. It
continues to be reworked and revised.
MUISE (Dramatization): Dr. Miller, would you agree that Darwin's
theory of evolution is not an absolute truth?
R. MILLER (Dramatization): Well, I certainly would, for the very simple reason
that no theory in science, no theory, is ever regarded as absolute truth. We
don't regard atomic theory as truth. We don't regard the germ
theory of disease as truth. We don't regard the theory of friction as
truth. We regard all of these theories as well-supported, testable explanations
that provide natural explanations for natural phenomena.
MUISE (Dramatization): Should we regard Darwin's theory of evolution
R. MILLER (Dramatization): We should regard all scientific explanations as
being tentative, and that includes the theory of evolution.
SHUBIN: Science is about discovering the unknown, what we
don't know. I don't focus on what we know as a scientist. I want to
find new things that tell me about what I don't know.
NARRATOR: As the plaintiffs testified, that quest to
investigate the unknown has led to the discovery of some of the strongest
evidence for evolution.
was convinced that species evolve over time, through natural selection acting
on inherited traits. But he had no idea how those traits arose or how they were
passed from generation to generation.
20th century scientists discovered the role DNA plays in heredity, they founded
a new science, called "genetics," that put Darwin's theory to
every cell in every living thing contains chromosomes, which are made of
densely packed strands of DNA that function as a blueprint of the individual
organism's characteristics. During reproduction, chromosomes from each
parent replicate and shuffle their parts to produce new chromosomes. Then, each parent passes
chromosomes to offspring. But the process is imperfect. Along the way, DNA is
subject to random mutations, or mistakes, giving each offspring its own unique
blueprint. Sometimes this produces characteristics in offspring that are
benign. Other times it produces harmful characteristics, like a misshapen wing.
But occasionally, the process gives rise to a beneficial trait. For example, a
butterfly whose coloration mimics another species of butterfly that tastes bad
a hundred years after Darwin proposed that natural selection acts on new traits
appearing in a population, genetics revealed the biological mechanism that
gives rise to those traits in the first place.
R. MILLER (Dramatization): And therefore you could say that when modern
genetics came into being, everything in Darwin's theory was at risk,
could have been overturned if it turned out to contradict the essential elements
of evolutionary theory, but it didn't contradict them, it confirmed them
in great detail.
NARRATOR: And, as Miller would testify, a genetics paper
published less than a year before the trial had confirmed what has long been
the most inflammatory part of Darwin's theory, the common ancestry of
humans and apes.
paper explored a curious discrepancy in our chromosomes. The cells of all great
apes, like chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans, contain 24 pairs of
chromosomes. If humans share a common ancestor with apes, you'd expect us
to have the same number. But surprisingly, human cells contain only 23 pairs.
R. MILLER (Dramatization): The question is, if evolution is right about this
common ancestry idea, where did the chromosome go? Well, evolution makes a
testable prediction, and that is that somewhere in the human genome, we ought
to be able to find a piece of Scotch tape holding together two chromosomes, so
that our 24 pairs...two of them were pasted together to form just 23. And
if we can't find that, then the hypothesis of common ancestry is wrong
and evolution is mistaken. Next slide.
NARRATOR: To solve this riddle for the court, Miller would
show how scientists discovered traces of our evolutionary past buried in the
very structure of a chromosome carried by all humans.
on the ends of every chromosome, you should find special genetic markers, or
sequences of DNA called "telomeres." And in their middles, you
should find different genetic markers called "centromeres." But if
a mutation occurred in the past, causing two pairs of chromosomes to fuse, we
should find evidence in those genetic markers: telomeres not only at the ends
of the new chromosome, but also at their middles, and not one, but two
centromeres. Finding a structure like this in our chromosomes would explain why
humans have one pair fewer than the great apes.
R. MILLER (Dramatization): And if we can't find that, then evolution is
in trouble. Next slide.
and behold, the answer is in Chromosome Number 2. All of the marks of the
fusion of those chromosomes predicted by common descent and evolution, all
those marks are present on human Chromosome Number 2.
the case is closed in a most beautiful way. And that is the prediction of
evolution of common ancestry is fulfilled by that lead pipe evidence that you
see here, in terms of tying everything together, that our chromosome formed by
the fusion from our common ancestor is Chromosome Number 2. Evolution has made a
testable prediction and it has passed.
"VIC" WALCZAK (Dramatization): So modern genetics and molecular biology actually
support evolutionary theory?
R. MILLER (Dramatization): They support it in great detail. And the closer we
can get to looking at the details of the human genome, the more powerful the
evidence has become.
SHUBIN: Darwin didn't even know about molecular
biology and DNA, yet that's where some of the most profound evidence is
being uncovered today. Think about that. That somebody in the 1800s made
predictions that are being confirmed in molecular biology labs today. That's
a very profound statement of a very successful theory.
R. MILLER: Not a single observation, not a
single experimental result, has ever emerged in 150 years that contradicts the
general outlines of the theory of evolution. Any theory that can stand up to
150 years of contentious testing is a pretty darn good theory, and that's
what evolution is.
NARRATOR: And the deep understanding of evolution as
proposed by Darwin has, with genetics, unlocked many of the secrets of life.
PENNOCK (Michigan State University):
It's an explanatory framework within
which all the rest of biology fits. It's something that we use in
practical biological applications: medicine, agriculture, industry. When
you're getting a flu vaccine–that really depended upon evolutionary
knowledge. In many, many specific ways, evolution makes a practical difference.
It's not just something that happened in the past, evolution's
NARRATOR: So if evolution has stood up to all this
scrutiny, what about intelligent design? Does it play by the same rules?
R. MILLER (Dramatization): If you invoke a non-natural cause, a spirit force or
something like that, in your research, I have no way to test it.
"VIC" WALCZAK (Dramatization): So supernatural causation is not considered part of
R. MILLER (Dramatization): Yeah. I hesitate to beg the patience of the Court
with this, but being a Boston Red Sox fan, I can't resist it. One might
say, for example, that the reason the Boston Red Sox were able to come back
from three games down against the New York Yankees was because God was tired of
George Steinbrenner and wanted to see the Red Sox win. In my part of the
country, you'd be surprised how many people think that's a
perfectly reasonable explanation for what happened last year. And you know what?
It could be true, but it certainly wouldn't be science. It's not
scientific, and it's certainly not something we can test.
C. SCOTT: The fundamental problem with
intelligent design is that you can't use it to explain the natural world.
It's essentially a negative argument. It says, "Evolution
doesn't work, therefore the designer did it. Evolution doesn't work,
therefore we win by default."
when you ask them, "What does intelligent design tell you about nature? Does
it tell you what the designer did? Does it tell you what the designer used to
design something with? Does it tell you what purpose the designer had for
designing something? Does it tell you when the designer did it? Why the
designer did it?" It doesn't tell you anything like that. Basically,
it's a negative argument. And you can't build a science on a
NARRATOR: After three weeks of testimony on the nature of
science, the evidence for evolution and the failings of intelligent design, the
plaintiffs had presented their case.
CHAPMAN: To watch the whole thing, you got
an education in what evolution was, where evolution stands as a theory now in
the 21st century. If you concentrated, you would get sucked into this thing,
and the day would go by. And you'd come out, and you'd think, "That
was amazing, what I heard here. These eloquent people," you know, "with
these incredible educations." And it was fantastic.
LEBO: The plaintiffs' attorneys had put on an amazing
case. But there was this idea, especially among those who weren't sitting
in the trial every day, that when the defense started, you know, then
we'll see some pretty interesting stuff, too, on the other side.
NARRATOR: The question now was, "Could the defense
prove that intelligent design is a scientific theory? What evidence could they
muster to support this claim?"
the battle in federal court heated up, the atmosphere in Dover had gone from
divisive to dangerous. Tammy Kitzmiller, the lead plaintiff in the case, who
had a daughter in ninth grade biology class at Dover High School, had been
receiving hate mail since the start of the trial.
KITZMILLER: One letter was pretty
disturbing. I think this was the one with the passage that...the last
sentence especially: "Madeline Murray was found murdered for taking
prayer and Bible reading out of schools, so watch out for a bullet." This
was a letter that I made sure my lawyers got a copy of, and it was forwarded to
ESHBACH: Anywhere you turned we were
getting attacked. I mean, the people in the community were attacking us in the
newspapers, people in our own profession were attacking us saying, you know, "What
are you guys doing in Dover? Why are you letting this happen?" People in
the community were calling us atheists, which was a bit offensive to two of us
in the department, because two of us happened to be sons and daughters of
BUCKINGHAM: I fail to understand how
teachers can call themselves Christians, go to church, talk about God, talk
about Christ, and then go to ch...school five days a week and talk about
Darwin, and teach it as if it's fact, not a theory, but that's how
it happened. I don't understand it. To me that's talking out of
both sides of your mouth.
NARRATOR: Having ignited much of the controversy that
resulted in the lawsuit, Bill Buckingham had made a surprise announcement.
Citing poor health and struggles with Oxycontin as a result of surgery, he
resigned from the school board and moved out of state.
school board election was only months away, and now eight of the nine seats
would be up for grabs, putting intelligent design on trial in the voting booth
as well as the courtroom.
science teacher Bryan Rehm, who had already moved on to another school system,
had thrown his hat in the ring.
REHM: I couldn't work for a board that was going to mandate we teach
religious ideas in the science classroom. I've got kids in the district,
and that's not the kind of district I want my kids going to school in. So
the choice was either move the whole family or try and fix the district that we
live in. And we chose to fix it.
NARRATOR: But when he hit the campaign trail, Bryan found
himself again in the line of fire in the war on evolution.
REHM: The problems that I ran into in the campaign, being out door to door,
where people just wouldn't listen to you and just automatically judged
you in advance that, "You're this kind of person, and we're
good Christians. We'd never vote for you." And they'd slam
the door in your face, forgetting their windows were open, and call you an
f-ing a-hole or tell you you're just a damned atheist.
NARRATOR: For the Rehms, this was particularly hurtful.
Both are active in their church and run a summer Bible school program.
REHM: We have a neighbor,
actually, who was appointed to the school board and was in support of
intelligent design, and he was out campaigning and saying very negative things
about our family, how we're atheists, and, "if you vote for those
atheists, well, then, God is not going to be happy with you."
NARRATOR: To make the case for intelligent design, the
defense had lined up eight expert witnesses, including several members of the
Discovery Institute, the Seattle organization that promotes intelligent design.
But of those eight witnesses, five never testified.
C. SCOTT: Witnesses started dropping like
still haven't heard a complete explanation of why this happened, but
there was some dispute going on between the Discovery Institute and the Thomas
More Law Center over how the case would be run.
NARRATOR: NOVA made repeated requests to interview members
of the Discovery Institute to talk about this and other issues, but the
institute set conditions that were inconsistent with normal journalistic
the defense to win, however, did not require a large number of witnesses.
THOMPSON: Our aim was not really to
disprove Darwin's theory of evolution. Our aim was to merely show that
there are credible scientists who believed that the empirical data was
supportive of intelligent design. That's all we had to show.
HARVEY: It was our thinking, if they could
prove that there was a scientific basis for intelligent design, that it would
be possible that the court could conclude that there was a valid secular
purpose for teaching intelligent design.
"VIC" WALCZAK: I think
everybody was waiting to see whether or not the intelligent design folks had a
case, but by the time we finished presenting our case, I think it was pretty
clear that everything rested on Michael Behe's testimony.
NARRATOR: A scientist and senior fellow at the Discovery
Institute, Michael Behe is the author of the popular intelligent design book, Darwin's
Black Box and dozens of papers, unrelated to intelligent design, published
in peer-reviewed science journals.
refused multiple invitations from NOVA to be interviewed for this program,
though he went on record in the trial.
MUISE (Dramatization): Dr. Behe, what is your profession?
BEHE (Dramatization): I am a professor in the department of biological
sciences at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
MUISE (Dramatization): And you're a biochemist?
BEHE (Dramatization): That's correct, yes.
MUISE (Dramatization): How long have you taught at the college level?
BEHE (Dramatization): For 23 years.
MUISE (Dramatization): Sir, what is intelligent design?
BEHE (Dramatization): Intelligent design
is a scientific theory that proposes that some aspects of life are best
explained as the result of design, and that the strong appearance of design in
life is real and not just apparent.
MUISE (Dramatization): Is intelligent design based on any religious beliefs
BEHE (Dramatization): No, it isn't.
MUISE (Dramatization): What is it based on?
BEHE (Dramatization): It is based entirely on observable, empirical,
physical evidence from nature, plus logical inferences.
MUISE (Dramatization): Now when you use the term design, what do you mean?
BEHE (Dramatization): Well, I discussed this in my book, Darwin's
Black Box, and a short description of design is shown in this
quotation from Chapter 9: "What is design? Design is simply the
purposeful arrangement of parts. When we perceive that parts have been arranged
to fulfill a purpose, that's when we infer design."
NARRATOR: Part of the defense strategy would be to show the
judge examples of biological systems they claimed were too complex to have
evolved by natural selection and therefore must have been the product of a
MUISE (Dramatization): Can you give us a biochemical example of design, Dr.
BEHE (Dramatization): Yes, that's on the next slide. I think the
best, well, the most visually striking example of design is something called
the bacterial flagellum. Now, this is a figure of a bacterial flagellum taken
from a textbook, which is widely used in colleges and universities around the
country. The bacterial flagellum is, quite literally, an outboard motor that
bacteria use to swim. And in order to accomplish that function, it has a number
of parts which are ordered to that effect. Now, this part here, which is
labeled the filament, is actually the propeller of the bacterial flagellum. The
motor is actually a rotary motor.
people who see this and have the function explained to them quickly realize
that these parts are ordered for a purpose and, therefore, bespeak design.
NARRATOR: Under the microscope, bacteria powered by
flagella seem almost acrobatic. They tumble, corkscrew and pirouette, thanks to
that whip-like filament.
this propeller is a tiny motor, part of a complex structure made of about 40
different kinds of proteins.
CHAPMAN: The bacterial flagellum looks
like a, sort of a Jules Verne notion of what the future looks like. It has a
strange sort of mechanical quality to it, these sort of cogs and waving tails
NARRATOR: And according to Behe, if any one of these parts
is missing from the system, the motor can't function. Behe calls systems
like this "irreducibly complex," a term he coined. And he argues
such systems could not have evolved naturally.
idea is that there are certain aspects of life, perhaps organisms or organs or
even cells that, in a sense, could only have come about as a whole. In other
words, it was very unlikely they could have come about through just a kind of
contingent combination of parts over even millions or billions of years, but,
rather, in a sense, has to be created whole cloth, all together, at once, because
everything fits together so well that to remove one part, the thing
MUISE (Dramatization): Have other scientists acknowledged these design
features of the flagellum?
BEHE (Dramatization): Yes, they have. And if you advance to the next
1998, a man named David DeRosier wrote an article in the journal Cell, which is a very prestigious scientific journal,
entitled "The Turn of the Screw, The Bacterial Flagellar Motor." David
DeRosier is a professor of biology at Brandeis University, in Massachusetts,
and has worked on the bacterial flagellar motor for most of his career. In that
article, he makes the statement, "More so than other motors, the
flagellum resembles a machine designed by a human." So David DeRosier
also recognizes that the structure of the flagellum appears designed.
DEROSIER (Brandeis University): What I wrote was, "This is a machine that
looks like it was designed by a human." But that doesn't mean that
it was designed, that is the product of intelligent design. Indeed, this, more,
has all the earmarks of something that arose by evolution.
NARRATOR: Using an electron microscope, DeRosier produces
ghostly pictures like this one, revealing the inner workings of what's
been called the world's most efficient motor.
DEROSIER: This is the drive shaft. This
transmits this torque generated by the motor that would then turn the
propeller, which would push the bacterial cell through the fluid.
NARRATOR: Michael Behe has argued that the flagellum could
not have evolved, since its parts have no function for natural selection to act
on until they are fully assembled.
evidence that refutes Behe's claim of irreducible complexity comes from a
tiny syringe that injects poison, found in some of the nastiest of all
DEROSIER: This is a structure found, for
example, in Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes the Bubonic plague. Look
at the similarities. Now, this structure doesn't rotate, but it still has
to extend this structure, which is equivalent to the rod, the driveshaft here. It
has to extend that, because it needs this little channel. It's like, sort
of like a syringe. So the virulence factors that are made inside the cell,
which is down here, can be exported, pushed up into this hole and exported out
through this long, kind of, needle, perhaps into a cell in your body or mine,
and thereby create misery.
NARRATOR: And it turns out the two structures look similar
for a reason. The syringe on the right is made of a subset of the very same
protein types found in the base of the flagellum on the left, though the
syringe is missing proteins found in the motor and, therefore, can't
produce rotary motion. It functions perfectly as an apparatus for transmitting
DEROSIER: So if we think about what it
means to be irreducibly complex, the argument is that if you take away even one
of these proteins, that the structure cannot function. And yet here is a
structure that functions, that is missing several of the proteins, and yet here
it is, a working, viable organelle of the bacterium. So indeed, the structure
is not, in that sense, irreducibly complex.
NARRATOR: To emphasize DeRosier's point, Miller
arrived at court making an unusual fashion statement.
R. MILLER: As an example of what
irreducible complexity means, advocates of intelligent design like to point to
a very common machine: the mousetrap. And the mousetrap is composed of five
parts. It has a base plate, the catch, a spring, a little hammer that actually
does the dirty work, and a bait holder.
mousetrap will not work if any one of these five parts are taken away. That's
absolutely true. But remember the key notion of irreducible complexity, and
that is that this whole machine is completely useless until all the parts are
in place. Well, that, that turns out not to be true.
I'll give you an example. What I have right here is a mousetrap from
which I've removed two of the five parts. I still have the base plate,
the spring, and the hammer. Now you can't catch any mice with this, so
it's not a very good mousetrap. But it turns out that, despite the
missing parts, it makes a perfectly good, if somewhat inelegant, tie clip.
when we look at the favorite examples for irreducible complexity, and the
bacterial flagellum is a perfect example, we find the molecular equivalent of
my tie clip, which is we see parts of the machine missing–two, three,
four, maybe even 20–parts, but still fulfilling a perfectly good purpose
that could be favored by evolution. And that's why the irreducible
complexity argument falls apart.
NARRATOR: But Behe testified, it's not just
microscopic organisms that are irreducibly complex. Evolution, he says, fails
to account for the network of organs and cells that defends us from disease.
MUISE (Dramatization): Has the theory of evolution, in particular natural
selection, explained the existence of the defensive apparatus, such as the
BEHE (Dramatization): No.
MUISE (Dramatization): Do you consider it a problem?
BEHE (Dramatization): I certainly consider it to be a problem. But other
scientists who think that Darwinian evolution simply is true don't
consider much of anything to be a problem with their theory.
ROTHSCHILD (Dramatization): If you could highlight the second full paragraph
from Darwin's Black Box, page 138? What you say is,
"We can look high or we can look low in books or in journals, but the
result is the same. The scientific literature has no answers on the question of
the origin of the immune system."
BEHE (Dramatization): And in the context that means that the scientific
literature has no detailed testable answers to the question of how the immune
system could have arisen by random mutation and natural selection.
ROTHSCHILD (Dramatization): May I approach, your Honor?
JOHN E. JONES, III (Dramatization):
ROTHSCHILD: What I did was to pile on the
witness stand articles all having very sophisticated explanations for how the
immune system evolved, and basically challenged him to respond, given the
claims that he'd made.
ROTHSCHILD (Dramatization): Now, Dr. Behe, these articles rebut your assertion
that scientific literature has no answers on the origin of the vertebrate
BEHE (Dramatization): No, they certainly do not. My argument is that
these articles have no detailed rigorous explanations for how complex
biochemical systems could arise by a random mutation and natural selection. And
these articles do not address that.
then he starts to say, "Well, have you read this book, Dr. Behe?" And
he starts to pile these up on Behe's witness stand. Eventually, Behe was
almost dwarfed by the stack of scientific literature on the evolutionary origin
of the immune system.
ROTHSCHILD (Dramatization): All these hard-working scientists publish article
after article over years and years, chapters and books, full books, addressing
the question of how the vertebrate immune system evolved, but none of them are
satisfactory to you?
THOMPSON: That's a lawyer's
trick, purely a lawyer's trick. Now, you know, was Michael Behe going to
read every one of those books before he responded? You know, it was totally
BEHE (Dramatization): Mr. Rothschild, would you like your books back? They're
NARRATOR: The defense case included three expert witnesses.
And on the last day of testimony, the final defense witness told the court
about a creature that, by now, was familiar to everyone.
A. MINNICH (Dramatization): I am Dr. Scott A. Minnich. I am an associate
professor, at the University of Idaho, in microbiology.
MUISE (Dramatization): Dr. Minnich, can you give us an example of design at
the molecular level?
A. MINNICH (Dramatization): This is a bacterial flagellum. This is a system I
JOHN E. JONES, III (Dramatization):
We've seen that.
A. MINNICH (Dramatization): I know.
MUISE (Dramatization): You're going to see a little more of it, your
A. MINNICH (Dramatization): I kind of feel like Zsa Zsa's fifth husband,
you know? As the old adage goes, "You know I know what to do, but I just
can't make it exciting." But I'll try.
MUISE (Dramatization): Now, you specialized your focus and research on the
flagellum, is that correct?
A. MINNICH (Dramatization): That's correct.
MUISE (Dramatization): And you've done experiments on flagellum?
A. MINNICH (Dramatization): I have.
MUISE (Dramatization): And you've written peer-reviewed articles on
A. MINNICH (Dramatization): Yes.
MUISE (Dramatization): Now, Dr. Minnich, a complaint that's often
brought up–and plaintiffs' experts have brought it up in this case–is
that intelligent design is not testable. It's not falsifiable. Would you
agree with that claim?
A. MINNICH (Dramatization): No, I don't. I have a quote from Mike Behe: "In
fact, intelligent design is open to direct experimental rebuttal. To falsify
such a claim, a scientist could go into the laboratory, place a bacterial
species lacking a flagellum under some selective pressure, for motility, say,
grow it for 10,000 generations and see if a flagellum or any equally complex
system was produced. If that happened my claims would be neatly
MUISE (Dramatization): Is that an experiment that you would do?
A. MINNICH (Dramatization): You know, I think about it. I'd be intrigued
to do it. I wouldn't expect it to work. But that's my bias.
HARVEY (Dramatization): Now you claim that intelligent design can be tested,
A. MINNICH (Dramatization): Correct.
HARVEY (Dramatization): Intelligent design, according to you, is not tested
at all, because neither you nor Dr. Behe have run the test that you, yourself,
advocate for testing intelligent design, right?
A. MINNICH (Dramatization): Well, turn it around in terms of these major
attributes of evolution. Have they been tested? You see what I'm saying,
Steve? It's a problem for both sides.
NARRATOR: As the legal teams battled it out in court, the
clash between intelligent design and evolution was taking a toll on Dover.
newspaper reporter Lauri Lebo sat through every day of testimony, and the
conflict began to drive a wedge between Lauri and her father.
LEBO: He believed that God really should be in science
class. He did not believe in science, and he was all worried about me and...because
I believed in evolution. And he said, you know, "Well, do you really
believe that we came from monkeys?" At that point, I was pretty burned
out from the trial, and I didn't really have the patience that I probably
should have had with him, and I just said yeah, I mean, you know? "Yeah,
I do believe in evolution, Dad," you know? And so we'd fight every
you believe in heaven and hell, and you believe you have to be saved, nothing
else could possibly matter. Not the First Amendment, not science, not rational
debate. All that matters is that you're going to be rejoined with the
people you love most on this Earth.
MUMMERT: Teaching the
traditional evolutionary Darwinian concept that man evolved from lower forms of
life, that's almost a slap in my face. That takes the dignity away from
humanity, as far as I'm concerned. What gives dignity to man is that
every one of us are made in the image of God. He is the creator, and he created
the world with intention and with design. It upsets me deeply that now, in our
educational system, we are indoctrinating our young people to think differently
R. MILLER: I've never made a secret
of the fact that I'm a Roman Catholic, and a long tradition of
scholarship in the Catholic Church has argued that truth is one, that science
and religion should ultimately be in harmony. But that doesn't make faith
a scientific proposition. I think, as many religious people do, that faith and
reason are both gifts from God. And if God is real, then faith and reason
should complement each other rather than being in conflict.
NARRATOR: Throughout the trial, Judge Jones would never tip
his hand about which way he was leaning on whether intelligent design is
science. But science was not the only issue before the court.
climax of the trial would be the judge's ruling on a question stemming
from a different line of evidence: "When they introduced intelligent
design into the classroom, were members of the Dover School Board motivated by
religion?" If so, that would amount to a violation of part of the First
Amendment to the Constitution, the establishment clause, which mandates the
separation of church and state.
HARVEY: In order to prevail, we needed to
prove either that the school board acted for the purpose of promoting religion
or that its policy has the effect of promoting religion. It's either
purpose or effect, either one.
JOHN E. JONES, III: The establishment clause
says that Congress cannot pass a law which promotes one religion over another. And
that trickles all the way down to any state action, and in this case, the
actions of a school board.
NARRATOR: But what evidence was there that the school board
was motivated by religion? Months before the trial, when Bertha Spahr had
unpacked the boxes containing the 60 copies of Pandas given by an
anonymous donor, she found a clue.
SPAHR: I was directed by
the administration to unpack the boxes, count the books, stamp and number them.
In the bottom of the box I found a catalogue. I opened the catalogue to see
what they had to say about the book in question. And at the very top of the
catalogue page...it was listed under "Creation Science." This'd
certainly be a smoking gun and would be a benefit to us somewhere down the
NARRATOR: This information was handed off to The National
Center for Science Education. The N.C.S.E. was helping the lawyers who were
arguing to keep intelligent design out of Dover High School.
Of Pandas and People would be
central to the case, Nick Matzke investigated the book.
the court case was filed and Pandas was adopted in the policy, it
became clear that Pandas was going to be
the representative of intelligent design for the purposes of this case. And so
the history of that book became important, the arguments it made became
important. And we undertook to dissect these various aspects in preparation for
NARRATOR: Matzke dug into Pandas, examining
it page by page and scouring the Internet to see what he could unearth about
through the N.C.S.E. archives one day, Matzke came across a creationist student
newspaper from 1981. At the bottom of the front page, he noticed a tiny article
with a headline announcing, "Unbiased Biology Textbook Planned."
And that article mentioned that a man named Charles Thaxton, now a fellow at
the Discovery Institute, was working on a book that would present "both
evolution and creation."
academic editor was Charles Thaxton, who was the editor of the Pandas
book, so it was clear that that ad was referring to the Pandas project. What was interesting is that it talked
about the book being about "creation and evolution" instead of the
later terms, "intelligent design and evolution."
NARRATOR: If they could show Pandas started
out as a creationist book, that would suggest intelligent design is simply
creationism repackaged and therefore inherently religious.
emailed this information to Eric Rothschild, who immediately issued a subpoena
to the publisher of Pandas for
any drafts the book went through before printing. In a few months, they
received two boxes of material. The lawyers sent them to Barbara Forrest. A
philosophy professor and author who has been tracking intelligent design for
years, she was scheduled to testify in the trial.
FORREST: Oh, my goodness, those two boxes
contained about 7,000 pieces of paper. I had to sit down with those documents
and just start flipping through them, which is what I did day and night.
NARRATOR: After much digging, she hit pay dirt. Buried in
these documents were two drafts of Pandas straddling the 1987 case of Edwards
versus Aguillard, in which the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional to teach
creationism in public school science class. One draft was written before the
case and the other revised just after.
FORREST: In the first 1987 draft, which is
the pre-Edwards draft, the definition of creation reads this way
"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, et
cetera." The same definition in this draft, after the Edwards decision,
reads this way: "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, et
cetera." Same definition, just one is worded in terms of creationism, the
other one worded in terms of intelligent design.
said intelligent design is creationism re-labeled. Never in our wildest dreams,
though, did we think that this would actually be recorded in paper in a way that could be documented in a court
ROTHSCHILD: And that became probably our
best single piece of evidence at trial.
NARRATOR: Barbara Forrest's testimony would make a
strong case that the Dover school board was thrusting religion into the
classroom. And in comparing the Of Pandas and People drafts,
Forrest discovered that the authors had apparently made their revisions in
FORREST: In cleansing this manuscript, they
failed to replace every word properly. I found the word
"creationists." And instead of replacing the entire word, they just
kind of did this, and got "design proponents" with the
"c" in front and the "ists" in the back from the
the correct term for this transitional form is "Cdesign
proponentsists." And everyone now refers to this as the "missing
link" between creationism and intelligent design. You've got the
direct physical evidence there of a transitional fossil.
NARRATOR: Barbara Forrest's testimony not only traced
the creationist lineage of Pandas. Citing a Christian
magazine's interview, Forrest let one of the intelligent design
movement's own leaders, Paul Nelson, speak for himself.
FORREST: The question he was asked was, "Is
intelligent design just a critique of evolutionary theory or does it offer
something more? Does it offer something that humankind needs to know?" This
is his answer: "Easily, the biggest challenge facing the I.D. community
is to develop a full-fledged theory of biological design. We don't have
such a theory right now, and that's a real problem. Without a theory,
it's very hard to know where to direct your research focus. Right now,
we've got a bag of powerful intuitions and a handful of notions, such as irreducible
complexity, but as yet, no general theory of biological design."
"VIC" WALCZAK: The evidence
she bought into that courtroom really exposed the hypocrisy of the intelligent
design movement in a way that's irrefutable. You know, she used their own
language, things that they had written and said, to show that they themselves
knew that this isn't science.
NARRATOR: And on the stand, Michael Behe was asked how he
would define science.
ROTHSCHILD (Dramatization): Dr. Behe, using your definition, intelligent design
is a scientific theory, correct?
BEHE (Dramatization): Yes.
ROTHSCHILD (Dramatization): Under the same definition, astrology is a scientific
theory, using your definition, correct?
BEHE (Dramatization): Using my definition, a scientific theory is a
proposed explanation which focuses or points to observable physical data and
logical inferences. There are many things throughout the history of science
which we now think to be incorrect, which would fit that definition. Yes,
astrology is, in fact, one, and so is the ether theory of the propagation of
light, and many other, many other theories as well.
ROTHSCHILD (Dramatization): The ether theory of light has been discarded?
BEHE (Dramatization): That is correct.
ROTHSCHILD (Dramatization): But you are clear, under your definition, the
definition that sweeps in intelligent design, astrology is also a scientific
BEHE (Dramatization): Yes, that's correct.
"VIC" WALCZAK: You know, when
you loosen the rules around what is science and permit the supernatural, permit
deities, you are really destroying what makes science so vitally important to
the progress that our civilization has witnessed over the last four or five
hundred years. You're going back before the scientific revolution. And,
you know, that's a pretty scary thing.
NARRATOR: With the scientific revolution, the work of
Galileo, Newton and others banished supernatural explanations from science. But
some think the supernatural still has its place.
the very beginning of genetics, the idea of there being a hereditary factor
that somehow was responsible for the traits that we have, but one
couldn't quite identify what the factor was, that was also initially
regarded as supernatural, as well. So, it's not that supernaturalism
hasn't been part of science. In fact, it has been. And it's often
led to very fruitful results. And it seems the evolutionists want to, in a way,
ignore or marginalize that very important part of the history.
NARRATOR: But Barbara Forrest testified that the
intelligent design movement's goals are not entirely scientific and are
spelled out in a secret Discovery Institute document that had surfaced on the
FORREST: Their goals are listed quite
clearly in the "wedge" document. It's their strategy document
that they drew up about nine years ago, in 1998. Their goal was to completely
overthrow all of the effects of evolution on society, which they think are
uniformly negative. This document states that they want to completely change
American culture back to what they believe is its properly religious
foundation. They want every area of life to be governed by their particular
religious preferences. And they're very clear about that in this
NARRATOR: According to the wedge document, Darwin
"portrayed humans not as moral and spiritual beings, but as
animals," leading people to abandon "objective moral
document lays out an ambitious agenda to overthrow this legacy, "to see
intelligent design theory as the dominant perspective in Science," and
"to see design theory permeate our religious, cultural, moral and
not written by Phillip Johnson, the wedge document is an outgrowth of a broader
policy he conceived called the wedge strategy.
JOHNSON: I know it can be made to sound
like something sinister and conspiratorial. But the wedge strategy, as I have
explained it, is quite simple and innocent. When you use a wedge to split a
log, you start with the sharp edge of the wedge. My job is to be the sharp edge
of the wedge, to use my academic credentials and legal abilities to get some
hearing for the proposition that there really is something fundamentally wrong
with the Darwinian story. But I can't answer all the questions that
arise, so we need other people to form the thick edge of the wedge to take on
the questions that do require a scientific expertise.
NARRATOR: With Michael Behe and others forming the wide end
of the wedge, Johnson hopes the wedge strategy will overturn what he sees as
the negative effects of a century and a half of Darwin's theory.
JOHNSON: The Darwinian story, when it
became accepted, had a huge cultural impact, and if that story were discredited,
then the cultural impact would be reversed, and there would be cultural changes
in the other direction as well.
CHAPMAN: There is something outrageous
about such a huge body of evidence being put together, then being confirmed in
all kinds of other scientific disciplines, particularly genetics, and having
other people just sort of deny it for reasons that have nothing to do with
truth. And this became apparent during the trial.
then you began to look towards the judge and think, "How is this guy
going to get out of this?" Because here he is, he's been a...he
is a Republican, he's been appointed by George W. Bush, who has said that
he thinks the jury is out on evolution, both theories should be taught. And you
began to think, "What is this poor guy going to do?"
NARRATOR: Whatever the motivations of the Discovery
Institute, the intelligent design movement, or the authors of the book Of
Pandas and People, Judge Jones would need to focus on the motivation of the Dover
Area School Board.
HARVEY (Dramatization): Mr. Buckingham, I'd like to show you what has
been identified as Exhibit P-145. You'll need to look at the monitor.
BUCKINGHAM (NEWSCLIP): The book that was presented to me for biology was laced
with Darwinism from the beginning to the end.
NEWSCASTER: William Buckingham is head of the Curriculum
Committee for the Dover School District. He is also a Board Member. He strongly
believes creationism needs to be taught in the classroom.
BUCKINGHAM (NEWSCLIP): My
opinion that it's okay to teach Darwin, but you have to balance it with
something else, such as creationism.
BUCKINGHAM: This was back in the very
early days of the intelligent design thing, and don't you know, I could
not think of the words "intelligent design." I just couldn't.
The camera's rolling, so I say "creationism." In hindsight, I
should have said nothing at all, but I said "creationism."
BUCKINGHAM (Dramatization): I was like a deer caught in the headlights of a
car. And I misspoke, pure and simple. I made a human mistake.
HARVEY (Dramatization): Freudian slip, right, Mr. Buckingham?
BUCKINGHAM (Dramatization): I wouldn't say a Freudian slip. I would say a
NARRATOR: And it was not Buckingham's only mistake.
Both Buckingham and Bonsell had sworn in their depositions that they did not
know who donated the 60 copies of Pandas to the high school. But
by the time Buckingham took the witness stand, a different story emerged.
BUCKINGHAM: I stood up in front of our
church one Sunday morning, we had to come up with, I think it was, like, $1,100
to buy these books. I said, "I'm not asking anybody for a dime.
I'm not telling you I want anything." But we believe in the power
of prayer in that church, and I said, "Just pray that the money comes in."
NARRATOR: Buckingham's prayers were answered with
donations from members of the church.
BUCKINGHAM: So I deposited the money in
our personal checking account my wife and I have, and I wrote a check to be
passed on to whoever's going to buy the books. It was my understanding,
at that time, that a businessman in the community had agreed to take the money
and buy the books and donate them to the school. At that time I didn't
know who it was.
NARRATOR: But at the trial, Buckingham admitted he had
given that check to Alan Bonsell, and that the unknown businessman who bought
the books had been Alan Bonsell's father. This contradicted statements
Bill Buckingham and Alan Bonsell had originally made in their sworn
HARVEY: Lying under oath is a serious
crime. We impeached a president about it. And people go to jail for it all the
time. It seemed to us that there was testimony that demonstrated clear
inconsistency. I can't see into their hearts and know, you know, the
extent of the falsehood but I do know that we asked questions that should have
elicited that information, and they didn't provide that information.
LEBO: It was almost like this weird feeling that, you know
when you've watched a nature show and you know that the gazelle's
about to get it from the lion? You know, I remember actually thinking, "Oh,
god, Judge Jones is going to kill Alan Bonsell. I don't...I
then Judge Jones, his face had gotten bright red at this point, and he goes, "You
tell me why you didn't say where that money came from to buy Of Pandas
Alan Bonsell finally, under Judge Jones's grilling, started to get a
little nervous. And he started flapping his hands, and he started stammering,
and he completely had lost this self-assured composure that he had earlier. And
finally he just said, "Well, I misspoke."
BONSELL: Never in a
million years did I ever think that we'd...you know, I'd be in
a federal lawsuit when I was on the school board or have the school district in
something like that, over a one minute statement, a one minute statement.
BUCKINGHAM: We weren't asking the
teachers to become priests or protest...pastors of some sort of...or
lay ministers or anything like that, just let the kids know the theory's
there. Let the kids do their own research and find answers for themselves.
NARRATOR: After six weeks, the trial concluded with closing
arguments that were as divided as the town of Dover itself had become.
ROTHSCHILD (Dramatization): "What? Am I supposed to tolerate a small
encroachment on my First Amendment rights? Well, I'm not going to. I
think this is clear what these people have done, and it outrages me." That's
a statement of one citizen of Dover, Fred Callahan, standing up to the wedge
that has been driven into his community and his daughter's high school by
the Dover School Board's anti-evolution, pro-intelligent-design policy.
trial has established that intelligent design is unconstitutional because it is
an inherently religious proposition, a modern form of creationism. It is not
just a product of religious people, it does not just have religious
implications. It is, in its essence, religious. The shell game has to stop.
T. GILLEN: In sum, your Honor, I
respectfully submit that the evidence of record shows that the plaintiffs have
failed to prove that the primary purpose or primary effect of the reading of a
four-paragraph statement on intelligent design, explaining that it's an
explanation for the origins of life different from Darwin's theory,
letting the students know there are books in the library on this subject, does
not, by any reasonable measure, threaten the harm which the establishment clause
of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits. But
instead, the evidence shows that the defendants' policy has the primary
purpose and primary effect of advancing science education by making the
students aware of a new scientific theory, one which may well open a
fascinating prospect to a new scientific paradigm.
NARRATOR: Judge Jones said he would return a verdict
days after the trial ended, Dover residents rendered their own verdict on
intelligent design, with a huge turnout for the school board election. By a
narrow margin the people of Dover cleaned house. All eight of the nine seats up
for election went to anti-intelligent-design candidates, including plaintiff
and former Dover science teacher Bryan Rehm. Among the candidates who got the
fewest votes was Alan Bonsell.
the judge still deliberating, Dover's local school board election was
national news and even provoked the ire of televangelist Pat Robertson.
ROBERTSON (Founder and Chairman, The Christian Broadcasting Network -
Clip from the 700 Club): I'd like to
say to the good citizens of Dover, if there is a disaster in your area,
don't turn to God. You just rejected him from your city.
NARRATOR: Though Robertson had already passed judgment,
Dover and the nation would have to wait another month for Judge Jones to render
December 20, 2005, Jones sent out his opinion by e-mail.
KITZMILLER: I went to work that day. We
pretty much knew it was going to be out by noon, so I waited at work for a
"VIC" WALCZAK: The decision
came across the computer; I think it was 10:37.
LEBO: The columnist behind me...I was reading it from
the beginning, and he's standing over my shoulder, and he yells at me, "Go
to the end! Go to the end!"
MILLER: I remember Mrs. Spahr, Bertha
Spahr knocking on my door and interrupting my class.
NARRATOR: The 139-page opinion ruled that intelligent
design is not science. Finding it had been introduced for religious reasons,
Judge Jones decided it was "unconstitutional to teach intelligent
design" in Dover science classes.
JOHN E. JONES, III: Both defendants and
many of the leading proponents of intelligent design make a bedrock assumption
which is utterly false. Their presupposition is that evolutionary theory is
antithetical to a belief in the existence of a supreme being and to religion in
be sure, Darwin's theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact
that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should
not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis, grounded
in religion, into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established
scientific propositions. The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by
the members of the Board who voted for the intelligent design policy.
what he called the "breathtaking inanity" of the school
board's decision, he found that several members had lied "to cover
their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the intelligent design
JOHN E. JONES, III: The crushing weight of
the evidence indicates that the board set out to get creationism into science
classrooms, and intelligent design was simply the vehicle that they utilized to
NARRATOR: Jones recommended to the U.S. Attorney that he
investigate bringing perjury charges against Buckingham and Bonsell for lying
under oath. And "the overwhelming evidence at trial," he said,
"established that intelligent design is a religious view, a mere re-labeling
of creationism, and not a scientific theory."
JOHN E. JONES, III: In an era where
we're trying to cure cancer, where we're trying to prevent
pandemics, where were trying to keep science and math education on the cutting
edge in the United States, to introduce and teach bad science to ninth-grade
students makes very little sense
to me. You know, garbage in garbage out. And it doesn't benefit any of us
who benefit daily from scientific discoveries.
NARRATOR: The school district was permanently forbidden to
teach intelligent design in its science curriculum. The administration was
ordered to pay the plaintiff's legal fees, totaling more than a million
dollars. And the election of a new school board, opposed to intelligent design,
meant no appeal of the ruling would be mounted.
the wake of the trial, TIME Magazine
named Judge Jones one of the 100 most influential people of the year, but not
everyone was so pleased with the Judge's decision.
BUCKINGHAM: To put it bluntly, I think
he's a jackass. I think he went to clown college instead of law school or
else he went to law school and slept during the Constitution classes, because
his decision doesn't jive with the law. I think he should be on a bench,
but it ought to be in a center ring of Ringling Brothers Circus. He...it's
BONSELL: It makes me
feel sad. We, as a board, were trying to make Dover the best school district it
could be. That was our goal. At least mine was. I was trying to...we were
trying to take it up to make it the best.
THOMPSON: I think, first of all you, you
have to say we had a fair trial. I'm just disturbed about the extent of
his opinion, that it went way beyond what, what he should have gone into
deciding matters of science.
NARRATOR: The Discovery Institute also was displeased. Soon
after the decision, the institute published a 123-page book distancing itself
from the case and criticizing the ruling as "judicial activism with a
verdict turned out to be more controversial than Judge Jones had imagined.
Following the trial, he received death threats. Jones and his family had to be
placed under round-the-clock protection.
JOHN E. JONES, III: I could never have
imagined that I would receive threats to my person in an establishment clause
case. But that's what happened in the Dover case.
NARRATOR: For newspaper reporter Lauri Lebo, the verdict
was bittersweet. Her father passed away just nine days after the judge's
decision. They had never reconciled their differences, though Lauri remains a
strong supporter of evolution. Recently, her family took over management of her
father's radio station, and Lauri began hosting a weekly show.
LEBO: Evening, folks. We're going to listen to some
Johnny Cash now: "I Talk to Jesus Every Day."
NARRATOR: In the end, though, there is probably one thing
everyone in the case can agree on.
"VIC" WALCZAK: The issue is
certainly not over. One of the things that we've learned is that the
opponents of evolution are persistent and resilient. And they're still
JOHNSON: I had thought, at one point, that
we would make a breakthrough on this issue and change the scientific community
in my lifetime. Now I'm somewhat sobered by the force of the
counter-attack that we have received. And I see that it's going to be a
longer process than that.
JOHN E. JONES, III: I think history tells
us that there is an enduring disagreement and dispute in the United States as
it relates to evolution. By no means did my decision put a capstone on that. And
that will proceed for generations, I suspect.