Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial

PBS Airdate: November 13, 2007
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Chapter 11

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.

STEVE FULLER: At 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 Internet.

BARBARA 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 document.

NARRATOR: According to the wedge document, Darwin "portrayed humans not as moral and spiritual beings, but as animals," leading people to abandon "objective moral standards."

The 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 political life."

Though not written by Phillip Johnson, the wedge document is an outgrowth of a broader policy he conceived called the wedge strategy.

PHILLIP 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.

PHILLIP 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.

MATTHEW 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.

And 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.

STEPHEN 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.

BILL 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.

BILL BUCKINGHAM (NEWSCLIP): My opinion that it's okay to teach Darwin, but you have to balance it with something else, such as creationism.

BILL 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."

BILL 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.

STEPHEN HARVEY (Dramatization): Freudian slip, right, Mr. Buckingham?

BILL BUCKINGHAM (Dramatization): I wouldn't say a Freudian slip. I would say a human mistake.

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.

BILL 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.

BILL 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 depositions.

STEPHEN 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.

LAURI 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 can't look."

And 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 and People?"

And 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."

ALAN BONSELL: Never in a million years did I ever think that we' 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.

BILL 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.

Chapter 11

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