HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (AP) -- A school board member testified Wednesday she voted to include "intelligent design'' in a high school biology curriculum despite not knowing much about the concept because she thought students should be aware of alternatives to evolutionary theory.
"I thought, this is another way to make them think,'' Dover Area School Board President Sheila Harkins said during a landmark U.S. trial over whether intelligent design can be introduced in public school science classes.
Harkins acknowledged that her familiarity with the concept was limited to some Internet research and a brief reading of "Of Pandas and People,'' an intelligent-design textbook.
The board is defending its October 2004 decision to require students to hear a statement about intelligent design before ninth-grade biology lessons on evolution. The statement says Charles Darwin's theory is "not a fact,'' has inexplicable "gaps,'' and refers students to the textbook for more information.
Michael Baksa, the district's assistant superintendent, testified that he obtained information about intelligent design only through reading "Of Pandas and People.''
"I don't feel qualified ... to make a determination on intelligent design and whether it's a scientific theory. I would rather leave that to the scientific community,'' Baksa said.
Eight families are suing to have intelligent design removed from the biology curriculum because they believe the policy essentially promotes the Bible's view of creation, and therefore violates the constitutional separation of church and state.
Intelligent design supporters argue that natural selection, an element of evolutionary theory, cannot fully explain the origin of life or the emergence of highly complex life forms.
The trial began Sept. 26 and is expected to conclude on Friday.
Trial Coverage (Most recent stories at top)
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Evolution & Intelligent Design