A school administrator and a British sociology professor were expected to testify Monday in the fifth week of a landmark federal trial over whether "intelligent design" can be mentioned in public school biology classes. Lawyers for the Dover Area School Board planned to call Steven Fuller, a sociology professor at the University of Warwick, England, as an expert witness Monday morning.
Fuller is expected to bolster the school board's contention that intelligent design, which holds that life on Earth was the product of an unidentified intelligent force, is a scientific concept.
Assistant Superintendent Michael Baksa, who was called to testify for the defense on Friday, was expected to resume his testimony Monday after Fuller's questioning concluded.
The school board voted a year ago 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 a textbook, "Of Pandas and People," for more information.
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, according to the AP.
Eight families are suing to have intelligent design removed from the curriculum, because they believe the policy essentially promotes the Bible's view of creation, and therefore violates the constitutional separation of church and state.
The trial began Sept. 26 and could last through early November.
The plaintiffs are represented by a team put together by the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State. The school district is being represented by the Thomas More Law Center, a public-interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, that says its mission is to defend the religious freedom of Christians.