1. Headline
  1. Headline
updated 11/2/2005 4:21:17 PM ET 2005-11-02T21:21:17

A school board member testified Wednesday that 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.

  1. More from TODAY.com
    1. Therapy dog helps 6-year-old boy move arm again after brain surgeries

      At just the right moment, a dog named Tank gave a boy named Jack the motivation he needed to get moving again.

    2. Pirelli Calendar to feature first-ever plus-size model
    3. Swarmed! 8 tips on best mosquito bite treatments and repellents
    4. Best ATMs ever? See how this bank surprised customers in tearjerker ad
    5. Vacation selfies: Teens love 'em, adults not so much

"I thought, this is another way to make them think," Dover Area School Board President Sheila Harkins said during a landmark federal 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 that the district is using as a reference book in the high school's library.

Nevertheless, Harkins said she felt the curriculum should specify what kinds of theories should be mentioned besides evolution.

"If you're going to say 'other theories,' then you need to have an example of what 'other theories' is," Harkins said.

Origin of intelligent-design statement
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" and has inexplicable "gaps," and it refers students to the textbook for more information.

Harkins testified that the board didn't envision having an intelligent-design statement, which was later developed by school administrators, and she thought the teachers could present the topic "however they saw fit."

"The statement would not be necessary if we were not sued," Harkins said.

Explaining a misstatement
Earlier Wednesday, a school board member who had discrepancies in his testimony on the purchase of "Of Pandas and People" said he was very nervous before a deposition.

Alan Bonsell was questioned Monday by U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III about his January deposition and his trial testimony. He was given a chance to respond Wednesday.

"I was extremely nervous to say the least and honestly tried to do my best and answer as truthfully as a I could," Bonsell said of his deposition.

Bonsell testified Monday that he had received an $850 check from a fellow board member. The check was made out to Bonsell's father, who volunteered to donate copies of "Of Pandas and People" to the district.

Jones asked Bonsell why he never shared that information in the deposition when he was repeatedly asked under oath about who was involved in making the donation. Bonsell, who served as the board's president in 2004, said he misspoke then.

The board member who provided the check, William Buckingham, testified last week that he collected donations to help purchase the books during a Sunday service at his church.

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 ban on the state establishment of religion.

Intelligent-design supporters argue that natural selection, an element of evolutionary theory, cannot fully explain the origin of life or the emergence of complex life forms. They say the evidence points to the intervention of an intelligent designer.

The trial began Sept. 26 and is expected to conclude on Friday.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

  1. Courtesy of Steve Mason

    Parents plead forgiveness for late daughter's $200K student-loan debt

    7/31/2014 7:10:12 PM +00:00 2014-07-31T19:10:12
  1. Special hospital unit in Georgia prepares for Ebola patient

    Emory University Hospital in Atlanta said it is preparing an isolation unit to receive a patient with Ebola disease "within the next several days."

    7/31/2014 9:52:34 PM +00:00 2014-07-31T21:52:34
  1. Kerry and UN announce 72-hour cease-fire in Gaza

    Civilians in Gaza will use the time to receive humanitarian relief, bury their dead, care for the injured and restock food supplies. 

    7/31/2014 9:55:08 PM +00:00 2014-07-31T21:55:08
  1. Courtesy of Tyler Doss

    Watch therapy dog help boy move arm again after brain surgeries

    8/1/2014 12:50:14 AM +00:00 2014-08-01T00:50:14