Ray Suarez: From American Public Media, this is an American RadioWorks documentary, Intelligent Designs on Evolution.

Man: True science is proven facts. Evolution's not proven, it's theory.

Woman: This wonderful design that's here did not happen [snaps] like that!

Man: Who's the designer? An intelligent designer, who? Make no mistake, they're not talking about little green guys from outer space.

Man: Personally I believe in evolution, and if that's God's way of creating, I think it's more beautiful than anything the Bible ever said.

Woman: But kids should have both sides. They have both sides in elections, they have both sides in everything else, so why not in this?

Man: There's not a place for any religion in a science class.

Suarez: I'm Ray Suarez. In the coming hour, from American RadioWorks, Intelligent Designs on Evolution, how a rival concept about the origins of life is defying the cornerstone of biology. First this news update.

Part 1:

Suarez: From American Public Media, this is an American RadioWorks documentary, Intelligent Designs on Evolution. I'm Ray Suarez.

Man: In school, I do remember a picture of an ape or a monkey, or whatever, then progressing to what changed into a man. Why didn't all of them change? We still got apes and monkeys. Why don't you see one changing now a' days?

Suarez: Questions about our origins as a species have been plaguing us as humans, prodding us as scientists and dividing us as Americans for more than a hundred years, if not for all time.

Woman: We so deeply must understand what is true and what is real, and science and religion are really our only two guides. And when they seem to be contradictory, it throws us into a tizzy.

Suarez: Gallup polls show that nearly half of Americans believe God created humankind 10,000 years ago, as the Bible says. And another third believe man evolved, but God had a hand in it, while only a third of the American public believe Darwin's theory of evolution is supported by evidence.

Yet nearly all scientists and teachers do believe in the evolutionary process. So when it comes to how we teach this topic in public schools, the controversy gets even more heated.

Man: In my 28-plus years of teaching, I've never been able to present evolution in the way that I would like to.

Suarez: Most recently, the debate has evolved to include a concept called "intelligent design," which argues certain aspects of the natural world are so complex they must have been the work of a designer. During the last year alone, elected officials in almost 20 states have raised questions over how to teach evolution in their schools.

During the next hour, producer Mary Beth Kirchner explores the far-reaching roots of our origins debate and the genesis of this contemporary clash over evolution.

Mary Beth Kirchner: It's a windy November afternoon in the parking lot of the brand new Giant supermarket in Dover, Pennsylvania, where locals are simply trying get on with their daily lives, loading groceries into their cars. And the press is after them again.

Reporter: Can I ask you real quick what you think of the whole intelligent design thing in the Dover schools? This is just taped radio.

Woman: No.

Kirchner: Residents of Dover have had enough of all the attention in recent months, to the point where some shoppers were literally pleading, "Please, leave us alone … and go home."

Man: We're tired of hearing about it. It's kind of like we're a national joke. We have all lost our sense of proportion in allowing this topic to overwhelm everything else.

Kirchner: Dover, Pennsylvania is a small town of 19,000 people, surrounded by corn fields, with one high school. One high school that until now, had always attracted all the outside attention for its marching band. Then in October 2004, the Dover school board passed a change requiring biology teachers to recite a four-paragraph statement. The statement says Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is "not a fact" and has some inexplicable "gaps," and it suggests that students read an intelligent design textbook titled Of Pandas and People.

David Napierski: Right now we offer them is Darwinism theory.

Kirchner: David Napierski is a former school board member.

Napierski: In essence almost we're telling them that they came into being because they evolved through whatever process you want to believe in evolution. Where intelligent design is basically telling them there is a scientific process out there right now that believes that you came into being through an intelligent designer.

Newscaster: In Pennsylvania today, the debate about whether public schools should teach alternatives to evolution went from the classroom to a federal courtroom.

Kirchner: The new policy in Dover didn't say who the intelligent designer was. But the American Civil Liberties Union says the designer is clearly God, and God doesn't belong in the classroom. So the ACLU and 11 parents filed a lawsuit, which became the landmark case Kitzmiller v. Dover.

Tammy Kitzmiller: My whole statement will be, "It's not science, it shouldn't have been brought into the science class."

Kirchner: Tammy Kitzmiller stands on the steps of the federal courthouse in Harrisburg, visibly uncomfortable in front of a horde of microphones and TV cameras.

Kitzmiller: Hasn't settled in yet, it's going to take a while I believe.

Kirchner: Kitzmiller is a soft-spoken office manager whose two teenage daughters attend Dover High School.

Jessica Kitzmiller: I remember, like, when she came up with this a year ago, we were like, "Oh my gosh are you serious?"

Kirchner: Tammy Kitzmiller's daughter, Jessica.

Jessica: Maybe down the road, when my kids are learning about my mom, maybe I'll realize how big it is.

Kirchner: Kitzmiller v. Dover will certainly go down in the history books. This was the first ever court case over intelligent design in schools. And it may serve as a cautionary tale to other school boards. In November, Dover residents ousted eight of the nine school board members who backed the intelligent design policy. And in December, the parents won their case.

Kitzmiller: I hope this decision will bring the healing process to Dover.

Kirchner: Again, Tammy Kitzmiller.

Kitzmiller: I also hope people will take the time to read this decision to understand why this mattered so much to our families and to us individually and for our kids.

Kirchner: Federal Judge John Jones said the Dover policy violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment, which bars the government from favoring one religious view over another. Judge Jones said, "The overwhelming evidence at trial established that intelligent design is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism and not a scientific theory."

Walczak: We are absolutely thrilled that Judge Jones has seen through the smoke and mirrors used by design proponents.

Kirchner: One of the lawyers for the ACLU, Vic Walczak.

Walczak: At a time when this country is lagging behind other nations in scientific literacy, we can ill afford to shackle our children's minds with 15th century pseudo-science.

Kirchner: But supporters of intelligent design say, "It doesn't matter what one judge says. The scientific evidence will determine the future of intelligent design, not the courts."

So what is intelligent design? And where's the science behind it?

Reporter: Your testimony today, you felt it went well?

Michael Behe: I thought I was able to explain intelligent design pretty well.

Kirchner: Michael Behe was the lead witness for the school district in the Dover trial and is often tapped as the key defender of intelligent design as legitimate science. He's a professor of biology at Lehigh University, where he talked with Aries Keck of public radio station WHYY the week before the trial.

Behe: Evolution is a word that carries many different meanings, and you've got to be careful to tease them apart. One meaning is simply "change over time," that in the past there were dinosaurs and different things. Nobody disputes change over time. Another meaning of the word is "common descent," that is that organisms today are descended physically from ones of the past. That's cool too, you know. Intelligent design has nothing to say about that. What intelligent design does focus on is the third meaning of Darwin's theory of evolution, and that is that Darwin proposed that there were random changes in organisms, and that some changes could help and that they could be favored by something called "natural selection." Intelligent design essentially argues that what we see was not the result of random mutation and natural selection but rather of purposeful activity.

Kirchner: Michael Behe is the author of one of the first books to bring some scientific heft to the intelligent design movement while reaching a mass audience, a book called Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. Behe's book has sold more than 200,000 copies, but he says his argument would never have seen the light of day if he tried to publish it in professional journals, where scientific ideas are generally advanced.

Behe: You'll get a lot of scientists who will stand up and say, "Sure we don't know how the complexity of the cell evolved." Even more will say, "We haven't the foggiest idea how life started, where the first cell came from." But if you want to get somebody to stand up and say, "I think the complexity of the cell points to design," then the numbers go down to me [laughs] and a couple others.

Kirchner: Even his own colleagues in the biology department at Lehigh have put a disclaimer on their Web site saying that the department unequivocally supports evolutionary theory, with Behe as the sole dissenter.

In fact, the book that drew Michael Behe into the intelligent design movement was not written by a fellow scientist, but by a lawyer, Phillip Johnson, called Darwin on Trial.

Johnson: Even the simplest forms of life that we know are extremely complex.

Kirchner: That's Phillip Johnson himself, a professor emeritus of law at the University of California at Berkeley.

Johnson: Any single cell is in fact a masterpiece of miniaturized complexity that makes a spaceship or a supercomputer look relatively low-tech in comparison. How did the enormous amount of biological information that is required to operate these complex mechanisms come into existence?

Kirchner: So the intelligent designer for you is?

Johnson: I would say personally that if there is an intelligent designer, I would say that the most likely candidate is God.

Kirchner: Always the lawyer, Johnson is quick to say that's just his opinion that God is the intelligent designer. Scientific writings and position papers on intelligent design, or ID, make no mention of the identity of the designer.

Johnson: This is from a high school student. He says, "Has anyone called you ID's sparkplug? That sounds like the perfect name."

Kirchner: Phillip Johnson, at age 65, now works mostly from his modest home office in a cardigan sweater. Here he's catching up on email and finds a message from a young fan.

Johnson: "Your work has inspired something that will surely challenge Darwinism until it's death."

Kirchner: Johnson has suffered two strokes in recent years, and that's impaired some of his movement. But there's still a vibrancy in his eyes and he has a quick, warm smile.

Johnson's passion evolved after he became a Christian more than twenty years ago, a change that coincided with a difficult time in his personal life.

Johnson: I had gone through a marital break-up and I had become unsure of some of the things that I had taken for granted all my life. I was interested in finding something to sink my intellectual teeth into.

Kirchner: Johnson started thinking about the existence of an intelligent designer while he was taking a sabbatical in England and reading the acclaimed writings of Richard Dawkins, a British evolutionary biologist. Dawkins is author of many books, including The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design. So Phillip Johnson decided to take him on with writings that later became Darwin on Trial.

While in England, Johnson met a student of the philosophy of science, Stephen Meyer, and they teamed up to spread the word about intelligent design.

Dan Abrams: Is intelligent design God, Stephen Meyer?

Stephen Meyer: The, the.

Abrams: What is intelligent design?

Kirchner: Dan Abrams of MSNBC television grilling Stephen Meyer. Meyer is now director of the institutional home for the intelligent design movement, based at a conservative think tank in Seattle called the Discovery Institute.

Meyer: What the theory of intelligent design says is there are certain features of living systems that are best explained by an intelligence.

Abrams: And what does that mean? Wait, that's the most circular thing I've ever heard. What does - who is the intelligent designer?

Meyer: We do not identify.

Abrams: I know you don't. That's why I'm calling you on it. I want to know who it is. Just admit it. It's religion. You just can't - it's religion.

Kirchner: Although its supporters were interrogated by the mainstream media and were shunned by the scientific community, the intelligent design movement was gaining visibility, thanks, in part, to the establishment of the Center for Science and Culture, a headquarters for intelligent design at the Discovery Institute. Ten years ago, Stephen Meyer secured lead funding for the Center from a billionaire banking heir from California, Howard Ahmanson, who had a history of backing Christian causes. And intelligent design's challenge to evolution steadily advanced.

Speaker: Senator from Pennsylvania, Mr. Santorum.

Rick Santorum: I rise to talk about my amendment.

Kirchner: Next moving into the political arena and America's schools with one deftly written amendment to the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, sponsored by Republican Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. Phillip Johnson, intelligent design's architect, helped write the language.

Santorum: It's two sentences that hopefully this senate will embrace.

Kirchner: Which basically said that, "Good science education should prepare students to understand the controversy and be 'informed participants in public discussions regarding the subject.'"

The amendment overwhelmingly passed the Senate in the middle of the night, but when opponents found out about it, they rallied their forces and had it removed from the bill.

Jim Lehrer: President Bush re-ignites the intelligent design/evolution debate.

Kirchner: Four years later, the intelligent design movement garnered its most important political endorsement.

Newscaster: This week President Bush said that, "Schools should teach both traditional evolution science and an alternative concept called intelligent design."

Kirchner: Yet Phillip Johnson maintains he has never been a proponent of teaching intelligent design in schools.

Johnson: I was not particularly interested, and I am not today, in exactly how this should be handled as a matter of high school curricula. That's an interesting question.

Suarez: So how did intelligent design end up on the agenda of school districts across the country? This is Ray Suarez. Coming up after a short break, intelligent design makes it way into classrooms. You're listening to an American RadioWorks documentary, Intelligent Designs on Evolution. Our program continues in just a moment, from American Public Media.

Part 2:

Suarez: From American Public Media, this is an American RadioWorks documentary, Intelligent Designs on Evolution.

Man: I consider myself a very serious Christian, and you know, the teaching of evolution doesn't bother me. If God created the world in a lightning flash or He did it over a period of 600 billion years…it doesn't bother me.

Suarez: How should we teach evolution in our schools? For some, the question is better phrased, "Should we teach evolution?"

Parent: As long as they teach my kids that God created man, we did not evolve from no apes, I don't care. If they start teaching them that, I'll home school them.

Suarez: Should we teach the controversy over Darwinian evolution?

Eugenie Scott: The anti-evolutionists want us to pretend to students that there's this big controversy going on. In the scientific community, nobody's arguing over whether living things had common ancestors, whether evolution took place.

Suarez: Should we teach intelligent design? Originator, Phillip Johnson.

Johnson: I don't want to say that we're at the point now where a theory of intelligent design should be part of the mandated curriculum in public education. I think that's getting a bit ahead of the scientific work.

Suarez: Yet, despite doubts on both sides, intelligent design has spread into the classroom, where producer Mary Beth Kirchner takes us next.

Roger DeHart: The current debate is what in the media?

Student: Creationism v. evolution.

DeHart: Is it just creationism?

Student: Intelligent design.

Kirchner: Roger DeHart has been a biology teacher for almost 30 years, and for at least half of his career, he says he's taught intelligent design in his high school classes.

Student: Intelligent design doesn't equate the designer with God while creationism does.

DeHart: I'd always thought that there was two sides to the debate, and biology textbooks present one side. And I was confident at the time there were other scientists who came to other conclusions.

Student: In a science class, why would you teach religion?

Dehart: Okay, but what would you teach if - you're right. If this is science, should be science. But what would make it religion and what make it scientific?

Kirchner: DeHart is a soft-spoken, shirt-and-tie kind of teacher. He is now at Oaks Christian High School, a prestigious private school outside Malibu, California. But five years ago, he was teaching at a public school in Burlington, Washington.

DeHart: I never intended or never in my wildest dreams would ever think that I would get press because of my teaching in the high school biology classroom.

Kirchner: DeHart was showing the film Inherit the Wind, drawing on articles from science journals challenging evolution, using the intelligent design textbook Of Pandas and People. He did that for a decade and no one complained. But one day, one student did, and DeHart was soon on the front page of the local papers. Editorials raged, and an aggressive campaign of letter writing to get him fired began.

Kirchner: Did the student raise complaints in the classroom? No? They silently just were thinking, "Hmmm, maybe you shouldn't be teaching me this."

DeHart: Right, and they went straight to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Kirchner: The school didn't fire him, but instead slowly took away the biology classes from his teaching load. So DeHart resigned.

Questioner: Do you accept that human beings are related by common descent to pre-hominid ancestors? Yes or no.

DeHart: No.

Kirchner: Roger DeHart tries to avoid being back in the spotlight, but he agreed to testify last year in Kansas when its Board of Education held courtroom-like hearings deciding whether to include evidence against evolution in their science standards.

Questioner: What is the alternative explanation if you do not accept common descent?

DeHart: Design.

Questioner: Who is the designer?

DeHart: Science cannot answer that when I'm teaching.

Kirchner: It didn't take long before the heat of the controversy of five years before came right back to the surface.

Questioner: Are you familiar with the establishment clause of the United States Constitution?

DeHart: I certainly am.

Questioner: And are you aware that the Constitution of the United States forbids someone like you, no matter how legitimate your religious views may be to you?

DeHart: Do all levels of science have the same sureity? Are there different types of science?

Kirchner: Today, Roger DeHart says he enjoys teaching at Oaks Christian High School, but still he yearns for his days in the public schools.

DeHart: This is a safe haven for a while. I'm not sure life is to be lived though, always in a safe haven. I do think this debate should be happening in the public sector. In some cases when I'm preaching to the choir, I'm not sure that's the most effective use of the experiences that I've been through.

Kirchner: But if DeHart went back to the public schools and brought up intelligent design, he'd again face the threat of a lawsuit. That's why the Discovery Institute and Phillip Johnson call his case "reverse Scopes," referring to the Scopes trial of 1925 in Dayton, Tennessee.

Ed Asner: John Scopes has been indicted for the teaching of evolution in our public schools, which is against the law in this state. But this case is more than that. The contest between evolution and Christianity is a duel to the death.

Kirchner: That's actor Ed Asner as William Jennings Bryan, in a radio drama taken from transcripts of the Scopes trial, now touring nationally as a stage performance.

Bryan was a former presidential candidate who led the prosecution against a high school biology teacher, John Scopes. Tennessee was the first state to pass such a law, part of a fundamentalist movement in the early 1920's that attempted to push through anti-evolution legislation in several states. Bryan sparred with Clarence Darrow, the most famous criminal lawyer in America, played in this L.A. Theatreworks production by Charles Durning.

Charles Durning: If today you can take a thing like evolution and make it a crime to teach it in the public schools, tomorrow you can make it a crime to teach it in the private schools. At the next session you may ban books and the newspapers. And after a while your honor, it is a setting of man against man and creed against creed, until with flying banners and beating drums, we are marching backwards to the 16th century.

Kirchner: Not unlike Dover, Pennsylvania, Dayton, Tennessee was an unassuming little town hosting an impassioned national court case. It was dubbed "the trial of the century" before it even began.

Ed Larson: Thousands of miles of telegraph wires were hung to transmit every word spoken in court and pioneer live radio broadcasts carried the oratory to the listening public. It was America's first broadcast trial.

Kirchner: Ed Larson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian from the University of Georgia, author of Summer for the Gods about the Scopes trial and multiple books about the teaching of evolution. Larson was invited to kick off a 50th anniversary production in Oakland California of the Broadway play Inherit the Wind, based on the trial. He knows as well as anyone why this issue has had such enduring attention going back to Charles Darwin and his publication of On the Origin of Species in 1859.

Larson: You'll find there's always this low-level discontent, this background noise that a lot of conservative Christians and Orthodox Jews who are concerned and don't accept idea of evolution and then don't want it taught in the public schools. When a spokesperson can give it voice, it erupts back up.

Dan Rather: The United States Supreme Court came back today to a long and deeply felt national question: "Where to draw the line separating church and state in the public schools?"

Kirchner: In the 1980s, more than 20 states and school districts passed laws to teach creation science in the classroom, wanting to include evidence from nature that the Genesis account of the Bible is literally true. Among them were the Louisiana schools whose case set an important precedent.

Reporter: The Supreme Court ruled today that a Louisiana law promoting teaching of what's called "creation science" unconstitutionally advances religion in violation of the separation of church and state.

Kirchner: Not long after, Phillip Johnson wrote his book on intelligent design, Darwin on Trial. Opponents say Johnson was simply "slopping a new coat of paint on the same old issue." Yet advocates insist there are differences between intelligent design and creation science.

Docent: Contrary to popular belief, Noah's ark was a lot bigger than the banana boat scenario that we often see depicted in cartoons and Sunday school classes for kids.

Kirchner: That's a docent with a museum display of Noah's ark, complete with sound effects of the flood and a model of the ark, at the Institute for Creation Research in San Diego, world headquarters for creation science. Creationists have a wide range of beliefs. Some think that the earth is flat. Others accept the Bible literally, believing God created all life in six days, that the earth is 6,000 to 10,000 years old and that Noah's flood was an authentic happening.

Docent: A lot of people think dinosaurs were not on the ark. We conclude that they were, because of two factors. Number one: they were wanted on the ark and number two: they didn't have to be full grown. All dinosaurs came from eggs.

Kirchner: The Institute for Creation Research was founded by Henry Morris, perhaps the most prominent creationist of the 20th century. His son, John Morris is now the director.

John Morris: Probably 90 percent of all Americans believe in intelligent design/creation. Only a very small percentage believe in strict naturalistic evolution. This is just a slice, a minority of folks. Unfortunately that slice populates our universities. Our professors are all in that very minor slice, I think very much out of touch with mainstream America, promoting something that the rest of America gags over.

Kirchner: Yet creationists are split with their allies from intelligent design over one key issue.

Morris: The one problem that we see is that they just don't go far enough. They refuse to identify the designer. Well, obviously we feel that the designer is the God of the Bible and that his mind is the intelligence behind it all.

Kirchner: While creationists think intelligent design's proponents are too timid, historian Ed Larson says, "Creationists still represent the biggest block of citizens behind the intelligent design movement."

Larson: The polls I've seen, the people I've met - the rock foundation here is the people who believe in the Genesis account. And for them intelligent design is, at best, half a loaf or maybe even a slice. But if that's all they can get, it's better than nothing.

Kirchner: But those who promote intelligent design in schools have a good reason not to identify the designer.

Eugenie Scott: Clearly the first amendment says that the classroom has to be religiously neutral.

Kirchner: Eugenie Scott, from the National Center for Science Education, or NCSE, an advocacy group supporting the teaching of evolution.

Scott: If you're saying, "God did it," however cagily you try to present that, you're not going to get any place. A judge is going to stop you. And I think they were trying to avoid that problem.

Kirchner: Scott says, "Contrary to what they contend, Phillip Johnson and the Discovery Institute, throughout the late 90s, did promote the teaching of intelligent design in the classroom." But, she says, they changed their tactics in 2002 to what she calls "teach the controversy" or "evidence against evolution," presenting what they call "holes" in the Darwinian theory.

Scott: I think the reason why they changed their strategy was because they figured that they had a losing proposition from a legal standpoint.

Kirchner: Scott is based in Oakland, California, across town from Phillip Johnson. She travels the country educating teachers and community members about the controversy.

Scott: But the question here is not creation versus evolution, it's not science versus religion, it's "what do we teach in science class?" Science!

Scott: In the last eight to ten months or so, NCSE has been busier than at any time in our history. And I think a lot of that has to do with the 2004 election, where religious conservatives believe, and probably correctly, that they were the margin of victory for the current administration. And it happens to be the case that education is a local issue and this is where the religious right has always been strongest. And school boards have been a target of the religious right for about the last 20 years or so.

Scott: What do you think is in their head when they hear the word evolution?

Woman: "Evil," "heretic," "anti-god."

Kirchner: Here a biology teacher tells her story to Eugenie Scott at the annual meeting of the National Association of Biology Teachers in Milwaukee. The two had never met, but this is a tale that Scott has heard countless times.

Woman: I've had other students come to me, very nasty, at the end of a lecture - "You don't believe in anything!" It's like, "I did not tell you what I believe in."

Ken Miller: Evolution is the central organizing principle of biology. There is a famous quote that nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution.

Kirchner: Another champion of biology teachers is Ken Miller, a biologist at Brown University. Miller was the key witness for the parents group in the Dover, Pennsylvania trial. He is the author of numerous biology textbooks, used in as much as a third of America's high schools. He's also written a book called Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution.

Miller: I think the key thing here is the issue of where does meaning and where does value come from? How do we decide who we are and where we came from?

Kirchner: Miller is a Christian himself. He points to a quote from philosopher Francis Bacon for a possible answer.

Miller: A quote, in fact, that Charles Darwin used at the front of [On] the Origin of Species. And Bacon wrote that, "One cannot be too educated in the book of God's words or in the book of God's work." Now, "the book of God's words," of course Bacon meant the Bible. But when he said, "the book of God's works," he meant nature and that was a point that Darwin took to heart and that is basically that science could come closer to an understanding of divine purpose in the universe by looking closely at that universe itself. And that's one of the reasons why I and an awful lot of other scientists who are also religious people see a harmony between our scientific work and religious belief.

Kirchner: A survey of scientists conducted by historian Ed Larson in 1997 suggests that as many as 40 percent of biologists, physicians and mathematicians are believers in God. However, there isn't a single scientific organization in the United States that has endorsed intelligent design. And nearly all have come out with statements strongly supporting the scientific status of evolution.

Miller: Intelligent design is a very specific and actually very old-fashioned kind of anti-evolutionism. It's what classically philosophers have called "the argument from ignorance." If we don't know how something happened, we can count that as evidence for design.

Kirchner: Miller acknowledges most scientists would admit, "We cannot explain everything about our natural history. But we know enough to be sure that Darwin's mechanism, natural selection, was at the heart of it." Miller argues intelligent design is far from an alternative scientific theory. It's merely a critique of evolution.

Miller: The supporters of intelligent design like to pretend that they have a novel, radical and revolutionary scientific idea and given time, that idea will find support.

Kirchner: Miller says they like to cite the "big bang" theory of the expansion of the universe, pointing out that this theory wasn't very popular either when it was first advanced. But eventually it won the scientific battle of opinion.

Miller: Well, that's absolutely true. But curiously, the people who support it, the "big bang" idea didn't run around trying to write their ideas into curriculum. They didn't try to influence state legislatures. They didn't hire a public relations firm, they didn't fight by op-eds. They went out to the field and the laboratory, they made measurements, they did experiments and they detected a predictable background radiation. If the advocates of intelligent design were doing the same thing I wouldn't have a problem.

Kirchner: Instead, Miller and other opponents point to something called the "wedge document," written in 1999 by the Discovery Institute. Obtained anonymously and circulated on the Internet, the document details a 20-year plan to "overthrow" materialism and exchange it with a "theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God." Intelligent design, the proposal said, "will function as a wedge."

Their use of media has been one of the Discovery Institute's most powerful tools.

Film: The controversy in modern times is not between science and religion. It's between two different interpretations of the same scientific evidence.

Kirchner: For the past several years, the Discovery Institute has been funding the production of documentary-looking films for national distribution, generating press releases and placing op-eds nationwide, and providing a savvy institutional structure to get its message out.

Film: They won't allow a debate to go on. They try to stop it. The reason they try to stop it is they don't think they can win it.

Kirchner: The Discovery Institute even attempted to control the content of this radio documentary by calling up fellows of the Institute with whom we'd scheduled interviews, saying, "Don't talk to them," claiming they were afraid we would portray them as "religious fanatics."

To the credit of the Discovery Institute or not, the press has been dogging this story, playing its own role in the intelligent design movement's growing momentum.

Again, Eugenie Scott.

Scott: The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, L.A. Times, Time, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, all of these major outlets have done big stories within the last six months, and in some cases, several stories. This has certainly encouraged people to see what's going on in my school district.

Suarez: I'm Ray Suarez. You're listening to Intelligent Designs on Evolution from American RadioWorks. Coming up: tales of two schools that may be indicators of what's to come in the evolution of teaching evolution.

Brett Peterson: I consider myself exceptionally progressive, and yet I seem to stand on the side with ardent creationists. Why can't we have that debate in the school?

Suarez: Intelligent Designs on Evolution is a production of American RadioWorks. To find out more about this and other documentaries, go to our Web site: There you can download the program, sign up for our email newsletter and find out how to order a CD of this program. Major funding for American RadioWorks comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Our program continues in just a moment, from American Public Media.

Part 3:

Suarez: From American Public Media, this is an American RadioWorks documentary, Intelligent Designs on Evolution. I'm Ray Suarez.

School Board member: I am very pleased to be maybe on the front edge of trying to bring some intellectual and academic honesty and integrity to the science classroom.

Suarez: In November 2005, Kansas became the fifth state in the U.S. to change its science standards to include "other explanations" for the origins of life on earth.

Woman: Look at the media we're attracting. We're becoming a laughing stock, not only of the nation, but of the world.

Suarez: The Kansas Board of Education took a new tack: to change the definition of science so that it's not restricted to natural explanations but leaves room for supernatural causes.

Woman: It's going to be a sad day for education in Kansas.

Man: This is a great day for education, Carol. This absolutely raises science standards. I have no doubt about it.

Suarez: Who will follow states like Kansas, or school boards like Dover, PA? As we conclude this hour, Mary Beth Kirchner asked two leading spokespeople on both sides - Eugenie Scott, an advocate of evolution from the National Center for Science Education, and Phillip Johnson, the "architect" of Intelligent Design - to direct us to one place each. These are places Scott and Johnson felt might be signs of what's to come in the months, if not years, ahead.

Man: Lord, we come before you tonight giving you thanks for all your blessings upon us, and Lord we thank you for these people who have made a good choice.

Kirchner: This is the start of the monthly school board meeting in Blount County, Tennessee. Eugenie Scott directed us here. She's afraid what's happened in Blount County will happen elsewhere around the country, too.

Man: But Lord we know that you have set these people in these positions.

Kirchner: A rural community just outside Knoxville, Blount County has the Smokey Mountains at one end and an Alcoa aluminum plant on the other, with dairy farms and tobacco fields in between. It's a county of some 200 churches. One resident called it, "the buckle of the Bible belt."

Kemp: I've watched prayer come back into school events, prayer at school board meetings. And I just think there's been a drift in that direction.

Kirchner: Vandy Kemp is the former principal of Heritage High School, one of two large rural high schools in Blount County. She's lived in east Tennessee for the last 30 years, and came to Heritage High in 2000, where she lasted for four years.

Kemp began to worry early in her tenure when the school board refused to purchase new biology textbooks with content pertaining to evolution.

Kemp: Board members said, "I am opposed to the theory of evolution, and I do not want it taught in classrooms in Blount County." I remember staring at the floor and thinking, "I don't believe we're having this conversation." I was so out of touch with the religious/political views of that board, that this stunned even me.

Kirchner: Kemp stayed for two more years before moving on to another job, as dean at a local liberal arts college. And as she feared, the school board continued to take an even more conservative/fundamentalist turn after she left.

Man: At this time, I'll call the meeting to order and ask Miss Hicks to call the roll.

Kirchner: And in January of last year, the Blount County School Board unanimously passed a resolution to include "a variety of scientific theories about origins." The vote happened quickly and without a word of opposition.

Don McNelly: I'm Don McNelly and I live in Blount County, Tennessee. ... God was smiling when he made this part of the world.

Kirchner: Don McNelly is the school board member who wrote the language for the new resolution. He's a retired professor of education.

McNelly: The area in science dealing with Darwin's theory is very ingrained, and it is quite sacrosanct to many of them within the field. More and more evidence is making it clear that there are areas within Darwin's theory that they're being challenged. Some errors were made and these need to be discussed.

Kirchner: Biology teachers were due to implement the new policy during this school year, but the new principal of Heritage High wouldn't talk to us, saying that was a kettle of fish she didn't want to stir up.

But the parents in Blount County seem to agree with the Board.

Parent: The kids should have both sides. They have both sides in elections. So why not in this?

Parent: As long as they teach my kids that, you know, that God created man, we did not evolve from no apes, I don't care. If they start teaching them that, I'll home-school them.

Man: I spoke to my local representative of the school board.

Kirchner: Opposition in Blount County seems largely from the outside. In the last few months, a small group of opponents has been discretely meeting, calling themselves GENES: Great Education Needs Evolution Science.

The GENES group met in October at a local private school to brainstorm about what to do next. There were only about a dozen men in attendance, not a single parent of a student in the Blount County schools, mostly science faculty from the nearby University of Tennessee and a few local educators. Former principal Vandy Kemp was invited as a guest speaker and advisor to the meeting.

Kemp: There is nobody on earth that is more beleaguered than high school teachers. So they have gone under their rock and they're just trying to get from day to day. And so if the Board says, "Do this," they're going to do what they can within their own conscience do, but mainly they're just going to survive.

Kirchner: We met with Vandy Kemp the morning after the GENES meeting where she stressed her fundamental words of advice to the group: "Don't talk of creationism versus Darwinism. That's nothing but a dead end debate in Blount County. Instead, direct the discussion to the improvement of science education and evolution will find its way, even with the school board that's currently in office."

Kemp: They are very Godly, sincere, well-intended people. I have every sense that they feel some sort of calling because they express this, that God has placed them there to do good work. But I also believe that they are concerned as a group about slippage of morality, slippage of values, and they believe that the way to deal with that is through the school system. And that they have a responsibility to push Christian, specifically Christian values. And so that begs the question, "Could that group of men last night do anything about it?"

Kirchner: How many more school districts like Blount County might there be, quietly and effortlessly changing science standards? That was Eugenie Scott's concern when she sent us there, as a defender of the teaching of evolution.

By comparison, Philip Johnson, the "architect" of intelligent design, was looking toward the future, too, when he directed us to an alternative high school in San Diego, a school he'd only read about in a small Oregon newspaper. In the end, Phillip Johnson had the same question as Eugenie Scott about the place we were going to visit, although with a more hopeful tone: "How many more schools like this might there be?"

Student: I live about 70 miles away now, and so I drive every morning to come here because I think High Tech High is such a wonderful experience.

Kirchner: 70 miles?

Student: 70 miles. I live in Riverside County.

Kirchner: Students come to High Tech High from all over San Diego county and beyond. The charter school is located in Point Loma, a wealthy neighborhood on the San Diego harbor and is housed in a former metal foundry. With classroom walls made of glass, exposed ceilings and what feels like 50 different colors of paint on beams and walls and floors, this looks more like the offices of a cutting-edge architectural firm than a public high school.

And although it's a public school, teachers have more freedom than in a traditional school to try new methods with their students.

Student: I'm a Christian, so I naturally lean more towards the creationist side. And I really liked this project because in Andrea's class, she's a biology teacher, we talked about evolution and in our humanities class, Brett had us read the book of Genesis and I thought that was cool.

Kirchner: This student is talking about Andrea Cook, the biology teacher at High Tech High, and Brett Peterson, who teaches history and English. Together they tried an experiment two years ago.

Kirchner: So who went to whom? And do you remember how the conversation went?

Andrea Cook: It was my idea.

Kirchner: Andrea Cook says she went to Brett Peterson and said, "I'm about to teach evolution. What if we were to teach it over six weeks across disciplines? So while I'm covering Darwin's theory in my biology class, you can read from Darwin's Origin of Species. And while we're at it, why not try reading from the Bible and various creation myths? We could visit the Institute for Creation Research, with headquarters a short drive away, have speakers come and talk about intelligent design. And, it all could culminate with a debate between the students, sort of a mini-Scopes trial."

Student: We ask that we don't bring intelligent design or God into this debate because we can't prove or disprove that God exists.

Cook: And we assigned to the kids what side they'd play. They didn't get to choose. If somebody was more religious or in creation, they wanted to argue that side, and if somebody was more on the science side they wanted to argue that side. And we didn't let them argue what they wanted to argue.

Student: As you can see the punctuated equilibrium, that explains the gaps in the fossil records. We need to look at the facts in front of us, okay. F-A-C-T-S.


Brett Peterson: But then, that said, they would then come into my classroom, where we would have Socratic seminars, and we would start out with "what do you believe?" You have everything from a 15-year-old Russian immigrant who is the antithesis of anything religious whatsoever and comes from a solely evolutionary standpoint, to an African-American girl who is very evangelical and will accept nothing but the story in Genesis. And so when you have those two mindsets it creates for an interesting dialogue.

Kirchner: But outside of High Tech High, friends and colleagues, especially fellow teachers, had mixed opinions about this particular lesson on evolution.

Peterson: Those who fall more on the conservative side applauded our efforts and were ecstatic about what we were doing. And my friends who fall more on the progressive side were honestly horrified at what we were doing and were specifically concerned for my professional safety. They wanted me to double check and make sure that I was allowed to do this. They knew the stories about what happens when you bring religion into the classroom and so they were concerned.

Kirchner: But nothing did happen. The teachers say there were no complaints from parents.

Peterson says he was surprised by his own conclusions when the lesson was over.

Peterson: I consider myself exceptionally progressive, and yet I seem to stand on the side with those who would be on the right of the political spectrum, ardent creationists. And why can't we have that debate in the school? Not only the traditional western Christian view, but why not bring in eastern philosophy? Why not refer to Joseph Campbell and The Power of Myth? Why not provoke wherever we can?

Kirchner: So what did the students learn at High Tech High? Ten of some 40 kids who took part in the all-sides-to-evolution lesson joined us for a large cheese pizza to tell us what they thought.

Kirchner: Is there anybody who was uncomfortable with having the Bible in the classroom?

Student: I'm personally not a very religious person. I wasn't necessarily averse to, like, using the Bible. I found it was very hard to place that much validity in one, you know, in one resource.

Student: Before I never really questioned too much about my faith, but in this project I was able to look at the more scientific sides of my faith and also understand more about evolution and say, "Well that kind of makes sense, too, and I can see where they're coming from."

Student: Probably my greatest question is, "Who's right?" Some people devote a great portion of their lives, such as the creationists, boasting their views to a question that essentially no one can really answer at this time.

Kirchner: Did it change your mind about anything?

Student: It didn't change my mind about my beliefs but it made me more open to other possibilities and not just close myself off to something that I don't believe in but to listen to the evidence behind both sides.

Kirchner: There was universal agreement on this issue. These students at High Tech High had all come away from their lesson in evolution with the same personal beliefs that they held when it began.

Phillip Johnson holds this school up as an example of success, but it would hardly satisfy most supporters of intelligent design. They want intelligent design taught in science class, not in humanities, as another creation myth. And that's what Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education can't tolerate.

Scott: If your goal is to teach science, then these kinds of creation and evolution comparisons don't get the job done. The creationism part of the study is pretty much a waste of time because the science is so bad. There's little enough time to teach science. Why waste it?

Kirchner: Yet Phillip Johnson is equally firm in his belief about the benefits of opening up the discussion. Intelligent design or evidence against evolution, he believes, can be constructively debated.

Johnson: I was always prepared, by the way, to lose the debate. But I said this has to be a legitimate question: "Do you need intelligence to make life or don't you need intelligence?" That to me is the neutral position and the scientific position. It seems to me that they're the ones applying a religious dogma to the issue.

Kirchner: But will there ever be a winner or a loser in this debate? William Jennings Bryan made a prediction at the conclusion of the Scopes trial in 1925.

Asner: This cause has stirred the world. It is because it extends wide and because it reaches into the future beyond the power of man to see. Here has been fought out a little case of little consequence as a case. But the world is interested because it raises an issue, and that issue will some day be settled right, whether it is settled on our side or the other side. It is going to be settled right.

Suarez: Eighty years later, William Jennings Bryan might admit that he was wrong; this issue is still far from settled and, is perhaps only getting more impassioned. The theory of intelligent design does not resolve the conflict many people see between religion and science. Instead, it fans the coals of a fire that has never really gone out in the years since Darwin first published his theory. The debate over intelligent design shows faith and science still locked in conflict, a conflict fought in America's courts, legislatures, and schools with no sign of resolution.

Intelligent Designs on Evolution was produced by Mary Beth Kirchner. It was edited by Catherine Winter. The senior producer of American RadioWorks is Sasha Aslanian, associate producer, Ellen Guettler, project manager, Misha Quill, mixing by Craig Thorsen. Production assistance from interns Bryant Switzky, Elizabeth Tannen and Larissa Anderson. Special thanks to reporter Aries Keck and field producer Emily Botein. Web production by Ochen Kaylan. The executive editor is Stephen Smith. The executive producer is Bill Buzenberg. I'm Ray Suarez.

To see photographs from Dover and the Scopes Trial, and learn more about the evolutionary debate, visit our Web site at

There you can download the program, sign up for our email newsletter and find out how to order a CD of this program. American RadioWorks is the documentary unit of American Public Media. Major funding for American RadioWorks comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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