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ruled unconstitutional. \(The 1987 U.S. Supreme Court case Edwards v. Aguillard outlawed teaching creation science in public schools because creation science Intelligent designor intelligence design, as one of the school board members repeatedly called it in her court testimonyis basically an inference that anything as wondrous and complex as the human body, never mind the rest of the natural world, must have been deliberately fashionedwithout all the messy randomness and chaos and evolutionary blind alleys of Darwin’s theory of natural selection. As one intelligent design proponent said, don’t you look at Mount Rushmore and have to infer someone designed it? Well, don’t you? Intelligent design tries to elude the creationism label by refusing to name the Intelligent Designer Himself. \(Think of a pronoun without an antecedent, a sentence without a subject. Then, maybe, designer, but the identity of the designer is up to you. One of the thorniest problems the Dover school board faced, though, was that board members were already on record talking about creationism and God-as-designer before they switched gears and dropped the proper nouns. Two freelance newspaper reportersnot Lebo herself, but friends of hershad reported this in local papers. It wasn’t until six months later that school board members, now hoisting the intelligent design banner and represented by lawyers from the fundamentalist Thomas More Law Center, thought to complain about being “misquoted.” If board members had talked about God and creationism when refashioning the ninth-grade science curriculum, their proposed changes would have been more clearly unconstitutional under Edwards. If they had been misquoted by reporters, though, and had spoken only of intelligent design, they had a fighting chance in court. So they lied. They lied in the press, they lied in depositions, they lied in court. This is where Lebo’s book becomes more personal, more outraged. Two of her journalist colleagues, both hardworking and honest, had their integrity and professional standing attacked. School board members, who clung to the gospel and their own self-righteousness, had borne false witness. “This isn’t a story about God versus science Lebo writes, “but one of truth versus lies.” Lebo continues with a detailed, deftly written account of the trial, its parade of expert witnesses, its questions and cross-examinations, its committed cadre of lawyers, its media hype. She wrestles with her obligations as a journalist: What does it mean to be objective? Does it mean she always has to give both sides equal time and equal prominence, even when both sides are not equally deserving? What about her duty to tell the truth as she sees it? Before the decision comes in, Lebo takes a cross-country trip. She’s now worked for months, listening to the testimony of experts and educating herself about evolution and intelligent design. She believes in evolution. She wonders how fundamentalist Christians can insist they only want classrooms to “teach the controversy” about evolution when, in fact, there is no controversy in the scientific world. She visits creationist centers on her trip, trying to understand the minds and hearts of fundamentalists. But her quest is also personal. She thinks about her father, a devout fundamentalist, who worries about a daughter who doesn’t believe as he does. He fears that his daughter, as a nonbeliever, will be lost to him for eternity. Throughout the book, father and daughter talk, they argue, they yell, they hang up on each other, they try to talk again the next day. Why can’t her father denounce other Christians, like the school board members, who lie and slander others? How can people embrace a religion that leads them to limit their intellect, their powers of reason, imagination, and observation, their compassion for others who have different beliefs? Driving through the mountains of Virginia on her way home, Lebo thinks of Appalachia’s Scots-Irish settlers and their bequests of music, culture, and religion. She thinks of early American mothers cuddling sick babies and singing an old song about how dying children will be gathered up by God, “forever to bloom in the master’s bouquet.” These were people, she realized, who had only their faith to hold on toand they weren’t going to let it go, ever. “We’re never going to fix this,” Lebo writes. “The religious fundamentalists have shackled themselves, and us, to this notion of heaven and hell. In trying to escape the fear of their own mortality, they have merely replaced one hell with another.” These tens of millions of religious fundamentalists, including her father and the Dover school board members, have set their sights on eternity, on heaven or hell, on a literal belief in the Bible. “If you believe this,” Lebo writes, “truly believe this, then how could anything else matter? The First Amendment, scientific reality, the truth? All this would mean nothing. I grasped this. And for those of us who don’t People like me and I suspect you are rooted in the rocky fundamentalist soil of our own highly religious state, living in a country where only a third of our fellow citizens believe in evolution. JUNE 13, 2008 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 27