Barbara Forrest's role in Kitzmiller

Many people have played important roles in exposing the scientific vacuity of Intelligent Design and its religious foundations. On Red State Rabble, Pat Hayes describes the role played by Barbara Forrest in bringing down ID. Barbara Forrest and Paul Gross are the authors of the highly insightful book Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design published in 2004 by Oxford University Press

Pat Hayes wrote:

In the months since the Dover decision, leaders of the intelligent design movement have played and re-played the trial a thousand times. The Discovery Institute and the Thomas More Law Center have had a very public falling out. Intelligent design proponents have come to refer to Judge Jones, a lifelong Republican who was appointed by George W. Bush, as an activist judge.

What they have not done, as a movement whose leaders are nearly all men, is come to grips with the great role played in their embarrassing defeat by Barbara Forrest, a tiny but very determined woman from Louisiana, who simply took their own words and turned them against them.

What I found interesting is that Dembski was present at Forrest’s deposition and showed an interesting demeanor

In June, before the trial began, Thompson flew to New Orleans to take Forrest’s deposition. As attorneys, witness, and stenographer met in the offices of a local law firm for the deposition, Forrest was surprised to find that Thompson had intelligent design activist William Dembski in tow.

Dembski, who was himself to have been an expert witness for the defense, sat in on the early stages of her deposition. He was brooding presence, Forrest recalls, and extremely hostile.

“I just did my Southern magnolia routine on him,” says Forrest, “and made him shake my hand.”

Perhaps Dembski was still hoping that his Vise strategy would be more succesful than the Wedge Strategy or even his attempts at mathematics. Despite attempts by the ID activists to surpress Forrest’s testimony, the judge ruled in favor of her testifying as an expert witness

Understanding the Wedge was a major cause liability to Intellgent Design, Dembski started to downplay its role, quite unsuccesfully.

The wedge metaphor has outlived its usefulness. Indeed, with ID critics like Barbara Forrest and Paul Gross writing books like Evolution and the Wedge of Intelligent Design: The Trojan Horse Strategy, the wedge metaphor has even become a liability. To be sure, our critics will attempt to keep throwing the wedge metaphor (and especially the notorious wedge document) in our face. But the wedge needs to be seen as a propaedeutic – as an anticipation of and preparation for a positive, design-theoretic research program that invigorates science and renews culture. The wedge, to mix metaphors, has already swept the field, cleaned house, shone the spotlight, and exposed scientific materialism’s dirty laundry. Now that that has been accomplished, where do we go from here?

Ironically we are still waiting for a design-theoretic research program that either invigorates science (ID is scientifically vacuous) or renews culture (ID is unnecessarily divisive).

Dembski seems to have been fortunate that he did not have to testify in Dover after all. With expert witnesses like Barbara Forrest, Dembski would not have stood much of a chance. Although I am certain that the plaintiffs’ lawyers were quite happy to apply Dembski’s ‘vise strategy’, just not exactly as he may have expected.

In his ‘rebuttals’ Dembski objects to Forrest ignoring the scientific achievements (sic) of Intelligent Design but Barbara’s role as a witness was very well described by the lawyers


We are not suggesting that Dr. Forrest is here to address the purported scientific claims of intelligent design. We put together a very complementary expert team which includes scientists, scientist philosophers, as well as theologians and experts on teachings, and someone who has studied the intellect, the intelligent design movement. The core question here, the question of whether intelligent design is science, is a very important question in this trial, but the core question is is intelligent design a religious proposition, and it is on that sublect that Dr. Forrest is extremely qualified based on all the empirical research she has done.

And indeed in this area it was where her testimony was most damning, as Judge Jones explains in his ruling

Judge Jones wrote:

A significant aspect of the IDM is that despite Defendants’ protestations to the contrary, it describes ID as a religious argument. In that vein, the writings of leading ID proponents reveal that the designer postulated by their argument is the God of Christianity. Dr. Barbara Forrest, one of Plaintiffs’ expert witnesses, is the author of the book Creationism’s Trojan Horse. She has thoroughly and exhaustively chronicled the history of ID in her book and other writings for her testimony in this case. Her testimony, and the exhibits which were admitted with it, provide a wealth of statements by ID leaders that reveal ID’s religious, philosophical, and cultural content.