Monday, October 17, 2005

Welcome to the machine

The courtroom was abuzz today as Dr. Michael Behe, professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University, fellow of the Discovery Institute, and the public face of intelligent design, took the stand. The defense started its case this morning.

A full gallery observed as opposing counsel Robert Muise questioned Dr. Behe on the scientific aspects of intelligent design. Dr. Behe answered in the affirmative when Muise asked him if ID is "scientific," "testable," and "not a religious belief."

Quoting from his book Darwin's Black Box, the professor stated that "the appearance of design in aspects of biology is overwhelming."

During his testimony at the opening of the trial, Dr. Kenneth Miller of Brown University testified that ID is a negative argument. But in court this morning, Dr. Behe insisted otherwise.

"This argument is an entirely positive argument," he stated. "Dr. Miller is looking at things through his own theoretical perspective."

Dr. Behe attempted to illustrate this point through an analysis of the bacterial flagellum. Using a diagram of the b.f., he noted that it looks and operates like a machine built by humans. (Nothing gets my motor running, to use a phrase, like talk of the bacterial flagellum.)

The professor noted numerous journal articles in which biological processes are referred to as "machines." When asked by Muise if this is intended in a metaphorical sense, Behe insisted that the use of the word "machine" is, in fact, a reference to the fact that these processes actually operate like machines.

Muise and Behe spent some time exhibiting quotes from Richard Dawkin's book The Blind Watchmaker that mentioned "the appearance of design."

Behe also compared the emerging ID debate with the initial debates around the Big Bang theory, which we'll go into with the next posting after the day's session ends.

Submitted by Andy Hoover, community education organizer, ACLU of PA

8 Comments:

Anonymous G. Small said...

Check out the Talk.Origins link about Behe's "irreducible complexity" and bacterial flagella.

5:03 PM  
Anonymous g. small said...

Here's another link, this one a scathing critique of Behe's ideas.

5:29 PM  
Blogger FishyFred said...

"The professor noted numerous journal articles in which biological processes are referred to as "machines." When asked by Muise if this is intended in a metaphorical sense, Behe insisted that the use of the word "machine" is, in fact, a reference to the fact that these processes actually operate like machines."

You CANNOT be serious.

5:33 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

I can make my hand act like an airplane wing when I hang it out the window of a moving car. Does that qualify?

5:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to the Wikipedia articles on Big Bang Theory, the belgian physicist priest Georges LeMaistre published his theories in recognised peer reviewed journals, and then defended them in scientific discourse, winning the argument after corroborating evidence backed up his theory. How is that like ID, which has published nothing in any journal? Sigh.

5:57 PM  
Blogger franky said...

Also, see this article from The Minnesota Daily that shows that the bacterial flagellum is not irreducible complex:
http://www.mndaily.com/articles/2005/10/10/65535

6:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quoting from his book Darwin's Black Box, the professor stated that "the appearance of design in aspects of biology is overwhelming."

Uhm, evolution is all about the *appearance* of design. Indeed evolution is the "design" mechanism for the appearance thereof. Without a mechanism (other than "poof") "appearance of design" is a vacuous statement. It has no content. Saying about X that it has the appearance of design says absolutely nothing about X.

I suppose it's possible immaterial designs exist in some platonic realm like God's mind or whatever, but living matter is assembled out of real stuff -- molecules -- and as long as ID denies evolution without providing an alternative mechanism for bringing those molecules together into instances of their design, it's all "poof": creationism.

10:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Muise and Behe spent some time exhibiting quotes from Richard Dawkin's book The Blind Watchmaker that mentioned "the appearance of design."

It's bad enough when this rhetorical nonsense is employed in an internet forum, say. But it's downright insulting to see it used in a court of law.

The entire thesis of Blind Watchmaker is that the "appearance of design" can be explained by unintelligent forces. Behe can disagree with Dawkins on that point, but it's practically criminal to twist Dawkins' words like that.

10:10 PM  

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