Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Scientists overwhelmingly disapprove of Behe's ideas

The morning began again with science, science, science (or something sort of resembling science). After exhausting the subject of blood clotting cascades, the defense moved to a critical analysis of Dr. Kenneth Miller's testimony.

Professor Behe claimed that Of Pandas and People is more accurate and comprehensive than Miller gives credit. Behe also proposed that the papers and works that Miller had cited during his testimony earlier in the month were "unpersuasive," and failed to address natural selection and random mutation.

Behe also defended Pandas as an appropriate text for high school students. Behe proposed that students often times take evolutionary theory at face value and are not given tools to distinguish fact from theory. Behe proposed that students need other theories in order to understand the complexity behind a theory and to distinguish it from fact. During cross-examination, attorney Eric Rothschild pointed out that students are not taught several versions of theories such as germ theory and plate tectonics.

Defense also questioned Professor Behe about the distinction between creationism and intelligent design. Behe stated that creationism is based on theology and is religious in nature whereas ID relies on "physical, observable evidence found in nature" and that "ID is not based on anything religious."

After lunch, Rothschild began his cross-examination by questioning Behe's status as a critical reviewer of Pandas. Behe revealed that had in fact not reviewed the entire book just the sections on blood clotting. Professor Behe was questioned about his designation as co-author of Pandas, but he explained that "he might be in the future" but was not at this time.

Next, Rothschild asked Behe about the scientific community, which has largely denounced the idea of ID as science. The National Academy of Sciences, for instance, regards ID and its supernatural ideas as inaccurate and unfounded. Even the Lehigh University Biological Sciences faculty, where Behe is a professor, has stated that ID has "no basis in science."

Behe argued that scientists and scientific organizations misunderstand intelligent design. Not only is ID science, Behe claimed, it is also an appropriate scientific theory to introduce to students. Behe concluded by saying he was "happy with the progress we were making with ID."

The underlying themes of today: First, according to Behe, ID is misunderstood by the scientific community and should be offered as an option to students. Second, the Discovery Institute is working to try to integrate or "wedge" ID into schools and scientists who agree with Behe are striving to make ID an acceptable science. Third, even if I haven't contributed to a book, if I have plans to in the future, I can be considered a co-author today.

Cross-examination of Professor Behe will continue Wednesday.

Submitted by Jamie Mullen, legal assistant, ACLU of PA


Anonymous Anonymous said...

...students are not taught several versions of theories such as germ theory and plate tectonics.

Oh, but they are. "We used to believe disease was caused by evil spirits or swampy air, but now we know...." And so forth. So Behe is right: as a pedagogical tool, contrasting theories are useful.

Of course, what he's advocating is a lesson like, "We used to think that natural forces were enough to account for diversity in nature, but now we know that it required the intervention of a supernatural designer." And we know this based on... facts and evidence??

I wonder what progress Behe thinks ID has made, other than getting school boards to mandate it.

11:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you take cross question suggestions?

"The positive, inductive argument for design is the purposeful arrangement of parts," Dr. Behe noted.

Please ask Mr. Behe what is the difference between "design" and "purposeful arrangement of parts." I would love to hear the answer.

11:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Improvius... that definition Behe offered seemed silly to me, too. It's possible that he's simplifying a more complex argument, but I doubt it. In essense, he's saying the evidence for ID is... nature itself. Ascribing "purpose" to it is ID's positive argument.

Leaving aside the fact that negative arguments about evolution are, at the end of the day, the only thing that IDers ever talk about, which is what makes them indistinguishable from old fashioned creation scientists.

2:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand this guy. He honestly believes himself. And what about this blood clotting? Naturally, if you're cut, you bleed, if blood didn't clot, you'd bleed to death. Natural selection works two ways w/ mutation, if it works, the being lives on, if it doesn't, the being dies. If it dies earlier, chances are it doesn't reproduce as much or at all.

8:21 PM  

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