Behe backs off 'mechanisms' [Cross exam in Dover Evolution trial, 19 October]

From: janice matchett <>
Date: Wed Oct 19 2005 - 14:39:48 EDT

<>Behe backs off
'mechanisms' [Cross exam in Dover Evolution trial, 19 October]
Daily Record [Penna] ^ | 19 October 2005 | LAURI LEBO

One of intelligent design's leading experts could not identify the driving
force behind the concept.

In his writings supporting intelligent design, Michael Behe, a Lehigh
University biochemistry professor and author of "Darwin's Black Box," said
that "intelligent design theory focuses exclusively on proposed mechanisms
of how complex biological structures arose."

But during cross examination Tuesday, when plaintiffs' attorney Eric
Rothschild asked Behe to identify those mechanisms, he couldn't.

When pressed, Behe said intelligent design does not propose a step-by-step
mechanism, but one can still infer intelligent cause was involved by the
"purposeful arrangement of parts."

Behe is the leading expert in the Dover Area School District's defense of
its biology curriculum, which requires students to be made aware of
intelligent design.

The First Amendment trial in U.S. Middle District Court is the first legal
challenge to the inclusion of intelligent design in science class. At issue
is whether it belongs in public school along with evolutionary theory.

In his work, "On the Origin of Species," Charles Darwin identified natural
selection as the force driving evolutionary change in living organisms.

But Behe argued that natural selection alone cannot account for the
complexity of life.

After Behe could not identify intelligent design's mechanism for change,
Rothschild asked him if intelligent design then isn't just a negative
argument against natural selection.

Behe disagreed, reiterating his statement that intelligent design is the
purposeful arrangement of parts.

The bulk of Behe's testimony Monday and Tuesday had been on his concept of
"irreducible complexity," the idea that in order for many organisms to
evolve at the cellular level, multiple systems would have had to arise
simultaneously. In many cases, he said, this is a mathematical impossibility.

He compared intelligent design to the Big Bang theory, in that when it was
first proposed, some scientists dismissed it for its potential implications
that God triggered the explosion.

He also said he is aware that the Big Bang theory was eventually accepted
and has been peer-reviewed in scientific journals, and that intelligent
design has been panned as revamped creationism by almost every mainstream
scientific organization.

Rothschild asked Behe if he was aware that the National Academy of Sciences
and the American Association for the Advancement of Science both oppose its
teaching in public school science classes, and even that Behe's colleagues
have taken a position against it.

Behe knew of the academies' positions and said they misunderstand and
mischaracterize intelligent design.

Behe also said he was aware that Lehigh University's Department of Biology
faculty has posted a statement on its Web site that says, "While we respect
Prof. Behe's right to express his views, they are his alone and are in no
way endorsed by the department. It is our collective position that
intelligent design has no basis in science, has not been tested
experimentally, and should not be regarded as scientific."

Earlier in the day, Behe had said under direct testimony that a creationist
doesn't need any physical evidence to understand life's origins.

So creationism is "vastly 180 degrees different from intelligent design,"
he said.

Still, Behe said he believes that the intelligent designer is God.

In his article, "A Response to Critics of Darwin's Black Box," Behe wrote
that intelligent design is "less plausible to those for whom God's
existence is in question and is much less plausible for those who deny
God's existence."

After referring to the article, Rothschild asked, "That's a God-friendly
theory, Mr. Behe. Isn't it?"

Behe argued he was speaking from a philosophical view, much as Oxford
University scientist Richard Dawkins was when he said Darwin's theory made
it possible to be "an intellectually fulfilled atheist."

"Arguing from the scientific data only takes you so far," Behe said.

.... the Discovery Institute is blogging the trial. Their site is
unresponsive as I post this. That's where you go if you want to see the
ID-creationists' side of things.

Wikipedia has an article which grows every day:
v. Dover Area School District.
Received on Wed Oct 19 14:41:19 2005

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