Re: Michael Behe's testimony Monday afternoon

From: Dr. David Campbell <>
Date: Thu Oct 20 2005 - 12:42:19 EDT

>On this and all other points, he represents the most "liberal" wing of
the ID movement, something I will return to below.<

True, but unless he addresses the serious errors of the "conservative"
wing he will have a very hard time persuading outsiders that there's
any difference.

> Apparently Mike also said that evolution should be taught (ID
> advocates say nothing other than that, pretty consistently), but that
> the book Of Pandas and People should also be mentioned in biology
> classes.

Many ID advocates say it shouldn't be taught pretty consistently too,
depending on whether the audience is someone who might be swayed
by "equal time for all ideas" or by "evolution is the root of all evil"

> (1) "Evolution as such," ie, change over time-Mike said that ID
> accepts this fully; it might perhaps (my inference) be equated with
> what evolution critics call "microevolution" rather
> than "macroevolution" (see below). He even finds support for this in
> Pandas and People, though I don't think he elaborated on that.

The "full" acceptance by ID of this definitely matches
the "microevolution versus macroevolution" error currently popular
among antievolutionists. Microevolution in this context is whatever
evolution I accept and macroevolution is whatever evolution I reject.
Icons of Evolution attacks evolution as such in many of its examples.
Colson's denial of the transitional forms throughout the fossil record
is a denial of evolution as such. Behe accepts evolution as such, but
the popular version of ID rejects it.
> (4) The fifth and last of Mayr's "theories," and the fourth I list,
> is Natural Selection. Here's the rub, according to Behe. This is
> the one "theory" of Mayr's that ID contests. The others apparently
> are OK, at least with Behe. NS has little evidential support, he
> claimed, indeed it is "the most poorly supported" part of Darwin's
> theory. He also quoted Stuart Kauffman on the inadequacy of NS as a
> single force in evolution.

NS as the single force in evolution is not only inadequate but not
generally accepted among evolutionary biologists. On the other hand,
NS has excellent evidential support as playing a role in evolution.
How big that role may be is a valid question, but dismissing it
entirely is incorrect.

> Behe could accept that, but this is still ID in his view: even though
> the means is not detectable, "the resultant design itself may be
> detected in the structure of the irreducibly complex system." This
> is further evidence that ID does not collapse into a "god of the gaps"
> theology-please read all five of those words together, esp the last
> one-as if often alleged. However, as I argued several years ago in
> The Christian Century magazine, I think that ID does employ a "god of
> the gaps" strategy. The distinction might be subtle, but I think it
> is not trivial.

Again, this is evidence that Behe's ID does not collapse into a god of
the gaps theology. Johnson's often does.

> Overall, Mike wanted to get across his view that the biggest
> problem with Darwinian evolution is the absence of testable
> explanations for the formation of complex structures.

There's no way to directly test the origin of anything. It is possible
to find evidence in support of evolutionary explanations of the
formation of complex structures, e.g., relict intermediate structures,
models that show viability of intermediate stages, etc. ID isn't too
good at providing testable explanations (at least, ones that pass
tests), so this argument seems doubtfully useful in favor of ID.
> Indeed, as quitting time neared and defense counsel advised his honor
> that a lengthy section on hemoglobin was coming next,

Probably not on the evidence regarding the evolution of hemoglobin such
as the gene duplications and the homology with other globin genes.

> Each side is placing their bets on a different
> outcome. Shanks is no friend of ID, and I take his description as a
> tacit admission that Behe and company are making some valid points
> about the present state of knowledge-or lack thereof. At the same
> time, I'm more than a little nervous about ID advocates floating an
> enormous, wide-ranging program of cultural renewal on half a glass of
> water.

Especially when (if we assign ID the "half empty" part of the
metaphor), the glass is steadily filling.

> The plaintiffs are obviously trying to paint Behe into the
> smallest corner possible on the floor of scientific discourse, so as
> to uphold their main line of argument, namely that ID is not science
> but is religion. ... a bad argument: creationism is science,
> Lauden said, it's just bad science that has been abundantly
> falsified.

I agree with this assessment-the plaintif case is ill-founded.
Regardless of religious implications, good science should be taught in
science classes and bad science should not.

Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections Building
Department of Biological Sciences
Biodiversity and Systematics
University of Alabama, Box 870345
Tuscaloosa AL 35487-0345  USA
Received on Thu Oct 20 12:43:48 2005

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