Re: [asa] Denyse's advice

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Fri May 04 2007 - 09:12:05 EDT

Further on Behe's trial testimony, Rich said: *[Quoting Judge's opinion: "He
was presented with fifty eight * *peer-reviewed publications, nine books,
and several immunology textbook*
*chapters about the evolution of the immune system; however, he simply
*that this was still not sufficient evidence of evolution, and that it was
not "good*
*enough." (23:19 (Behe))."*

*In this case Behe truly and literally had a "you cannot handle the truth"
moment. *
I don't think this is fair either. Behe* *and others have responded to the
articles cited by Ken Miller. Angus Menuge does so, for example, pretty
compellingly, in his book "Agents Under Fire." Most of them are at best
suggestive of possible pathways; none seem slam-dunk compelling; some are
just hand-waiving. When I read "Agents Under Fire" about a year ago, I
asked this list whether Menuge was all wet. There were no compelling
responses to that inquiry.

I read this portion of Judge Jones' opinion as a naked argument from
authority. Whether there are piles of papers and books claiming something
or other is irrelevant without some idea of the exact nature, strength, and
merits of what is claimed.

Let me note again that I'm not impugning Judge Jones, nor am I saying Behe,
Menuge, et al. are necessarily right about irreducible complexity.
Irrudicible complexity indeed seems like a gap argument, and the literature
indeed seems to suggest that the current gaps will someday be closed.
Moreover, from a theological and historical perspective, one might be
inclined (as I am) to shy away from gap arguments. But once again, I think
it's overstated and unfair to suggest that the present state of the
literature -- at least the literature Ken Miller cited at trial --
rebuts* the notion of irreducible complexity such that only a dishonest
moron might accept it.

On 5/4/07, Rich Blinne <> wrote:
> On May 3, 2007, at 8:57 PM, David Opderbeck wrote:
> *Behe, in sworn testimony
> at Dover, said that the definition of science which will include ID also
> includes astrology. Do you have a problem with this?*
> This particular criticism of Behe is unfair. I read the transcripts of
> that testimony carefully when the brouhaha over it first arose shortly after
> the trial. The context of the testimony was that science is a progressive
> endeavor; theories such as astrology, spontaneous generation,
> alchemy, luminiferous aether, etc. eventually are replaced when they are
> falsified or when stronger, more coherent and descriptive theories come
> along. Behe did NOT testify that astrology constitutes a valid scientific
> theory today. Moreover, Behe's testimony did NOT relate to the pop
> astrology found in newspaper horoscopes.
> Rather, the testimony was that long ago people who studied nature believed
> the movements and positions of the stars exercised some causative effect on
> human affairs. In the sense that this theory provided explanations about
> causation in nature, his testimony was that he would call that a
> "scientific" theory. However, he was quite clear that this theory was
> falsified long ago, along with things like alchemy and spontaneous
> generation.
> In addition, the transcript does not read as though the lawyer
> cross-examining Behe wrangled some sort of admission that ID essentially
> equals astrology in terms of scientific merit, which is how popular reports
> seem to play it (like a sort of " *You want the truth? You can't handle
> the truth!"* moment). It was part of a more mundane sequence of questions
> about the progressive nature of scientific theories. (If Ted was present
> during this testimony, I'd be curious to hear how it came across in the
> courtroom).
> Here's how the judge characterized it -- and he was certainly in the room
> -- and it matched almost word-for-word what Dave S. said:
> It is notable that defense experts' own mission, which mirrors that of the
> IDM itself, is to change the ground rules of science to allow supernatural
> causation
> of the natural world, which the Supreme Court in Edwards and the court in
> McLean correctly recognized as an inherently religious concept. Edwards,
> 482
> U.S. at 591-92; McLean, 529 F. Supp. at 1267. First, defense expert
> Professor
> Fuller agreed that ID aspires to "change the ground rules" of science and*lead
> *
> *defense expert Professor Behe admitted that his broadened definition of
> science,*
> *which encompasses ID, would also embrace astrology*. (28:26 (Fuller);
> 21:37-42
> (Behe)). Moreover, defense expert Professor Minnich acknowledged that for
> ID to
> be considered science, the ground rules of science have to be broadened to
> allow
> consideration of supernatural forces. (38:97 (Minnich)).
> While that was probably mundane as David O. noted, the following admission
> again recorded in the judge's opinion is nothing short of stunning and backs
> George's contention that Behe really discredited himself on the stand:
> Although in Darwin's Black Box,
> Professor Behe wrote that not only were there no natural explanations for
> the
> immune system at the time, but that natural explanations were impossible
> regarding its origin. (P-647 at 139; 2:26-27 (Miller)). However, Dr.
> Miller
> presented peer-reviewed studies refuting Professor Behe's claim that the
> immune
> system was irreducibly complex. Between 1996 and 2002, various studies
> confirmed each element of the evolutionary hypothesis explaining the
> origin of the
> immune system. (2:31 (Miller)). In fact, on cross-examination, Professor
> Behe
> was questioned concerning his 1996 claim that science would never find an
> evolutionary explanation for the immune system. *He was presented with
> fifty eight*
> *peer-reviewed publications, nine books, and several immunology textbook*
> *chapters about the evolution of the immune system; however, he simply
> insisted*
> *that this was still not sufficient evidence of evolution, and that it was
> not "good*
> *enough."* (23:19 (Behe)).
> In this case Behe truly and literally had a "you cannot handle the truth"
> moment.

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Received on Fri May 4 09:12:48 2007

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