Pharyngula

Thank you, Michael Behe

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By request, I’m bringing over this old post on the outcome of the Dover trial. What it reveals to an astonishing degree is how delusional and disconnected from reality the Discovery Institute gang are.


Michael Behe has previously commented on his testimony in the Kitzmiller trial. He felt good about it; in fact, he thought it was exhilarating and fun.

I haven’t the foggiest idea how the Judge will rule, but I think we got to show a lot of people that ID is a very serious idea.

Hmmmm…I wonder, what did the judge think of his testimony? Do you think there might be a way to, you know, find out?

Let’s look in his decision for references to Behe! As it turns out, we owe a debt of gratitude to the good doctor of ID for the invaluable assistance of his testimony.

Here are a few choice quotes from Judge Jones’ decision that specifically cite Behe’s testimony.

Dr. Haught testified that this argument for the existence of God was advanced early in the 19th century by Reverend Paley and defense expert witnesses Behe and Minnich admitted that their argument for ID based on the “purposeful arrangement of parts” is the same one that Paley made for design.


Moreover, it is notable that both Professors Behe and Minnich admitted their personal view is that the designer is God and Professor Minnich testified that he understands many leading advocates of ID to believe the designer to be God.


Consider, to illustrate, that Professor Behe remarkably and unmistakably claims that the plausibility of the argument for ID depends upon the extent to which one believes in the existence of God.


As no evidence in the record indicates that any other scientific proposition’s validity rests on belief in God, nor is the Court aware of any such scientific propositions, Professor Behe’s assertion constitutes substantial evidence that in his view, as is commensurate with other prominent ID leaders, ID is a religious and not a scientific proposition.


Stated another way, ID posits that animals did not evolve naturally through evolutionary means but were created abruptly by a non-natural, or supernatural, designer. Defendants’ own expert witnesses acknowledged this point.


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. 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.


What is more, defense experts concede that ID is not a theory as that term is defined by the NAS and admit that ID is at best “fringe science” which has achieved no acceptance in the scientific community.


Moreover, cross-examination revealed that Professor Behe’s redefinition of the blood-clotting system was likely designed to avoid peer- reviewed scientific evidence that falsifies his argument, as it was not a scientifically warranted redefinition.


We therefore find that Professor Behe’s claim for irreducible complexity has been refuted in peer-reviewed research papers and has been rejected by the scientific community at large.


As Plaintiffs aptly submit to the Court, throughout the entire trial only one piece of evidence generated by Defendants addressed the strength of the ID inference: the argument 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.


The one article referenced by both Professors Behe and Minnich as supporting ID is an article written by Behe and Snoke entitled “Simulating evolution by gene duplication of protein features that require multiple amino acid residues.” (P-721). A review of the article indicates that it does not mention either irreducible complexity or ID. In fact, Professor Behe admitted that the study which forms the basis for the article did not rule out many known evolutionary mechanisms and that the research actually might support evolutionary pathways if a biologically realistic population size were used.

Behe’s right. That was fun!

Here’s an even more fun part. Behe thought one part of the cross-examination was such a slam dunk for him, that he singled it out for bragging:

The cross examination was fun too, and showed that the other side really does have only rhetoric and bluster. At one point the lawyer for the other side who was cross examining me ostentatiously piled a bunch of papers on the witness stand that putatively had to do with the evolution of the immune system. But it was obvious from a cursory examination that they were more examples of hand waving speculations, which I had earlier discussed in my direct testimony. So I was able to smile and say that they had nothing more to say than the other papers. I then thought to myself, that here the NCSE, ACLU, and everyone in the world who is against ID had their shot to show where we were wrong, and just trotted out more speculation. It actually made me feel real good about things.

Oh, yeah. I can picture Behe waving away a stack of research articles with a supercilious smirk, dazzling the judge with his confidence. How do you think it was interpreted?

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.”

We find that such evidence demonstrates that the ID argument is dependent
upon setting a scientifically unreasonable burden of proof for the theory of
evolution.

Ouch. Backfire.

This is terribly unseemly. I’m sitting here reading the decision, chortling to myself, when I really do have work to do. But it’s so darned good! I feel like I ought to just quote all 139 pages and be done with it!