Can you hear me NOW?

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I have a confession: although I am convinced that, at this stage of the game, the vast majority of ID’s claims are either consciously or unconsciously fraudulent, I sometimes find it hard not to feel empathy for some of its proponents. Perhaps because of his legitimate scientific training and past accomplishments, Behe in particular strikes me as worthy of compassion, someone who is often more deceived (by his fellow ID advocates, his Creationist groupies and adulators, and his own ego) than deceiver.

Although I was not there to see him, the transcripts of his appearance at the Kitzmiller trial make for compelling, almost tragic reading, transpiring with steadfast quasi-delusional self-assurance as the testimony unfolded into a progressively more predictable humiliating fiasco. This impression was reinforced when Behe confidently stated, on the ID-the-Future weblog, that as far as he was concerned his testimony was pretty much a smashing success (the need for such an act of unequivocal public reassurance, with the verdict still unknown and in the works, is in itself puzzling to me). I can just barely imagine what reading Judge Jones’ ruling must have felt like for Behe. Very clearly, his own claims were the centerpiece of the decision, and their surgical, at times merciless dismantling was the main motivation for the final decision that ID “science” is essentially a sham.

It took Behe some time to answer Judge Jones’s verdict, but his reply is surprisingly weak, at times almost whiny. Behe directly takes on 20 statements from the central, and crucial, part of Judge Jones’s decision, supporting its conclusion that ID is not science. Most often, Behe’s answers consist of simply repeating the arguments he made at trial, as if the Judge was just hard-of-hearing instead of utterly unconvinced by them. And when Behe does try to explain himself, the outcome is often worse.

Behe starts with addressing the Judge’s claim that ID, by invoking or admitting the supernatural, violates the scientific method, and promptly puts his foot in his mouth by saying ID “does no such thing”. This will come as a surprise to almost all other ID movement leaders (such as Dembski, Wells, Johnson, Meyer etc) who not only have explicitly called for science to dispense with methodological naturalism (with it in place, according to Dembski, ID has “no chance in Hades” to succeed), but are right now engaged in a political struggle over the Kansas science standards which revolves, in significant part, on the local ID advocates’ attempt to change the definition of science to implicitly admit the possibility of supernatural explanations. Oops.

Behe follows this faux pas with his now well known, but unsustainable analogy between ID and the Big Bang (clearly his new favorite mantra, clocking 6 independent appearances in the 10-page document!). Since the Big Bang theory, Behe says, has potential supernatural implications, ID should be allowed to do the same. But of course, this is nonsense: Big Bang Theory per se does no more admit the supernatural than evolutionary theory does (think theistic evolutionism, for instance). Unlike ID, Big Bang theory makes no claim about ultimate causation, but focuses only on the mechanisms that explain how the Universe has been expanding for the last 15 billion years, and still is. ID, on the other hand, is entirely a theory of ultimate causation (the Designer), but refuses steadfastly to speculate about mechanisms, indeed proudly claims to be unable to. Of course, one is free to philosophize about ultimate causation regarding any scientific theory, from evolutionary theory to plate tectonics, but only ID makes this speculation its centerpiece, at the expense of empirically testable mechanistic hypotheses, and still tries to call itself science.

Behe’s next reply, to Judge Jones’s observation that ID uses the same strategy of “contrived dualism” as scientific Creationism did in the 1980’s, is equally logically muddled, so much so that it actually makes the Judge’s point. I am going to quote it verbatim, since it’s short:

The dualism is “contrived” and “illogical” only if one confuses ID with creationism, as the Court does. There are indeed more possible explanations for life than Darwinian evolution and young earth creation, so evidence against one doesn’t count as evidence for the other. However, if one simply contrasts intelligent causes with unintelligent causes, as ID does, then those two categories do constitute a mutually exclusive and exhaustive set of possible explanations. Thus evidence against the ability of unintelligent causes to explain a phenomenon does strengthen the case for an intelligent cause.

Let’s leave aside that the Judge’s purported “confusion” stems in fact from the abundant, striking evidence emerged at trial about the politically opportunitistic sudden emergence of ID from Creation Science in the late 1980s, and from the demonstrable substantial, if not complete overlap of their arguments. Behe here seems to be unaware that the contrivance is precisely the conflation, which Behe repeats in this paragraph, of “Darwinian evolution” with all unintelligent causes. Of course, this is preposterous: we already know of many naturalistic theories of evolution which are potential alternatives to Darwinian evolution, and which do not require “intelligent causes”, such as Lamarckism and various forms of structuralism and self-organization theories, for example. Several ID advocates and supporters have even spoken very positively of some of them, pointing out how strongly, in their opinion, they challenge the Darwinian “status quo”.

Behe’s own clear focus on selectively disproving Darwinian mechanisms (not “unintelligent processes” as a whole), whether successful or not, would therefore do nothing in and of itself to counter those alternatives or support ID, in the absence of the contrived dualism approach. (In reality, the shrewd reader would realize that there is yet another layer of contrived conflation at play in Behe’s work: the subsuming of the whole of evolutionary theory under the rubric of “Darwinian mechanisms”, when the latter are only a part, though an important one, of the former.) To be fair to Behe, the other prominent ID advocate to have tackled this problem, Dembski, does even worse than him, conflating every non-intelligent mechanism into the “chance” category (of course, Dembski did not testify at Dover, so we cannot know how he would have addressed the many scathing critiques of his methods, including that of counter-expert and PT contributor Jeff Shallit, but Behe cannot fault the Judge for ignoring the arguments of a witness who hastily bailed out of the trial).

Behe clearly knows that contrived dualism, while useful for lay public consumption, is a losing proposition scientifically, because he later directly contradicts himself :

In the history of science no successful theory has ever demonstrated that all rival theories are impossible, and neither should intelligent design be held to such an unreasonable, inappropriate standard. Rather, a theory succeeds by explaining the data better than competing ideas.

In other words, ID does not stand in opposition of a single, vague, artificial category of “unintelligent mechanisms”, but to a number of potential independent theories, and cannot address them all. ID therefore cannot, even in principle, gain ground by negative argumentation against Darwinian mechanisms alone. Positive evidence for an empirically investigatable alternative explanation based specifically on ID principles is required, and so far is sorely lacking.

Things shift to comedy when Behe complains that his “biochemical arguments against Darwinism” cannot be considered to have been refuted by the scientific community, as Judge Jones claims, because he “strongly disagrees” they have. In other words, Behe raises himself as the ultimate arbiter of the refutation of his own claims: as long as he “strongly disagrees” that they have been refuted, they haven’t, and that’s that. It seems to escape Behe that the same logic would apply to his own claims against “Darwinism”: as long as a single “Darwinist” held fast in his/her belief, no matter if every other biologist had since converted to ID, Darwinian theory would apparently stand unrefuted. Alas, science is a communal enterprise, and it is the community of scientists which decides which claims are refuted, and which stand. They do so mostly by voting with their own hands, so to speak: scientists will choose to use in their daily work, to formulate new hypotheses, to design experiments and to pursue intellectually, those claims they think are valid, and ignore those that are not. In this respect, the contrast between the vibrant field of evolutionary biology, with its continuous stream of publications and its numerous applications (in biotechnology, genomics, medicine, etc), and ID, which by Behe’s own admission has generated close to nothing in terms of scientific output of any kind (including non-peer-reviewed works), could not be starker and more damning.

Behe’s response goes on pretty much like this for the whole 10 pages: he repeats his trial claims as if repetition made them more convincing, freely contradicts himself and other ID advocates, and occasionally appears simply befuddled that the Judge would not see things his way. At one point, he says he considered being challenged with a large amount of literature on immune system evolution “bad courtroom theatre”, and complains he did not have a chance to read the stuff, as if a thorough knowledge of the relevant literature was not required before making his claims about the nature of the evidence for immune system evolution. Behe’s tone then almost drifts to petulance, asking:

How can the Court declare that a stack of publications shows anything at all if the defense expert disputes it and the Court has not itself read and understood them?

ignoring that the Court has very good reasons to trust the word of dozens of experts in the field, writing in peer-reviewed publications, prominent textbooks etc, when they explicitly discuss the evolution of the immune system, especially in the absence of any evidence of the contrary by the “expert witness”, who by his own admission didn’t even read the material himself (nor, bizarrely, even asked to, which I believe would have been his prerogative).

Similarly, Behe insists, as he did at trial, with the bizarre notion that a text search for key phrases such as “random mutation” should be taken as a reliable indicator of whether a paper addresses Darwinian mechanisms or not, even though during his testimony it was shown that some of the “failing” papers in fact went even further, discussing specific mutation mechanisms, such as transposition. (As someone who has to read content-thick science papers essentially on a daily basis, I just wish it were so simple to judge the literature’s relevance to a topic.)

I can’t really go through the entire response, but here is one more nugget: in section 19, Behe strongly argues that, since the “appearance of design” in biology is, in Richard Dawkins’s and most biologists’ opinion, overwhelming, the recognition of “purposeful arrangement of parts” as a telltale sign of design cannot be considered simply subjective. But of course it can: just because our brains are wired in such a way to “see” purpose in phenomena occurring around us, it doesn’t mean that actual purpose exists in them, just like the fact that our brains are wired to “see” human faces in simple arrangements of lines or natural objects does not make the Face on Mars a bona fide human face depiction. The distinction between “subjective” vs. “objective” does not depend on the distribution or relative abundance of opinions: only one century ago, essentially 100% of human beings, including all scientists, agreed with the overwhelming appearance of immobility of continents on the surface of the Earth, but objective evidence has since shown that theirs was just a subjective, if unanimous, impression.

Going back to my original expression of empathy for Behe, I find myself wondering how I can harbor such feelings for someone who is so obviously wrong, so often, and so unrepentantly. In large part, I have decided, it’s an issue of “There but for the grace of God go I”. As scientists, we are trained to apply as much objectivity and detachment as possible, but also to be strongly argumentative and ambitious. We are told to resist the pull of our egos, trying to keep enough distance between our analytical abilities and our very own theories and ideas not to be sucked into whirlpools of self-perpetuating error and delusion, and on the other hand we are also encouraged to stand up for what we believe is true, regardless of how strong the opposition, as the more numerous and vocal the opponents, the sweeter and more rewarding the vindication and final recognition. It is a hard equilibrium to maintain, and occasionally we all, to some degree, fail one way or another. The trick is being able to tell when enough is enough.

Anyway, Behe is at least correct in his conclusion, when he says that “the realities of biology… are not amenable to adjudication”. If this statement in fact signaled the end of the political-legal strategy for placing ID in science classes before it makes it into science journals, at some point in the future it may end up sounding less irony-deaf than it does now.

105 Comments

I had similar feelings when I was going through Dembski’s work. My first thought was, “Is this guy serious?” It was immediately obvious to me as a physicist that he either didn’t have a clue about what he was doing, or he was embarking on a premeditated deception. He doesn’t even seem to know how to formulate a problem let alone solve it or get a productive research program going on it.

I suspect ego may be involved in this case as well. Dembski painted himself into a corner when he received the adulation of the creationism community, and it went to his head. My impression of most of these ID Fellows is that they haven’t really been through a good shakedown of their training by responsible mentors. Somehow in their training they never confronted serious misconceptions that they carried with them all the way through their Ph.D. work. Getting two or more Ph.D. degrees may also have gone to their heads. They spent too much time on “book larnin’” and not enough time confronting reality in the lab. I have also wondered if something about their religious beliefs predisposes them to the kinds of misconceptions they seem to hang onto so tenaciously.

There are some similarities to the Cold Fusion fiasco. Once the claims were made publicly before being peer reviewed, more deceptions were piled on top of other deceptions until the whole thing came crashing down.

“The dualism is “contrived” and “illogical” only if one confuses ID with creationism.”

The Foundation for Thought an Ethics presumably shares this “confusion”.

I have no empathy, sympathy, or any other “athy” for Behe and his ilk.

They are incapable of admitting error, some of them openly acknowledge that they have a fully, and exclusively, religious agenda(ID is the gospel of John and all that.…), and they have chosen to adopt political strategies and present their feeble position in the court of public opinion (because they KNOW they don’t have a scientific case for ID).

They knowingly, deliberately devise fallacious arguments and call on emotional reasoning in support of ID. They lie, in other words, to support their religious agenda.

Do not pity them for their inability to articulate a rational defense of ID, for they are unworthy of such consideration.

Dude: “I have no empathy, sympathy, or any other “athy” for Behe and his ilk.”

How about “antipathy?”

Behe starts his apology by redefining science to be “broad” enough, I’d say sloppy enough, to encompass the supernatural:

On the other hand, like myself most of the public takes a broader view: “science” is an unrestricted search for the truth about nature based on reasoning from physical evidence. By those lights, intelligent design is indeed science.

Yeah, who needs experiments? Who needs data? Let’s just have a love-fest!

At this point Behe moves from scientist to layman. Thus, the remainder of his apology is from the perspective of a layman; not a trained expert; not a professional; not a scientist.

I’m sorry, but the layman’s view of the world that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west has no bearing on science which can prove that the earth moves around the sun, and that sunrise and sunset, however beautiful and poetic, are illusions of movement and do not reflect the reality of the cosmos.

Likewise, Behe’s observation that the cell is “like a little factory” is an illusion and does not reflect the reality of biology.

The fact that Behe continues to promote his incorrect and simplistic view, considering his training and position as a professor, and in light of considerable evidence to the contrary presented to him on many occasions, constitutes, in my opinion, malpractice, fraud and slander. It is unfortunate that in his protected Ivory Tower that Behe is unaccountable for his malfeasance.

Bob Park’s Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud is really relevant to this. Dr. Park documents how a lot of pseudoscience started with the inability to admit that one was wrong. This can lead to the types of behaviors we have come to expect from creationists and other pseudoscientists.

It is recorded that Behe wrote:

However, if one simply contrasts intelligent causes with unintelligent causes, as ID does, then those two categories do constitute a mutually exclusive and exhaustive set of possible explanations. Thus evidence against the ability of unintelligent causes to explain a phenomenon does strengthen the case for an intelligent cause.

Well, my late grandfather would no doubt take vigourous exception to such a declaration. He was a firm and vocal advocate of the existence of a “Life Force”, a pervasive, impersonal but enormously creative natural phenomenon that gently but ineluctably compelled inanimate matter to organise. He would have declared that neither “intelligent” nor “unintelligent” would be apposite adjectives. And certainly the body of scientific evidence in favour of his argument was as large as that which Behe commands.

mdr (who today received his very first spam to the address attached to his disquisitions at the Thumb)

I am glad that there is finally a PT reaction to Behe’s latest effort to salvage the Dover trial. I started to write this up but had no where to put it.

Michael Behe has recently made what I hope is the first of many responses to the Dover Panda Trial decision by Judge John Jones. In his decision, Judge Jones made a comprehensive legal determination that teaching Intelligent Design Creationism in American public schools is a violation of the US Constitution, and resulting laws. Behe’s response begins with a measured tone, but sometimes descends toward a petulant rant. (This isn’t really a criticism- we all know I love a good rant).

It is very important to remember that the decision by Judge Jones is legally limited to the testimony presented at trial. The judge can not simply deny the trial and substitute his own reasoning and evidence. On several points Behe is claiming non-testimony “fact” in his response and on that point alone his response is invalid. The creationist lawyers and Behe were given every possible opportunity to present their version of the facts - now they are stuck with them.

I was personally most interested in Behe’s refashioning of his testimony about archaeology for obvious reason. Behe whines that Jones had “… switched in the space of a paragraph from calling the argument for ID an “inductive argument” to calling it an “analogy”. Behe even called it “… a critical confusion.” The only one confused is Behe. In the relevant exchange from the Behe cross examination there is the following :

Q. And as we discussed in the bacterial flagellum, they often have millions or in some cases billions of years to go through this process of replication of reproduction and have changes occur, correct? A. Yes, that’s correct.

Q. So when we try to figure out from the appearance of design in, how the appearance of design arises in biological systems, they have some opportunities to develop that don’t exist for my keys or my watch, correct? A. They certainly have properties of their own which would, you have to take into consideration. You have to take into consideration. They also have other things that you have to worry about because they can die and so on, which watches and so on don’t do.

Q. But no longer, no matter how long my keys exist, they’re not going to reproduce or replicate, correct? A. That’s right.

Q. And that really impairs the analogy, doesn’t it? A. I don’t think so. I don’t think so at all. As a matter of fact, I explicitly addressed that in Darwin’s Black Box. I explicitly addressed it in other places. It certainly makes it, you certainly have to take that into consideration, but if you do and if you don’t think that particular property affects the situation too much, then the reasoning continues to be the same.

Q. And that’s your view about the phenomenon of reproduction and replication over hundreds of thousands, millions, or billions of years, depending on the organism? A. In my paper with David Snoke one can try to calculate how those great time spans and great populations would affect the situation.

Q. And we’ve seen earlier today how that works out? A. Yes.

Q. And you remember I asked you at your deposition about whether there was any specialized scientific discipline that goes into reasoning that objects we’re familiar with in the world are intelligently designed. Do you remember me asking you that? A. I think so, yes.

Q. And the first answer you gave me is yes, there’s archaeology, right? A. I believe I did, yes.

Jones was totally correct to refer to the use of analogy as this was the very condition of the series of questions related to archaeology and human artifacts as this was true to the testimony given by Behe.

(18) JONES: For human artifacts, we know the designer’s identity, human, and the mechanism of design, as we have experience based upon empirical evidence that humans can make such things, as well as many other attributes including the designer’s abilities, needs, and desires. …Professor Behe’s only response to these seemingly insurmountable points of disanalogy was that the inference still works in science fiction movies. (23:73 (Behe)).

BEHE: Again, the Court confuses an analogy with an induction. Our knowledge of the nature of the designer is not necessary for a conclusion of design based on induction, any more than knowledge of what caused the Big Bang was necessary before we could inductively conclude that the universe had an explosive beginning. Although the Court appears to disdain science fiction movies, the induction works in science as well. The SETI project (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) is based on our ability to recognize the effects of nonhuman, alien intelligence. It was featured in the science-fiction film Contact, for example, based upon a work by Carl Sagan.

Good grief! Behe did it again! Complaining that Jones correctly observed that all Behe offered in the end was an appeal to Science Fiction (the monolith from 2001 in Behe’s court testimony), Behe retreated into another SciFi movie Contact. And as a mere factual issue, SETI is not at all based on the fictional novel Contact by Carl Sagan, any more than it is based on the movie. Quite obviously, Behe knows as little about SciFi, and SETI as he does about archaeology. Further, the expansion of gasses following the explosion of a firecracker has no analogy (other than a false one) to any cosmological theory. (This is actually a red herring on Behe’s part, but it is false at any rate).

ID does offer a possible teaching moment in a science class as an example of what happens when someone falls in love with an idea of his and is unable to detach himself and look at it objectively. Cold fusion is another one as is Duesberg’s claims about HIV not being the causative agent of AIDS. On the other hand, the scientific community has to be careful not to condemn and ridicule new ideas without a fair hearing. Plate tectonics is a good example. Another is Mitchell’s chemiosmotic theory of energy coupling in mitochondria, which was dismissed by “mainstream” biochemists for some years as black magic. Of course, ID is a non-starter as a scientific contribution since it depends on the oxymoron of seeking to explain things using the unexplainable. It’s a dead end, by definition.

Personally, I got the biggest kick out of Rothschild demanding that Behe specify the mechanisms of IC, since Behe wrote in his book that IC is ‘focused exclusively on the mechanisms’. Here’s how I read that passage of testimony, in my own words (of course):

OK, says Rothschild, what ARE those mechanisms?

Behe: Well, actually, I don’t have any mechanisms, but I know that there’s an intelligence involved.

Rothschild: Wait a minnit! Isn’t “an intelligence involved” a *conclusion* that one would draw AFTER investigating the mechanisms? How can a scientist start by assuming his conclusion and then doing no research to defend it?

Behe: Well, it’s obvious there’s an intelligence involved, so the mechanism must have involved the application of that intelligence somehow.

Rothschild: OK, then, what IS the mechanism from whose investigation you concluded an intelligence.

Behe: I don’t NEED any mechanism, because I know the answer before I start.

Rothschild: But in that case, why did you write that IC is ‘focused exclusively on the mechanisms’? How could you say that if you have no mechanisms?

Yep, smashingly successful testimony there. Start by assuming your conclusions, and from your assumptions, state your conclusions. No research, no evidence needed. Man, this science stuff is a piece of cake. And finally, there was Behe sitting on the stand saying “I say it’s science, I believe it, that settles it!” Pathetic.

Returning to this:

Behe Wrote:

On the other hand, like myself most of the public takes a broader view: “science” is an unrestricted search for the truth about nature based on reasoning from physical evidence. By those lights, intelligent design is indeed science. Thus there is a disconnect between the two views of what “science” is.

Ye olde redefinition of science trick. No need for the scientific method. The word “reasoning” covers very broad territory. If Behe means the sort of reasoning he delivers here, or in his book, it does not resemble science at all.

What is striking is that Behe offers no ID science at all. The way to show that ID is science is to point to some actual ID science. The notion that ID can be made into science by an argument, even though there is no ID science, is absurd on its face.

I think though that this response to the Judge was much more carefully considered than the many others from DI guys. They must have considered offering actual papers as evidence, and about each one thought Oh! Oh! If we say this is an example if ID science, we will be ridiculed. We had better stick to what we are good at: proof by assertion, and stone walling.

In all seriousness, the poor man may be mentally ill. The DI puts a lot on him, as he is the closest thing to a biological science expert (biochem) that they have. He does not, though, sound like a scientist in this testimony. I doubt an institution such as Lehigh would have let him get to a tenured position if he was not at one time competent, but he seems almost psychotic now. It’s a shame, really.

And as a mere factual issue, SETI is not at all based on the fictional novel Contact by Carl Sagan, any more than it is based on the movie. Quite obviously, Behe knows as little about SciFi, and SETI as he does about archaeology.

I think he just means the movie’s based on the book.

As I testified, when it was first proposed the Big Bang theory struck many scientists as pointing to a supernatural cause. Yet it clearly is a scientific theory, because it is based entirely on physical data and logical inferences. The same is true of intelligent design.

Um DUH! NO! The BB theory does not try to say that there is an intelligent agent behind the expansion of the universe. It couldn’t even if it tried.

The dualism is “contrived” and “illogical” only if one confuses ID with creationism, as the Court does.

There’s no confusion. ID is a type of creationism. Only an idiot can’t see that and only a liar wouldn’t admit it.

Thus evidence against the ability of unintelligent causes to explain a phenomenon does strengthen the case for an intelligent cause.

“Evidence against the ability of unintelligent causes” translates to “I haven’t figured it out yet.” Behe’s terrible logic makes me wonder how he ever got to be a professor.

Again, repeatedly, the Court’s opinion ignores the distinction between an implication of a theory and the theory itself. If I think it is implausible that the cause of the Big Bang was natural, as I do, that does not make the Big Bang Theory a religious one, because the theory is based on physical, observable data and logical inferences. The same is true for ID.

I don’t think Behe gets it. ID “theory” as it stands could even encompass BB theory, saying that the intelligent designer (you know who) made the universe bang in just the right way to get stars and planets and people. In this sense it’s a religious inference and it can never be anything more than that without direct evidence of God.

Pennock, a philosopher, wrote that a complex watch could be made by starting with a more complex chronometer (a very precise timepiece used by sailors) and carefully breaking it! — So therefore a watch isn’t irreducibly complex! As I testified I have not bothered to address Pennock’s point because I regard the example as obviously and totally contrived — it has nothing to do with biologically-relevant questions of evolution.

HAHAHAHAHAHA! So references to watches (and Mt. Rushmore and mousetraps) have nothing to do with biologically-relevant questions of evolution? Is that so Dr. Behe? HAHAHAHAHAHA!

Nonetheless, I do agree that, for example, a computer missing a critical part can still “function” as, say, a door stop. That hardly constitutes a concession on my part.

In other words you have no argument. You are agreeing with “the evolutionists” who say that a structure expressed to carry out one function can one day evolve into a different structure that is expressed to carry out a different funtion.

Nor do experiments exist that demonstrate the power of natural selection to make irreducibly complex biochemical systems, either directly or indirectly–proclamations of the National Academy notwithstanding. Again, children who are taught to mistake assertions for experimental demonstrations are being seriously misled.

I don’t believe children are taught a damned thing about the evolution of the bacterial flagellum or even the eukaryotic flagellum. They also are not taught that the aether theory is supported and should not be taught that ID is a valid theory, all for the same reasons.

The distinctions can be read in my Court testimony. In short, the Court uncritically accepts strawman arguments.

Strawman arguments against non sequiturs? Behe admits (without knowing it) that his IC argument is exactly a non sequitur.

Again, as I made abundantly clear at trial, it isn’t “evolution” but Darwinism — random mutation and natural selection — that ID challenges.

Well, it depends on which ID person you ask and on which day (and on who is asking, reporters or ministers.)

The 19th century ether theory of the propagation of light could not be tested simply by showing that light was a wave; it had to test directly for the ether. Darwinism is not tested by studies showing simply that organisms are related; it has to show evidence for the sufficiency of random mutation and natural selection to make complex, functional systems.

Holy smack! He is actually shooting down ID wholesale! Earlier in his response he says that ID doesn’t need direct evidence of an intelligent designer, just cursory evidence that might implicate an intelligent designer. Now he’s saying that a scientific theory MUST have direct evidence for what it aims to prove! This isn’t necessarily true, but it’s what he’s saying. Besides, there is plenty of direct evidence to support the fact that genetic mutations occur and that natural selection occurs.

If I conducted such an experiment and no flagellum were evolved, what Darwinist would believe me? What Darwinist would take that as evidence for my claims that Darwinism is wrong and ID is right?

Dr. Behe, you are being dishonest here. Not even you would think that you’ve done anything to support any particular theory. You would merely disprove that bacterial flagella could not evolve under the conditions of the experiment and nothing more. Think Louis Pasteur and spontaneous generation vs. abiogensis.

The flagellum experiment the Court described above is one that, if successful, would strongly affirm Darwinian claims, and so should have been attempted long ago by one or more of the many, many adherents of Darwinism in the scientific community. That none of them has tried such an experiment, and that similar experiments that were tried on other molecular systems have failed, should count heavily against their theory.

Experiments like this ARE going on, but you know, Dr. Behe, that they take a long long time (years and years) and they can’t strive to acheive a specific goal in mind, at least one as monumental as evolving a structure as complex as a flagellum. You are being especially disingenuous here.

William Paley would likely think that the Big Bang was a creative act by God, but that does not make the Big Bang theory unscientific.

Right, because what William Paley says about the BB theory isn’t the BB theory.

I have repeatedly affirmed that I think the designer is God, and repeatedly pointed out that that personal affirmation goes beyond the scientific evidence, and is not part of my scientific program.

What IS your scientific program? The only ID programs are public relations and politics.

#16 - #19 are just sad. Sad.

Oh and #20 is sad too. Just repeating the flawed BB analogy.

On the day after the judge’s opinion, December 21, 2005, as before, the cell is run by amazingly complex, functional machinery that in any other context would immediately be recognized as designed. On December 21, 2005, as before, there are no non-design explanations for the molecular machinery of life, only wishful speculations and Just-So stories.

You already said that the appearance of design is overwhelmingly subjective.

Behe, how did you ever become a professor or biochemistry? Or, what happened between when you were tenured and now? What happened to your logical faculties? What happened to the biochemist Michael Behe?

I seem to always get in on the tail end of these conversations when everyone else has gone to sleep. But let me post two questions just in case anyone is still reading. Let me say, first, that I am an unrestricted believer - of evolution. 1. Behe says “‘Science’ is an unrestricted search for the truth about nature based on reasoning from physical evidence”. Isn’t that exactly what science is? How can you argue with that? Then he says: “By these lights, intelligent design is science.” Now you CAN argue - where is the reasoning from evidence? But the first statement seems to be quite sensible. 2. Some of Behe’s argument is “the appearance of design”. And the refutation of that - as a sufficient argument by itself - is the history of physical phenomena that are not what they “appeared” to be; such as: the Earth is flat, the Sun revolves around the Earth, the continents are immobile, there must be an ether between the planets, etc. Now, can you give me some more “appearances” that were accepted lore and have been disproven? What about Relativity? How would that be worded? It seems that the common thread of all these disprovals of appearances is the enlarging scope of mankind’s physical world. I am preparing (in general) for the upcoming debate in Oklahoma about putting ID into the science classrooms. I need all of the easily understandable (by laymen) rebuttals that are available.

Andrea Bottaro Wrote:

At one point, he says he considered being challenged with a large amount of literature on immune system evolution “bad courtroom theatre”, and complains he did not have a chance to read the stuff, as if a thorough knowledge of the relevant literature was not required before making his claims about the nature of the evidence for immune system evolution.

Yeah, I liked that part, too. So much, I think I’m going to try it out at my dissertation defense.

“Background literature? Sorry, didn’t have a chance to read it, but I’m sure there’s nothing worthwhile there.”

Science isn’t just reasoning based on physical observations. It’s also about testing the hypotheses produced and actively seeking to perform experiments that would disprove those hypotheses if certain results were observed.

It’s easy to be an armchair philosopher and speculate endlessly upon some initial observations. It’s easy to accept assertions made by some ‘authority’. But neither of those things are science.

Aristotle came up with some reasonable-sounding statements about how objects fall, based on some observations of the physical world. He did not, however, conduct experiments to see if those statements actually matched reality. Galileo did that, and as it happened, he found that Aristotle was wrong. That’s why Aristotle was not a scientist, and Galileo was - the first didn’t experiment and try to disprove his own hypotheses, and Galileo did.

Yeah, I liked that part, too. So much, I think I’m going to try it out at my dissertation defense.

“Background literature? Sorry, didn’t have a chance to read it, but I’m sure there’s nothing worthwhile there.”

I’m pretty sure I’ve heard of undergraduate students defending the lack of references in their papers with a similar argument.

It was immediately obvious to me as a physicist that he either didn’t have a clue about what he was doing, or he was embarking on a premeditated deception.

Fortunately, no one has to guess at the motives or aims of the IDers. They have put them clearly in print for the whole world to see and understand, right there in the Wedge Document:

http://www.geocities.com/lflank/wedge.html

Behe starts his apology by redefining science to be “broad” enough, I’d say sloppy enough, to encompass the supernatural:

This is deliberate ID strategy, in both Kansas and Ohio. If the definitoon of sciecne rules out ID, their proposed solution is to use legislative power to redefine science so it DOES include ID.

After all, the stated aim of the Wedge Document is to replace science with “theistic understanding of nature”.

I don’t think Behe is mentally ill, I just think that, like Dembki, he cannot openly admit to being mistaken, about anything. This affliction is fairly common. We’ve all come across people like this. Those who can never admit to any mistake even when forced into a corner. They will lie, accuse, ignore, change the argument, make excuses, do anything to avoid saying “I was wrong.”

I undrstand your sympathy with Behe. It was his Kitzmiller testimony that moved me from the opinion that he did not believe some of what he was saying. After his preverdict assuredness, I am of the opinion that he is a true believer.

Karl asked:

1. Behe says “‘Science’ is an unrestricted search for the truth about nature based on reasoning from physical evidence”. Isn’t that exactly what science is? How can you argue with that? Then he says: “By these lights, intelligent design is science.” Now you CAN argue - where is the reasoning from evidence? But the first statement seems to be quite sensible.

I would note two problems with Behe’s claim. Maybe three.

First, science isn’t unrestricted. Science looks for proximate causes, and replicable causes, for one set of restrictions. There are rules of the game. ID asks that we skip some of those steps. Real science knows “then a miracle happens” on the chalkboard of equations is a cartoon, not science.

Consider a hypothetical IDist’s claim that God told him in a dream that ID is right. There is the famous story of the structure of benzene being understood first in a dream by a scientist working on the problem. But benzene rings work out in the lab, they are corroborated by other evidence. ID is refuted by other research, not supported. Claiming dreams as science is bizarre – inspiration may come in a dream, but if the inspiration doesn’t work out on the lab bench, it’s nightmare, and not science.

Second, while Behe claims to make appeals to evidence and reasoning, ID requires ignoring a lot of evidence, distortion of a lot more (Jonathan Wells’ book should be indicted on academic fraud charges, but Behe defends it), and amazing and spectacular leaps of illogic, such as the claim that complexity means an intelligence made it, instead of acknowledging that the hallmark of intelligent design is simplicity, as a rule.

Third, there is simply no connection between Behe’s expanded definition of science and his conclusions about ID. You could just as well insert “cold fusion” for “intelligent design”: “By these lights, cold fusion is science.” Or, “By these lights, colorless green ideas sleeping furiously is science.” Behe strays off into the realm of philosophy, but apparently without any grounding in philosophy, none of the tools the philosopher needs to stay in reality.

“And then a miracle happens” is a cartoon, not science.

All of this hooey is made possible because people don’t learn evolution. If one carefully notes the five observations and three inferences Mayr boils evolution down to, one might then observe that nothing in “intelligent design” challenges any part of evolution theory. ID advocates, failing to understand evolution, miss this. We should stop missing it. Teach the facts, ID won’t be able to stand up to them.

Karl Wrote:

1. Behe says “‘Science’ is an unrestricted search for the truth about nature based on reasoning from physical evidence”. Isn’t that exactly what science is?

No, he left out precisely what makes science science - testing. Arguing without testing is exactly what science isn’t. Philosophy is fine. However, philosophers know that they are doing philosophy, not science. Behe gutted the very concept of science in order to claim that ID is science.

No, he left out precisely what makes science science - testing.

As I have noted several times before (in very long posts) that is EXACTLY what ID is trying to avoid. They want to have their “science” accepted WITHOUT having to test it.

More on the topic: at Immunoblogging, JM O’Donnell further elaborates on Behe’s puzzling statements about who should have read and understood the immune system evolution papers to begin with. Hint: it’s not Judge Jones.

Jason Wrote:
Behe Wrote:

The flagellum experiment the Court described above is one that, if successful, would strongly affirm Darwinian claims, and so should have been attempted long ago by one or more of the many, many adherents of Darwinism in the scientific community. That none of them has tried such an experiment, and that similar experiments that were tried on other molecular systems have failed, should count heavily against their theory.

Experiments like this ARE going on, but you know, Dr. Behe, that they take a long long time (years and years) and they can’t strive to acheive a specific goal in mind, at least one as monumental as evolving a structure as complex as a flagellum. You are being especially disingenuous here.

Inspired by Dr. Behe, I’d like to propose an experiment. Watch 10000 generations of some bacterium that does not have a flagellum, and see if poof happens, and a bacterium with a flagellum suddenly appears. If not, conclude there is no IDer.

Similarly, watch hundreds of generations of mosquitoes in mudholes, and see if poof, any of them give birth to a South Carolina governor. If not, conclude there is no IDer.

In the interests of doing real science, I’m sure Dr. Behe will jump at this opportunity to convince the world’s skeptics.

Screw Behe. My sympathies are with the millions of less-educated but no less sincere and well-meaning rank-and-file Christians, whose money, support, and even beliefs became cannon-fodder for a cynical and hateful campaign to undermine the most indispensible foundation of liberty: the ability of individuals to think clearly and rationally for themselves.

Behe was a happy and willing Quisling, supporting the agenda of those who stroked his ego and fattened his wallet (probably with money donated by the aforementioned well-meaning Christians). There’s no way he could not have known what a con-job the whole IDifice was, or what the consequences of his side’s success would have been. If he’s now left with no dignity or credibility, and thus no further use to his masters, then he’s just like all the other willing press-flacks and PR stooges who gave up their integrity to pay the rent. Every job has its risks.

“I can’t really go through the entire response”

Of course you can’t.

“I am glad that there is finally a PT reaction to Behe’s latest effort to salvage the Dover trial. I started to write this up but had no where to put it.”

You must be so sad now, that you left the PT without any serious reason whatsoever, eh? :-)))

To KE,

Anytime you want to use actual data and reality to refute what I said that would be a good sign you understand what you are talking about.

Umm, there isn’t any such thing as “Intelligent Design Creationism” and no one was trying to have it taught in public schools.

The above statement is fact and can be substantiated by reality. What do you have?

IDists understand that “methodological naturalism” is atheistic mullarkey- IOW it is unwarranted limitation.

Um, I thought ID wasn’t about religion and had no religious aims, motives or effect.

If so, why are you dragging “atheism” into this?

Or are IDers just lying to us when they claim to be science and not religion?

And if “atheism” is an “unwarranted limitation”, then I presume you want to REMOVE that “unwarranted limitation”, right? And that would allow NON-atheist or NON-naturalist explanations in science, right?

Would you mind explaining the difference between “non-natural” and “supernatural”, please?

Be as specific as possible, and take as many screens as you need.

It sure is a good thing for us that IDers are so dumb. They still have no clue at all why they lost in Dover, and they still can’t go ten minutes without dragging their religious motives right out into plain view.

I thank them for that.

Umm, there isn’t any such thing as “Intelligent Design Creationism” and no one was trying to have it taught in public schools.

Blah blah blah. Tell it to the judge.

Oh wait — you already DID, didn’t you.

(snicker) (giggle)

ID shot its load. ID lost. Get used to it.

I don’t know any religious scientists who are perfectly comfortable with MN- but that doesn’t mean anything.

I know plenty, and I bet I know many more scientists than you do. Ken Miller, Francis Collins, George Coyne are some religious scientists you may have heard about who are on record as accepting the scientific method and thinking ID is bogus, as are several PT contributors.

Both intelligence and design are natural phenomena.

Sure, and when they are natural in origin, they are covered under methodological naturalism. Indeed, mainstream scientists already study examples of natural intelligence and design (e.g. human and animal behavior, archaeology, etc) using methodological naturalism - so where’s the problem?

And as I have pointed out before the origin of nature could not have come about via natural processes as natural processes only exist in nature. Therefore MN cannot explain the origins of nature. Yet nature exists. Can MN explain the laws that govern nature? No. Again those laws could not have arose via natural processes.

Well, since you weren’t there, and no one else has any clue, I guess it’s a bit premature to state with any certainty how the “origin of nature” (whatever that is - I guess you mean the origin of the Universe) and its laws could or could not have come about. But regardless, if the origin of the Universe were in fact supernatural, then science could just not study it - can you propose any experiment to investigate the supernatural origin of the Universe?

Anyway, you keep making our point here, and contradicting Behe: you are insisting that science should accept the supernatural. This, as I see it, is in fact what the vast majority of ID advocates argue, which is what Judge Jones stated very clearly in his decision, and what Behe tried to clumsily deny in his response to the ruling.

I don’t know any religious scientists who are perfectly comfortable with MN- but that doesn’t mean anything.

Andrea: I know plenty, and I bet I know many more scientists than you do. Ken Miller, Francis Collins, George Coyne are some religious scientists you may have heard about who are on record as accepting the scientific method and thinking ID is bogus, as are several PT contributors.

I would take that bet if I knew you but I don’t. The “scientific method” is not the same as methodological naturalism. And I also seriously doubt Miller’s “christianity”.

Both intelligence and design are natural phenomena.

Andrea: Sure, and when they are natural in origin, they are covered under methodological naturalism. Indeed, mainstream scientists already study examples of natural intelligence and design (e.g. human and animal behavior, archaeology, etc) using methodological naturalism - so where’s the problem?

But one can’t tell if the intelligence is natural in origin or not until one studies the design. Therefore the origin of the intelligence does not matter to the detection and understanding of the design.

And as I have pointed out before the origin of nature could not have come about via natural processes as natural processes only exist in nature. Therefore MN cannot explain the origins of nature. Yet nature exists. Can MN explain the laws that govern nature? No. Again those laws could not have arose via natural processes.

Andrea: Well, since you weren’t there, and no one else has any clue, I guess it’s a bit premature to state with any certainty how the “origin of nature” (whatever that is - I guess you mean the origin of the Universe) and its laws could or could not have come about. But regardless, if the origin of the Universe were in fact supernatural, then science could just not study it - can you propose any experiment to investigate the supernatural origin of the Universe?

Logic 101. Natural processes ONLY exist IN nature. Pure and simple. Therefore it ALL boils down to something non or suoer natural. There just isn’t any way to get around the fact.

Methodological naturalism sez nature is all there is. However that is shot to heck right out of the gate.

Andrea: Anyway, you keep making our point here, and contradicting Behe: you are insisting that science should accept the supernatural. This, as I see it, is in fact what the vast majority of ID advocates argue, which is what Judge Jones stated very clearly in his decision, and what Behe tried to clumsily deny in his response to the ruling.

In reality what I and all IDists say is that we have to follow the data and IF that data leads to the metaphysical then so-be-it.

Mike Gene at Telic Thoughts

“As I have explained before, ID does not invoke the supernatural as there is no aspect or attribute of the supernatural that is required to make a design inference.”

For more on ID please visit:

Intelligent Reasoning

I will gladly demonstrate how wrong you people are about ID and preserve it for all time- just stop on by…

“As I have explained before, ID does not invoke the supernatural as there is no aspect or attribute of the supernatural that is required to make a design inference.”

Then why do you care if “methodological naturalism” is “atheistic”.

I will gladly demonstrate how wrong you people are about ID and preserve it for all time- just stop on by…

Why didn’t you go to Dover and set that judge straight? See, now it’s ALL YOUR FAULT that the IDers lost. YOU had the ability to go there and WIN THE CASE for them, and you DIDN’T.

I hope they give you your just desserts fopr letting them down like that.

Logic 101. Natural processes ONLY exist IN nature. Pure and simple. Therefore it ALL boils down to something non or suoer natural. There just isn’t any way to get around the fact.

Make up your friggin mind, Joe. Is ID based on the supernatural, or isn’t it.

Are you lying when you say it’s NOT, or are you lying when you say it IS.

Geez.

Methodological naturalism sez nature is all there is. However that is shot to heck right out of the gate.

very simple.

prove it.

The “scientific method” is not the same as methodological naturalism.

Excuse me? Does the scientific method consist of observing supernatural phenomena, formulating supernatural hypotheses, and empirically testing supernatural explanations? Can you provide any example of this? The only way the scientific methods can work, is by limiting itself to natural phenomena and natural explanations.

And I also seriously doubt Miller’s “christianity”.

No true Scotsman he, uh? I guess you doubt the Pope’s “christianity” as well.

But one can’t tell if the intelligence is natural in origin or not until one studies the design. Therefore the origin of the intelligence does not matter to the detection and understanding of the design.

Wrong again - in all cases when intelligence and design can be empirically, scientifically investigated, the investigation begins with a hypothesis about the nature of the intelligence (human or animal) and its specific properties related to the observation at hand, or in cases like, say, archaeology, a hypothesis about who the designer may have been in terms of natural agents (e.g. people of a certain civilization, such as the Aztecs). One can certainly say “the designer of the Yucatan pyramids may have been a supernatural intelligence”, but of course that is immediately a scientific dead end - no way to test that hypothesis with the methods of science.

And as I have pointed out before the origin of nature could not have come about via natural processes as natural processes only exist in nature. Therefore MN cannot explain the origins of nature. Yet nature exists. Can MN explain the laws that govern nature? No. Again those laws could not have arose via natural processes.

That’s what you say. An obvious possibility is that matter and energy could have always existed, through infinite cycles of universe formation and destruction (in series and/or in parallel), each universe with its laws depending on the events at its formation. There is no need, logical or empirical, for postulating supernatural intervention at the beginning of our Universe.

Logic 101. Natural processes ONLY exist IN nature. Pure and simple. Therefore it ALL boils down to something non or suoer natural. There just isn’t any way to get around the fact.

Methodological naturalism sez nature is all there is. However that is shot to heck right out of the gate.

As I said above, this is an entirely unwarranted conclusion. I suspect you have never taken any introductory course in logic. If you did, you may want to ask for your money back.

You also show that you don’t even understand what methodological naturalism is. Most emphatically: methodological naturalism does not say nature is all there is. Look at it again: see the word “methodological”? That’s there for a reason. It means that methodological naturalism maintains the methodological, operational presumption that the basis of any phenomenon to be studied is natural, so that it can be empirically investigated using the scientific method. It only concerns the practice of science, it says nothing whatsoever about whether supernatural phenomena and causes exist or not, and it has no metaphysical philosophical implications.

In reality what I and all IDists say is that we have to follow the data and IF that data leads to the metaphysical then so-be-it.

They are of course free to do so, but they can’t call it science, because as soon as you say “a supernatural agent must have done this”, you stop doing experiments, and sit on you ass for the rest of your scientific career.

And once again, you are confirming Judge Jones’ words that ID invokes or permits supernatural causation, and contradicting Behe. If that’s your way of showing how wrong we people are about ID, I’m not sure it’s working.

Which brings me to my final comment: I am sensing trolling behavior here. Either that, or you are remarkably impenetrable to reason and unaware of self-embarassment. I strongly suggest you check the content of your next posts for unwarranted and self-contradictory claims.

They are of course free to do so, but they can’t call it science, because as soon as you say “a supernatural agent must have done this”, you stop doing experiments, and sit on you ass for the rest of your scientific career.

or you abandon it entirely and become a PR spokesperson (Behe), or teach theology classes (Dembski).

for those that haven’t you really ought to take a look at Dembski’s course syllabi sometime.

…and they accuse public schools of “indoctrination”.

laughable.

And I also seriously doubt Miller’s “christianity”.

Interesting.

Since you seem to have annointed yourself the Final Arbiter About Who Is Or Isn’t a True Christian(c)™”, then I have a simple question for you:

*ahem*

What exactly is the source of your religious authority. What exactly makes your (or ANY person’s) religious opinions more (or less) authoritative than anyone else’s. Why should anyone pay any more attention to my religious opinions, or yours, than we pay to the religious opinions of my next door neighbor or my gardener or the guy who delivered my pizza last night. It seems to me that no one alive would or could know any more about God than anyone else alive does, since there doesn’t seem to be any potential source of such knowledge that isn’t equally available to everyone else. You pray; I pray. You read the Bible; I read the Bible. You go to church and listen to the pastor; I go to church and listen to the pastor. So what is it, exactly, that makes your religious opinion any more (or less) valid than anyone else’s. Are you more holy than anyone else? Do you walk more closely with God than anyone else? Does God love you best? Are you the best Biblical scholar in human history? What exactly makes your opinions better than anyone else’s? Other than your say-so?

Is it your opinion that not only is the Bible inerrant and infallible, but YOUR INTERPRETATIONS of it are also inerrant and infallible? Sorry, but I simply don’t believe that you are infallible. Would you mind explaining to me why I SHOULD think you are? Other than your say-so?

It seems to me that your religious opinions are just that, your opinions. They are no more holy or divine or infallible or authoritative than anyone else’s religious opinions. No one is obligated in any way, shape, or form to follow your religious opinions, to accept them, or even to pay any attention at all to them.

Can you show me anything to indicate otherwise? Other than your say-so?

Posted by Joe G on February 11, 2006 07:40 PM (e)

I don’t know any religious scientists who are perfectly comfortable with MN- but that doesn’t mean anything.

I would take that bet if I knew you but I don’t. The “scientific method” is not the same as methodological naturalism. And I also seriously doubt Miller’s “christianity”.

Both intelligence and design are natural phenomena.

But one can’t tell if the intelligence is natural in origin or not until one studies the design. Therefore the origin of the intelligence does not matter to the detection and understanding of the design.

And as I have pointed out before the origin of nature could not have come about via natural processes as natural processes only exist in nature. Therefore MN cannot explain the origins of nature. Yet nature exists. Can MN explain the laws that govern nature? No. Again those laws could not have arose via natural processes.

Logic 101. Natural processes ONLY exist IN nature. Pure and simple. Therefore it ALL boils down to something non or suoer natural. There just isn’t any way to get around the fact.

Methodological naturalism sez nature is all there is. However that is shot to heck right out of the gate.

In reality what I and all IDists say is that we have to follow the data and IF that data leads to the metaphysical then so-be-it.

“As I have explained before, ID does not invoke the supernatural as there is no aspect or attribute of the supernatural that is required to make a design inference.”

I will gladly demonstrate how wrong you people are about ID and preserve it for all time- just stop on by…

Congratulations!

I think that is the most contradictions in one post that I have seen here.

Considering the number of cranks that come by, quite an achievement. Not one to be pleased about though.

Joe G really seems to believe it, which given the excellent rebuttals on this thread, is regrettable. ID once exposed for what it is, really stands up to defend itself.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Andrea Bottaro published on February 7, 2006 8:38 PM.

Teaching Evolution and the Challenge of Intelligent was the previous entry in this blog.

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