Michael Behe Takes Another Turn as Expert


Let’s say that you are counsel for the Association of Christian Schools. You are looking for an expert witness to stand up before the court and say that the biology and physics textbooks from Bob Jones University and A Beka are just peachy, and students taught from them should be accorded credit in biology and physics sufficient for admission to the University of California system. Who do you turn to? Naturally, you won’t bother with a biologist and a physicist for this matter; what you obviously need is a biochemist. Fortunately, you know where to find one, and, hey, presto! Discovery Institute Center for Science and Culture Senior Fellow Michael Behe files an expert report on your behalf.

Here’s a sample:

General conclusions concerning viewpoints and biology textbooks

All biology textbooks that were examined, both the approved texts and the Christian texts, contain material which is not strictly science, but which includes viewpoints, and all texts asked students to discuss non-scientific topics, such as religious, legal, political, ethical, or moral topics. In my opinion in this unanimous practice is pedagogically sound. Science does not exist in a vacuum, and students will naturally have questions about how science relates to other aspects of their world. Discussion of how scientific and other topics impinge on each other and interrelate with each other can equip students to integrate seemingly separate areas into a more coherent whole.

Darwin’s Black Box and Icons of Evolution are cited by Behe in support of his expert report. He has a section extolling a “strengths and weaknesses” approach. And, Behe is going to get a cool $20,000 for his participation in the case.

What I’d like to suggest is a little competition for the readers… how many instances of issues raised in the Behe expert report correspond to items in Mark Isaak’s Index to Creationist Claims? Please use the comments to add sightings.


There aren’t many issues raised in the Behe expert report, it is mostly a checklist of “is topic X covered or not” plus some generic feel-good commentary about how a diversity of views is good, scientists aren’t always right, yadda yadda.

I think the plaintiffs asked Behe to go through each textbook and compare to the relevant standards. Extremely boring, but profitable work if you can get it…

Behe does have an interesting system, though, for determining whether a textbook covers a standard. A textbook gets credit if the subject “can be taught using text material as [a] starting point” or if it is “analyzed/discussed from [an] alternative viewpoint” (see Table 2). Not surprisingly, the BJU and A Beka texts don’t do so badly in the evolution sub-field because they discuss evolution from an alternative viewpoint.

Also curious is why he didn’t review the Miller & Levine textbook, which is one of the most popular Bio texts in the country. Surely UC accepts courses based on that text as well?

I had to stop reading the report. It was crap because Dr. Behe obviously wasn’t using a rigorous, narrow scientific view-point to work from, but some encompassing vague and nebulous standard, as a basis for reviewing the texts.

Frankly, I could write a biology textbook that would be complete nonsense, yet hit every criteria. Mitsosis - Goddidit. Meosis - Goddidit. Evolution - Goddidit. Structure of a cell - Goddidit. Blah, blah, blah…

My book would have the benefit of being SHORT and CHEAP and would take all of a half-hour to read with an 8th grade reading level. Then we could get out ignorant tails on to more important things for the next 159 days, like praying for God to smite the Supreme Court justices Pat Robertson doesn’t like, gays, lesbians, Jews, Muslims, atheists, Mormons, Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Amish, Mennonites, Quakers and pretty much everyone else not subscribing to our very own personal belief of what Christianity should be…

Hopefully, Behe will get his day in court to explain the validity of his evaluation methods. A lot of them seem as subjective as I know IC when I see it, and we all know how far that got him in his last court appearance.

Basically, Behe’s approach would credit a textbook for teaching that each and every concept enumerated in the state science standards was false, a matter that he carefully leaves implicit.

OF course, the most outstanding example of an item in the Index for me would be Behe’s invocation of CA114: There have been many famous scientists who believed in special creation in the past. See page 13 of Behe’s expert report, beginning at line 30.

Syntax Error: mismatched tag at line 2, column 242, byte 325 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/mach/5.18/XML/Parser.pm line 187.

p8, l10-12 (quoting the BJU text):

The beginning of life, what is in the future, and spiritual concepts such as heaven, angels, man’s soul, and hell cannot be observed or measured; thus they are beyond the domain of science. These things are part of a person’s faith.

OK, which way do you want to take this? 1. it says we’re not allowed to deal with the past or the future. I guess that means I have to stop running those predictions of the effects of climate change on bird distributions. Hence argue it’s bollocks. or 2. ID is concerned with past events like the origins of the flagellum. But that, like the beginning of life, occurred in the past and hence is “beyond the domain of science”. Ergo, argue this is true so ID is “part of a person’s faith”, and not science.

Thank you Dr. Behe!


I just finished reading the book Monkey Girl about the Dover ID trial, which features Behe’s testimony. A highlight is when under cross-examination it was shown that a paper by Behe actually supports rather than undermines evolution! I highly recommend the book, and today I posted a review on my blog at http://blue.butler.edu/~jfmcgrat/blog/

I wonder if the defense will pull out the stack of papers on the evolution of the immune system. If they do, what excuse will Behe give for still not having read them? It would be good if they could figure out a way to get this into the record again. Since Black Box and Icons will be entered as evidence, maybe the topics will be deemed relevant. Behe looked bad the first time around, this time around he can only look worse. If he says he still hasn’t read them it will be clear that he never intends to and the reason why will also be clear. If he says he has read them now it will be an admission that he should have read them years ago. Either way, I can’t see why someone would want to go through that again, or why anyone would want that person to testify on their side.

I submit that the fact Behe is willing to subject himself to this abuse is good evidence that he really believes the nonsense he spews. Contrast that Dembski who bravely ran away when he had his chance to be made a fool for the public record. He knows it’s all crap, but it’s hard to beat the pay.

I hope that the UC lawyers will find it relevant to Behe’s testimony to discuss the other textbook he has said under oath is perfectly good material for the science classroom, “Of Pandas and People”. It might be worth a look to see, by Behe’s method of analysis, just how well OPAP “covers” those items in the standards.

Darwin’s Black Box and Icons of Evolution are cited by Behe in support of his expert report.

I wonder if he’s still going to claim that DBB is peer-reviewed.

What does Behe care? His kids don’t go to UC do they? Could they get in if they wanted to?

I had to stop reading the “expert witness report” after a few pages. All I saw was Behe doing the equivalent of a word count.… For goodness sake, that is not an evaluation neither warranted a report. What a piece of trash and he got paid a sweet 20K to top it off. Unbelievable.

Well, I think, to get the 20 Large, he still has to go in and get his ass handed to him in a courtroom, right?

He’s not out of the woods yet.

Behe citing himself (via DBB) is like Ayn Rand citing her novels for support of her assertions in her non-fiction.

Rule 6 violators and jerks are unwelcome here. Say good-bye to the Pumpkinhead/Ghost of Paley/Paley’s Ghost entity.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Wesley R. Elsberry published on May 16, 2007 12:05 AM.

Dr. West, meet Dr. Tinkle, Creationist eugenicist was the previous entry in this blog.

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