In further testimony of Michael Behe in the case of Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District, he was shown stacks of thick books and more than 50 peer-reviewed articles on the subject of the evolution of the immune system and was asked if he thought scientist had written about the subject.
The professor stood fast:
He remains unaware of any evidence of work done “in a detailed, rigorous fashion” detailing “how immune systems or their irreducibly complex components could have arisen through natural selection and random mutation,” he said.
Then the plaintiffs attorney hit him in the head with several of the thick books…..
Well, you wish he had after that exchange.
The cross examination of Behe highlights what is so wrong about Intelligent Design and the zeal of its supporters to get it wedged into school curriculums. They simply dismiss anything that doesn’t support their conclusions or they cry about being victims of politics.
Further on in testimony the discussion talked about one of the main charges ID’ers make against Evolution – that Evolution can’t be observed. ID’ers point out you can observe the “design”.
Evolutionary processes can take a long time to show up, so no, one can’t directly observe it as it happens in most cases, but science uses the fossil record to show that the change happened. This is much like how a Geiger counter is used to measure and “observe” atomic particles. You never hear an ID’er claim that atomic theory is wrong because atomic particles can’t be observed directly.
Evolution is a process that results in heritable changes in a population spread over many generations. Or better yet:
“In fact, evolution can be precisely defined as any change in the frequency of alleles within a gene pool from one generation to the next.”
– Helena Curtis and N. Sue Barnes, Biology, 5th ed. 1989 Worth Publishers, p.974
One of my best memories from Biology class, when I was a lad, was learning about the experiments by Gregor Mendel in the 1800’s. He discovered the gene and theories of heredity by cross pollinating pea pod plants. The result of the cross pollination is what Evolution is all about – change.
How do these changes happen in other organisms? Mendel’s experiments showed Evolution in action even though in nature Evolution is the result of national selection – not some monk cross pollinating things.
Michael Behe was asked if intelligent design is observable. Behe said it is. But when asked if he had witnessed newly designed structures appearing in the past five years. Behe said the designed structures that he’s written about are much older.
So, it seems that Evolution is being held to a different standard than Intelligent Design. Behe and other proponents conveniently change the rules when it comes to their idea. Interesting.
I also wanted to point out another interesting aspect to Behe’s testimony.
The plaintiff’s attorney was asking about the text book the Dover district was going to allow students to reference, “Of Pandas and People”. On the acknowledgments page of the book, Behe is listed as a “critical reviewer” of the book. In testimony we learned that Behe didn’t critically review the whole book, only a certain section:
Q What did you review and comment on, Professor Behe?
A I reviewed the literature concerning blood clotting, and worked with the editor on the section that became the blood clotting system. So I was principally responsible for that section.
Q So you were reviewing your own work?
A I was helping review or helping edit or helping write the section on blood clotting.
Q Which was your own contribution?
A That’s — yes, that’s correct.
Q That’s not typically how the term “critical review” is used; would you agree with that?
A Yeah, that’s correct.
Q Telling the readers of Pandas that you were a critical reviewer of that book is misleading, isn’t it?
A I disagree. As I said, that’s not the typical way that the term “critical reviewer” is used, but nonetheless, in my opinion I don’t think it is misleading.
So, Behe reviewed and edited his own contribution to the book and the publisher listed him as a “critical reviewer”. Most school text books are reviewed by people expert in the given subject area who DID NOT write the book. THAT is critical review. It is a version of “peer-review” that is common in science. Objective third parties review and comment on submitted content because for the writer to do it him or herself isn’t ethical.
Intelligent Design has not had one “peer-reviewed” article published in the 15 or 20 years it claims to have been a theory. But ID’ers chalk that up to politics.
If ID is to be accepted by the scientific community and added to the knowledge base of science as we know it, then it must play by the same rules science uses. If its proponents want to ignore that and change the rules to suit themselves then it will never be accepted.
For further reading:
I was given some links to additional sites for more detail on the trial and the issues involved:
The Talk Origins website has a section devoted to the trial, including trial transcripts, and the site has other information about Evolution:
The ACLU of Pennsylvania is also covering the trial and has transcripts of the testimony: