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Behe Testimony Round 2

Yesterday, Michael Behe completed his second day of testimony in the Dover trial. Below are more highlights based upon informal notes submitted by the Discovery Institute’s Logan Gage, who is currently observing the trial.

Direct Examination

Behe responded to many claims made by plaintiffs’ expert Dr. Kenneth Miller, including:

  • Behe explained that Miller’s critiques of Behe’s arguments regarding the blood clotting cascade have been flawed. Miller’s slide (from his earlier testimony) shows that the cascade isn’t broken if some proteins are knocked out of a pufferfish cascade; but Behe says there are 2 pathways, like 2 lightswitches, which will turn on the clotting. Miller only showed that the other pathway still works (a point which Behe qualified in DBB). Miller didn’t show that there isn’t an irreducible core which is still irreducibly complex. Miller’s citing of sequence comparisons says nothing about the mechanism of evolution.
  • Behe also responded to Russell Doolittle’s critiques of Behe’s arguments about the blood clotting cascade.
  • Behe explained how accounts of the evolution of the immune system are exceedingly speculative.
  • Behe reported a search for Miller’s cited articles, which allegedly support Darwinism, by searching for the words “Natural Selection” and “Random Variation” (Behe made clear which he checked visually and which he searched online for the words; the point is that while Miller claims to have cited overwhelming evidence for Darwinism, the articles he cites hardly mention the mechanism):
    • Blood clotting articles Miller mentioned: 0
    • Immune System articles Miller mentioned: 0
    • TTSS articles Miller mentioned: 1 (one reference to natural selection—but at least it was one reference)
    • Common ancestry of hemoglobin: 0
    • Molecular trees: 0
  • Miller cited citrochrome C as a line of evidence which Pandas botches. But Behe explains that evolutionary theory doesn’t make clear predictions with regards to the molecular clock.
  • Behe explained that the “John Loves Mary” example written on the beach example comes from Pandas, p.7. Miller said any logician would spot the flaw in reasoning, because we know humans made this. But Behe replied that this is inductive reasoning, like all scientific reasoning (e.g. Big Bang as an induction from explosions; e.g. SETI)

Behe on other topics…

Behe also critiqued the Lenski study. He said that computer studies are fine; but they must model real biological processes. He said Lenski “stacked the deck,” creating a model that assumes the disputed point. Behe points to his paper he coauthored with physicist David W. Snoke (M.J. Behe and D.W. Snoke, “Simulating Evolution by Gene Duplication of Protein Features That Require Multiple Amino Acid Residues,” Protein Science, 13 (2004): 2651-2664) which more closely mirrors bio reality; and shows how hard it is to get 2 or more amino acid changes.

Behe explained that creationism means young earth creationism, flood geology, Genesis, etc. But he said that ID is none of these; it’s scientific, not theological; doesn’t require special creation; doesn’t rely on religious texts or religious leaders; Behe testified that ID requires physical evidence.

Behe explained that ID can’t explain the source of design. If it was space aliens, or time traveling biologists (as mentioned tongue-in-cheek in Darwin’s Black Box), these show we can’t rule out natural explanations for design. Behe noted that even Francis Crick’s hypothesis about directed panspermia would be intelligent design.

Behe on Methodological Naturalism

Behe said that methodological naturalism hobbles and constrains our conclusions. Science should be a no-holds-bard search for true explanations. Identifying design is thus rightly part of science (e.g. and it already is–SETI!)

Behe criticized statement by plaintiffs’ expert Brian Alters, saying, when Alters claimed that the Dover policy would make Dover kids learn about God and make them have to know how to defend their religion before learning a scientific theory is. Behe called this criticism “histrionic.”

Behe felt that the Dover policy would provide more than one theoretical framework, which is a good lens for students to learn about data.

Cross Examination of Behe

Plaintiffs’ attorney Rothschild tried to make Behe say that “creationism” could be substituted for ID at particular places in Pandas; Behe says no, it couldn’t.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Rothschild chides Behe for being listed as a “critical reviewer” of PANDAS, when he is really a contributor, unless he is critically reviewing his own work. Behe responds that they must have envisioned a future role for him in the book, because he is not presently listed as a co-author here.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Rothschild rattled off the organizations and prominent scientists who oppose ID, like the NAS. This was Behe’s finest hour: Behe explained that the NAS statements against ID were “political statements,” not a scientific argument, and were only against a strawman version of ID.

Behe also rebutted declarations by the AAAS against ID—he noted that neither one made any sort of reference to the literature, and Behe said all their declarations aren’t worth a single peer-reviewed paper showing how Darwinism can build complex biochemical systems.

Rothschild enthusiastically noted that even Behe’s own department at Lehigh University repudiated ID. Behe coolly replied that faculty shouldn’t swear allegiance to theories, especially without citations to the literature. Behe repelled all of these examples cited by Rothschild of scientific organizations which oppose ID by noting that they expose the huge political bias against ID coming from the scientific community.

Behe also explained that we can’t know anything (scientifically) about the Designer’s intentions/motives except what can be inferred from the limited amount of empirical/physical data we have from the designed system—so, for instance, we can know the designer had the power to make this complicated of a system, etc. But we can’t necessarily know if it was “special creation” or what the designer’s purposes were.

Casey Luskin

Associate Director, Center for Science and Culture
Casey Luskin is a geologist and an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution. He earned his PhD in Geology from the University of Johannesburg, and BS and MS degrees in Earth Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied evolution extensively at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His law degree is from the University of San Diego, where he focused his studies on First Amendment law, education law, and environmental law.



__editedKen MillerKitzmiller v. Dover Area School DistrictMichael Behe