Response to Barbara Forrest’s Kitzmiller Account Part VIII: Important Facts Left Out About ID Research
[Editor’s Note: A single article combining all ten installments of this response to Barbara Forrest can be found here, at “Response to Barbara Forrest’s Kitzmiller Account.” The individual installments may be seen here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10.]
In her Kitzmiller account, Barbara Forrest leaves out information about the scientific research supporting ID, claiming “creationists are executing every phase except producing scientific data to support ID.” Ignoring her usage of the “creationist” label, Dr. Forrest’s argument mimics that of Judge Jones. Both Dr. Forrest and Judge Jones ignored the testimony provided in the courtroom during the Kitzmiller trial by Scott Minnich about his own experiments which demonstrate the irreducible complexity of the flagellum. Amazingly, Judge Jones then wrote that “ID has not been the subject of testing or research” (pg. 64 of online version).
The best way to refute Judge Jones / Barbara Forrest’s claim is to let the reader see the testimony of Scott Minnich. Minnich is a pro-ID microbiologist who testified as follows on the next-to-last-day of the trial about his own research and experimentation into the irreducibly complex nature of the bacterial flagellum:
Q. Do you know employ principles and concepts from intelligent design in your work?
A. I do.
Q. And I’d like for you to explain that further. I know you’re prepared several slides to do that.
A. Sure. All right. I work on the bacterial flagellum, understanding the function of the bacterial flagellum for example by exposing cells to mutagenic compounds or agents, and then scoring for cells that have attenuated or lost motility. This is our phenotype. The cells can swim or they can’t. We mutagenize the cells, if we hit a gene that’s involved in function of the flagellum, they can’t swim, which is a scorable phenotype that we use. Reverse engineering is then employed to identify all these genes. We couple this with biochemistry to essentially rebuild the structure and understand what the function of each individual part is. Summary, it is the process more akin to design that propelled biology from a mere descriptive science to an experimental science in terms of employing these techniques.
So it was inoculated right here, and over about twelve hours it’s radiated out from that point of inoculant. Here is this same derived from that same parental clone, but we have a transposon, a jumping gene inserted into a rod protein, part of the drive shaft for the flagellum. It can’t swim. It’s stuck, all right? This one is a mutation in the U joint. Same phenotype. So we collect cells that have been mutagenized, we stick them in soft auger, we can screen a couple of thousand very easily with a few undergraduates, you know, in a day and look for whether or not they can swim.
We have a mutation in a drive shaft protein or the U joint, and they can’t swim. Now, to confirm that that’s the only part that we’ve affected, you know, is that we can identify this mutation, clone the gene from the wild type and reintroduce it by mechanism of genetic complementation. So this is, these cells up here are derived from this mutant where we have complemented with a good copy of the gene. One mutation, one part knock out, it can’t swim. Put that single gene back in we restore motility. Same thing over here. We put, knock out one part, put a good copy of the gene back in, and they can swim. By definition the system is irreducibly complex. We’ve done that with all 35 components of the flagellum, and we get the same effect.
(Kitzmiller Transcript of Testimony of Scott Minnich pgs. 99-108, Nov. 3, 2005, emphasis added)
During this testimony, Scott Minnich showed slides in the courtroom documenting his own research experiments, which performed knockout experiments upon the flagellum, and found that the flagellum is irreducibly complex. Minnich produced relevant experimental data which confirmed a prediction made by intelligent design, and he used this research to support intelligent design in the courtroom. Yet Dr. Forrest completely ignored this testimony, as did Judge Jones, who did not even mention it in the Kitzmiller ruling. Given the testimony of an expert witnesses’s own personal experiments which was directly presented before him, it is incredible that Judge Jones could write “ID has not been the subject of testing or research.”