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Michael Behe: Kafka in Dover, Pennsylvania

Photo: Franz Kafka, via Wikimedia Commons.

Biochemist Michael Behe had an online conversation recenty with computational biologist and ID critic Joshua Swamidass of Washington University. It was moderated by host Pat Flynn. You will enjoy Professor Behe’s merrily ironic pursed lips and dancing eyebrows as he awaits his turns. They are almost as eloquent as Dr. Behe himself. 

The introductory conversation is timely given current events, as the nation prepares to turn its eyes to the courts to adjudicate legal claims, in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, bearing on the recent election. It is now 15 years since the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial. In that legal drama, a Federal judge in Harrisburg, PA, copied and pasted and claimed the right not just to read and decide the law but to rule on ultimate scientific questions. As Behe notes, as a scientific arbiter, Judge Jones brought to bear his past experiences of an abortive political career in his state as well as heading up the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. Well, the distilling of spirits is a scientific process of sorts, is it not? Why should Jones not claim the right to decide whether the scientific evidence for intelligent design holds up? That’s how surreal Dover was.

Watch the discussion here:

To understand his experience with the case, Dr. Behe recommends that viewers read the Franz Kafka novel The Trial. As Behe says in his forthcoming book, A Mousetrap for Darwin,

By the time the whole thing was finished I had a lot more sympathy for the protagonist of [the novel], and a much sharper understanding of the term Kafkaesque: “Marked by surreal distortion.” On reflection I’ve concluded that it pretty much didn’t matter what I said on the stand, nor what any of the other expert witnesses on either side said. The outcome of the case was decided long before the trial began.

Behe concludes here, “Courts are not good places to discuss ideas.” Yet ID critics continue to cite the Dover case as scientific gospel. Kafkaesque, indeed! A Mousetrap for Darwin, out on November 18, is available for preorder now in hardback, paperback, and Kindle versions.