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Biochemist Michael Behe Testifies in Dover Trial

Today biochemist Michael Behe testified as an expert witness for the defendants in the current trial, Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School Board.

According to Discovery Institute’s Logan Gage, who observed all of Michael Behe’s testimony today at the Dover trial in Harrisburg, Pa, Behe covered a wide variety of topics. Below is an informal report on some topics covered by Behe's testimony, based upon Mr. Gage's report. Links are provided after some of the bullet points to articles where Dr. Behe has discussed these topics outside of today's testimony.

Points Behe made today during his testimony:

o Evolution should be taught in schools. (See Behe's Teach Evolution in the NY Times, Aug 13, 1999.)

o Behe cited some of his own professional experience which has taught him that there is bias within mainstream scientific journals against intelligent design. (See Correspondence with Science Journals: Response to critics concerning peer-review.)

o He explained how many scientists opposed the Big Bang for religious reasons to show how religious implications can deter one from accepting scientific hypotheses.

o Behe explains that knowledge of the designer is not necessary to design inference.

o Behe also freely acknowledged that he believes the designer is God (Behe was open about the fact that Behe is a Roman Catholic); But Behe explained that his view about the identity of the designer is based on religious and historical arguments, not upon the science of intelligent design. (See "Intelligent Design Is Not Creationism.")

o Behe explained that design is inferred using empirical observation, not religious arguments. He also discussed how ID can be falsified. (See Philosophical Objections to Intelligent Design: Response to Critics.)

o Behe explained that irreducible complexity (IC) is indeed a critique of evolution, but that design theory is much more than a negative argument against evolution, because design is inferred from the purposeful arrangement of parts in IC systems. (See Darwin Under the Microscope.)

o Behe observed that other scientists have treated biological structures such as the bacterial flagellum as if they are motors. (See Design for Living by Michael Behe (NY Times, Feb 7, 2005, and Behe's letter in the WSJ responding to Feb. 13 article by Sharon Begley.)

o Miller’s presentation of IC was flawed (here Behe used Miller’s slide from his testimony). In short, Miller absolutizes Behe’s argument unfairly. Behe explained that he had qualified IC to say indirect pathways cannot be ruled out in DBB, p.40, 1996. Yet IC can still stand.

o Miller misidentified design as special creation.

o Miller's account of the Type III Secretory System (TTSS) isn't compelling because there is much scientific disagreement about whether the TTSS evolved before the flagellum, or if the flagellum evolved before the TTSS. (See Genetic Analysis of Coordinate Flagellar and Type III Regulatory Circuits in Pathogenic Bacteria by Scott Minnich and Stephen C. Meyer for more on this topic).

o Behe then pointed out that Darwinism is post hoc--it is compatible with any result here and would survive regardless of which came first (the TTSS or the flagellum?)

o Miller's book, Finding Darwin's God (1998), p.146, said that to wipe out a complex system and see if evolution comes to the rescue would be a good text of IC—Behe agreed with this test. Behe then went into transcription of lac operon for background. But, despite what Miller says, Barry Hall didn’t knockout the whole, or even much of the system—only one protein, and so of course a near identical protein took its place Thus Hall proves really, really minor changes can be accounted for by Darwinism! (See Answering Scientific Criticisms of Intelligent Design and "A True Acid Test": Response to Ken Miller.)

o Padian testified that molecular data couldn’t decide if hippos’
and whales’ common ancestor was aquatic or terrestrial, but the fossil record, he said, could. Behe agreed molecular analysis couldn't establish this, but neither can paleontology tell you the mechanism by which the change took place.

o Behe was also critical of the NAS’s 1999 “Science and Creationism: a view from the NAS” booklet. On p. 6-7, it acts like we the Origin of Life is completely. Behe explained that this does not accurately explain the current state of the research. Also, the booklet focuses on scientists’ attitudes (their assurance that OOL will be figured out) rather than real science. This may be interesting sociologically speaking, but it’s not science.

o This NAS article tells teachers, and hence students, to keep exploring the same fruitless paradigm of the last 50 years! (this Behe said with gusto)

o Behe explained that there is a scientific controversy over ID (citing Debating Design and other publications). (See Peer-Reviewed & Peer-Edited Publications Supporting the Theory of Intelligent Design (Annotated).)