Here are important quotes by Mike Behe regarding ID and its scientific status, from his testimony at the Dover trial (morning session of October 17). The transcripts are available in PDF format on the Thomas More Law Center website, but I am using the HTML version on the Talk.Origins Archive. I have prefaced each quote with a summary of its main point(s), in Behe's own words, as much as posible.
Behe begins by explaining what ID is, namely "a scientific theory that proposes that some aspects of life are best explained as the result of design ... real and not just apparent." ID "is a scientific theory [because] ... It is based entirely on observable, empirical, physical evidence from nature plus logical inferences.":
"Q. [Mr Muise] Sir, what is intelligent design? A. [Prof. Behe] Intelligent design is a scientific theory that proposes that some aspects of life are best explained as the result of design, and that the strong appearance of design in life is real and not just apparent. Q. Now Dr. Miller defined intelligent design as follows: Quote, Intelligent design is the proposition that some aspects of living things are too complex to have been evolved and, therefore, must have been produced by an outside creative force acting outside the laws of nature, end quote. Is that an accurate definition? A. No, it's a mischaracterization. Q. Why is that? A. For two reasons. One is, understandable, that Professor Miller is viewing intelligent design from the perspective of his own views and sees it simply as an attack on Darwinian theory. And it is not that. It is a positive explanation. And the second mischaracterization is that, intelligent design is a scientific theory. Creationism is a religious, theological idea. And that intelligent design is -- relies rather on empirical and physical and observable evidence plus logical inferences for its entire argument. Q. Is intelligent design based on any religious beliefs or convictions? A. No, it isn't. Q. What is it based on? A. It is based entirely on observable, empirical, physical evidence from nature plus logical inferences." (Behe, Tammy Kitzmiller, et al. v. Dover Area School District, et al.," Transcript, October 17, 2005, morning session)
Again, ID is not "based on any religious beliefs or convictions" but "is based entirely on observable, empirical, physical evidence from nature plus logical inferences." Specifically, ID "employ[s] similar scientific ... inductive reasoning" to "paleontologists" (more on this later):
"Q. Is intelligent design based on any religious beliefs or convictions? A. No, it isn't. Q. What is it based on? A. It is based entirely on observable, empirical, physical evidence from nature plus logical inferences. Q. Dr. Padian testified that paleontologists makes reasoned inferences based on comparative evidence. For example, paleontologists know what the functions of the feathers of different shapes are in birds today. They look at those same structures in fossil animals and infer that they were used for a similar purpose in the fossil animal. Does intelligent design employ similar scientific reasoning? A. Yes, that's a form of inductive reasoning, and intelligent design uses similar inductive reasoning." (Behe, October 17, 2005, morning)Behe states the basic positive ID argument (which he returns to many times in his testimony), "we infer design when we see that parts appear to be arranged for a purpose" and "The more parts that are arranged, and the more intricately they interact, the stronger is our confidence in design":
"Q. Now I want to review with you the intelligent design argument. ... A. The first point is that, we infer design when we see that parts appear to be arranged for a purpose. The second point is that the strength of the inference, how confident we are in it, is quantitative. The more parts that are arranged, and the more intricately they interact, the stronger is our confidence in design. The third point is that the appearance of design in aspects of biology is overwhelming. The fourth point then is that, since nothing other than an intelligent cause has been demonstrated to be able to yield such a strong appearance of design, Darwinian claims notwithstanding, the conclusion that the design seen in life is real design is rationally justified. Q. Now when you use the term design, what do you mean? A. Well, I discussed this in my book, Darwin's Black Box, and a short description of design is shown in this quotation from Chapter 9. Quote, What is design? Design is simply the purposeful arrangement of parts. When we perceive that parts have been arranged to fulfill a purpose, that's when we infer design." (Behe,Behe's "fourth point" above that "nothing other than an intelligent cause has been demonstrated to be able to yield such a strong appearance of design, Darwinian claims notwithstanding" implies ID's basic negative argument, that Darwinian (or any other) naturalistic explanations of design have not "been demonstrated to be able to yield such a strong appearance of design."
October 17, 2005, morning)
As a "biochemical example of design", Behe gave "the bacterial flagellum", to "get... across the point of the purposeful arrangement of parts ... [which] "bespeak[s] design":
"Q. Can you give us a biochemical example of design? A. ... I think the best, most visually striking example of design is something called the bacterial flagellum. This is a figure of the bacterial flagellum taken from a textbook by authors named Voet and Voet, which is widely used in colleges and universities around the country. The bacterial flagellum is quite literally an outboard motor that bacteria use to swim. And in order to accomplish that function, it has a number of parts ordered to that effect. This part here, which is labeled the filament, is actually the propeller of the bacterial flagellum. The motor is actually a rotary motor. It spins around and around and around. And as it spins, it spins the propeller, which pushes against the liquid in which the bacterium finds itself and, therefore, pushes the bacterium forward through the liquid. The propeller is attached to something called the drive shaft by another part which is called the hook region which acts as a universal joint. The purpose of a universal joint is to transmit the rotary motion of the drive shaft up from the drive shaft itself through the propeller. And the hook adapts the one to the other. The drive shaft is attached to the motor itself which uses a flow of acid from the outside of the cell to the inside of the cell to power the turning of the motor, much like, say, water flowing over a dam can turn a turbine. The whole apparatus, the flagellum has to be kept stationary in the plane of the bacterial membrane, which is represented by these dark curved regions. As the propeller is turning, much as an outboard motor has to be clamped onto a boat to stabilize it while the propeller is turning. And there are regions, parts, protein parts which act as what is called a stator to hold the apparatus steady in the cell. The drive shaft has to traverse the membrane of the cell. And there are parts, protein parts, which are, which act as what are called bushing materials to allow the drive shaft to proceed through. And I should add that, although this looks complicated, the actual -- this is really only a little illustration, a kind of cartoon drawing of the flagellum. And it's really much more complex than this. But I think this illustration gets across the point of the purposeful arrangement of parts. Most people who see this and have the function explained to them quickly realized that these parts are ordered for a purpose and, therefore, bespeak design." (Behe, October 17, 2005, morning)The next important point that Behe makes is that "the conclusion that something was designed ... does" not "require knowledge of [the] ... designer." Specifically, ID does not "hold... that the designer was God" although Christians who are IDists (like Behe) "believe the designer is God" but they are not "making a scientific claim" since they "conclude that based on theological and philosophical and historical factors":
"Q. Now does the conclusion that something was designed, does that require knowledge of a designer? A. No, it doesn't. .... I discussed that in Darwin's Black Box in Chapter 9, the chapter entitled Intelligent Design. Let me quote from it. Quote, The conclusion that something was designed can be made quite independently of knowledge of the designer. As a matter of procedure, the design must first be apprehended before there can be any further question about the designer. The inference to design can be held with all the firmness that is possible in this world, without knowing anything about the designer. Q. So is it accurate for people to claim or to represent that intelligent design holds that the designer was God? A. No, that is completely inaccurate. Q. Well, people have asked you your opinion as to who you believe the designer is, is that correct? A. That is right. Q. Has science answered that question? A. No, science has not done so. Q. And I believe you have answered on occasion that you believe the designer is God, is that correct? A. Yes, that's correct. Q. Are you making a scientific claim with that answer? A. No, I conclude that based on theological and philosophical and historical factors." (Behe, October 17, 2005, morning)
Behe points out that "sciences recognize evidence of design in nature" and indeed Dawkins gives as "the very definition of biology, the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose":
"Q. Do sciences recognize evidence of design in nature? A. Yes, they do. Q. And do you have some examples to demonstrate that point? A. Yes, I do. On the next slide is the cover of a book written by a man named Richard Dawkins, who is a professor of biology at Oxford University and a very strong proponent of Darwinian evolution. In 1986, he wrote a book entitled The Blind Watchmaker, why the evidence of evolution reveals a universe without design. Nonetheless, even though he is, in fact, a strong Darwinist, on the first page of the first chapter of his book, he writes the following. Quote, Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose, close quote. So let me just emphasize that here's Richard Dawkins saying, this is the very definition of biology, the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose." (Behe, October 17, 2005, morning)"Dawkins, a strong proponent of Darwinian evolution, insists" that "living [things] ... overwhelmingly impress us with the appearance of design, as if by a master watchmaker" yet he regards this as an "illusion of design and planning ... because he thinks he has an alternative explanation for what he sees":
"Q. Does he explain why they appear design, how it is that we can detect design? A. Yes, he does. And that is shown on the next slide. It is not because of some emotional reaction. It is not due to some fuzzy thinking. It's due to the application of an engineering point of view. He writes on page 21 of the first chapter, quote, We may say that a living body or organ is well designed if it has attributes that an intelligent and knowledgeable engineer might have built into it in order to achieve some sensible purpose, such as flying, swimming, seeing. Any engineer can recognize an object that has been designed, even poorly designed, for a purpose, and he can usually work out what that purpose is just by looking at the structure of the object, close quote. So let me just emphasize that he, in other words, is stating that we recognize design by the purposeful arrangement of parts. When we see parts arranged to achieve some sensible purpose, such as flying, swimming, and seeing, we perceive design. Q. Now is it fair to say that he's looking at, and intelligent design proponents look at physical structures similar to like the paleontologist does and then drawing reasonable inferences from those physical structures? A. That's exactly right. What intelligent design does is look at the physical, observable features and use logic to infer deductions from that. Q. Now you, as well as Dawkins in the slides that we've just been looking at, refer to purpose. Now when you use -- when you were using purpose, are you making a philosophical claim by using that term? A. No. The word purpose, like many other words, can have different meanings. And the purpose here used by Professor Dawkins and in intelligent design does not refer to some fuzzy purpose of life or some such thing as that. It's purpose in the sense of function. And I think on the next slide, I emphasize that Dawkins is using some sensible purpose, such as flying, swimming, seeing. An engineer can work out the purpose of an object by looking at its structure. He's talking about purpose in the sense of function. Q. Now this appearance of design, is this a faint appearance? A. No, indeed. This is not just some marginal vague impression. Richard Dawkins, a strong proponent of Darwinian evolution, insists, he says, quote, Yet the living results of natural selection overwhelmingly impress us with the appearance of design, as if by a master watchmaker, impress us with the illusion of design and planning, close quote. Let me make two points with this. He thinks that this is an illusion because he thinks he has an alternative explanation for what he sees. Nonetheless, what he sees directly gives him the overwhelming impression of design." (Behe, October 17, 2005, morning)Similarly, "other scientists made similar claims regarding the evidence of design in nature" including "Francis Crick .. the Nobel laureate" [who] "wrote ... [that] biologists have to make a constant effort to think that things that they studied evolved and were not designed"!:
"Q. Have other scientists made similar claims regarding the evidence of design in nature? A. Yes. On the next slide is a quotation from a book written by a man named Francis Crick. Francis Crick, of course, is the Nobel laureate with James Watson who won the Nobel Prize for their discovery of the double helicle structure of DNA. In a book published in 1998, he wrote, quote, Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved. So apparently, in the view of Francis Crick, biologists have to make a constant effort to think that things that they studied evolved and were not designed." (Behe, October 17, 2005, morning)Behe notes that "Paley's ... watchmaker argument" was based on "the purposeful arrangement of parts ... inferring from the physical structure of the watch to an intelligent designer ... a scientific argument based on physical facts and logic" which "Dawkins himself recognize[s]:
"Q. I want to return to Richard Dawkins here for a moment and The Blind Watchmaker. Did he borrow his title from somewhere? A. Yes, the watchmaker of his title has an illusion [sic] which he explained on page 4 of his book. He says, quote, The watchmaker of my title is borrowed from a famous treatise by the 18th century theologian William Paley. And he starts to quote William Paley. So he is using his book as an answer to, or an argument to, William Paley's discussions of these issues. And he treats William Paley with the utmost respect. ... Paley is best known for what is called his watchmaker argument. And that is briefly this. He says that, when we walk -- if we were walking across a field, and we hit our foot against a stone, well, we wouldn't think much of it. We would think that the stone might have been there forever. But if we stumble across a watch and we pick it up, then Paley goes on to say, when we come to inspect the watch, we perceive that its several parts are framed and put together for a purpose; for example, that they so formed and adjusted as to produce motion, and that motion so regulated as to point out the hour of the day. Let me close quote here, and say that, he is talking about the purposeful arrangement of parts. Let me continue with a quotation from William Paley. Quote, he says, The inference we think is inevitable, that the watch must have had a maker, close quote. So he is inferring from the physical structure of the watch to an intelligent designer. Q. Is that a theological argument? A. No, this is a scientific argument based on physical facts and logic. He's saying nothing here about any religious precept, any theological notion. This is a scientific argument. Q. Does Richard Dawkins himself recognize it as an argument based on logic? A. Yes, he does, and he goes to great lengths to address it in his book, The Blind Watchmaker." (Behe, "October 17, 2005, morning)Again, this is "inductive reasoning ... the kind of logic normally used in the sciences... scientific reasoning." "Our ability to be confident of ... design ...rests on the same principles as our ability to be confident of the design of anything, the ordering of separate components to achieve an identifiable function that depends sharply on the components":
"Q. What sort of reasoning or argument is this that we're talking about, this scientific argument that you're referring to? A. This is an instance of what is called inductive reasoning ... the Encyclopedia Britannica says, quote, When a person uses a number of established facts to draw a general conclusion, he uses inductive reasoning. This is the kind of logic normally used in the sciences... It is by this process of induction and falsification that progress is made in the sciences. So this William Paley's argument, the kind of argument that, say, Professor Padian made about bird feathers and so on are all examples of inductive reasoning, and they are all examples of scientific reasoning. Q. This is the sort of reasoning that is employed in science quite readily? A. Yes. As the article makes clear, this is the normal mode of thinking in science. Q. Is that the sort of reasoning you employ to conclude design, for example, in your book Darwin's Black Box? A. Yes, this is exactly the kind of reasoning that I used in Darwin's Black Box. On this slide here, which includes an excerpt from Chapter 9 entitled Intelligent Design, I say the following. Quote, Our ability to be confident of the design of the cilium or intracellular transport rests on the same principles as our ability to be confident of the design of anything, the ordering of separate components to achieve an identifiable function that depends sharply on the components, close quote. In other words, the purposeful arrangement of parts." (Behe, October 17, 2005, morning)Behe agains summarises "the argument for intelligent design", which "is an entirely positive argument. ...we recognize design by the purposeful arrangement of parts"
"Q. Again, I would ask you to, if we could return to the summary of the argument for intelligent design. A. Yes. Thank you. Here again is the slide that we looked at earlier summarizing the argument for intelligent design, and perhaps, in retrospect, more of it will be understandable. The first part is that we infer design when we see that parts appear to be arranged for a purpose. Not only I do that, not only did William Paley do that, but Richard Dawkins and David DeRosier do the same thing. The strength of the inference is quantitative. The more parts that are arranged, and the more intricately they interact, the stronger is our confidence in design. The third part is, the appearance of design in aspects of biology is overwhelming, as everybody, including Richard Dawkins, admits. And the final point is that, since nothing other than an intelligent cause has been demonstrated to be able to yield such a strong appearance of design, Darwinian claims, notwithstanding, the conclusion that the design seen in life is real design is rationally justified. If I could just take a moment to point out something. This argument for design is an entirely positive argument. This is how we recognize design by the purposeful arrangement of parts." (Behe, October 17, 2005, morning)Behe now moves on to "an excellent example of inductive reasoning ... the Big Bang theory" in which scientists "extrapolat[ed] from their knowledge of explosions ... to the explosion of the entire universe ... from what we know to things we don't know":
"Q. And have you argued that intelligent design is science in your writings? A. Yes, I have. Q. Is intelligent design falsifyable? [sic] A. Yes, it is.Q. ... When you say you are relying on logical inferences, you're referring to inductive reasoning, correct? A. Yes, inductive reasoning. Q. And ... do you have an example of this sort of reasoning, inductive reasoning that's used in sciences? A. Well, I think an excellent example of inductive reasoning is the Big Bang theory. Most people forget that in the early part of the 20th century that physicists thought the universe was timeless, eternal, and unchanging. Then in the late 1920's, observations were made which led astronomers to think that galaxies that they could observe were rushing away from each other and rushing away from the Earth as if in the aftermath of some giant explosion. So they were using inductive reasoning of their experience of explosions to, and applying that to their astronomical observations. And let me emphasize that they were -- the inductive method, as philosophers will tell you, always extrapolates from what a we know to instances of what we don't know. So those scientists studying the Big Bang were extrapolating from their knowledge of explosions as seen in, say, fire crackers, cannon balls, and so on, and extrapolating that to the explosion of the entire universe, which is quite a distance from the basis set from which they drew their induction. But nonetheless, they were confident that this pattern suggested an explosion based on their experience with more familiar objects. Q. And basically, we don't have any experience with universes exploding, correct? A. I do not, no. Q. And scientists do not? A. No, scientists don't either. Q. Again, , is this similar to the reasoning used in paleontology? For example we haven't seen any live pre- historic birds, for example, but they have features that resemble feathers, as we know them from our common experience today, and we infer that they were used for flying or similar functions, again based on our common experience? A. Yes, that's right. That's another example of induction from what we know to things we don't know. Q. Again, that's scientific reasoning? A. Yes, it is." (Behe, October 17, 2005, morning)Moreover, "science [cannot] presently tell us what caused the Bang" which is "similar to intelligent design's claim that science presently cannot tell us the source of design in nature." Behe points out that "All theories, when they're proposed, have outstanding questions, and intelligent design is no exception":
"Q. Can science presently tell us what caused the Bang? A. No. I'm not a physicist, but I understand the cause of the Big Bang is still unknown. Q. Is that similar to intelligent design's claim that science presently cannot tell us the source of design in nature? A. Yes, that's very similar. All theories, when they're proposed, have outstanding questions, and intelligent design is no exception. And I'd like to make a further point that I just thought of and was going to make earlier, but that, that induction from explosions of our experience to explosions of the universe is analogous to, similar to the induction that intelligent design makes from our knowledge of objects, the purposeful arrangements of parts in our familiar world and extrapolating that to the cell as well. So that, too, is an example of an induction from what we know to what we have newly discovered." (Behe, October 17, 2005, morning)Also, "the Big Bang theory was ... controversial because ... many scientists, thought that it had philosophical and even theological implications that they did not like". "But nonetheless, that does not affect the status of the Big Bang proposal, which was based completely on physical, observable evidence plus logical inferences":
"Q. Now was the Big Bang theory controversial when it was first proposed? A. Yes, it turns out that the Big Bang theory was, in fact, controversial because -- not because of the scientific data so much, but because many people, including many scientists, thought that it had philosophical and even theological implications that they did not like. And on the next slide, I have a quotation of a man named Arthur Eddington, which is quoted in a book by a philosopher of science, Susan Stebbing. Arthur Eddington wrote, quote, Philosophically, the notion of an abrupt beginning to the present order of nature is repugnant to me, as I think it must be to most. And even those who would welcome a proof of the intervention of a creator will probably consider that a single winding up at some remote epoch is not really the kind of relation between God and his world that brings satisfaction to the mind, close quote. Let me say a couple things. I don't think I mentioned that Arthur Eddington was a very prominent astronomer of that age. The second point is that, notice that the reason that he does not like this theory, this scientific proposal, is not because of scientific reasons, but because of philosophical and theological reasons. But nonetheless, that does not affect the status of the Big Bang proposal, which was based completely on physical, observable evidence plus logical inferences. And because of that, it was strictly a scientific theory, even though Arthur Eddington saw other ramifications that he did not like." (Behe, October 17, 2005, morning)Behe points out that "when the Big Bang theory was being proposed" one of the objections to it was that "the view that there might be an age of the universe was not science"!:
"Q. I believe you have another quote to demonstrate that point? A. Yes. Here's a passage from a book by a man named Karl von Weizsacker. Karl von Weizsacker was again an astronomer in the middle part of the 20th century, and he wrote a book in 1964 entitled The Relevance of Science where he recalled his interactions with other scientists when the Big Bang theory was being proposed. Let me quote from that passage. Quote, He, and he's referring to Walter Nernst, who was a very prominent chemist of that time, said, the view that there might be an age of the universe was not science. At first, I did not understand him. He explained that the infinite duration of time was a basic element of all scientific thought, and to deny this would mean to betray the very foundations of science. I was quite surprised by this, and I ventured the objection that it was scientific to form hypothesis according to the hints given by experience, and that the idea of an age of the universe was such a hypothesis. He retorted that we could not form a scientific hypothesis which contradicted the very foundations of science. He was just angry, and thus the discussion, which was continued in his private library, could not lead to any result. What impressed me about Nernst was not his arguments. What impressed me was his anger. Why was he angry? Close quote. Let me make a couple comments on this passage. This is an example of when people are arguing about what science is. To Walter Nernst, the very idea that there could be a beginning to the universe was unscientific, and we could not entertain that. On the other hand, von Weizsacker said that science has to take its hints from what evidence is available. We have to form hypotheses according to the hints given by experience. And to me, this is very similar to what I see going on in the debate over intelligent design today. Many people object that this can't be science, this violates the very definition of science, whereas other people, myself including, say that we have to form hypotheses according to the hints given by experience." (Behe, October 17, 2005, morning)Behe also observes that "intelligent design" being unable to identify the designer is no more a "science stopper" than is "the Big Bang [which] "presented a question, the cause of the Big Bang, which could not be answered":
"Q. Does this make intelligent design a, quote, unquote, science stopper, as we heard in this case? A. No more than it makes the Big Bang a science stopper. The Big Bang posits a beginning to nature which some people thought was the very antithesis of science. It presented a question, the cause of the Big Bang, which could not be answered, and which has not been answered to this very day, and nonetheless, I think most people would agree that a large amount of science has been done within the Big Bang model. Q. So after the Big Bang theory was proposed, we didn't shut down all our science departments and close up all the laboratories and just stop scientific exploration? A. Not to my knowledge." (Behe, October 17, 2005, morning)As for the "complaint that ... intelligent design is not falsifiable", Behe proposed a way to falsify his "claim... that the bacterial flagellum was irreducibly complex and so required deliberate intelligent design", "place a bacterial species lacking a flagellum under some selective pressure ... grow it for 10,000 generations, and see if a flagellum, or any equally complex system, was produced":
"Q. Now another complaint that we've heard in the course of this trial is that intelligent design is not falsifyable. [sic] Do you agree with that claim? A. No, I disagree. And I think I further in slides from my article in Biology and Philosophy in which I wrote on that. If you get to the next slide -- oh, I'm sorry. Thank you. You got that. In this, I address it. I'm actually going to read this long quotation, so let me begin. Quote, In fact, intelligent design is open to direct experimental rebuttal. Here is a thought experiment that makes the point clear. In Darwin's Black Box, I claimed that the bacterial flagellum was irreducibly complex and so required deliberate intelligent design. The flip side of this claim is that the flagellum can't be produced by natural selection acting on random mutation, or any other unintelligent process. To falsify such a claim, a scientist could go into the laboratory, place a bacterial species lacking a flagellum under some selective pressure, for mobility, say, grow it for 10,000 generations, and see if a flagellum, or any equally complex system, was produced. If that happened, my claims would be neatly disproven. Close quote. So let me summarize that slide. It says that if, in fact, by experiment, by growing something or seeing that in some organism such as a bacterium grown under laboratory conditions, grown for and examined before and afterwards, if it were seen that random mutation and natural selection could indeed produce the purposeful arrangement of parts of sufficient complexity to mimic things that we find in the cell, then, in fact, my claim that intelligent design was necessary to explain such things would be neatly falsified. Q. I got a couple questions about the proposal that you make. First of all, when you say you place something under selective pressure, what does that mean? A. Well, that means you grow it under conditions where, if a mutation -- a mutant bacterium came along which could more easily grow under those conditions, then it would likely propagate faster than other cells that did not have that mutation. So, for example, if you grew a flask of bacteria and let them sit in a beaker that was motionless, and the bacteria did not have a flagellum to help it swim around and find food, they could only eat then the materials that were in their immediate vicinity. But if some bacterium, some mutant bacterium were produced that could move somewhat, then it could gather more food, reproduce more, and be favored by selection. Q. Is that a standard technique that's used in laboratories across the country? A. Yes, such experiments are done frequently. Q. And I just want to ask you a question about this grow it for 10,000 generations. Does that mean we have to wait 10,000 years of some sort to prove this or disprove this? A. No, not in the case of bacteria. It turns out that the generation time for bacteria is very short. A bacterium can reproduce in 20 minutes. So 10,000 generations is actually, I think, just a couple years. So it's quite doable. Q. Have scientists, in fact, grown bacteria out to 10,000 generations? A. Yes, there are experiments going on where bacteria have been grown for 40,000 generations. So again, this is something that can be done. Q. So this is a readily doable experiment? A. That's correct." (Behe, October 17, 2005, morning)But in fact it is "Darwinian claims [that] are actually very, very difficult to falsify." For example, in the above experiment, if a bacterial flagellum failed to grow, "that result [would not] cause Darwinian biologists to think that their theory could not explain the flagellum":
"Q. Q. Sir, do you believe that natural selection is similarly falsifyable? [sic] A. No. Actually, I think that, in fact, natural selection and Darwinian claims are actually very, very difficult to falsify. And let me go back to my article, Reply to my Critics from the journal Biology and Philosophy. And I don't think I'm actually going to read this whole thing, because it refers to things that would take a while to explain. But let me just try to give you the gist of it. Let me read the first sentence. Quote, Let's turn the tables and ask, how could one falsify a claim that a particular biochemical system was produced by Darwinian processes? Close quote. Now let me just kind of try to explain that in my own -- well, verbally here. Suppose that we did that same experiment as I talked about earlier. Suppose a scientist went into a laboratory, grew a bacterium that was missing a flagellum under selective pressure for motion, waited 10,000, 20,000, 30,000, 40,000 generations, and at the end of that time, examined it and saw that, well, nothing much had been changed, nothing much had changed. Would that result cause Darwinian biologists to think that their theory could not explain the flagellum? I don't think so. I think they would say, number 1, that we didn't wait long enough; number two, perhaps we started with the wrong bacterial species; number 3, maybe we applied the wrong selective pressure, or some other problem. Now leaving aside the question of whether those are reasonable responses or not, and some of them might be reasonable, nonetheless, the point is that, it's very difficult to falsify Darwinian claims. What experiment could be done which would show that Darwinian processes could not produce the flagellum? And I can think of no such experiment. And as a matter of fact, on the next slide, I have a quotation, kind of putting a point on that argument. In that same article, Reply to my Critics, I wrote that I think Professor Coyne and the National Academy of Sciences have it exactly backwards. And Professor Jerry Coyne is an evolutionary biologist who said that intelligent design is unfalsifyable, and in a publication of the National Academy, they asserted the same thing. I wrote that, A strong point of intelligent design is its vulnerability to falsification. A weak point of Darwinian theory is its resistance to falsification. What experimental evidence could possibly be found that would falsify the contention that complex molecular machines evolved by a Darwinian mechanism? I can think of none, close quote. So again, the point is that, I think the situation is exactly opposite of what much -- of what many arguments assume, that ironically intelligent design is open to falsification, but Darwinian claims are much more resistant to falsification.." (Behe, October 17, 2005, morning)
Here are the quotes of what Behe is referring to:
"In fact, my argument for intelligent design is open to direct experimental rebuttal. Here is a thought experiment that makes the point clear. In Darwin's Black Box (Behe 1996) I claimed that the bacterial flagellum was irreducibly complex and so required deliberate intelligent design. The flip side of this claim is that the flagellum can't be produced by natural selection acting on random mutation, or any other unintelligent process. To falsify such a claim, a scientist could go into the laboratory, place a bacterial species lacking a flagellum under some selective pressure (for mobility, say), grow it for ten thousand generations, and see if a flagellum-or any equally complex system--was produced. If that happened, my claims would be neatly disproven.(1) How about Professor Coyne's concern that, if one system were shown to be the result of natural selection, proponents of ID could just claim that some other system was designed? I think the objection has little force. If natural selection were shown to be capable of producing a system of a certain degree of complexity, then the assumption would be that it could produce any other system of an equal or lesser degree of complexity. If Coyne demonstrated that the flagellum (which requires approximately forty gene products) could be produced by selection, I would be rather foolish to then assert that the blood clotting system (which consists of about twenty proteins) required intelligent design." (Behe M.J., "Philosophical Objections to Intelligent Design: Response to Critics," Discovery Institute, July 31, 2000. Emphasis original)
"Let's turn the tables and ask, how could one falsify the claim that, say, the bacterial flagellum was produced by Darwinian processes? (Professor Coyne's remarks about a Precambrian fossil hominid are irrelevant since I dispute the mechanism of natural selection, not common descent. I would no more expect to find a fossil hominid out of sequence than he would.) If a scientist went into the laboratory and grew a flagellum-less bacterial species under selective pressure for many generations and nothing much happened, would Darwinists be convinced that natural selection is incapable of producing a flagellum? I doubt it. It could always be claimed that the selective pressure wasn't the right one, or that we started with the wrong bacterial species, and so on. Even if the experiment were repeated many times under different conditions and always gave a negative result, I suspect many Darwinists would not conclude that the claim of its Darwinian evolution was falsified. Of complex biochemical systems Coyne himself writes "we may forever be unable to envisage the first proto- pathways. It is not valid, however, to assume that, because one man cannot imagine such pathways, they could not have existed." (Coyne 1996) If a person accepts Darwinian paths which are not only unseen, but which we may be forever unable to envisage, then it is effectively impossible to make him think he is wrong." (Behe M.J., "Philosophical Objections to Intelligent Design: Response to Critics," Discovery Institute, July 31, 2000)
I am sure that Behe's testimony would have made a very favourable impression on the judge. I intend to work through Behe's subsequent testimony as time is available, quoting where he makes other important points about ID and IC (Irreducible Complexity).Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
"Problems of Evolution"