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FW: [At Dover trial] Behe insists proof absent

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  • Popplestone, Ann
    ... From: Steven A. Edinger [mailto:Steven.Edinger.1@Ohio.edu] Sent: Friday, October 21, 2005 1:46 PM To: Science Education Subject: [At Dover trial] Behe
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 22, 2005
      -----Original Message-----
      From: Steven A. Edinger [mailto:Steven.Edinger.1@...]
      Sent: Friday, October 21, 2005 1:46 PM
      To: Science Education
      Subject: [At Dover trial] Behe insists proof absent

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      Behe insists proof absent
      Evolution theory does not explain the immune system's origin, the
      professor
      testified.
      By LAURI LEBO
      Daily Record/Sunday News
      Thursday, October 20, 2005

      HARRISBURG - Surrounded by stacks of thick books and more than 50
      peer-reviewed articles on the subject of the evolution of the immune
      system,
      Michael Behe, a leading intelligent-design expert, was asked repeatedly
      whether
      he thought scientists had produced written works on the subject.

      Eric Rothschild, plaintiffs' attorney in the trial against the Dover
      Area
      School District, piled the material onto the witness stand in order to
      challenge the Lehigh University biochemist's statement in his 1996 book,
      "Darwin's Black Box," that the "scientific literature has no answers to
      the
      question of the origin of the immune system."

      But Behe sat steadfast.

      He remains unaware of any evidence of work done "in a detailed, rigorous
      fashion" detailing "how immune systems or their irreducibly complex
      components
      could have arisen through natural selection and random mutation," he
      said.

      In almost a day and a half of cross-examination in U.S. Middle District
      Court,
      Rothschild fired questions at Behe, trying to elicit details about the
      concept
      of intelligent design. Holding up a copy of "Darwin's Black Box" crammed
      with
      fluorescent multicolored sticky notes on Wednesday, Rothschild
      continually
      referred to the text, questioning Behe's assertions that, just as
      engineers
      design motors, an intelligent designer has designed the complex
      biological
      machines operating in the natural world.

      Behe's main point is that intelligent design can be determined by the
      "purposeful arrangement of parts."

      While natural selection and genetic mutation is the driving force of
      Darwin's
      evolutionary theory, Behe could not name the mechanism of intelligent
      design.
      But he repeated under questioning, "we do infer design from the
      purposeful
      arrangement of parts."

      Behe defended Dover's science curriculum policy, passed a year ago this
      week,
      that requires ninth-grade biology students to be made aware of
      intelligent
      design as an alternative to evolutionary theory. Eleven parents sued the
      district, arguing the policy violates the First Amendment's prohibition
      against
      establishing religion.

      Behe said it's good to make students aware of alternatives to the
      "Darwinian
      framework."

      Behe's primary contribution to intelligent design is his concept of
      irreducible
      complexity, the idea that in order for many organisms to evolve at the
      cellular
      level, their multiple interworking parts had to arise simultaneously. In
      many
      cases, he said, this is a mathematical impossibility. Most scientists
      dispute
      Behe's concept, and irreducible complexity has never been published in a
      peer-reviewed journal.

      Biological organisms that are irreducibly complex, according to Behe,
      are the
      bacterial flagellum, the immune system, the blood-clotting cascade and
      the
      cilium.

      At one point during a lengthy exchange, Rothschild asked Behe if the
      bacterial
      flagellum was "created."

      "In what sense?" Behe asked.

      "You're uncomfortable with that word?" Rothschild asked.

      Behe said he was unsure of the context.

      Rothschild went on to ask whether the designer made every flagella or
      just "the
      first lucky one."

      Behe said just the first one.

      Rothschild then wanted to know if the designer designed the mutations in
      the
      flagella that followed.

      "The proper answer is we don't know," Behe said.

      Because intelligent-design proponents argue one of the weaknesses of
      evolutionary theory is that it can not be observed, Rothschild asked if
      intelligent design is observable. Behe said it is.

      Rothschild asked Behe if he had witnessed newly designed structures
      appearing
      in the past five years.

      Behe said the designed structures that he's written about are much
      older.

      Rothschild asked if it was true that the intelligent designer might not
      actually exist any longer.

      Behe agreed that was true.

      Rothschild paused.

      "Is that what you want to teach school students, Mr. Behe?" he asked.

      As part of a curriculum making students aware of intelligent design,
      Behe said,
      "Yes, I think that's a terrific thing to point out."



      Please see the Ohio Citizens for Science's web page at:


      http://OhioScience.org



      ------------------------------------------------------------------------
      ---
      Steven A. Edinger, Physiology Lab Instructor

      064 Irvine Hall
      Department of Biological Sciences
      steven.edinger.1@...
      Ohio University Office: (740) 593-9484
      Athens, Ohio 45701-2979 Fax: (740) 593-0300
      ------------------------------------------------------------------------
      ---

      ******************************************************
      "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of
      evolution." Theodosius Dobzhansky, 1973
      ******************************************************




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      ******************************************************
      "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of
      evolution." Theodosius Dobzhansky, 1973
      ******************************************************
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