Behe and “Pandas” Paleontology

Over on the Discovery Institute blog, Casey Luskin defends Michael Behe’s performance in court:

Behe is a biochemist, and thus it is not likely that the authors of Pandas sought Behe’s input on sections dealing with paleontology.

Too bad. Biochemist Behe might have had more of a clue concerning paleontology than whoever it was that actually wrote the section. From my perspective, Behe could hardly have made the paleontology content of Of Pandas and People worse than it already is.

Casey also notes a reporter making a “fair and accurate” report of Behe responding to the presentation of several books on the evolution of the immune system. Behe was quoted by Martha Raffaele as saying,

“I am quite skeptical that they present detailed, rigorous models of the evolution of the immune system through random mutation and natural selection,” he said.

Casey Luskin doesn’t seem to realize just how damning that response is in the context of a courtroom. Behe has presented himself as an expert, and one of the topics he has taken up as an expert is the unevolvability of the immune system. But does Behe’s response give any indication that his dismissal proceeds from knowledge of the materials presented? No. It documents clearly that Behe is proceeding on the basis of prejudicial ignorance.

Which, come to think of it, does describe the Discovery Institute’s peddling of “intelligent design” quite accurately.

Update: It occurs to me that Judge Jones took Behe’s dismissal of the evidence in much the way that I stated in this post.

The immune system is the third system to which Professor Behe has applied the definition of irreducible complexity. Although in Darwin’s Black Box, Professor Behe wrote that not only were there no natural explanations for the immune system at the time, but that natural explanations were impossible regarding its origin. (P-647 at 139; 2:26-27 (Miller)). However, Dr. Miller presented peer-reviewed studies refuting Professor Behe’s claim that the immune system was irreducibly complex. Between 1996 and 2002, various studies confirmed each element of the evolutionary hypothesis explaining the origin of the immune system. (2:31 (Miller)). In fact, on cross-examination, Professor Behe was questioned concerning his 1996 claim that science would never find an evolutionary explanation for the immune system. He was presented with fifty- eight peer-reviewed publications, nine books, and several immunology textbook chapters about the evolution of the immune system; however, he simply insisted that this was still not sufficient evidence of evolution, and that it was not “good enough.” (23:19 (Behe)).

We find that such evidence demonstrates that the ID argument is dependent upon setting a scientifically unreasonable burden of proof for the theory of evolution. As a further example, the test for ID proposed by both Professors Behe and Minnich is to grow the bacterial flagellum in the laboratory; however, no-one inside or outside of the IDM, including those who propose the test, has conducted it. (P-718; 18:125-27 (Behe); 22:102-06 (Behe)). Professor Behe conceded that the proposed test could not approximate real world conditions and even if it could, Professor Minnich admitted that it would merely be a test of evolution, not design. (22:107-10 (Behe); 2:15 (Miller); 38:82 (Minnich)).

(KvD decision text)

Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Data scientist in real estate and econometrics. Blogger. Speaker. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

2 thoughts on “Behe and “Pandas” Paleontology

  • 2005/10/21 at 2:17 pm

    Why seek input from a biologist when they can get it from a lawyer?

  • 2005/10/21 at 4:38 pm

    It’s the biocomical challenge to evolution!

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