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10 + 1 questions for Professor Behe

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Paul Braterman
Posts: 34
Joined: January 4th, 2010, 1:47 pm

10 + 1 questions for Professor Behe

#1 Post by Paul Braterman » November 18th, 2010, 7:44 pm

Posh printed copies of this are being distributed by Humanist Society Scotland, and by British Centre for Science Education, on the occasion of Prof Behe's lecture tour, but everyone (godly or godless) is invited to copy and join in:

In order to help the learned Professor justify his claim that Intelligent Design really is science, and not, as some have said,
religion in disguise, we would like to ask him the following questions:

1) What is the difference, if any, between Intelligent Design and any other God-of-thegaps reasoning? In particular, between ID and the
famous watch/designer argument put formed in 1800 by the theologian William Paley?

2) Why have Prof Behe’s own departmental colleagues issued a statement[1] saying that “intelligent design has no basis in science, has
not been tested experimentally, and should not be regarded as scientific”? And why have the UK National Guidelines[2] and Scottish Qualifications Authority[3] made similar statements?

3) Why is Prof Behe speaking on this tour in three churches and no science departments?

4) Is Prof Behe aware that the President of the Centre for Intelligent Design, the organizers of this tour, preaches[4] that Genesis 1 – 11 (separate creation, Adam first then Eve, the forbidden fruit, Noah's Ark, the lot) is literal historical truth?

5) Prof Behe is a founder member and senior fellow of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture. Does he endorse that
Center’s stated[5] goal: “To replace naturalistic explanation with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God”?

6) Does Prof Behe still concede, as he did under oath in 2005, that “there are no peer reviewed articles by anyone advocating for intelligent
design supported by pertinent experiments or calculations which provide detailed rigorous accounts of how intelligent design of any biological system occurred”?[6] If not, why not?

7) How many papers advocating or discussing Intelligent Design has Prof Behe published in the open peer-reviewed scientific literature?

8) When discussing such imperfections as those of the human eye, Prof Behe says that this is not a valid argument against Intelligent Design, because we do not know the full intentions of the designer.[7]

If the arguments from bad design (e.g. the human eye, vagus nerve, semen pathway, nondraining sinuses, lower back weakness …) are not
valid criticism of Intelligent Design, what would be?

9) Why does Prof Behe persist in referring to the bacterial flagellum as an example of irreducible complexity, when (as shown so convincingly at the Dover trial and elsewhere)[8] it is nothing of the sort, since incomplete and variant assemblages of the same components occur in many organisms?

10) Since Prof Behe accepts the historical facts of evolution and common descent, why has he endorsed imitation textbooks like Of Pandas
and People and Explored Evolution, which argue in favour of separate creation?

And finally, for extra credit,

11) If Intelligent Design is not religion, why did Prof Behe admit, in the words of Judge Jones at the Dover trial,9 “ that the plausibility argument
for ID depends upon the extent to which one believes in the existence of God”?

1 http://www.lehigh.edu/bio/news/evolution.htm

2 http://www.lehigh.edu/bio/news/evolution.htm

3 Advice quoted in http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/educ ... -1.1060545, which also discusses Prof Behe’s hosts in more detail

4 Sermons at Bethany Church, Belfast, especially http://www.bethanychurch.org.uk/podcast?page=3

5 Available through e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedge_strategy, Ref. 1.

6 Kitzmiller v. Dover, day 12, a.m., available at http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dover/day12am.html

7 Behe MJ, Darwin’s Black Box (Touchstone edition, 1998), p. 223.

8 See e.g. Pallen MJ, Matzke NJ (October 2006). "From The Origin of Species to the origin of bacterial flagella". Nat. Rev. Microbiol. 4 (10): 784–90; also Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District; Pages 76-78 of findings

9 Ibid.; Page 28 of findings.

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Alan H
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Re: 10 + 1 questions for Professor Behe

#2 Post by Alan H » November 19th, 2010, 11:14 am

Thanks for that Peter.

I can't help thinking that the riposte to Q3 is simply that it's all part of the conspiracy by scientists to stop the truth that is creationism... There's a similar answer to Q7.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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grammar king
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Re: 10 + 1 questions for Professor Behe

#3 Post by grammar king » November 19th, 2010, 11:42 pm

I'll be at the Glasgow talk if anyone's there.

In response to the riposte to Q7, it should be noted that even though he's had nothing peer-reviewed in the past 5 years, he has published books, which do not require peer review. That's not how science works. You do the science first, then help the public understand it, not vice versa.

I think I'll ask a question based on what I hear rather than just preparing a statement beforehand. Dembski's debate with Hitchens was all pre-prepared rather than spontaneous and it missed the point, quite frankly. I think there's a risk the Q&A will do the same.

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Alan H
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Re: 10 + 1 questions for Professor Behe

#4 Post by Alan H » November 20th, 2010, 12:29 am

Did anyone see the debate between Christopher Hitchens and Dembski the other day?
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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grammar king
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Re: 10 + 1 questions for Professor Behe

#5 Post by grammar king » November 20th, 2010, 4:33 pm

Yup. It's on YouTube if people can't be bothered waiting.

I thought it was astounding how after all Hitchens had said about freethought, and after what the worldview director had been saying about investigating for yourself, then the head of school came up and basically told the kids what they should take from the debate, and then led a prayer!!

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Alan C.
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Re: 10 + 1 questions for Professor Behe

#6 Post by Alan C. » November 20th, 2010, 6:41 pm

Thanks for the link gK, had to whiz through most of the twaddle from Dembski but Hitchens was brilliant as usual.
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

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grammar king
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Re: 10 + 1 questions for Professor Behe

#7 Post by grammar king » November 24th, 2010, 12:57 am

Well that was horrendous.

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