Lehigh Professor Michael Behe gave a presentation at Penn State and this article caught my eye: "Author defends intelligent design". There were several things, starting with the title of the article. Apparently the reporter saw this as defensive in nature and I think that was understood from Behe's own presentation or the opinion of the author going into the presentation.
Apparently Behe started with a disclaimer that his beliefs were not supported by Lehigh University nor his colleagues. He supported his position by identifying what he considered obvious indicators of intelligent design. OK, here is one of my many question, 'obvious to whom?'. Just because they are obvious to him doesn't make them obvious to anyone else. in fact if they are so obvious, why doesn't his own colleagues see them?
Well I guess they sort of do because another comment Behe said was
" . . . that those in the science field agree that aspects of biology appear designed . . ." [I am quoting the article, these may not be Behe's exact words].Please note another point I have made in other posts, 'appear designed'. Since when is the appearance of design the confirmation of design, let alone intelligent design? How about never! Just because things share an appearance doesn't mean they must be designed, nor does it mean even if you manage to prove design, that there is a guiding intelligence behind it! You could make the argument for Natural Selection could very well be the guiding 'force' behind the appearance of design, but you would never hear that from Professor Behe.
Then Behe went off on his usual material on how non-living things that have been obviously designed and how that easily supports his contention. I have to disagree. His whole idea of irreducible complexity has been a non-starter for any serious scientific research, another point behe admitted during the Dover Trial. Neither he, nor anyone he knows, is performing the research to prove his ideas. Of course he claims a massive conspiracy of silence to quiet down his supporters . . . Hmm so how many bills were offered in the Pennsylvania Legislature against him? I am of course referencing Oklahoma State Representatives trying to silence pro-evolution advocate and outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins. Hmm, so which side of this discussion can be accused of a conspiracy?
Here is the fun part, and one he certainly stated during the Dover trial.
"Many people think science should stay away from something beyond nature," Behe said. "I disagree."So here is a basic question, should science address things beyond the bounds of the 'natural'? I have a better question, by what possible methodology can science do this? None that I know of! This is not a question for science, but a question for metaphysics. Behe did state that for intelligent design to be accepted as part of science the basic definition of science would have to change to include supernatural causation. He's just re-stating the opinion that pretty effectively destroyed his own arguments during the trial.What I also question is this:
"A conclusion of intelligent design is rationally justified," Behe said.
Granted I wasn't there to hear his presentation, but I read the Dover Trial transcripts, I have read his "Darwin's BlackBox" book and a number of other books on Intelligent Design and I do not find a shred of empirical evidence to support his conclusion. It all comes down to 'appearance' and 'belief'.
The final point I found interesting was the two student reactions to his presentation:
'Chockfull of fallacies' and 'filling gaps with God'. Apparently not a very effective presentation. I'm sure other students from the group that sponsored him, the Science and the Bible club, have a different opinion. I would be interested to know if those two are members of the club, or if any members of the club offered any other opinions of the talk. In fact I email the club advisers with those questions and I am very interested in the result.
"I thought it was very comprehensive but it was chockfull of fallacies," said Tristan Buckley (sophomore-film).
Tim Chopourian (freshman-meteorology) agreed, adding that "it felt like what he was doing was explaining evolution but where we have blanks, he filled those in with God," he said.
I do applaud the club for bring such a speaker on campus to give his presentation. I can understand why they would sponsor him and not say the Biology Department, but that is neither here nor there. The fact he has such a forum open to him is a pretty considerable argument against any form of conspiracy. I wish he, and his compatriots, over at the Discovery Institute would do the actual science to support intelligent design and get away from this 'appearance = fact' argument. But so far, the science side has been very quiet!