Michael Behe on the Witness Stand
|April 17, 2013||Posted by DennisJones under Intelligent Design|
Transcripts of all the testimony and proceedings of the Dover trial are available here. While under oath, he testified that his argument was:
“[T]hat the [scientific] literature has no detailed rigorous explanations for how complex biochemical systems could arise by a random mutation or natural selection.”
Behe was specifically referencing origin of life, molecular and cellular machinery. The cases in point were specifically the bacterial flagellum, cilia, blood-clotting cascade, and the immune system because that’s what Behe wrote about in his book, “Darwin’s Black Box” (1996).
The attorneys piled up a stack of publications regarding the evolution of the immune system just in front of Behe on the witness stand while he was under oath. Behe is criticized by anti-ID antagonists for dismissing the books.
The books were essentially how the immune system developed in vertebrates. But, that isn’t what Intelligent Design theory is based upon. ID Theory is based upon complexity appearing at the outset of life when life first arose, and the complexity that appears during the Cambrian Explosion.
The biochemical structures Behe predicted to be irreducibly complex (bacterial flagellum, cilium, blood-clotting, and immune system) arose during the development of the first cell. These biochemical systems occur at the molecular level in unicellular eukarya organisms, as evidenced by the fact that retroviruses are in the DNA of these most primitive life forms. They are complex, highly conserved, and are irreducibly complex. You can stack a mountain of books and scientific literature on top of this in re how these biochemical systems morphed from that juncture and forward into time, but that has nothing to do with the irreducible complexity of the original molecular machinery.
The issue regarding irreducible complexity is the source of the original information that produced the irreducibly complex system in the first place. The scientific literature on the immune system only addresses changes in the immune system after the system already existed and was in place. For example, the Type III Secretion System Injector (T3SS) is often used to refute the irreducible complexity of flagellar bacteria. But, the T3SS is not an evolutionary precursor of a bacteria flagella; it was derived subsequently and is evidence of a decrease in information.
The examining attorney, Eric Rothschild, stacked up those books one on top the other for courtroom theatrics.
“These articles are excellent articles I assume. However, they do not address the question that I am posing. So it’s not that they aren’t good enough. It’s simply that they are addressed to a different subject.”
Those who reject ID Theory and dislike Michael Behe emphasize that since Behe is the one making the claim that the immune system is Irreducibly Complex, then Behe owns the burden to maintain a level of knowledge as what other scientists write on the subject. It should be noted that there indeed has been a wealth of research on the immune system and the collective whole of the papers published gives us a picture of how the immune system evolved. But, the point that Behe made was there is very little knowledge available, if any, as to how the immune system first arose.
The burden was on the ACLU attorneys representing Kitzmiller to cure the defects of foundation and relevance. But, they never did. But, somehow anti-ID antagonists spin this around to make it look like somehow Behe was in the wrong here, which is entirely unfounded. Michael Behe responded to the Dover opinion written by John E. Jones III here. One comment in particular Behe had to say is this:
“I said in my testimony that the studies may have been fine as far as they went, but that they certainly did not present detailed, rigorous explanations for the evolution of the immune system by random mutation and natural selection — if they had, that knowledge would be reflected in more recent studies that I had had a chance to read.”
In a live PowerPoint presentation, Behe had additional comments to make about how the opinion of judge John E. Jones III was not authored by the judge at all, but by an ACLU attorney. You can see that lecture here.
The subject was clear that the issue was biological complexity appearing suddenly at the dawn of life. Behe had no burden to go on a fishing expedition through that material. It was up to the examining attorney to direct Behe’s attention to the specific topic and ask direct questions. But, the attorney never did that. Read more here. There is also a related Facebook discussion thread regarding this topic.