Behe’s talk was introduced, as usual, by Kristalka. I was interested to see how this would be done. It ended up being quite formal with Kristalka closing it by reading the disclaimer from Lehigh University’s department webpage.
I expected Behe to take some offense to this as a sort of poisoning of the well, but interestingly enough, Behe began his own talk off with a similar disclaimer, stating that his own mother disagrees with his stance.
He then introduced his talk, stating that there would be two parts. He would first talk about his argument itself, and then make a rebuttal to some of his dissenters.
Behe immediately began to do the exact opposite. Not that it was a problem. At least he actually got to the part where he claimed positive evidence for design like the title of his talk suggested. This was more than Dembski did last spring.
The first topic of rebuttal that Behe brought up was a look at the Dover trial. He quoted Ken Miller as saying, “Judge Jones clearly grasped the weight of scientific evidence behind evolution.” Behe himself said that he feels that Judge Jones had an “informed point of view” although he disagreed on the conclusions.
The point of this section, was to compare Eric Rothschild’s proposed statement of fact, submitted to Judge Jones, to Jones’ ruling itself. The point Behe made very clearly, is that the two are nearly identical for large stretches.
He then asked the question that if we can’t credit him writing the prose, could we at least credit him with recognizing good science?
Behe’s answer was “no.”
His reason for this is that Judge Jones used terms like “mind-numbingly technical” to describe the processes. During his talk at KU, he said, “the highly technical scientific testimony… is rapidly becoming a distant memory.”
Behe’s question is that, if the testimony was so mind numbing, then how could Jones effectively rule on it?
He went on to address the stack of books and papers with which he was presented on stand as having looked into evolutionary pathways for his “irreducibly complex” systems. He showed a table listing the number of times “random mutation” or “natural selection” appeared in each one. Neither word appeared in any of the papers, he said.
Also on this topic of the stack of papers is Behe’s oft quoted “not good enough” response. Behe also pointed out that he never said this (p 16). Instead, what he did say, was that they were “wonderful articles” but “don’t address the question I pose.” The "not good enough" quote actually came from Rothschild. Yet this misquoting is still perpetuated by Jones in his conclusion.
The conclusion that Behe draws: Judge Jones was not qualified to rule on this matter.
Behe then went on to attack Dawkins' stating that the odds of life spontaneously generating was in our favour given the size of the universe. Dawkins says that the chance of life doing so must be something like a billion billion. But Behe says this number is one that Dawkins pulled out of a hat. Thus, Dawkin's arguments are unconvincing.
Another question Dawkins frequently asks is, "Who designed God." Behe said that God is supernatural, and thus, the question is irrelevant.
Behe then began discussing ID itself. He started off with 5 points:
1. Design is not mystical. It is deduced from physical structure of a system.
2. Everyone agrees that aspects of biology appear designed.
3. There are structural obstacles to Darwinian evolution.
4. Grand Darwinian claims rest on undisciplined imagination.
5. Bottom Line: Strong evidence for design, but not for Darwinian processes.
Behe went through each point in some detail:
For the first point, he said that design could be inferred whenever there appear to be a "purposeful or inventive arrangement of parts" in such a manner that they accomplish a function.
He showed a farside cartoon of which some travelers are hiking through a jungle. The lead one is snared in a trap which is obviously designed. Behe suggested that, even though this is comprised of natural parts, we can tell it is designed because it has a purpose. Similarly, he showed a pile of unassembled legos followed by an assembled pile of some sort of mechanism.
Behe claimed that the strength of this inference is quantitative, and that the greater number of arranged parts, the greater our confidence that a system is designed. He showed a picture of a mountain, followed by an image of Old Man in the Mountain, and then Mt. Rushmore saying that we know which one was designed.
In regards to his second point, he quoted Dawkins saying, "results of NS overwhelmingly impress us with the appearance of design is if by a master watchmaker…". Behe then admitted that the basis for this argument was Paley although, he said, cells are much more complex than Paley's watch.
For his point regarding structural obstacles, Behe quoted Darwin regarding the failure of his theory if systems could be found that could not have arisen naturally. Behe then began discussing his defintion of Irreducible Complexity, using the analogy of a moustrap, in which, if a single part is removed, it ceases to function as a mousetrap.
Behe said, the "cell is chocked full of Irreducibly Complex parts." He again stated that according to his definition of Irreducible Complexity, systems which do not function the same without all of their parts pose a challenge to evolution and that this definition of his is frequently misconstrued by evolution supporters who say that something is not Irreducibly complex as long as it can be built from simpler components.
In opposition to this, Behe said that, even though systems he claims to be Irreducibly Complex, like the Flagellum, can be broken down, there's still the matter of how to do it given that it's a complicated process to get surfaces of the components to bond correctly.
This lead him to his fourth point, that the evidence was not there for evolution because it couldn't explain such things. He recognized that this was an argument from ignorance, but claimed that evolution's claims were the opposite: An argument from credulence in which the scientists supporting them would uncritically accept anything.
Meanwhile, Behe suggested that evolution is incapable of building such systems because, quite often, when a system makes a positive adaptation, it results in the breaking of another part of the system. The example he gave was of the positive adaptation to fight malaria in Africa. While malaria had been sucessfully combated, to do this, the trait of sickle cell anemia was developed which is not-beneficial. Thus, Behe suggested, it's impossible to get a positive without a negative. Thus, evolution can not have any net gain he claimed.
Behe then began his fifth point using this to claim that evolution had failed but, because things looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it just might be a duck. He called it inducktive reasoning and claimed that it was good science.