Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Being Michael Behe

[File under: The ID Debate] The Mercury News has a story on the Lehigh University professor, biochemist Michael Behe, who is testifying on behalf of ID (Intelligent Design) in the Dover case being tried in Harrisburg, PA. This case will decide whether students in a Pennsylvania classroom should be required to hear a statement before their evolution classes that says Darwin's theory is not a fact. This story presents something of the human side of the ID debates, and we get a chance to see at least this one professor, Lehigh biochemist Michael Behe, as a person. And, as a person, Behe has faced some very real setbacks because of his support for intelligent design theory and is something of a pariah in his own biology department (I suppose that is to be expected since the gap between Evolutionists and Creationists is a deep chasm on most college campuses). The Mercury News requires a free registration to read the article. I've snipped a good bit of it here:
Professor to testify against evolution (FREE REGISTRATION REQUIRED) Associated Press "...His life on the academic fringes can be lonely. Critics say the concept is nothing more than biblical creationism in disguise. He long ago stopped applying for grants and trying to get his work published in mainstream scientific journals. In August, his department posted a Web statement saying the concept is not scientific. 'For us, Dr. Behe's position is simply not science. It is not grounded in science and should not be treated as science,' said Neal Simon, the biology department chairman." Now Behe seeks solace where he can find it, even as he continues the fight: "Behe said he was a believer in Darwin when he joined Lehigh in 1985, but became a skeptic after reading Michael Denton's book 'Evolution: A Theory in Crisis.' ...Eugenie Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education, said that he believes Behe thought he discovered something astonishing. 'But no one is using irreducible complexity as a research strategy, and with very good reason ... because it's completely fruitless,' he said. Behe finds community in a Web group that he says includes like-minded faculty from other universities. Most keep their views to themselves, Behe said, because 'it's dangerous to your career to be identified as an ID proponent.' He earned tenure at Lehigh before becoming a proponent, which lets him express his views without the threat of losing his job. 'Because of the immense publicity that's mushroomed around this issue in the past six months, more people are getting emotional about the topic,' Behe said. 'And it's generally not on my side.'
Now, I understand that it can be difficult to pose an alternate or contrarian view in the workplace, but ID is not science. At least not in the sense that we have come to understand science and its pursuit. I have no problem with discussing ID in the classroom, but you have to put it into the proper perspective -- it is another idea about the origins on the world and everything on it ... it may fill the gaps that (supposedly) evolution fails to cover ... but it is more along the lines of philosophy or theology than experimental and observational science.

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