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May-17-2010 11:29printcomments

Isolation and Defamation: The Cost of Thinking Differently

"The big conflict arises because many scientists do not acknowledge that there is anything that is outside of the domain of science" - Michael Behe

Salem-News.com

(TEHRAN) - Michael Behe is an American scientist and biochemist. Being an intelligent design advocate, he serves as a professor of biochemistry at the University of Lehigh in Pennsylvania. He is also a senior fellow at Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture.

Behe has controversially challenged the evolution theory of Charles Darwin, which underpins the ideology of western thought with regards to the material life and universe.

In his 1996 book "Darwin's Black Box", Behe has proposed the notion of irreducible complexity which underscores the role of an intelligent designer in the emergence of complex biological systems. According to this theory, certain biological systems are too complex to have evolved from simpler and less complex predecessors.

This theory of Behe's undermines the basis of atheism and secularism as it advocates the role of an intelligent, conscious designer in the creation of human beings. That's why Michael Behe has been attacked and insulted by a number of his opponents and the materialist scientists who deny the existence of God.

Michael Behe has been accused of disseminating deceitful falsehoods and what is described as pseudo-science in the scientific circles around the world. Behe's theory has been labeled as an argument from ignorance and the University of Lehigh has clearly distanced itself from his viewpoints regarding the evolution v. creation debate.

Here is the complete text of the interview with Michael Behe in which he describes why western society is afraid of the propagation of the "intelligent design" theory.

Kourosh Ziabari: Irreproachably, scientists propose theories, hypotheses and premises as an instinctive part of their intellectual mission and these scientific proposals are conventionally discussed in academia; they'd be either accepted or rejected or may simply undergo modifications to be publicly presented; traditionally, we've learned that no scientific theory receives political treatment unless it transpires to be politically effectual. The long-disputed theory of intellectual design is one of the most controversial scientific notions which have even evoked judicial indictment, and many universities around the world including Lehigh University, have clearly distanced themselves from this theory by issuing statements and delivering lectures. Why these frantic reactions to a single scientific theory?

Michael Behe: Scientific hypotheses are usually uncontroversial unless they have political, moral, or ontological implications. Intelligent design is an example of a theory with ontological implications - that is, what sorts of things exist? However, it is hardly the first one. For example, in the 17th century Isaac Newton proposed his theory of gravity. At the time, it was controversial because Newton was proposing that bodies could interact without physically touching each other. That went against the views of the time and seemed to say that the universe contained more kinds of things than was thought. A second example is the Big Bang theory. A hundred years ago most scientists thought the universe was eternal and essentially unchanging. Then astronomy observed that galaxies seemed to be speeding away from each other and from the earth. That was the beginning of the Big Bang theory. Many scientists hated the theory because they thought it pointed to a beginning, which may have been the creation of the universe. I think intelligent design theory is controversial for the same reasons... like the Big Bang theory, it seems to point to something beyond our universe as an explanation.

KZ: Is the modern, western society whose dominant ideological principal values are predicated on secularism, disestablishment and disbelief in a "talented agent" whom the monotheistic religions call "God", really afraid of the growing confidence in an intelligent designer who can not be merely described within the frameworks of tangible science? Why do they really prohibit the teaching of evolutionary theory in schools and universities, if there's allegedly freedom of speech and unrestricted debate in western societies?

MB: There are several reasons why there is such a strong reaction by the scientific community against intelligent design. First, at least in the United States, there has been a history of conflict between science and some religious groups (those who believe in a young earth), so some people automatically view the idea of intelligent design in light of those conflicts. A second reason is that many scientists want to think that they will be able to explain all features of the universe, and they resent people who claim that science may not be able to do that. Finally, many scientists, especially at the more elite institutions, are atheists and simply don't want there to be a God or anything beyond nature. They strongly resist anything that would suggest they may be wrong.

KZ: The 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial in which you testified as an expert witness has been one of the most disputed indictments where the teaching of intelligent design and creationism were publicly labeled unconstitutional. Do you believe that Judge Jones' final verdict was impartially objective and unbiased? What happens to a free society which collectively ousts the members of a school board of directors in lieu of proposing an alternative suggestion to its students?

MB: No, I don't think Judge Jones' verdict was objective and unbiased. Actually, I don't think the judge understood any of the academic arguments that were presented in his courtroom, whether science, philosophy or theology, or whether presented by the plaintiffs or defendants. If you examine the court records, you see that when the judge's ruling discusses the nature of science, the judge's opinion was essentially copied from a document given to him by the plaintiffs lawyers. There is no evidence he himself understood what he was copying. But when the leading scientific societies are strongly arrayed on one side against a local community school board on the other, the judge went with those who have cultural power in our society.

I regret the judge's decision, but nonetheless I think the school board elections in which the old board lost and a new board was installed is a reasonable example of democratic action. The big issue for many local residents was not what was taught in biology class in the local high school. Rather, it was the expense of the trial itself, which was over a million dollars. Residents who had no children in the school, or who knew little of the issues, would still have their taxes increased to pay the legal costs of the trial. That made many of them angry, so they voted against the old school board.

KZ: According to a recent Gallup Poll published in early February 2009, only 39% of Americans say they "believe in the theory of evolution" and a similar trend has apparently emerged in UK as The Rescuing Darwin survey showed that only 25% of Britons believe that Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is "definitely true". What's the main reason behind such a wide gap between the mainstream trajectory and the popular trends in these societies?

MB: I think that the main reason for the disparity is the difference in the philosophies of the elite elements of society versus ordinary people. Much of the elite in our society (such as academics, media, entertainment industry, and so on) is secularized, and an idea like Darwin's theory is congenial to their view of the world. The bulk of ordinary people, however, are religious and their views are not constricted by the need to explain everything in the world by chance and natural law. So when they view the evidence for Darwin's theory, most people are unpersuaded by it.

KZ: Why do some people argue that a religious world-view of creation, and not necessarily the school of Creationism, contradicts the possible scientific validity of Evolution and thus, science and religion don't come into conformity? Is it only because of the "metaphorical" 6 days of creation in Bible (which is identically mentioned in Muslims' Quran the same way) and the longstanding argument over the commencement of life which creationists believe predates to only 10,000 years ago? What's the exact viewpoint of creationist scientists on the extinction of Tyrannosaurus rex, which the conventional scholars believe have died out at the end of the Cretaceous period, some 65 million years ago?

MB: The basic conflict is the role of randomness in evolutionary theory. Many scientists discount religious views of creation, including ones that agree the earth is very old, because Darwin's theory requires that life arise and develop solely by chance changes, plus natural selection. If God is directing the development of life in any way, then life did not develop by "chance" -- it developed by design, or guidance. Many scientists do not like this possibility for the reasons I gave in the answer to question 2.

It is not just that some people think life began only 10,000 years ago. Many scientists are strongly against any theory that has any role for a guiding intelligence. Official science organizations are as opposed to the limited claims of intelligent design as they are to people who advocate a young earth.

KZ: The opponents of intelligent design brand as "argument from ignorance" and resorting to the "God of gaps" creationists' argument that complex biological systems could not have come into existence as a result of frequent gradual mini-evolutions. If we take into account a linguistic aspect, science again fails to account for the genius polyglots' ability to speak several languages as a result of their infliction with the Asperger syndrome; this simply demonstrates that material science still seems to be ineffectual to respond to a number of ambiguities. What do you think about that?

MB: I agree that science can say very little about the workings of the human mind. That itself is not too surprising because there are many questions that science cannot answer, even in what most people would agree was its proper domain. The big conflict arises because many scientists do not acknowledge that there is anything that is outside of the domain of science. They will assume, against all evidence, that the mind is just a complex aggregate of matter, and does not point to anything higher. That view is absurd to most non scientists, but because many scientists view themselves as smarter and better than the bulk of humanity, they disregard other people's views. Of course, this leads to contradictions, so that a scientist must think that his own mind is just an arrangement of matter, built for survival. But most scientists are poor philosophers, and often don't see the contradictions.

=================================================

The latest writer to join Salem-News.com's team; Kourosh Ziabari is an Iranian media correspondent, freelance journalist and the author of Book 7+1. He is a contributing writer for websites and magazines in the Netherlands, Canada, Italy, Hong Kong, Bulgaria, South Korea, Belgium, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. He was once a member of Stony Brook University Publications’ editorial team and Media Left magazine’s contributing writer, as well as a contributing writer for Finland’s Award-winning Ovi Magazine. As a young Iranian journalist, he has been interviewed and quoted by several mainstream mediums, including BBC World Service, PBS Media Shift, the Media Line network, Deutsch Financial Times and L.A. Times. Currently, he works for the Foreign Policy Journal as a media correspondent. He is a member of Tlaxcala Translators Network for Linguistic Diversity and World Student Community for Sustainable Development. You can write to Kourosh Ziabari at: kziabari@gmail.com




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Allen October 20, 2012 8:34 pm (Pacific time)

All forces in the universe follow the inverse square law which, simply put, states: the force measured is equal to the actual force divided by the distance squared. With that formula, you can take a standard candle star and measure its distance from earth. With that formula, you can take the known mass of two objects and measure the strength of gravity between each at a distance. With that formula, you can take the other product of the electromagnetic force (magnetism) and measure its force at a distance. http://www.ric.edu/faculty/ptiskus/atomic_force/ http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/forces/funfor.html http://www.phys.unm.edu/~gbtaylor/phys102/lectures/22_forces.pdf http://resources.schoolscience.co.uk/PPARC/16plus/partich6pg2.html (Set strong force at 1) Strong force: 1 Electromagnetic force: 1/137 of strong force. Weak force: 10^-6 or 0.000001 of strong force. Gravity force: 6*10^-39 or 0.000000000000000000000000000000000000006 of strong force. (Set gravity at 1) Gravity force: 1 Weak force: 1.67^32 or approximately 166,666,666,666,666,666,666,666,666,666,667 times stronger than gravity. Electromagnetic force: 1.216545012^36 or approximately 1,216,545,012,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times stronger than gravity. Strong force: 1.67^38 or approximately 166,666,666,666,666,666,666,666,666,666,666,666,667 times stronger than gravity. http://www.astro.virginia.edu/~jh8h/glossary/electrondegen.htm Electron degeneracy: Quantum mechanics restricts the number of electrons that can have low energy. Basically, each electron must occupy its own energy state. When electrons are packed together, as they are in a white dwarf, the number of available low energy states is too small and many electrons are forced into high energy states. When this happens the electrons are said to be degenerate. These high energy electrons make a significant contribution to the pressure. Because the pressure arises from this quantum mechanical effect, it is insensitive to temperature, i.e., the pressure doesn't go down as the star cools. This pressure is known as electron degeneracy pressure and it is the force that supports white dwarf stars against their own gravity. If you did research into quantum mechanics, you would find descriptions of gravity such as weak, feeble, insignificant, and inconsequential and (until the attempt to create a theory of everything) was/is not even considered in any calculations of quantum actions and reactions. Yet in general relativity, gravity is the dominate force that must be used in all calculations of actions and reactions of matter. Since the evolution of the universe depends on gravity forming giant stars which formed elements heavier than iron, elements necessary for planets and life; how did gravity get the strength necessary to overcome the repulsive electromagnetic force of electrons like charges and force hydrogen to fuse? Because if the evolution of the universe is impossible; then the evolution of anything else is also impossible.


Theodore Walling May 20, 2010 6:57 pm (Pacific time)

Intelligent Design opens the door to whole lot of discoveries. Every item one see opneth of out in space has a design in it. And man had nothing to do with it. I.d. can change how the world looks at religion. It could help to bring many changes, if the religious leader will allow to give up their strong holds, we might have something in commen. A Designer How about that!


Andy May 20, 2010 7:22 am (Pacific time)

I thought ID was science, this article doesn't even deny it's religion


DuckPhup May 19, 2010 10:18 pm (Pacific time)

Behe is a professional LFJ™ (Liar For Jesus) first... a 'scientist', second. He is one of the founders of the Intelligent Design movement, and one of the authors of Intelligent Design's manifesto... the 'Wedge Strategy'. Intelligent Design IS NOT a scientific 'theory', or even a hypothesis; rather, it is a political strategy... a red herring... a Trojan Horse... whose stated purpose and intent is sneak creationism back into the public school science curriculum by bamboozling scientifically-ignorant legislators, educators, school boards, journalists, politicians, and the Christ-cult's own gullible and scientifically-ignorant constituency, with pseudo-scientific blather, with the ultimate aim of undermining science education, and sabotaging science itself. This 'Wedge Strategy' ALSO explicitly identifies the deity of the Abrahamic death-cults of desert monotheism as the 'designer'. See Barbara Forrest's piece: www.infidels.org/library/modern/barbara_forrest/wedge.html In reading this interview, I've come away with the opinion that It was actually Behe who wrote the interview questions (or most of them, at least), with Ziabari's first-question error in "The long-disputed theory of INTELLECTUAL DESIGN..." being a deliberately planted 'mistake', whose purpose was to disarm and mislead any readers who might have found themselves coming to the same conclusion that I have. In this brief (and bogus?) interview, it seems that each question is a carefully designed set-up, giving Behe the opportunity to present deliberately orchestrated lies, half-truths and general obfuscation and misdirection.... which is entirely consistent with the whole 'Intelligent Design' scam.


Natalie May 19, 2010 9:04 pm (Pacific time)

Was that after your fishing trip? Sorry, I thought you were talking to yourself.


GalapagosPete May 19, 2010 8:23 pm (Pacific time)

Natalie, I've told you a million times never to exaggerate!


Natalie May 19, 2010 4:35 pm (Pacific time)

One more thing: once somebody makes her/his own mind, no argument would make them turn 180 degrees, unless they seek to. So, if you know fo sure that your grand, grand, grandparents were monkeys, I would not debate about that at all. It's kinda personal. One knows his ancestors definitely better. Who am I to insist otherwise? I prefer to believe naively, though, that there were no "monkeys" in my "family tree". Good thing people don't live for long. It sure would be a very nice family reunion.


gp May 19, 2010 2:06 pm (Pacific time)

The journal Science recently published an article regarding the latest science has reported on the proof of a link between Homo Sapiens and Neanterthal man. The research is based upon the completion of the Neanderthal geonome. The hard evidence it provides is discomforting for those whose religious doctrines claim that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old. It provides further evidence of how humans and other hominids evolved, a concept that is opposed by several religions. Opposition does not negate the science.


Natalie May 19, 2010 1:44 pm (Pacific time)

Well, I'm entitled to some exaggeration due to my gender.


GalapagosPete May 19, 2010 8:38 am (Pacific time)

Natalie, *One* person included typos as something in the article that should have been corrected before publishing. Otherwise, the criticisms were of Ziabari's and Behe's facts and opinions. That's hardly *everyone*. Maybe you should check your own facts--or was that a typo? ;D

Tim King: I'm the news editor, any mistakes in terms of grammatical errors are mine.  I just ran through this again and I can simply say that nothing jumps out as outrageous...  


Natalie May 18, 2010 3:58 pm (Pacific time)

Ouch, K. Ziabari shifts from Holocaust, Iran, and praises to M. Behe, and suddenly, everybody's attacking him for his grammar. People, you haven't noticed it until this article. I say, you just don't like what he's preaching now. Isn't that hypocritical?


velvetsack May 18, 2010 2:58 am (Pacific time)

Behe: "uch of the elite in our society (such as academics, media, entertainment industry, and so on) is secularized, and an idea like Darwin's theory is congenial to their view of the world. The bulk of ordinary people, however, are religious and their views are not constricted by the need to explain everything in the world by chance and natural law. So when they view the evidence for Darwin's theory most people are unpersuaded by it." I love it when Behe just admits that creationism is about religion and lack of education. Bravo. By the way, the Gallup poll that Zabari is citing found that far fewer Americans (25%) reject evolution than accept it (39%). Interesting that he omitted this fact. And by interesting, I mean deceitful.


naivelinguist May 18, 2010 1:16 am (Pacific time)

Note to editor:  Regarding your comment: "I can only guess at how long it would take me to be as proficient in Arabic, as Kourosh is in English."  Given that Kourosh is Iranian, it is far more likely that his native language is Farsi, not Arabic.  Your scientific editorial acumen appears to be matched by your cultural literacy.

Editor: Well you sure told me!  I have spent time in four countries in the Mideast, for what it is worth.  I was being general in that statement.


Paul Burnett May 17, 2010 5:27 pm (Pacific time)

Intelligent design creationist Michael Behe said: "The bulk of ordinary people, however, are religious and their views are not constricted by the need to explain everything in the world by chance and natural law. So when they view the evidence for Darwin's theory most people are unpersuaded by it." So scientifically illiterate people are "unpersuaded by Darwin's theory" So what? Should we stop the space exploration effort because ordinary religious people think the sun revolves around the earth? Behe's demagogic appeal to populism has no effect on the facts of science - unless he and his kind manage to overthrow the US Constitution and return civilization to the Dark Ages - which seems more and more to be their goal.


Mark Smith May 17, 2010 3:21 pm (Pacific time)

Seems like the editor should have another pass at this piece for typos and factual errors. I’d love to see the piece rewritten, but this time with objectivity and skepticism.

Editor: Hey Mark, thanks for your comment.  I can only guess at how long it would take me to be as proficient in Arabic, as Kourosh is in English.  You are right, I did not put a lot of time into this one, mainly because it is an interview.  I know everyone does not agree with everything Kurosh writes, and I do not expect anyone to, but we are very gifted to have him as part of our team!  Also, please allow as much cultural understanding as possible, thanks! 


Gary S Hurd May 17, 2010 2:51 pm (Pacific time)

The interview of Professor Behe by Mr. Ziabari runs about 4 type-written pages, and would take twice that to correct for factual, and logical errors. As just a first example, Ziabari begins by describing the notion of “Irreducible Complexity” as originating with Behe. In fact, the idea was originally proposed by Herman J. Muller in 1918. He called it "interlocking complexity," and showed how it was actual supporting evolutionary theory. The original paper was, "Genetic Variablity, Twin Hybrids and Constant Hybrids, in a Case of Balanced Lethal Factors", Hermann J. Muller, Genetics, Vol 3, No 5: 422-499, Sept 1918. The fundamental problem is the creationists have no argument that can stand scientific examination. In the famous Dover “Pandas” Trial, Behe was confronted by lawyer Eric Rothschild in his cross-examination. The later portion was based on my chapter in the book edited by Matt Young and Taner Edis, “Why Intelligent Design Fails,” (2004 Rutgers University Press). Behe was forced under oath to agree with each point I made, and then realizing he was failing, Behe dithered about how science fiction movies supported ID creationism. This was cited by Judge Jones in his decision as an example of the intellectually bankrupt condition of ID creationism.


gp May 17, 2010 2:31 pm (Pacific time)

I agree with Rick K, young Zabari also has a tendency to throw soft ball questions to his favored interviewees. A recent instance was his interview with the Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel. He didn't ask the man a single question about the crimes he was convicted of. The article was biased with a pretense of being the opposite. After reading a bio of the young man, I found that his favorite blog site is Ahamedinajab's and this may be why he seems to support Holocaust denial in the same foolish way. I am not a zionist,to the contrary, and I believe that Israel needs to quit using this crime of Germany's Nazis as cover for their own genocide against the Palestinians. However, to offer an interview with Zundel without touching on his neo-Nazi beliefs is disingenuous to say the least. Salem News could do without Ziabari's commentaries, there are other scholarly and more mature Iranian writers to publish.


Glen Davidson May 17, 2010 1:53 pm (Pacific time)

There are a lot of village idiots who will agree about isolation and defamation for thinking differently. For instance, the theory of one that the world is God's urinal gets plenty of ridicule. If Behe were to come up with meaningful science based on a testable causal explanation he'd actually be treated better than when he spouts his poof "theory." Glen Davidson


Anonymous May 17, 2010 1:52 pm (Pacific time)

There are a lot of village idiots who will agree about isolation and defamation for thinking differently. For instance, the theory of one that the world is God's urinal gets plenty of ridicule. If Behe were to come up with meaningful science based on a testable causal explanation he'd actually be treated better than when he spouts his poof "theory." Glen Davidson http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p


RickK May 17, 2010 1:02 pm (Pacific time)

Kourosh Ziabari has much to learn about being a journalist. Kourosh's interview questions are more opinionated and ideological than Dr. Behe's answers. Kourosh repeatedly refers to Intelligent Design as a "theory" - it isn't. It is not a theory in the scientific sense, it is a "hypothesis". Intelligent Design is not observable, is not testable, proposes no mechanisms makes no predictions. Proposed examples of "irreducible complexity" have been completely refuted by other scientists. In other words the scientific process is working, and it is filtering out ideas (like Behe's "Intelligent Design") that don't hold up to scrutiny. There is a difference between a courageous scientist fighting for what they know is right, and a crank trying to go around the scientific review process. The courageous scientist appeals to other scientists with evidence and argument. Dr. Lynn Margulis is a good example. She changed the scientific consensus by convincing trained scientists, not by whipping up public opinion. Behe is a crank. He writes popular books and uses the lawyers of the Discovery Institute to promote his ideas. He fails to convince other scientists, and uses articles like this one to portray himself as a victim of a scientific conspiracy. Behe is not long on courage, he is short on evidence. That's why Lehigh University distances itself from "Intelligent Design". When it comes to "Intelligent Design", Behe is doing ideological advocacy, not science. And Kourosh is an eager and willing voice of ideology instead of science.


John L B May 17, 2010 11:49 am (Pacific time)

Scientific theories rely on many things, one of these is testing against the theory. How does the theory that "God did it" get tested? When there is a method of testing this, and the method of testing it is proven accurate, then you will see an acceptance of it. Until then, it is as valid as the invisible dragon in my garage.


Bill Butler May 17, 2010 11:43 am (Pacific time)

Behe also states that astrology is a science. The following is an exact quote from the court transcript. http://www.aclupa.org/downloads/Day11PMSession.pdf Page 39, Lines 6 - 9 Q But you are clear, under your definition, the definition that sweeps in intelligent design, astrology is also a scientific theory, correct? A Yes, that s correct.

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