Discoveroids’ Kitzmas Series: #4 — Behe & Galileo

We have been diligently writing about the series of posts from the Discovery Institute as they work their way up to their #1 reason why the decision on 20 December 2005 by Judge John E. Jones III in the case of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District was all wrong and is of no importance whatsoever. Their number one reason should appear on the 20th, the day we celebrate Kitzmas.

The last one we posted about was #6 — Activist Judge. We skipped their #5 yesterday because — like all the others — it was just the same old junk all over again, and we needed a break. But if you want to read that one, it was Ten Myths About Dover: #5, “Discovery Institute Supported Dover School Board Policy”, by Sarah Chaffee. She claims that the Discoveroids had nothing to do with what happened in Dover. We discussed that years ago in Kitzmiller v. Dover: The Role of The Discovery Institute.

Okay, we’re getting back to the Discoveroid series. It’s like an explosive rupture in a high-pressure sewer pipe that flows from a nearby insane asylum, sending a ghastly geyser of goo gushing from the ground, reaching high into the air. This is the newest eruption from the Discoveroids’ think tank: Ten Myths About Dover: #4, “The Dover Ruling Refuted Intelligent Design”. It was written by Casey Luskin, our favorite creationist. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us.

He begins by mentioning some technical point about the human beta-globin pseudogene that was mentioned by Kenneth Miller, an expert witness for the science side of the case, which he cited as one item of evidence that humans and apes have a common ancestor. Casey claims that this item in Miller’s testimony was subsequently refuted by later research in 2013 (but it wasn’t refuted by the Discoveroids or any other creationists). Seizing upon this, Casey says:

Of course Miller, testifying in 2005, cannot be faulted for not citing a paper published in 2013. But the lesson here is this: science is always making new discoveries, and court cases cannot settle scientific disputes. Unfortunately, Judge Jones took the plaintiffs’ testimony as the final truth on evolutionary science, and ignored the fact that even in 2005 many of the scientific claims in his ruling were strongly challenged by the evidence.

[*Groan*] One data-point. A more relevant question would be whether any of the Discoveroids’ claims presented at the trial have ever shown to be valid. But Casey doesn’t go there. Oh wait — he does try to do that. Here it comes:

During the trial, pro-ID expert witnesses like biochemist Michael Behe and microbiologist Scott Minnich both testified about how irreducible complexity makes a positive case for design. Judge Jones ignored this testimony … .

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Casey then goes on for several paragraphs claiming that Irreducible complexity is solid science and a “positive evidence for design.” Oh yeah!

After that he babbles about another worthless Discoveroid argument — the bacterial flagellum, and claims that the judge was wrong about that too. We’ve all seen Behe’s “science” debunked too may times before, so we won’t waste any time on it. The TalkOrigins Index to Creationist Claims discusses it here.

A big part of Casey’s post is merely a rehash of Behe’s testimony about the flagellum, and Casey’s wailing that the judge ignored this “evidence.” We’ll let you read that for yourself if you like. Then Casey talks about Behe’s claim that the blood clotting cascade is irreducibly complex. TalkOrigins debunks that too, right here.

The rest of Casey’s post is mostly a regurgitation of Behe’s testimony. Jeepers — if Behe had been the only witness allowed to testify at the trial, things might have been different. Casey wishes that the trial had been like one of those creationist revival meetings the Discoveroids are always conducting at churches and bible colleges, where only creationists are invited to speak. Then the judge would have seen the light.

Near the end, Casey says:

In the long view — which understands science to be ultimately self-correcting — there is good reason to hope that the truth of intelligent design will win out. In the short term, however, the Dover ruling spread an immense amount misinformation about the science of ID. Indeed, there are many more scientific problems with the ruling that we just don’t have time or space to address here.

We’re grateful for that. Then he mentions the probably apocryphal statement attributed to Galileo at the end of his heresy trial at which he was forced to recant his claim that the Earth orbits the Sun. As the hooded thugs of the Inquisition hauled him away, Galileo whispered: “Eppur si muove” (And yet it moves). Implying that Behe is a modern-day Galileo, Casey concludes his post by saying: “As for the Dover ruling, the Earth still moves.”

So there you are, dear reader. There are still three more of these things to come, climaxing with #1 on Kitzmas.

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22 responses to “Discoveroids’ Kitzmas Series: #4 — Behe & Galileo

  1. This calls for some more celebratory Kitzmas cheer! C’mon, you all know the tune!

    Good KBaby Jesusenceslas

    Cee-Design-Proponentsists
    At the trial in Dover
    Gave a ‘textbook’ some sly twists
    For a slick make-over!
    Sprightly ran the scan/replace
    O’er the
    Pandas tome;
    But a boo-boo left a trace
    Of their sneaky syndrome!

    “Hither, Behe, take the stand:
    Whip out your flagellum!
    Complex mousetraps would be grand–
    If you really sell ‘em!
    Clots in blood might help impugn
    Ungodly evolution;
    Tales of the system immune,
    Aid Darwin’s dissolution!

    Bring me Klings, and bring me Gerbs,
    Bring me Egnors hither;
    We need blogs and we need blurbs
    Of convoluted slither!”
    Damage limitation now
    Is the D.I’s striving;
    Same old furrow they still plough:
    History revising!

  2. Christine Janis

    “Casey claims that this item in Miller’s testimony was subsequently refuted by later research in 2013”

    I think that what was refuted was that this gene was a pseudogene (i.e., inactive). Of course, the similarities of the gene in humans to that of other apes remains, whether the gene is active or not.

  3. Verily, Megalonyx, you’ve got the holiday spirit!

  4. michaelfugate

    Given that most ID proponents do not accept common ancestry of humans with any other living organism (Behe may be an exception), the question for them is – why so many genes are shared between humans and apes, humans and primates, humans and mammals, humans and every living organism? Why is this an expectation of ID? Given that almost all ID proponents believe the designer is the Abrahamic God, why would this God do it this way?

  5. An optional tweak, O Great Hand of Correction, to the concluding lines of the aforeposted Kitzmas Carol:

    Same old furrow they still plough:
    History revising!

    [*Voice from above*] So let it be done!

  6. @michaekfugate
    I think that the standard answer is that this shows the work of the same designer.
    ISTM the more difficult question is why humans are most like chimps and other apes, among all of the possibilities that life takes. Is it
    1) just a coincidence, something which is not worth explaining
    2) the result of some natural regularity (such as common descent in different degrees), something which constrains the designer
    3) the result of different purposes, whereby the goals for chimps etc. are most similar to the goals for humans

  7. michaelfugate

    If the designer is God, where are the constraints? I can’t think of any. Organisms consume complex organic molecules, break them down into components and then reconstruct the same complex molecules. There is no need to use the same bauplan for all organisms – especially if humans are isolated from all other life. Why isn’t the gap unfathomable?

  8. In the long view — which understands science to be ultimately self-correcting — there is good reason to hope that the truth of intelligent design will win out.

    ID will not “win out” as a scientific theory until it adopts the scientific process. That would include, for example, collecting quantifiable observations and evidence, generating testable hypothesis, establishing a solid logical foundation, and identifying a non-natural source for the design that can also be investigated and tested. They need to develop ID in such a way that it can be tested by non-ID proponents, something they clearly do not feel secure enough to do.

    ID will never win as long as it remains a cargo cult pretending to be a science.

  9. And the appropriate reply to the ID inquisition is: and yet they still evolve.

  10. @Ed
    A cargo cult has some substance to it. ID is negative political advertising campaign.

  11. Giant ground sloth gets an A plus in ‘roid taunting and Holiday Cheer. Still laughing.

  12. Casey says:

    Of course Miller, testifying in 2005, cannot be faulted for not citing a paper published in 2013. But the lesson here is this: science is always making new discoveries, and court cases cannot settle scientific disputes.

    I’m sure Casey would be singing a different tune about the role of the courts if Kitzmiller had come down in favor of teaching creationism.

  13. The DI never tires when it comes to pining away over Dover. Casey is suggesting that a problem revision with evolution is proof of Intelligent Design. Too bad the Discovery Institute can’t use their expertise and actually discover something rather than preach talk about the same weapons grade Balonium 2005 over and over.

  14. The whole truth

    Hmm, so sarah chaffee (yet another theocratic mouthpiece for the discotoot) claims that it’s a myth that the discotoot supported the Dover school board policy. As SC and many others have pointed out over the years, it is NOT a myth. For example, in his article on June 30th, 2008 (Kitzmiller v. Dover: The Role of The Discovery Institute) SC quoted from Judge Jones’s opinion that an Amicus Brief was filed by the discotoot. That Brief strongly promotes the teaching of ID in science classes, and there’s this in it:

    “Dr. Stephen C. Meyer (Ph.D., Philosophy of Science, Cambridge University), CSC’s Director, was initially designated by DASB as an expert witness in this case, along with several Discovery Senior Fellows, two of whom (Dr. Michael Behe and Dr. Scott Minnich) will testify. In anticipation of testifying, Dr. Meyer prepared and disclosed to plaintiffs an expert report (attached as Exhibit A) refuting the contentions of plaintiffs’ experts. Although Dr. Meyer is not scheduled to testify, this brief relies directly upon many parts of Dr. Meyer’s report and will direct the Court to other pertinent sections.”

    Does that look as though the discotoot did not support the Dover school board policy? chaffee and the rest of the discotooters are a malevolent herd of liars.

    Dembski, one of the “several Discovery Senior Fellows”, was scheduled to testify but chickened out.

    A link to the Amicus Brief (34-page pdf file).

    If the discotooters and their ilk did not and do not support the teaching of ID in science classes, and if the judge’s decision is so unimportant and ineffectual, then why were and are they so bent out of shape about the judge’s decision? They were and are and will continue to be thoroughly pissed off because the judge ruled against their theocratic agenda. Creobots are totally in favor of ‘authority’ as long as it’s their version of ‘authority’ but when legitimate authorities (judges and the law) tell them that they can’t push their religious fairy tales into public school science classes they freak out, falsely accuse the judge of various things, lie about the situation and their support/involvement, and endlessly whine because they didn’t get their way.

  15. The whole truth

    SC, I don’t know why some of my comment above is in bold. You can remove the bolding if you like.

    [*Voice from above*] All fixed, and your link to the amicus brief has been made more civilized.

  16. @Christine Janis

    “I think that what was refuted was that this gene was a pseudogene (i.e., inactive).”

    It’s better than that. The paper that Casey cites bases the argument that the beta-globin pseudogene has evolved a function on the fact that its sequence is conserved by natural selection, which can be determined by comparing it to homologous sequences in chimps and other primates. IOW, Casey’s claim requires that one accept that natural selection is able to produce functional proteins, and that humans share common ancestry with other primates. Oops, Casey. That’s an own-goal.

  17. Worse than that, Dembski bailed after he sat in on Barbara Forrest’s deposition. According to legend, Dembski “blanched visibly” as Forrest laid out her arguments and supporting evidence. True, if there’s anyone on the planet who knows the history, philosophy and politics of creationism it’s Barbara Forrest, author of books on the subject.

    Yep, Dembski bailed but not before he presented the TMLC with a $20,000 bill for “services rendered.”

  18. The whole truth

    SC, thanks for fixing my comment.

  19. As usual, if I’m wrong, I will gladly admit it. But without reading the article, SC’s review, or any comments, I will guess that Casey did not mention how Behe admitted at Dover that, to define science to include ID it would also include astrology. Or how he admitted that the designer he claims to gave caught might no longer exist.

  20. Frank J says: “As usual, if I’m wrong, I will gladly admit it. But without reading the article, SC’s review, or any comments, I will guess …”

    It’s always best to post informed comments.

  21. lutesuite: “IOW, Casey’s claim requires that one accept that natural selection is able to produce functional proteins, and that humans share common ancestry with other primates.”

    Well that (the 2nd part at least) is consistent with what Behe has admitted for 20 years. Here too, I’ll be glad to admit it if I’m wrong, but I will guess that Casey did not specifically state in this article that “~4 billion years of common descent” has been the only clearly stated position of the DI, despite decades of vague pandering to common descent deniers.

  22. SC: “It’s always best to post informed comments.”

    Note the irony: In this case. “informed” means having to read an article by Casey. Which I did, and wish I had those few minutes of my life back. Unfortunately, as expected, I’m proven right instead of being pleasantly surprised. Reading the same old predictable nonsense wasn’t a total waste, though. I did note a very brief reference to “billions of years” without any qualifiers, while all references to common ancestry were carefully spun as a “so scientists say” thing. Which makes strategic sense, since most of their fans are old-earthers (the few YECs will gloss over the “billions”), but even of most of their fans privately accept common descent, they too know that it’s not good for the big tent to emphasize that.