Intelligent Design Advocate Testifies Theory as Science in Court Battle

A biochemistry professor who is one of the leading advocates of intelligent design testified in a Pennsylvania federal court that the theory does not advance any religious belief, qualifies as science, and has a place in biology classes.

On his third and final day of testimony on Wednesday, Michael J. Behe, an associate professor at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, defended intelligent design theory. Behe was the lead witness for the Dover Area School District, whose board members last year required teachers in ninth grade biology classes to name the theory as an alternative to biology. Local parents sued the school board, contending that the concept is religious.

Some feel that the case of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, now in its fourth week of testimony, will be one of the most significant court proceedings involving creation and evolution in the public schools.

Although the Supreme Court has banned the teaching of creationism in schools, proponents of intelligent design say that the theory is different, and takes no stand on biblical accounts of creation, adding that it cannot identify who or what the designer is, although some proponents believe that the designer is God.

In his testimony earlier this week, Behe said that intelligent design is a scientific theory that argues that some aspects of nature are so complex that the evidence points to an intelligent agent that designed them. He said he based his statement on physical, empirical, observable evidence from nature, as well as logical inferences.

In one exchange during cross-examination on Wednesday with the parents’ attorney Eric Rothschild, Behe explained that certain complex systems such as the immune system and blood clotting suggested intelligent design and questioned whether such systems could have evolved through natural selection and random mutation alone.

Rothschild then presented Behe with more than a half-dozen text books written about the evolution of the immune system, according to AP.

“A lot of writing, huh?” Rotschild said.

However Behe explained that “evolution” has various meanings.

"I am quite skeptical that they present detailed, rigorous models of the evolution of the immune system through random mutation and natural selection," he said.

Behe also defended his best-selling book, “Darwin’s Black Box,” which is an argument for intelligent design which says that the theory qualifies as science because it can be tested.

Rothschild asked Behe how he could prove that a biological system came about through intelligent design, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

"It's well-tested from an inductive argument," Behe said. "When you see a large number of parts interact in a purposeful arrangement of parts, we've found that to be design."

When asked if or anyone within the intelligent design community had tested the major evolutionary principles of random mutation and natural selection, Behe said no, and explained that such tests would not likely be fruitful.

“I’m persuaded by the evidence cited in my book that [intelligent design] is a good explanation and that testing random mutation and natural selection would not likely be fruitful,” Behe said according to the Inquirer.

Behe said he thought it would be an “excellent idea for science class” to introduce intelligent design into the classroom because it would offer students a “different framework” from traditional Darwinism so that they could “differentiate between fact and theory,” according to the Inquirer.

On Tuesday, the plaintiffs’ lawyer questioned whether intelligent design was just another form of creationism.

In response, Behe said, “Creationism is 180 degrees different from intelligent design.”

“Creationism is a theological concept. Intelligent design is a scientific theory that relies on physical, empirical, observable evidence in nature plus logical inferences,” he stated according to the Chicago Tribune.

Under questioning by a defense attorney, Behe, who is a Roman Catholic, explained that intelligent design does not take positions on biblical accounts of creation. He added that the theory could not scientifically identify the designer. However he said he believed it was God.

The case of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, which began Sept. 26, is expected to continue for another two weeks.