Almost 20 years ago, Ronald Reagan nominated a strongly conservative Robert Bork to the Supreme Court. Liberal activists went on the assault and repeatedly mischaracterized everything about Bork, including his video rentals. The left did everything they could do, including lie, to derail his nomination.
Sen. Ted Kennedy railed against Bork on the Senate floor: “Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of government.” None of that was true, but the character attacks were enough to derail his nomination.
Bork was “borked” because his ideas presented a danger to the liberal establishment. Everyone understood he was a prolific legal scholar and garnered the highest rating of the ABA. Instead of debating the issues, the left used personal attacks and misrepresentation of Bork’s ideas to defeat the nomination.
A similar campaign, although on a much smaller scale, is happening to proponents of Intelligent Design. Recently, a statement in court by Michael Behe is being used by evolutionists to smear and essentially slander Behe.
Several evolution supporting blogs and websites accused Behe of saying astrology was science. Others believe that this was a “revealing statement” by Behe showing the unscientific nature of Intelligent Design – “One of the leading figures equated it with astrology. How can it be credible?”
Predictable, his statements were spun to fit in with preconceived biases. Instead of taking evolutionists’ word for it, why don’t we evaluate his actual testimony from the Dover case. To avoid questions of bias, we will get the transcript from an anti-intelligent design website – Talk Origins.
Under cross examination Behe was asked about his definition of scientific theory and why intelligent design qualified.
Q Under that same definition astrology is a scientific theory under your definition, correct?
A Under my definition, a scientific theory is a proposed explanation which focuses or points to physical, observable data and logical inferences. There are many things throughout the history of science which we now think to be incorrect which nonetheless would fit that — which would fit that definition. Yes, astrology is in fact one, and so is the ether theory of the propagation of light, and many other — many other theories as well.
That quote can be made to look very bad, but it doesn’t look good even without selectively pulling portions out. It appears as if Behe is saying astrology is a legitimate exercise of scientists. However, the follow-up question and answer may make his statement more clear.
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. And let me explain under my definition of the word “theory,” it is — a sense of the word “theory” does not include the theory being true, it means a proposition based on physical evidence to explain some facts by logical inferences. There have been many theories throughout the history of science which looked good at the time which further progress has shown to be incorrect. Nonetheless, we can’t go back and say that because they were incorrect they were not theories. So many many things that we now realized to be incorrect, incorrect theories, are nonetheless theories.
Hundreds of ideas have been scientific theory and acknowledging that fact does not mean one believes in them. Behe no more supported astrology than he did evolution. He merely argued that people used reasoning to argue for astrology.
Later on, the attorney starts trying to be sarcastic and insinuates that Behe is accepting of the modern form of astrology. Behe reponded, “I’m not thinking of tarot cards and little mind readers and so on that you might see along the highway. I was thinking of it in its historical sense.”
Behe could not be more clear when he said, “… simply because an idea is old, and simply because in our time we see it to be foolish, does not mean when it was being discussed as a live possibility, that it was not actually a real scientific theory.”
Was geocentrism a scientific theory? Of course it was. It is no longer an accepted one because we have more information and have ruled that out as a possibility, but that does not change the historical fact that it was a scientific theory.
None of this questioning, or the later misrepresentations, get into the actual claims of Intelligent Design. Instead, just as with Bork, opponents refuse to allow the debate to go into the actual realm of ideas. Instead, many are satisfied with defeating strawmen and caricatures of their own making.
Regardless of the actual facts, it will go down as conventional wisdom among evolution supporters that Michael Behe admitted in court that intelligent design was on par with astrology. That should be a sad reality for both sides of the debate and for anyone concerned with truth.