Alternative to evolution theory develops debate and discussion

by Emma Carew

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck.

Michael Behe, biochemistry professor at LeHigh University, used “inducktive” reasoning as one explanation in his intelligent design lecture Friday.

“Design is simply the purposeful arrangement of parts,” Behe said.

Students and community members gathered Friday in the Tate Laboratory of Physics to hear Behe’s lecture, which is titled “Toward an Intelligent Understanding of the Intelligent Design Hypothesis.”

The audience, which packed the lecture hall, was made up of supporters, skeptics and flat-out opponents of Behe’s hypothesis.

Some came armed with Behe’s book “Darwin’s Black Box;” copies of the Aug. 15 Time magazine, which covered a court case in Dover, Pa., involving intelligent design in public education; and other periodicals on the subject.

The lecture was sponsored by The MacLaurin Institute and the Mars Hill student group.

Mars Hill is a student organization committed to “thinking about how faith and reason work together,” group president Matt Kaul said.

Kaul said he hoped the lecture would get the arguments both for and against intelligent design out in the open.

Computer engineering sophomore Kent Thomson said he attended a previous lecture on the subject and found little evidence behind the speaker’s argument.

He hoped to hear facts from Behe because intelligent design must be testable if it is to be a true scientific theory, Thomson said.

Greg Peterson of Brooklyn Park, father of a University student, said he is a strong opponent of the intelligent design movement.

He said “pseudo sciences, such as the ID theory, are a threat to our competitive edge in the world.”

Peterson said he attended the event because he wanted to hear the current state of the concept, especially with the Dover case now all over the news.

The Dover case involves parents who are suing the Dover Area School Board for a decision that included offering the intelligent design hypothesis as an alternative to the theory of evolution.

In his presentation, Behe outlined the case for intelligent design.

“Design is not mystical,” Behe said. “It is deduced from the physical structure of a system.”

Behe said there are structural obstacles to Darwinian evolution and many Darwinian claims rest on undisciplined imagination or urban legends.

There are problems with Darwinian evolution, especially at the molecular level, he said.

Behe argued that systems did not, as Darwin suggested, evolve over time through random mutations and modifications, but rather are “irreducibly complex” and therefore designed.

The parts in a mousetrap are all necessary, Behe said. The trap cannot function without the catch, the platform or the spring, and therefore they were all included in the design for a reason.

Behe also used Mount Rushmore as an example. The faces on the mountain are not products of unintelligent forces, and this is something which we all can recognize, he said.

The peaks and the divots were all placed as part of a grand design, he said.

Behe also addressed some of the criticisms and responses to his work.

He said the bottom line is “there is strong evidence for design, but little evidence for Darwinism.”

Mechanical engineering graduate student Josh Quinnell said the theory is a “sham,” but said Behe is “the best thing the movement has going for it.”

University alumnus David Thompson said he believes in the theory and had read Behe’s book.

Thompson said learning about human origins is very important, especially when it comes to ethical decision-making.