Bacterial Flagellum II: Rise of the Machines

The bacterial flagellum is back! No, make it stop!

Thursday afternoon at CR2 the defense called their final witness, Dr. Scott Minnich, professor of microbiology at the University of Idaho, fellow at the Discovery Institute, advocate of intelligent design, and big fan of bacterial flagellum.

Echoing much of what Dr. Michael Behe said two weeks ago- and I really mean echo, he quoted Behe at one point- Dr. Minnich insisted that ID is science and offered the following:

“We infer design when we see parts that appear to be arranged for a purpose.”

“The appearance of design in aspects of biology is overwhelming.”

“These are highly sophisticated systems, and when you see a machine in any other context, you assume there’s an engineer around.”

“We don’t have a Darwinian mechanism….to explain these machines.”

“It’s consistent with the empirical evidence.”

And my personal favorite, “We can’t figure this stuff out so it must have been done by God, err, the designer.” (OK, he didn’t actually say that.)

Dr. Minnich gave evolution it’s due and admitted that “it’s critical in biology to have a firm foundation in evolution.” He went on to testify that the Miller Levine Biology textbook is best used as a primary text with Of Pandas and People as a “supplement”.

Our team started their cross examination just before the court recessed for the day and will pick up with their questioning this morning. Closing arguments are expected in the afternoon.

Submitted by Andy Hoover, community education organizer, ACLU of PA

7 thoughts on “Bacterial Flagellum II: Rise of the Machines

  1. apparently Minnich is proving to be somthing of an embarassment at his university. below i have posted a statement from the university president (who happens to be a biologist)

    Letter to the University of Idaho Faculty, Staff and Students (October 4, 2005):

    Because of recent national media attention to the issue, I write to articulate the University of Idaho’s position with respect to evolution: This is the only curriculum that is appropriate to be taught in our bio-physical sciences. As an academic scientific community and a research extensive land-grant institution, we affirm scientific principles that are testable and anchored in evidence.

    At the University of Idaho, teaching of views that differ from evolution may occur in faculty-approved curricula in religion, sociology, philosophy, political science or similar courses. However, teaching of such views is inappropriate in our life, earth, and physical science courses or curricula.

    The University respects the rights of individuals to their personal religious and philosophical beliefs, including those persons who may hold and advocate a faith-based view that differs from evolution.

    The University of Idaho’s position is consistent with views articulated by the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and more than 60 other scientific and educational societies.

    Timothy P. White, Ph.D.
    President, University of Idaho

  2. Ouch.

    Of course, this is what the defense’s resident philosopher would point out is the “bullies” in the established scientific community picking on the weak little fringe theories and not letting them play with the big boys.

    And all the ID people have to do is perform some tests to get some real evidence.

    But I guess it’s not their job to prove their theory, just push it where it doesn’t belong.

  3. Much has been made of examples of “fringe” theories making good, and one of those mentioned a number of times is Plate Tectonics. The ideas behind it go back to earliest decent maps of Africa and South America. It was quickly seen that the coastlines matched pretty well. The idea that the two continents were one was called “continental drift”.

    The modern version was first put forth by Alfred Wegener, a meterologist and arctic explorer (he died on the Greenland Icecap). He added in the continental shleves to show that the match was even closer than previosuly thought.

    Unfortunately, Wegener’s proposed driving mechanism was quickly shown to be inadequate and the hypothesis went into disfavor for decades. It was revived after World War 2 when magentometer surveys of the seafloor were done that looked rather like symetrical “tape recordings” on either side of the mid-Atlantic Ridge. Further refinements of the idea then resurfaced as “Plate Tectonics” and it became an established theory.

    Note the contrasts to ID… Plate Tectonics explained things that were open questions in prior theories. It explained new data that was unknown when the older theories were propounded. It unified a great deal of disparate data in a coherent whole. *And* a few people kept the idea alive even though the proposal was out of favor generally. IDers on the other hand, just whine that they can’t get a hearing.

  4. Why would you even write this:

    “And my personal favorite, “We can’t figure this stuff out so it must have been done by God, err, the designer.” (OK, he didn’t actually say that.)”

    That is so childish.

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