Michael Behe’s more than 600 pages of testimony in the Dover Pennsylvania Area School District Intelligent Design case makes for some interesting reading. Most of the discussion centers on scientific questions in an attempt to show that ID is a scientific theory in the way evolution is a scientific theory since they follow similar methodologies. Buried in one of the days of testimony was an exchange with Behe that showed that Darwinism is not pure science. Religion and metaphysics play a significant role.
Q. Now you made some indication previously in your answer to my question that there are claims made about the theory that go beyond biology, is that true?
Behe: Yes, that’s certainly true.
Q. And do you have some slides to demonstrate some of those examples?
Behe: Yes, I have a couple of slides, four slides over—that point to this. For example, in the high school textbook Biology, which was written by Professor Kenneth Miller and his co-author, Joseph Levine, this is the 1995 version, I think, the third edition, in a section entitled “The Significance of Evolutionary Theory,” the authors write, “The influence of evolutionary thought extends far beyond biology.” Philosopher J. Collins has written that, “there are no living sciences, human attitudes, or institutional powers that remain unaffected by the ideas released by Darwin’s work.”
In another example of the implications, the profound implications beyond biology that some people see for Darwin’s theory, there’s a section in his book, Finding Darwin’s God, A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution, where Dr. Miller writes that, “God made the world today contingent upon the events of the past. He made our choices matter, our actions genuine, our lives important. In the final analysis, He used evolution as the tool to set us free.” So here is a scientific theory which is being used to support the idea that we are free, we are free, in apparently some metaphysical sense, because of the work of Darwin.
In another example—it’s just that—for example, the expert, Professor John Hauck, the theologian from Georgetown University, has written a number of books, including God After Darwin, a Theology of Evolution. Further example, in— the evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins, in his book, The Blind Watchmaker, writes, “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually-fulfilled atheist.”
The Darwinian philosopher, Daniel Dennett, who’s at Tufts University, has described Darwinism as a “universal acid that destroys our most cherished beliefs.” And he says, “Darwin’s idea had been born as an answer to questions in biology, but it threatened to leak out, offering answers, welcome or not, to questions in cosmology, going in one direction, and psychology, going in the other direction. If the cause of design in biology could be a mindless, algorithmic process of evolution, why couldn’t that whole process itself be the whole product of evolution, and so forth, all the way down? And if mindless evolution could account for the breathtakingly clever artifacts of the biosphere, how could the products of our own real, quote, unquote, minds be exempt from an evolutionary explanation? Darwin’s idea thus also threatened to spread all the way up, dissolving the illusion of our own authorship, our own divine spark of creativity and understanding.” So again, Professor Dennett sees implications for Darwin’s theory that are profound and that extend well beyond biology.
Another philosopher by the name of Alex Rosenberg, who’s at Duke University, published an article a few years ago in the journal Biology and Philosophy that, “No one has expressed the destructive power of Darwinian theory more effectively than Daniel Dennett. Others have recognized that the theory of evolution offers us a universal acid, but Dennett, bless his heart, coined the term. In short, it, that is Darwin’s idea, has made Darwinians into metaphysical Nihilists denying that there is any meaning or purpose to the universe.” So again, a number of philosophers, a number of scientists, and so on, see very, very profound implications in Darwin’s theory.
Two more quotations on this . . . topic. Larry Arnhart is a professor of political science at Northern Illinois University. He wrote a book entitled Darwinian Natural Right: The Biological Ethics of Human Nature. And in it, he writes . . . the following, “Darwinian biology sustains conservative social thought by showing how the human capacity for spontaneous order arises from social instincts and a moral sense shaped by natural selection in human evolutionary history.” So let me emphasize that he sees implications for politics from Darwin’s theory.
Princeton University philosopher . . . Peter Singer has written a book entitled A Darwinian Left: Politics, Evolution, and Cooperation. And in it, he writes that we should try to incorporate a Darwinian ethic of cooperation into our political thought. So the gist of Professor Singer’s book is that, Darwinian ideas support a liberal political outlook. And he argues for that. So, again, . . . all of these people see profound implications for Darwin’s theory well far beyond biology.
Q. These are non-scientific claims, correct?
Behe: Yes, that’s correct.
Q. Have you come across any similar claims made about, say, the germ theory of disease?
Behe: I have never seen the germ theory of disease argued to say how we should conduct our political life.
Q. How about atomic theory?
Behe: I have never seen atomic theory used in such profound senses either. So my point then is that, it is perfectly rationale to treat a scientific theory, which so many people have claimed such profound implications for, to treat it differently from other scientific theories for which such far-reaching implications have not been claimed. It might be very important, and I think a school district would be very justified to say that, since this particular theory seems to reach far beyond its providence, then we should take particular care in explaining to our students exactly what the data is [sic] for this theory, exactly what is the difference between theory and fact, exactly what is the difference between theory and interpretation. And so I think such an action would be justified.
—Michael Behe, Testimony given on October 18, 2005 in The United States District Court for the Middle District Court of Pennsylvania in the Dover Area School District Intelligent Design Case (http://www.thomasmore.org/).