Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial

PBS Airdate: November 13, 2007
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Chapter 9

NARRATOR: But Behe testified, it's not just microscopic organisms that are irreducibly complex. Evolution, he says, fails to account for the network of organs and cells that defends us from disease.

ROBERT MUISE (Dramatization): Has the theory of evolution, in particular natural selection, explained the existence of the defensive apparatus, such as the immune system?

MICHAEL BEHE (Dramatization): No.

ROBERT MUISE (Dramatization): Do you consider it a problem?

MICHAEL BEHE (Dramatization): I certainly consider it to be a problem. But other scientists who think that Darwinian evolution simply is true don't consider much of anything to be a problem with their theory.

ERIC ROTHSCHILD (Dramatization): If you could highlight the second full paragraph from Darwin's Black Box, page 138? What you say is, "We can look high or we can look low in books or in journals, but the result is the same. The scientific literature has no answers on the question of the origin of the immune system."

MICHAEL BEHE (Dramatization): And in the context that means that the scientific literature has no detailed testable answers to the question of how the immune system could have arisen by random mutation and natural selection.

ERIC ROTHSCHILD (Dramatization): May I approach, your Honor?

JUDGE JOHN E. JONES, III (Dramatization): You may.

ERIC ROTHSCHILD: What I did was to pile on the witness stand articles all having very sophisticated explanations for how the immune system evolved, and basically challenged him to respond, given the claims that he'd made.

ERIC ROTHSCHILD (Dramatization): Now, Dr. Behe, these articles rebut your assertion that scientific literature has no answers on the origin of the vertebrate immune system.

MICHAEL BEHE (Dramatization): No, they certainly do not. My argument is that these articles have no detailed rigorous explanations for how complex biochemical systems could arise by a random mutation and natural selection. And these articles do not address that.

NICK MATZKE: And then he starts to say, "Well, have you read this book, Dr. Behe?" And he starts to pile these up on Behe's witness stand. Eventually, Behe was almost dwarfed by the stack of scientific literature on the evolutionary origin of the immune system.

ERIC ROTHSCHILD (Dramatization): All these hard-working scientists publish article after article over years and years, chapters and books, full books, addressing the question of how the vertebrate immune system evolved, but none of them are satisfactory to you?

RICHARD THOMPSON: That's a lawyer's trick, purely a lawyer's trick. Now, you know, was Michael Behe going to read every one of those books before he responded? You know, it was totally theatrics.

MICHAEL BEHE (Dramatization): Mr. Rothschild, would you like your books back? They're heavy.

NARRATOR: The defense case included three expert witnesses. And on the last day of testimony, the final defense witness told the court about a creature that, by now, was familiar to everyone.

SCOTT A. MINNICH (Dramatization): I am Dr. Scott A. Minnich. I am an associate professor, at the University of Idaho, in microbiology.

ROBERT MUISE (Dramatization): Dr. Minnich, can you give us an example of design at the molecular level?

SCOTT A. MINNICH (Dramatization): This is a bacterial flagellum. This is a system I work with.

JUDGE JOHN E. JONES, III (Dramatization): We've seen that.

SCOTT A. MINNICH (Dramatization): I know.

ROBERT MUISE (Dramatization): You're going to see a little more of it, your Honor.

SCOTT A. MINNICH (Dramatization): I kind of feel like Zsa Zsa's fifth husband, you know? As the old adage goes, "You know I know what to do, but I just can't make it exciting." But I'll try.

ROBERT MUISE (Dramatization): Now, you specialized your focus and research on the flagellum, is that correct?

SCOTT A. MINNICH (Dramatization): That's correct.

ROBERT MUISE (Dramatization): And you've done experiments on flagellum?

SCOTT A. MINNICH (Dramatization): I have.

ROBERT MUISE (Dramatization): And you've written peer-reviewed articles on it?

SCOTT A. MINNICH (Dramatization): Yes.

ROBERT MUISE (Dramatization): Now, Dr. Minnich, a complaint that's often brought up—and plaintiffs' experts have brought it up in this case—is that intelligent design is not testable. It's not falsifiable. Would you agree with that claim?

SCOTT A. MINNICH (Dramatization): No, I don't. I have a quote from Mike Behe: "In fact, intelligent design is open to direct experimental rebuttal. To falsify such a claim, a scientist could go into the laboratory, place a bacterial species lacking a flagellum under some selective pressure, for motility, say, grow it for 10,000 generations and see if a flagellum or any equally complex system was produced. If that happened my claims would be neatly disproven."

ROBERT MUISE (Dramatization): Is that an experiment that you would do?

SCOTT A. MINNICH (Dramatization): You know, I think about it. I'd be intrigued to do it. I wouldn't expect it to work. But that's my bias.

STEPHEN HARVEY (Dramatization): Now you claim that intelligent design can be tested, correct?

SCOTT A. MINNICH (Dramatization): Correct.

STEPHEN HARVEY (Dramatization): Intelligent design, according to you, is not tested at all, because neither you nor Dr. Behe have run the test that you, yourself, advocate for testing intelligent design, right?

SCOTT A. MINNICH (Dramatization): Well, turn it around in terms of these major attributes of evolution. Have they been tested? You see what I'm saying, Steve? It's a problem for both sides.

NARRATOR: As the legal teams battled it out in court, the clash between intelligent design and evolution was taking a toll on Dover.

Local newspaper reporter Lauri Lebo sat through every day of testimony, and the conflict began to drive a wedge between Lauri and her father.

LAURI LEBO: He believed that God really should be in science class. He did not believe in science, and he was all worried about me and...because I believed in evolution. And he said, you know, "Well, do you really believe that we came from monkeys?" At that point, I was pretty burned out from the trial, and I didn't really have the patience that I probably should have had with him, and I just said yeah, I mean, you know? "Yeah, I do believe in evolution, Dad," you know? And so we'd fight every morning.

If you believe in heaven and hell, and you believe you have to be saved, nothing else could possibly matter. Not the First Amendment, not science, not rational debate. All that matters is that you're going to be rejoined with the people you love most on this Earth.

RAY MUMMERT: Teaching the traditional evolutionary Darwinian concept that man evolved from lower forms of life, that's almost a slap in my face. That takes the dignity away from humanity, as far as I'm concerned. What gives dignity to man is that every one of us are made in the image of God. He is the creator, and he created the world with intention and with design. It upsets me deeply that now, in our educational system, we are indoctrinating our young people to think differently about humanity.

KENNETH R. MILLER: I've never made a secret of the fact that I'm a Roman Catholic, and a long tradition of scholarship in the Catholic Church has argued that truth is one, that science and religion should ultimately be in harmony. But that doesn't make faith a scientific proposition. I think, as many religious people do, that faith and reason are both gifts from God. And if God is real, then faith and reason should complement each other rather than being in conflict.

Chapter 9

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