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Saturday, February 12, 2005

"Intelligent Design" Creationist, Michael Behe misrepresents National Academy of Science President's views in NY Times Column

"Intelligent Design" Creationist Michael Behe scored a column in the New York Times on Monday.

Paul Meyers, Professor of Biology at University of Minnesota, Morris completely rebuts Behe's nonsense here.

From Behe:

In 1998 an issue of the journal Cell was devoted to molecular machines, with articles like "The Cell as a Collection of Protein Machines" and "Mechanical Devices of the Spliceosome: Motors, Clocks, Springs and Things." Referring to his student days in the 1960's, Bruce Alberts, president of the National Academy of Sciences, wrote that "the chemistry that makes life possible is much more elaborate and sophisticated than anything we students had ever considered." In fact, Dr. Alberts remarked, the entire cell can be viewed as a factory with an elaborate network of interlocking assembly lines, each of which is composed of a set of large protein machines. He emphasized that the term machine was not some fuzzy analogy; it was meant literally.


Bruce Alberts from the National Academy of Sciences cries foul.

Published: February 12, 2005

To the Editor:

In "Design for Living" (Op-Ed, Feb. 7), Michael J. Behe quoted me, recalling how I discovered that "the chemistry that makes life possible is much more elaborate and sophisticated than anything we students had ever considered" some 40 years ago. Dr. Behe then paraphrases my 1998 remarks that "the entire cell can be viewed as a factory with an elaborate network of interlocking assembly lines, each of which is composed of a set of large protein machines."

That I was unaware of the complexity of living things as a student should not be surprising. In fact, the majestic chemistry of life should be astounding to everyone. But these facts should not be misrepresented as support for the idea that life's molecular complexity is a result of "intelligent design." To the contrary, modern scientific views of the molecular organization of life are entirely consistent with spontaneous variation and natural selection driving a powerful evolutionary process.

In evolution, as in all areas of science, our knowledge is incomplete. But the entire success of the scientific enterprise has depended on an insistence that these gaps be filled by natural explanations, logically derived from confirmable evidence. Because "intelligent design" theories are based on supernatural explanations, they can have nothing to do with science.

Bruce Alberts
President
National Academy of Sciences
Washington, Feb. 9, 2005


Behe's column was nonsensical on a number of levels. I point out this article because a typical tactic by Intelligent Design Creationists is to claim ID support from Scientists who do not support the nonsense.

UPDATE: Evolution Blog posted on this last night. Pharyngula and Panda's Thumb react.

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