Friday, June 17, 2011

Dr. Michael Behe on theistic evolution

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – My intent was to give you a synopsis of Dr. Michael Behe’s presentation on theistic evolution, but I woke up Friday morning with a migraine, which, despite medication, only got worse.

As a result I spent most of the day in bed, praying that I would be well enough to drive an hour to hear him at 7 p.m. I awoke after 6 p.m. and decided I would be able to make the trip, but I would get there late. As it turns out, I missed about three-fourths of his talk.

I’m sure you can read much of his story at his webpage on the Lehigh University website, and also, Fixed Point Foundation is selling audio and video versions of the conference, so both you and I will be able to hear his entire talk once those are mailed out.

I think it's generally safe to say that Behe sees the complexity in creation demanding an engineer with a purpose rather than it being the result of random mutations.

When I finally made my way into the audience, Behe was talking about travelling with a friend and looking at a mountain range. “Look at that slope,” he tells the friend. “From that mountain top to the other one is an angle of 19 degrees!”

“Yeah, so what?” his friend asks.

Next they travel to see Massachusetts’ Old Man in the Mountain formation. Behe notices how the rocks resemble a human face and wonders if perhaps they were designed my some primitive culture.

Finally, they arrive at Mount Rushmore, seeing the perfectly chiseled faces of four U.S. presidents. The slope from the top to bottom of George Washington’s nose clearly was formed by a designer.

Even noted atheist Richard Dawkins admits the “appearance” of a purposeful arrangement of parts in even some of the most simple of life forms, Behe said.

Behe coined the term “irreducible complexity” for his theory, likening it to a mousetrap, which has several components necessary to make it work. If you remove half the components, he said, “you won’t get a mousetrap that works half as well. It won’t work a fourth as well. It’s a broken mousetrap.”

Behe finds it amazing so many biologists would latch on to Darwin’s theory. “The bottom line: There is strong evidence for design, little evidence for Darwinism.”

Radio host Rick Burgess closed out the evening, noting that he, too, is an Oxford graduate. He got his high school diploma from Oxford High School in Oxford, Ala.

“I’m going to ask a question I’ll bet none of these men with Ph.D.s asked,” Burgess said. “I read Genesis and I wonder stuff like: What if, instead of a snake, it had been a giraffe that tempted Eve in the garden. Can you image giraffes with no legs? What if you saw a legless giraffe out in the garden and hollered, ‘Honey, bring me a shovel or hoe!’ then tried to cut that long neck off?”

Turning serious, Burgess said that while it’s good to engage in debates such as the origin of may, Christians shouldn’t make it a litmus test for salvation.

The conference concludes on Saturday, with Q&A sessions with Behe, young earth (or biblical) creationist Dr. Terry Mortenson and old earth creationist Dr. Hugh Ross, a roundtable discussion among all three, a sermon on Genesis 1 from Gilbert Lennox and a concert by modern hymn writers Keith and Kristyn Getty.

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Photo: Owen Tew

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