Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Lehigh University Disclaimer

Someone drew my attention to the note posted on the website of the Dept. of Biological Sciences at Lehigh University [Department Position on Evolution and "Intelligent Design']. This is the department where Michael Behe is a tenured Profesor. Here's the complete statement.
Department Position on Evolution and "Intelligent Design"

The faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences is committed to the highest standards of scientific integrity and academic function. This commitment carries with it unwavering support for academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas. It also demands the utmost respect for the scientific method, integrity in the conduct of research, and recognition that the validity of any scientific model comes only as a result of rational hypothesis testing, sound experimentation, and findings that can be replicated by others.

The department faculty, then, are unequivocal in their support of evolutionary theory, which has its roots in the seminal work of Charles Darwin and has been supported by findings accumulated over 140 years. The sole dissenter from this position, Prof. Michael Behe, is a well-known proponent of "intelligent design." While we respect Prof. Behe's right to express his views, they are his alone and are in no way endorsed by the department. It is our collective position that intelligent design has no basis in science, has not been tested experimentally, and should not be regarded as scientific.
This is an excellent summary of the proper way to treat Intelligent Design Creationism. There's no doubt the statement was carefully crafted and it shows. Intelligent Design Creationism isn't science. That's why it won't be taught in university except as an example of pseudoscience. We need to get the word out about this. Some people (e.g., Denyse O'Leary, Bill Dembski) still haven't got the message. We don't reject Intelligent Design Creationism because it's religious, we reject it because it ain't science.

The statement is highly relevant to the discussions we're been having about Intelligent Design Creationists. Imagine that you were trying to get a Ph.D. in this department while advocating that your thesis work refuted evolution and supported intelligent design. Since intelligent design isn't science your chances of graduating aren't great.

Imagine that you were up for tenure in this department while maintaining that intelligent design was a viable scientific option. Good luck.

On the other hand, if you already have tenure then you have jumped these hurdles and your right to say silly things is protected by academic freedom. That right must be upheld at all costs.


  1. That's precisely why I was wondering what exactly Behe teaches in his classes. Does he behave like a robot, teaching the evolutionary evidence in biochemistry in his classes, and then switching mode back to ID when he gets out of them? I would be very much interested in sitting through a couple of his lectures....especially those where he talks about homology and paralogs and orthologs...

  2. Behe believes in common descent and he accepts the molecular evidence of common descent.

    I imagine he would have no difficulty whatsoever in teaching about the evolution of gene families.

  3. You could argue that Behe is the ultimate theistic evolutionist!

  4. On Behe's own website, he has this:

    "Official Disclaimer

    My ideas about irreducible complexity and intelligent design are entirely my own. They certainly are not in any sense endorsed by either Lehigh University in general or the Department of Biological Sciences in particular. In fact, most of my colleagues in the Department strongly disagree with them."

  5. Maybe he first says aloud, "And that's the marvelous structure that's F1 ATPase" and then says quietly to himself "it's so marvelous that it's irreducibly complex"