November 3, 2005 | David F. Coppedge

Dover Darwin Defenders Provide After-Game Impressions

Like a TV commentator with the MVPs in the locker room after a big game, Geoff Brumfiel in Nature1 interviewed two pro-evolution witnesses who testified in the Dover trial.  Brumfiel asked Ken Miller and Kevin Padian what it was like, what they had to do to get ready, how the lawyers treated them, and what they learned from the experience.  Neither had any problems with the opposing lawyers or the judge, but Miller (Brown U) and Padian (NCSE) both told why they thought it was important to testify at this particular trial in Pennsylvania.

Padian:  It’s an opportunity when it really counts.  One person can’t be everywhere around the country talking to every school board and every parent group.  But this is a case where, ultimately, these decisions are going to clarify things in a formal setting.
Miller:  It is the right thing to do.  The battle in Dover is just one example of local battles for scientific education all over the country.  If people in the scientific community turn their backs on people in the front lines, then ultimately the cause of science in public education is doomed.
(Bold added in all quotations.)

Nature2 also provided sample quotes from Miller’s and Padian’s testimonies in the courtroom.  These are discussed in the commentary that follows.


1Geoff Brumfiel, “Expert witness: the scientists who testified against intelligent design,” Nature 438, 11 (3 November 2005) | doi: 10.1038/438011a.
2Box 1, Nature 438, 11 (3 November 2005) | doi: 10.1038/438011a.

This entry should clear up any lingering doubts whether Nature is a Darwin propaganda outlet.  Not only did they ignore the testimony of the other side completely, they treated these hard-core Darwin defenders like the home team.  Like a slobbering toady, Brumfiel sat at their knees for news, accepting anything they said as gospel truth but asking no hard questions.  So much for fair and balanced reporting in the journals.  Let’s examine their sample quotes from the Dover testimony:

Miller:  If you invoke a non-natural cause, a spirit force or something like that in your research and I decide to test it, I have no way to test it.  I can’t order that from a biological supply house, I can’t grow it in my laboratory.  And that means that your explanations in that respect, even if they were correct, were not something I could test or replicate, and therefore they really wouldn’t be part of science.

Great.  I’d like to order some Convergent Evolution, a few pieces of Sexual Selection, some Game Theory and a few stocking stuffers of Just-So Stories for my kids in science class.  Clever, Ken, but we’re up to your chicanery.  Intelligence is not always non-natural.  You are intelligent, aren’t you?  When a scientist publishes fraudulent work or falsifies evidence, does this mean we have to explain his actions in terms of physical laws and chemical reactions, or parts we can order from Carolina Biological Supply House?  Does your criterion mean we can no longer look for murderers as suspects when we find a body on the sidewalk, or lost tribes to explain archaeological artifacts?  What about the stone tools Morwood found in that Indonesian cave?  Did they just emerge from the cave floor by erosion?  Scientists test intelligent causes all the time.  SETI is built on the assumption that intelligent causes can be distinguished from “natural” causes.  Unless you are prepared to scratch archaeology, cryptology, intellectual property law, anthropology, paleoanthropology, criminology, sociology and SETI off the list of legitimate scientific investigations, better loosen up.  ID revolves around the concept of information.  Information is just as real as physics and chemistry, and yes, you can buy information, and sell it, too.  You can even grow information – isn’t that what we call teaching, or the process of science itself?  It didn’t escape our notice that you said even if [design explanations] were correct… they wouldn’t be part of science.  Well, then, kiss the search for truth good-bye as you wander forever in Darwin Storybookland.

Padian:  We’ll be the first people to admit that science doesn’t know everything and can’t know everything.  But on the other hand, we would like a fair and accurate representation of what we do know.

And your point is? 

Padian:  It worries me that students would be told that they have to make a conclusion in advance of all the evidence that you can’t get from A to B, essentially, by natural means.

Your Honor, allow me to display Exhibit A, the Explanatory Filter described by William Dembski, PhD mathematician and author of The Design Inference.  Mr. Padian, where on the diagram is the design inference made?  Right, at the very bottom, after the chance and natural law explanations have been exhausted.  In other words, a design inference is a last resort – not a first resort.  No scientist is asked to make a design conclusion in advance, as you allege.  The ID strategy is very similar to existing scientific endeavors in that regard: explanations should first examine whether chance and natural law can account for the phenomenon under investigation.  They should be rigorous and exhaustive and not jump to design conclusions prematurely.  The criterion of specified complexity is an objective, mathematical measure for eliminating chance by small probabilities before making a design inference.  This eliminates the God-of-the-gaps problem that anti-ID people bring up so often.  Trouble is, you want to short-circuit this last step in the flowchart and create an infinite loop.  If no chance or natural-law explanation is found, you want to go to top and start over, then over, then over again, ad infinitum.
    Your Honor, allow me to display Exhibit B [a quote by Richard Lewontin in the Baloney Detector].  This statement proves that Mr. Padian and his Darwinist colleagues are the ones requiring a conclusion in advance.  By ruling out the design inference, they want scientists to go round and round on the merry-go-round that will never find the answer even if, as his partner Miller said, the design explanation is correct.  As we know from over a century of Darwinian attempts at explanations, this spins off an endless train of speculative scenarios that become more improbable with the revising (see 10/26/2005 example) as the evidence for biological design mounts (see next story, for instance).
    Readers of Nature will never hear this kind of cross-examination from the Darwin Party mouthpiece journals.  Thankfully, there are other sources that don’t mind getting the story from both teams.  You’re reading one of them.

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