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Here is the portion of the cross-examination of Michael Behe (A) by the attorney Rothmiller (Q) that discusses astrology. I've tried to include enough testimony to give an accurate context.


Q I'll be happy to read the question and answer to you. I asked you whether intelligent design -- I asked actually on the top of 133, I asked you whether intelligent design qualifies as a scientific theory using the National Academy of Sciences definition.

A What line is that, I'm sorry?

Q That's 133, line 18.

A Is that going -- question beginning, "Going back to the National Academy of Science?"

Q Yes. And you first said, "I m going to say that I would argue that in fact it is." And that's 134, line ten.

A Yes.

Q Okay. And I said, "Intelligent design does meet that?" And you said, "It's well substantiated, yes." And I said, "Let's be clear here, I'm asking -- looking at the definition of a scientific theory in its entirety, is it your position that intelligent design is a scientific theory?" And you said, going down to line 23, "I think one can argue these a variety of ways. For purposes of an answer to the -- relatively brief answer to the question, I will say that I don't think it falls under this." And I asked you, "What about this definition; what is it in this definition that ID can't satisfy to be called a scientific theory under these terms?" And you answer, "Well, implicit in this definition it seems to me that there would be an agreed upon way to decide something was well substantiated. And although I do think that intelligent design is well substantiated, I think there's not -- I can't point to external -- an external community that would agree that it was well substantiated."

A Yes.

Q So for those reasons you said it's not -- doesn't meet the National Academy of Sciences definition.

A I think this text makes clear what I just said a minute or two ago, that I'm of several minds on this question. I started off saying one thing and changing my mind and then I explicitly said, "I think one can argue these things a variety of ways. For purposes of a relatively brief answer to the question, I'll say this." But I think if I were going to give a more complete answer, I would go into a lot more issues about this.

So I disagree that that's what I said -- or that's what I intended to say.

Q In any event, in your expert report, and in your testimony over the last two days, you used a looser definition of "theory," correct?

A I think I used a broader definition, which is more reflective of how the word is actually used in the scientific community.

Q But the way you define scientific theory, you said it's just based on your own experience; it's not a dictionary definition, it's not one issued by a scientific organization.

A It is based on my experience of how the word is used in the scientific community.

Q And as you said, your definition is a lot broader than the NAS definition?

A That's right, intentionally broader to encompass the way that the word is used in the scientific community.

Q Sweeps in a lot more propositions.

A It recognizes that the word is used a lot more broadly than the National Academy of Sciences defined it.

Q In fact, your definition of scientific theory is synonymous with hypothesis, correct?

A Partly -- it can be synonymous with hypothesis, it can also include the National Academy's definition. But in fact, the scientific community uses the word "theory" in many times as synonymous with the word "hypothesis," other times it uses the word as a synonym for the definition reached by the National Academy, and at other times it uses it in other ways.

Q But the way you are using it is synonymous with the definition of hypothesis?

A No, I would disagree. It can be used to cover hypotheses, but it can also include ideas that are in fact well substantiated and so on. So while it does include ideas that are synonymous or in fact are hypotheses, it also includes stronger senses of that term.

Q And using your definition, intelligent design is a scientific theory, correct?

A Yes.

Q Under that same definition astrology is a scientific theory under your definition, correct?

A Under my definition, a scientific theory is a proposed explanation which focuses or points to physical, observable data and logical inferences. There are many things throughout the history of science which we now think to be incorrect which nonetheless would fit that -- which would fit that definition. Yes, astrology is in fact one, and so is the ether theory of the propagation of light, and many other -- many other theories as well.

Q The ether theory of light has been discarded, correct?

A That is correct.

Q But you are clear, under your definition, the definition that sweeps in intelligent design, astrology is also a scientific theory, correct?

A Yes, that's correct. And let me explain under my definition of the word "theory," it is -- a sense of the word "theory" does not include the theory being true, it means a proposition based on physical evidence to explain some facts by logical inferences. There have been many theories throughout the history of science which looked good at the time which further progress has shown to be incorrect. Nonetheless, we can't go back and say that because they were incorrect they were not theories. So many many things that we now realized to be incorrect, incorrect theories, are nonetheless theories.

Q Has there ever been a time when astrology has been accepted as a correct or valid scientific theory, Professor Behe?

A Well, I am not a historian of science. And certainly nobody -- well, not nobody, but certainly the educated community has not accepted astrology as a science for a long long time. But if you go back, you know, Middle Ages and before that, when people were struggling to describe the natural world, some people might indeed think that it is not a priori -- a priori ruled out that what we -- that motions in the earth could affect things on the earth, or motions in the sky could affect things on the earth.

Q And just to be clear, why don't we pull up the definition of astrology from Merriam-Webster.

MR. ROTHSCHILD: If you would highlight that.

BY MR. ROTHSCHILD:

Q And archaically it was astronomy; right, that's what it says there?

A Yes.

Q And now the term is used, "The divination of the supposed influences of the stars and planets on human affairs and terrestrial events by their positions and aspects."

That's the scientific theory of astrology?

A That's what it says right there, but let me direct your attention to the archaic definition, because the archaic definition is the one which was in effect when astrology was actually thought to perhaps describe real events, at least by the educated community.

Astrology -- I think astronomy began in, and things like astrology, and the history of science is replete with ideas that we now think to be wrong headed, nonetheless giving way to better ways or more accurate ways of describing the world.

And simply because an idea is old, and simply because in our time we see it to be foolish, does not mean when it was being discussed as a live possibility, that it was not actually a real scientific theory.

Q I didn't take your deposition in the 1500s, correct?

A I'm sorry?

Q I did not take your deposition in the 1500s, correct?

A It seems like that.

Q Okay. It seems like that since we started yesterday. But could you turn to page 132 of your deposition?

A Yes.

Q And if you could turn to the bottom of the page 132, to line 23.

A I'm sorry, could you repeat that?

Q Page 132, line 23.

A Yes.

Q And I asked you, "Is astrology a theory under that definition?" And you answered, "Is astrology? It could be, yes." Right?

A That's correct.

Q Not, it used to be, right?

A Well, that's what I was thinking. I was thinking of astrology when it was first proposed. I'm not thinking of tarot cards and little mind readers and so on that you might see along the highway. I was thinking of it in its historical sense.

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