Behe on why do some scientists still not accept intelligent design?

I came across a video put out by the Discovery Institute 6 days ago titled Michael Behe Answers Hard Questions: Why do some scientists still not accept intelligent design? The question came out of a follower (or several) of his that are amazed that more scientists don’t accept ID when the evidence for it is overwhelming. Behe’s response:

  • Scientists, just like everybody else are not logic machines. They’re smart but just don’t use logic without caring about other things too.
  • Professionals in their field have certain pride about their view. When Darwin first proposed his idea, many scientists were skeptical that his mechanism of random mutation and natural selection would work. But none-the-less Biologists jumped on it because they felt inferior to Physicists and Chemists. And Biologists would always have to worry about theologians and ministers since life obviously looks designed and they were worried the big questions would be answered by religion. After Darwin’s theory, they accepted it because they think that science should explain life without help from anybody.
  • There were some calculations in the 1920s and 30s that were wrong since they didn’t know about molecular machines or genetic codes or other complex things - and these things are much more easily broken than improved.
  • A lot of scientists, not the majority, but many prominent ones don’t like religion and don’t want the world to have been designed even if it was very helpful.

I’m not really sure what to do with this. He ends with a nice quote “it’s the job of science to describe the world as it is, not the way you want it to be.” It seems the main reasons Behe lists for biologists not accepting ID is pride, old calculations from the 1920s and bias against God. I feel sorry for his followers.


Thanks for the short video Matthew. Why didn’t you mention his most important and controversial point? - “that the more prominent scientists don’t like religion and just don’t want the world to be a design.”

But for me there is another important point that was left out. When I first heard the term “intelligent design” I felt this was my new banner, but once I listened to the backers describe their concept, I quickly distanced myself from it. ID has a long way to go before I will accept it as a logical elation of God’s involvement in the creation of the universe. ID as presented today is too religious and falls into Behe’s last category.

BThe appeal of having “special knowledge or understanding” is strong. It resulted in the formal Gnostic sects, and pulls on us today. I think the ID establishment has a unhealthy dose of it in their substance, as evidenced by the question posed stating that the evidence for ID was so overwhelming. Of course, Behe’s answer regarding pride touches on that, though it seems many in the ID world are blind to it in themselves.
As to his other points, some seem far fetched (I have never heard on any 1920’s calculations used in biology as an undergrad or since, and my undergrad years were way far closer to the 1920s than I am willing to accept.) and some just bizarre. I don’t recall anyone in biology feeling inferior to chemistry or physics, and today, the boundaries are blurred due to overlap of those disciplines. Projection perhaps?
As to scientists not liking religion, certainly many are not religious, but sadly I hear more often that Christians in science are better accepted at work by co-workers than they are at church by fellow Christians. Most non-Christian scientists simply do not care what you religious beliefs are from what I gather. The last part of his statement is also a head scratcher: What has ID put forth that is helpful to science?


This is of course an out and out lie. The evidence for ID is non-existent. The evidence for evolution is overwhelming. The rhetoric for ID may be extensive, but the only thing overwhelming is the outright stubborn willful ignorance insisting on ID and creationism.

On the third part, me neither. But on the other three, here is what I say.

Yeah and sometimes they care about things like the Bible, theology, and Christianity – this ID creationists nonsense is killing them!

In other words… the theory of evolution provided the first basis for any theoretical biology whatsoever, much to the consternation of religious dogmatists (and others who make a living on religion) who would really prefer no scientific inquiry into questions about the nature and origins of life and thus for biologists to stick to observation and classification only.


All scientists, even the Christian ones, do not like theologians sticking their noses into science and thus trying to replace the methodology of science with the emptiness of mere rhetoric.

It is the job of science to describe the world as shown by the objective evidence from written procedures giving the same results no matter what you believe and not the way you insist that the world “really is.”

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After reading the bullet points in the opening post, I can’t help but conclude that all of them apply to Behe himself. It reads more like a textbook case of psychological projection than it does a scientific treatise.

Many of Behe’s premises are logical fallacies, such as his contention that if he can’t think of a stepwise process for a system to arise then there isn’t one. Much of his argument is based on the logical fallacies of personal incredulity, arguments from ignorance, false dichotomies, and shifting the burden of proof.

First, Darwin didn’t say anything about random mutation. That idea wasn’t fleshed out until the 1940’s with the work done by Luria, Delbruck and Joshua and Esther Lederberg. Darwin’s main contribution was natural selection, but he was always unsure of how variation arose.

Biologists accepted evolution because of the evidence, not because of some philosophical need for a non-teleological or natural explanation. An absolutely wonderful essay by George Romanes written in 1882 describes the evidence that was driving acceptance of the theory, and it is a very different story than what Behe describes:

“The Scientific Evidences of Organic Evolution”, George Romanes, 1882

Behe ignores the massive problems with his own calculations, and ignores negative selection.

A lot of scientists don’t like flat Earthers. That doesn’t mean the Earth is flat. Perhaps Behe should revisit his criticism of scientists not using logic and apply it here.


The one thing I can say about this is that it just doesn’t work with the way scientists learn and study and do scientific research. They learn by repeating experiments and calculations themselves. How else are they to learn how the experiments and theoretical calculations work? And they are looking for any mistakes with a fine tooth comb because that is their chance to write their own PHD thesis or other publications. For 45 years physicists have been actively trying to break the Standard Model by finding some place where it doesn’t work because that would open the door to new discoveries, experiments, publications, and all the money that comes with such things. That is what drives science and so to suggest that somebody made a mistake 100 years ago and people just accepted this without testing it is absurd. Science just doesn’t work that way.

As im reading trough the comments i want to raise a few questions yet again. So the number of scientists who reject a creator trough EC is decreasing. So at what stage would science be about 20 years from now? Will all the christians scientists gone? Will there be no one left in that field? And if so wouldnt it affect the world as to its view on science? Thanks