Evolution of a Debate

Published December 23, 2005

| FoxNews.com

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," December 22, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

RICH LOWRY, GUEST CO-HOST: Tonight we bring you a special report called "Evolution of a Debate." This is the story of a battle that has been raging for almost two centuries, between those who subscribe to Charles Darwin's theory of evolution and those who believe in creationism or intelligent design.

It's an argument that has been raised between scientists and theologians, parents and school boards, and inside courtrooms and capitals. It is about who we are, where we came from, and what we believe. So tonight we are going to explore the history of the debate and its implications for everyone watching at home tonight.

We begin with the very theory itself, intelligent design. Much has been said about it recently. You've probably read about a court decision in Pennsylvania this week that said intelligent design can't be taught alongside evolution in biology classes. But what exactly is it? Where did it come from? And can the two theories co-exist?

Joining us now is the man who is widely credited with helping to develop the theory of intelligent design, the author of an important book called "Darwin's Black Box," Michael Behe.

Michael, thanks so much for joining us tonight.

MICHAEL BEHE, AUTHOR, "DARWIN'S BLACK BOX": Nice to be with you.

LOWRY: Let's start right off the top with a basic question. Are you a creationist?

BEHE: No, never have been. I'm Roman Catholic. I learned about Darwin's theory in parochial school. It was always fine with me. I just don't think it explains what it purports to explain.

LOWRY: OK, well, then what, in a nutshell — I know this gets complicated quickly. What is intelligent design?

BEHE: Well, intelligent design is just the idea that you can see the effects of an intelligent agent on nature. A quick illustration is Mount Rushmore.

You look at the mountains around Mount Rushmore, and you can tell that it was not just erosion and plate tectonics and other non-intelligent forces that are responsible for the shapes on that mount. It was a design. It was an intelligent agent who did that.

And at bottom, intelligent design in biology says we think like Mount Rushmore. That is, we see things that give the strong appearance of design in biology, particularly at the cellular level.

LOWRY: So I know, again, it's going to get technical. But for the layman out there, give us an example of something in biology that is comparable to Mount Rushmore.

BEHE: Well, let me start by saying that in Darwin's day, scientists thought that the cell was so simple that it might just spontaneously bubble up from sea mud. Might be just a little bit of JELL-O.

But in the past 50 years, especially, scientists have shown that it is chock full of molecular machines, literally molecular machines. There are little molecular trucks that carry supplies from one side of the cell to the others. There are little molecular sign posts that tell it to turn left or to turn right.

One in particular which has gotten a lot of media attention is something called a bacterial flagellum, which is literally an outboard motor that some bacteria use to swim. It's got a propeller. It's got a motor. It's got a drive shaft.

LOWRY: All right.

BEHE: It's got bolts to hold things on.

LOWRY: Michael, why — why couldn't that have been created through a random process of evolution and natural selection?

BEHE: Well, for the same reason that Mount Rushmore or a normal outboard motor can't arise randomly, that it's — the intermediate steps appear to be nonfunctional. It's very unlikely for two necessary parts to come together. And if you look at the science literature, although most scientists believe that natural selection did do the trick, nobody has actually published papers showing how that could be done. So it's an assumption.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: It's Alan Colmes. Good to have you on the show.

BEHE: Nice to meet you.

COLMES: Of course, evolutionists would say that all those complex cells and all the complexity you talk about could also be part of evolution. But why is it there's so little scientific support for intelligent design, compared to Darwin's theory?

BEHE: Well, I think there's a number of reasons. First, there's kind of a historical animosity between biology and anything that smacks of religion, going back to the times of Darwin.

COLMES: But you admit it's religion and that this is really an attempt to get religion taught in schools.

BEHE: No, I disagree. It's not religion. It has religious implications, much like, say, the big bang theory has religious implications, but it's a scientific theory. But that — nonetheless, I think that's one reason that some — a lot of scientists oppose it.

COLMES: Who's the designer?

BEHE: Well, as I've said since 1996 when I published "Darwin's Black Box," I'm a Catholic. I think a good candidate for the designer is God. But that is not straight — that's not a conclusion that you come from ,from the structure of the bacterial flagellum.

COLMES: What would be the other options if it's not God?

BEHE: Well, you know, other things that would strike us as, you know, as pretty exotic, you know. Space aliens or time travelers or something strange.

COLMES: What about any of this is scientific?

BEHE: I'm sorry?

COLMES: What about any of this is scientific?

BEHE: What's scientific is the structures of what we have discovered in the cell. In the cell there are molecular machines. They work by grabbing things, pushing them. Just like the machines in our everyday experience. This was utterly unexpected by science. Everybody agrees that it gives a strong appearance of design. But many scientists shy away from the conclusion because of philosophical problems.

LOWRY: OK, we're going to have to leave it there. Thanks so much for teeing up our discussion tonight and being with us.

BEHE: OK.

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