Another Monkey Debate

The Devil in Dover

     It was another sunny morning, and time for another monkey debate. This time the focus was the Dover Monkey Trial, held in Dover, Pennsylvania, in 2005. Professor Wishbone called the assembly at 10 a.m., in order to get a one-up on Professor Wisenheirmer and the creationist crowd. However, Wisenheirmer was late returning from lecturing at San Jose State.

     Wishbone decided to kick off the debate anyway by quoting from renowned Intelligent Design biochemist Michael Behe’s and his principle of “Irreducible Complexity.” To emphasize Behe’s point, he projected a slide of a mouse on an impossible mission. Needless to say, this caused the whole audience to crack-up—students and faculty.


     “Behe used the mousetrap as an illustrative example of this concept. He explained that a mousetrap consists of several interacting pieces—the base, the catch, the spring, the hammer. He emphasized that all of these must be in place for the mousetrap to work, and that the removal of any one piece destroys the function of the mousetrap.”

     “Likewise,” he continued, “biological systems require multiple parts working together in order to function. Intelligent design advocates claim that natural selection could not create from scratch those systems for which science is currently unable to find a viable evolutionary pathway of successive, slight modifications, because the selectable function is only present when all parts are assembled.”

     “To break it down in laymen’s terms” Wishbone summarizes, “According to Behe, these complex and intricate biological systems must be the result of intelligent design. This is a hypothesis I adamantly refute.”

The Bacterial Flagellum (high-definition animation)

     Since Professor Wisenheirmer had not returned from San Jose State yet, Wishbone continued: “Another argument Behe introduced was the irreducibly complex mechanisms included in the bacterial flagellum of E. coli, as shown in this high-definition animation. The next two slides shown are a model replica, and a detailed assembly diagram.”

Flagellum rotor                    Diagram of flagellum rotor

     Wishbone continued: “I will proceed to describe this amazing complexity that exists at the molecular level. Bacterial flagella are helical filaments, each with a rotary motor at its base which can turn clockwise or counterclockwise in an instance. They provide two of several kinds of bacterial motility. . . . ”

     As Wishbone continued to break down the subject matter for the attentive audience, Wisenheirmer—the creationist—had quietly entered the auditorium.

     Noticing his entrance, Wishbone proceeded to summarize the results of the Dover trials by stating: “The evolutionist presented an argument that subverted the mousetrap and flagellum arguments. Moreover, the creationists’ claims were rejected by the courts. Even the NOVA program, Judgement Day: Intelligent Design on Trial, aired November 13, 2007 on PBS, showed the rational for teaching evolution in public schools. In other words, we evolutionist won.”

     “Since we are running up against the clock,” Wisenheirmer interrupted, “For the sake of brevity, can anyone here in clear conscience, really support the theory that this complex organism of flagellum are the results of millions of years of evolution? It looks more like an electrical generator designed by an electro-mechanical engineer to me—thus, intelligent design. Meanwhile, I must concede doctor Wishbone; since I wasn’t present to participate in this one side debate.”

     “Your concession is accepted, doc Wisenheirmer.”

     “However, before we dismiss,” Wisenheirmer continued, “I’ll cap-off by stating, ‘Let the buyer beware.’ That is, you pupils in attendance need to search your own conscience and develop your own conclusions.”

     As the students exited, one of the evolutionist gave another a high-five and said, “Chalk another one up for Professor Wishbone.”

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