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In reply, Behe immediately wrote an op/ed piece, which lingered for a month on an editorial desk. Then, on October 25, front-page headlines around the world reported Pope John Paul II's puzzling (and widely misunderstood) statement on evolution as being "more than a hypothesis" based on "fresh knowledge" that scientists should be free to investigate, keeping in mind that the soul is a direct creation of God.

Since Behe is a Roman Catholic scientist who teaches in the biology department at a major university, both the Times and Behe sensed a tie-in. Within a day his piece had been rewritten to connect it with the pope's statement.

In this article, Behe explained that the pope's statement for him is nothing new. As a Catholic, Behe was taught that evolution could be viewed as God's way of creating.

What forced Behe to change his mind about the truth of Darwinism and to propose intelligent design was not religion, but scientific discoveries in his own field. The pope spoke of "several theories" of evolution, Behe noted, explaining that the only valid theory of evolution that he saw emerging from the biological evidence took note of the unmistakable signs of "intelligent design."

Inevitably, many scientists charge Behe with "thinly disguised creationism." This strategy is employed by University of Chicago biologist Jerry Coyne, whose review of Behe was published in September in the prestigious British journal Nature. While Coyne admits, "There is no doubt that the pathways described by Behe are dauntingly complex and their evolution will be hard to unravel," he claims that Behe has offered no solution: "Behe's 'scientific' alternative to evolution [is] a confusing and untestable ...

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In the Magazine

April 28, 1997

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