In ordinary life, explanations that invoke chance, necessity, or design cover every eventuality. Nevertheless, in the natural sciences one of these modes of explanation is considered superfluous — namely, design. From the perspective of the natural sciences, design, as the action of an intelligent agent, is not a fundamental creative force in nature. Rather, blind natural causes, characterized by chance and necessity and ruled by unbroken laws, are thought sufficient to do all nature’s creating. Darwin’s theory is a case in point.
Ironically, Behe’s own example, the mousetrap, shows what’s wrong with this idea. Take away two parts (the catch and the metal bar), and you may not have a mousetrap but you do have a three-part machine that makes a fully functional tie clip or paper clip. Take away the spring, and you have a two-part key chain. The catch of some mousetraps could be used as a fishhook, and the wooden base as a paperweight; useful applications of other parts include everything from toothpicks to nutcrackers and clipboard holders. The point, which science has long understood, is that bits and pieces of supposedly irreducibly complex machines may have different — but still useful — functions.
I am hopeful that the scientific community will eventually admit the possibility of intelligent design, even if that acceptance is discreet and muted. My reason for optimism is the advance of science itself, which almost every day uncovers new intricacies in nature, fresh reasons for recognizing the design inherent in life and the universe.**