Joined: Jan. 2006
Oh wait, there isn't any persecution.
Behe is not asking important questions, he is muddying the waters and making cash from his consumer base of scientifically illiterate, god centred, wishful thinkers. It's a scam, a snake oil sales pitch. Nothing more, nothing less. How sincere Behe is in his desire to believe what he writes is true is totally irrelevant. His sincerity or otherwise has no bearing on the accuracy of his claims.
You say "You'd hate to be Newton in the modern climate", sorry Skeptic, and trust me I am being very polite about this, but you are talking through your arse. (Not only because Newton was a) highly powerful and influential and b) very unpleasant, but c) used his unpleasantness and influence and power to scupper other scientists, notably Liebniz) Science proceeds precisely by bucking dogma. Look at things like the Penzias and Wilson discovery of the cosmic microwave background, very very controversial, no character assassination. Look at the discovery that H. pylori can cause stomach ulcers, very controversial, no character assassination. I could go on and on, with example after example, the whole point is these guys let the evidence do the talking for them. They didn't resort to the sort of fevered egotism of Behe and Dembski etc, nor did they try to have their views taught in schools by a combination of political and legal pressure. Nor did they simply recycle old well refuted claims and ideas that we know, in some cases we've known this for centuries, are wrong ON THE BASIS OF THE EVIDENCE. Key distinction: evidence.
ID is manifestly NOT a different "interpretation" of the available evidence, a mere philosophical choice or personal preference. It is fundamentally the rejection of the scientific method and an appeal to ignorance and prejudice. Full stop. At every turn the IDCists ignore the data, cherry pick things they think help them (but often don't) and generally perform all the acts we know they love from their slightly more honest previous incarnations as YECists. A great example was Behe's testimony at Dover regarding (IIRC) the evolution of the immune system where, when faced with a decent stack of data, had waved it away saying that even though he hadn't read it, even though he wasn't aware of it, it simply wasn't enough. Let that little gem sink in. Behe flat out stated that no matter what the evidence was, it would never be sufficient. THAT is a total abrogation of one's moral and scientific responsibility as a scientist. I don't care who does something like that, whether they agree with me and others about some topic or not, that single act removes you from the scientific community. Behe might well be a prof at a university, he might well have tenure and in the past have published, but he is no longer a scientist. He's merely occupying a position (and teaching etc no doubt) that a better scientist could make good use of. If he was generating new ideas instead of recycling well known bullshit that was refuted decades and centuries ago, I'd have some sympathy. If he was doing productive research and was wrong about something, but promoted it heavily because that's what the evidence appeared to say, I'd have some sympathy. He isn't, so I don't.
Back to your claim of "important questions". Behe ain't asking them. The cartoon version of evolution, i.e. "RM+NS", is a simplification. The relative importance of horizontal gene transfer, evo-devo, sexual selection, sympatric versus allopatric speciation etc etc etc in individual cases and general cases are all being discussed in the scientific literature today. Mechanistic discussions, mathematical modelling and epidemiology, philosophical discussions are all occurring right now. Thousands of hard working scientists are, right now, hard at work trying to tease out answers to big questions, questions that have meaning and can be answered by the evidence. Behe is doing NONE of this, IDCists are contributing not a single thing to these discussions. Not because of prejudice and persecution, but because they have nothing useful to add. The questions they are asking were answered in the 1800s (perhaps the early 1900s) at the very latest. They were logically fallacious questions even then (as Russell and others showed), but they at least had the vague merit of being topical possibilities.
Please get over this "persecution" nonsense. It simply isn't happening. Oh and while I think of it, any progress on defending your claims about atheists yet? We don't need to get all formal if you haven't got the first chance of defending even a basic claim.