Skip to comments.Michael Behe Responds to Critics of his New Book "The Edge of Evolution"
Posted on 06/30/2007 10:08:27 AM PDT by GodGunsGuts
Major reviews of The Edge of Evolution have begun to appear. Because the conclusion of the book is so controversial, its no surprise that responses by some Darwinists so far have been pretty emotional and defensive...
(Excerpt) Read more at amazon.com ...
Have to get this on my library list!
I’m about half way through it. Very concise and easy to read, and it devastates Darwinism (as is to be expected from a book by Behe)—GGG
Remove me from your ping list please.
I knew you couldn’t ignore me! LOL
PS Your request has been processed and it shall be done.
Have you no interest in real science?
Don’t remove me from ping list :)
I can't in most any way pretend to take Coyoteman's "place", but I will bring my own popcorn.
Poor baby! Too hot in the kitchen? LOL
Thanks - I appreciate the additional information. Our local library has a very good “current topics” section, with a genuine diversity of opinion.
For other's here, viewing pleasure, I'll borrow a small snippet from his blog entry, if I may...
It shows cases some of the circular logic so often employed by the fervently faithful [of Darwinian processes explaining EVERYTHING].
"The same question-begging is used to answer my argument on protein binding sites, but with a special twist. Writes Coyne: In fact, interactions between proteins, like any complex interaction, were certainly built up step by mutational step ... This process could have begun with weak proteinprotein associations that were beneficial to the organism. These were then strengthened gradually... So, reasons Coyne, we know protein binding sites developed gradually by random mutation because we know proteins have binding sites. So there!"
Behe also mentions that much of the criticism is ad hominem, appeals to authority, and the like, along with circular arguments, etc.
Further up in Behe's response is this;
"I knew of course that Coyne strongly dislikes intelligent design, but was hopeful as I first started his review that he would engage the books arguments and offer thoughtful counterpoints, which could help sharpen my own thinking."
The wonderful world of Crevo wars. They are not restricted to being only here at FR.
More widely than just *here* hardly anyone wants to talk about, or narrowly discuss "the article".
Behe, to his credit, does a fine job of investigating and discussing some of the various 'articles' which have long composed "Darwinian" assumptions. That's how science can indeed work, isn't it? [Is supposed to work? That we are repeatedly told, is the way that it works???]
...font color and emphasis changes in the above post, strictly my own, not Behe’s...
Put him on your 'PONG' list; he's about as obsolete as a Pong console.
He just mentioned it. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that he won't go into the details but wanted to know that something happened.
What appeals to authority? Didn't you know that all credible scientists believe the theory of evolution and the debate is over. </willful blindness>
Its more amazing people who promote evolution still site the scopes trial. Its not only judicial rather then scientific, but the data seems a bit out of date.
But I just heard that the House of Representatives voted that Global Warming is real.
How close that glorious day when a "Ministry of Truth" is finally established to settle all disagreement with established science?
And that conclusion is......?
Darwinian evolution is so flawed a model as to render it impossible.
Well, plenty of biologists disagree. But there's nothing wrong with healthy debate.
If “plenty of biologists disagree” with Behe should refute be able to refute the evidence. Problem is the advances in science are doing exactly the opposite of what they expected. Rather than confirming evolution, they are confirming that macroevolution simply cannot be supported by the evidence.
What’s his alternative theory?
Intelligent design. While Beha doesn’t state that it is God, I don’t think he rules out the possibility. His major conclusion that whatever it is, it isn’t Darwinian evolution.
As for my personal belief, if Darwinian evolution/macro-evolution is disproved, the only viable alternative is creation.
You are aware that Behe accepts descent with modification and natural selection?
Those are trivial and modest notions, according to Dr. Behe.
What he does not accept is random mutation: By far the most critical aspect of Darwins multifaceted theory is the role of random mutation. Almost all of what is novel and important in Darwinian thought is concentrated in this third concept.
Maybe the IDers need to get together and figure out if the designer is the invisible pink unicorn, the spaghetti monster, bugs from Mars, or the invisible friend in the sky.
No wait --let me guess?
And speaking of reviews:
Inferior Design-- Page one of two
By RICHARD DAWKINS
Published: July 1, 2007
I had expected to be as irritated by Michael Behes second book as by his first. I had not expected to feel sorry for him. The first Darwins Black Box (1996), which purported to make the scientific case for intelligent design was enlivened by a spark of conviction, however misguided. The second is the book of a man who has given up. Trapped along a false path of his own rather unintelligent design, Behe has left himself no escape. Poster boy of creationists everywhere, he has cut himself adrift from the world of real science. And real science, in the shape of his own department of biological sciences at Lehigh University, has publicly disowned him, via a remarkable disclaimer on its Web site: While we respect Prof. Behes right to express his views, they are his alone and are in no way endorsed by the department. It is our collective position that intelligent design has no basis in science, has not been tested experimentally and should not be regarded as scientific. As the Chicago geneticist Jerry Coyne wrote recently, in a devastating review of Behes work in The New Republic, it would be hard to find a precedent.
For a while, Behe built a nice little career on being a maverick. His colleagues might have disowned him, but they didnt receive flattering invitations to speak all over the country and to write for The New York Times. Behes name, and not theirs, crackled triumphantly around the memosphere. But things went wrong, especially at the famous 2005 trial where Judge John E. Jones III immortally summed up as breathtaking inanity the effort to introduce intelligent design into the school curriculum in Dover, Pa. After his humiliation in court, Behe the star witness for the creationist side might have wished to re-establish his scientific credentials and start over. Unfortunately, he had dug himself in too deep. He had to soldier on. The Edge of Evolution is the messy result, and it doesnt make for attractive reading.
We now hear less about irreducible complexity, with good reason. In Darwins Black Box, Behe simply asserted without justification that particular biological structures (like the bacterial flagellum, the tiny propeller by which bacteria swim) needed all their parts to be in place before they would work, and therefore could not have evolved incrementally. This style of argument remains as unconvincing as when Darwin himself anticipated it. It commits the logical error of arguing by default. Two rival theories, A and B, are set up. Theory A explains loads of facts and is supported by mountains of evidence. Theory B has no supporting evidence, nor is any attempt made to find any. Now a single little fact is discovered, which A allegedly cant explain. Without even asking whether B can explain it, the default conclusion is fallaciously drawn: B must be correct. Incidentally, further research usually reveals that A can explain the phenomenon after all: thus the biologist Kenneth R. Miller (a believing Christian who testified for the other side in the Dover trial) beautifully showed how the bacterial flagellar motor could evolve via known functional intermediates.
Behe correctly dissects the Darwinian theory into three parts: descent with modification, natural selection and mutation. Descent with modification gives him no problems, nor does natural selection. They are trivial and modest notions, respectively. Do his creationist fans know that Behe accepts as trivial the fact that we are African apes, cousins of monkeys, descended from fish?
The crucial passage in The Edge of Evolution is this: By far the most critical aspect of Darwins multifaceted theory is the role of random mutation. Almost all of what is novel and important in Darwinian thought is concentrated in this third concept.
What a bizarre thing to say! Leave aside the history: unacquainted with genetics, Darwin set no store by randomness. New variants might arise at random, or they might be acquired characteristics induced by food, for all Darwin knew. Far more important for Darwin was the nonrandom process whereby some survived but others perished. Natural selection is arguably the most momentous idea ever to occur to a human mind, because it alone as far as we know explains the elegant illusion of design that pervades the living kingdoms and explains, in passing, us. Whatever else it is, natural selection is not a modest idea, nor is descent with modification.
But Creationism can explain everything...
Horses .. Yep. Goddidit.
Elephants .. Yep.
Talking snakes .. Yep.
Cambrian rabbits .. Yep.
Sharks with a pelvis .. Yep.
Porpoise eggs .. Yep. God made those too.
What cannot exist in a world where anything is possible?
The problem with a theory that can explain everything is that it explains nothing.
Dawkins Attacks Behe in New York Times, But Where’s the Science?
Perhaps the most striking feature of Richard Dawkins The God Delusion is its lack of science. I had thought that this was an anomaly, but Dawkins New York Times review (out Sunday) of Michael Behes The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism is the same patchwork of fallacies devoid of science as The God Delusion.
Let me count the ways
First, Dawkins begins by trying to discredit Behe, noting that Behes own department has distanced itself from Behes work on intelligent design (ID). But this is not a refutation of Behes work. Rather it is poisoning the well.
Second, Dawkins claims that Jerry Coynes review of Behe was devastating. Great. Then why doesn’t he recount the argument rather than claiming someone else has already refuted Behe? This is a subtle argument from authority.
Third, Dawkins says Judge Jones and the Dover Trial humiliated Behe. OK, but what exactly is the argument that humiliated him? What was the scientific evidence that undermined his case? Surely the fact that such technicalities would be complicated is not too much for the Charles Simonyi chair for the public understanding of science to relay to us. Dawkins writes that The Edge of Evolution is Behes attempt to soldier on and stage a comeback from the Dover defeat. Too bad that Dr. Behe was at work on The Edge long before the Dover school district ever enacted its policy.
Fourth, Dawkins asserts that The Edge of Evolution contains little about irreducible complexity, implying that Behe is backpedaling. In fact, The Edge actually extends the arguments Darwinism from irreducible complexity. Behe argues that irreducible complexity represents a form of biological complexity that random mutations cannot produce. But its an extreme example well beyond the reach of Darwinian processes. The quest of The Edge is to find the limit of how much biological complexity Darwinian processes can produce. And Behe finds that the limit is far below irreducibly complex machines. In other words, after this book, the case for evolution has gotten worse, not better.
That said, even though irreducible complexity is not the focus of the book, Behe nonetheless devotes much space to showing how the argument for irreducible complexity itself has only gotten worse for Darwinians. As it turns out, we now have more powerful microscopes and have found that there are irreducibly complex systems regulating the irreducibly complex systems! Behe points out that there are little trucks that build the irreducibly complex cilium. They bring in parts and take them away. The trucks even have forward and reverse motors! And they know when to stop work and conserve energy if there is damage. Moreover, these machines assemble via a complex set of assembly instructions that represent far greater complexity than the final irreducibly complex machine itself. Thus Behe says that biology contains not just irreducible complexity but irreducible complexity squared (pg. 93). I encourage you all to read this part of The Edge. See especially Figure 5.2.
Fifth, Dawkins misrepresents Behe as claiming that ID is correct because Darwinism cant account for irreducibly complex (IC) systems. In other words, Dawkins wrongly understands ID as merely a negative argument against evolution, thus missing the true structure of the argument. Behe actually claims that Darwinian processes are insufficient for making IC systems and that intelligent processes are (note the positive aspect) capable. He is saying that when the two theories explanatory powers are compared, ID wins out, and we infer that ID is the best explanation.
Dawkins is stuck using old-school deductive arguments. But Behe is using a form of argumentation common to the historical sciences, viz., Inference to the Best Explanation, or abduction. It is a comparative style of argumentation where one lines up all the possible explanations and asks which ones are able to produce the phenomenon in question, among other things.
Dawkins also says that Behes claim that the bacterial flagellum will not work properly without all of its parts is without justification. Unfortunately for Dawkins, knockout experiments have been done, and so this assertion is not without justification. For example, Scott Minnich, microbiologist at the University of Idaho, testified at the Dover Trial about his knockout experiments which found that the flagellum is irreducibly complex with respect to its 35 or so genes. Judge Jones ignored this testimony, and so does Richard Dawkins. Why doesnt Dawkins know the relevant science?
Finally in this regard, Dawkins again resorts to the someone else refuted Behe argument. He claims that at trial Ken Miller showed how the bacterial flagellar motor could evolve via known functional intermediates. Again, this is just false. What Miller did was to point to another irreducibly complex system, the Type III Secretory System and claim it as an intermediateeven though the best evidence shows it is derivative of the flagellum and not the other way around.
Sixth, Dawkins gets a kick out of telling audiences around the world that evolution is “not random” because natural selection selects for function rather than randomly. This is true but trivial. Dawkins fails to mention that all of the novelty which natural selection has to work with comes from random mutations! The creative part of the process is blind, as Dawkins himself has beautifully shown in his books. So Behe is correct to focus in on seeing what random mutations can produce. For if it cannot produce the right mutations, in the right quantities, in the right amount of time, then natural selection cannot act to preserve them!
Seventh, about ¾ of the way through the review Dawkins makes his first and only actual attempt at countering Behe with evidence. If Behe is correct that random mutations cannot produce the many precise mutations necessary to create the variety of species we observe today, asks Dawkins, then why do we observe such variation in dogs that we know humans have bred? But it is here that I wonder if Dawkins even read The Edge of Evolution. In it Behe claimed that changes within species are well within the creative power of natural selection and random mutation. Behe has claimed that the creative limit of Darwinian process is somewhere between orders and genera. Perhaps Professor Dawkins missed the chart on the first page. Strawman.
At this point it seems that Dawkins argument amounts to Wow! Look at the varieties of dogs that have been produced relatively recently! Surely Darwinism, then, can produce much more over a long time without the help of intelligent breeders! And it is precisely because this sort of fuzzy argument is prevalent among hopeful Darwinists that Behes work in The Edge is important. Behe looks at studies of actual organismal popularions to place limits on what random mutation can produce. Even Darwinists must admit that given the age of the earth and population sizes there must be some limit to what a Darwinian process can produce in a given population in a given amount of time. Dawkins should spend his time arguing (from the same body of data) for his own notion of where this limit lies rather than bashing Behe for attempting to define such limits at all.
Eighth, Dawkins chides Behe for daring to state something contrary to the beliefs of great evolutionary mathematicians and geneticists. Perhaps Dawkins will try to imagine if Darwin himself were not allowed to make an argument because the authorities of his day disagreed with him. This is another argument from authority and is completely invalid. (For fun, try inserting Galileo or which ever pathbreaking scientist you wish into the penultimate paragraph where you see Behe. It wont totally make sense, but I think youll get my point.)
Finally, Dawkins says Behe must publish his work in scientific journals. Well, first of all, he has. As one example, Behe published computer modeling of the evolution of binding sites in different sized populations in the journal Protein Science. Second, as concerns intelligent design, I think Dawkins has already shown why pro-ID papers are dead-upon-arrival by revealing to us the prejudices of even Behes own department!
Indeed, Dawkins should find irony in the fact that The Origin of Species was not originally published in a scientific journal but as a book. But that aside, how on Earth can Professor Dawkins, who systematically refuses to debate ID scientists, chide Behe for not being willing to rumble for his ideas in the public square? This is shameful.
If you believe in the creation story of Genesis, why do you need to wait around for evolution to be disproved? Is there a chance it wasn't created by a God?
Your conviction against Darwin seems a lot more modest compared to the other creationists on FR.
Even to this day, I'd say that those particular life forms have dominion over us.
Actually, I am a very strong believer in Creation by the God of the Bible. I don't believe it because of the Genesis account alone. In fact if there was only the Genesis account on which to base a belief in Creation, it would be difficult to accept. It is the proven reliability of a vast amount of the Bible that can be out confirmed by the historical record that convinces me that there is a Creator and that the Creator is the God of the Bible.
I do not get bogged down in arguments about the young Earth controversy. Creation does not mean it was a literal six days as humans understand it, but it doesn mean it wasn't. After all, God is God.
My point is that, for a purely logical view point, if evolution is disproved, and it has been, then Creation is the only rational alternative given the evidence available.
I don't think Behe has ruled out creation, but he has ruled out Darwinian evolution. It would not surprise me if he believed in creation, but he doesn't have to establish that to disprove Darwinian evolution.
I see the opposite.
Time tested themes can be found even in the old Testament. But for every decent morality lesson there, you'll find a dozen of God's commandments that deal with the micromanagement of agriculture, treatment of slaves, and SEC-type regulations on selling your daughters. Not to mention the nightmarish details of Job and the inherent local and regional nature of the whole thing. Why did God not reveal himself to the natives of Borneo or the aborigines of Australia? Were kangaroos not good enough to bring on the Ark?
The numerous contradictions of the old Testament and the lack of historical evidence of some of the new Testament's most dramatic tales (slaughter of innocents, Caesar's census) leads me to believe it is a wholly earthly tale.
The wonders of the universe, whether it be the Eagle Nebula, our nuclear powered sun, the human genetic code, or our ability to reach the moon only 65 after the discovery of flight, are all more awesome and inspirational than any of the magical tales of the Bible.
Darwin's Black Box:
The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution
by Michael J. Behe
Molecular Machines: Experimental Support for the Design Inference
The Battle of Beginnings:
Why Neither Side Is Winning
the Creation-Evolution Debate
by Delvin Lee "Del" Ratzsch
Science and Its Limits:
The Natural Sciences in Christian Perspective
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