Behe has a new anti-evolution book

Michael Behe, author of the intelligent-design (ID) creationist books Darwin’s Black Box and The Edge of Evolution, has a new book coming out next February, Darwin Devolves: The New Science about DNA that Challenges Evolution. (Let me point out here that the phrase “that challenges evolution” has an unclear antecedent, either the new science that challenges evolution—what he clearly means—or the DNA itself that challenges evolution. Bad title!)

Anyway, here’s Behe pleading with you to buy his book:

Check out the anti-evolution comments after the video!

In its website on the book, HarperCollins (which should be ashamed at itself for publishing the biology equivalent of flat-Earthism), gives an idea of the contents (my emphasis):

In his controversial bestseller Darwin’s Black Box, biochemist Michael Behe challenged Darwin’s theory of evolution, arguing that science itself has proven that intelligent design is a better explanation for the origin of life. In Darwin Devolves, Behe advances his argument, presenting new research that offers a startling reconsideration of how Darwin’s mechanism works, weakening the theory’s validity even more.

A system of natural selection acting on random mutation, evolution can help make something look and act differently. But evolution never creates something organically. Behe contends that Darwinism actually works by a process of devolution—damaging cells in DNA in order to create something new at the lowest biological levels. This is important, he makes clear, because it shows the Darwinian process cannot explain the creation of life itself. “A process that so easily tears down sophisticated machinery is not one which will build complex, functional systems,” he writes.

In addition to disputing the methodology of Darwinism and how it conflicts with the concept of creation, Behe reveals that what makes Intelligent Design unique—and right—is that it acknowledges causation. Evolution proposes that organisms living today are descended with modification from organisms that lived in the distant past. But Intelligent Design goes a step further asking, what caused such astounding changes to take place? What is the reason or mechanism for evolution? For Behe, this is what makes Intelligent Design so important.

Behe’s real answer for the “mechanism” has always been “the Christian God aka Jesus,” but he’ll undoubtedly say “an intelligence”, for IDers like to pretend that religion has nothing to do with their “theory.”

Now 66, Behe is still on the biology faculty of Lehigh University, where, famously, his own departmental website displays a disclaimer of intelligent design: a statement rebutting the work of one faculty member that is, to my knowledge, unique among American biology faculties. It claims that one of their own faculty is engaged in work that “has no basis in science.” 

I realize that I’ve just given Behe publicity, but how many people who would buy an ID book read this website? Anyway, I’ll have more to say about it after I’ve read it.

h/t: Marek

116 Comments

  1. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted November 16, 2018 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Since he is a biochemist, maybe he should do himself a lot of good by reading another biochemist, such a Nick lane.
    On the other hand, we know (by experience) that creationists -and what is ID other than creationism?- are impervious to reason.

    • Joe G
      Posted November 20, 2018 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      I have read Nick Lane. He doesn’t have any science, just a bunch of assertions. For example he just says, without warrant, that ATP synthase would be easy to produce out of the shoot (his alkaline white castles). He has no way to test his claim and therefore hasn’t tested it.

      • Burnout
        Posted November 27, 2018 at 1:06 am | Permalink

        Which is still more then Behe

      • rickflick
        Posted November 27, 2018 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

        Nick Lane is a professor in evolutionary biochemistry at University College London. I’ll take his word over you incoherent babble.

  2. Colin
    Posted November 16, 2018 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Behe is still beating that tired old drum after being debunked over and over again?

    “Most true believers, when faced with evidence that contradicts their beliefs, will hold on to those beliefs even more strongly.”

    • Joe G
      Posted November 20, 2018 at 11:54 am | Permalink

      What has been debunked and where has it been debunked?

      No one knows how blind and mindless processes can produce irreducible complexity.

      There isn’t any evidence that contradicts Dr Behe.

      • Colin
        Posted November 20, 2018 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

        Firstly, let me guess; you believe in the Abrahamic god – yes?

        I spent a decade debating & debunking theists, and I simply got burned out by the intellectual dishonesty inherent in the theist camp, so I’m not going to start up again now with another zombie-like faith-infected mind

        • Joe G
          Posted November 20, 2018 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

          Nope, I am not religious and religion has nothing to do with it. As Mike Gene once wrote:

          “What is Intelligent Design? If you ask a critic, he will probably tell you that ID is a disguised version of Creationism and nothing more than a Trojan Horse to get God taught in the public schools. If you ask a typical proponent of ID, he will probably tell you that ID is the best explanation for various biotic phenomena.

          For me, ID begins exactly as William Dembski said it begins – with a question”:

          Intelligent design begins with a seemingly innocuous question: Can objects, even if nothing is known about how they arose, exhibit features that reliably signal the action of an intelligent cause?

          “The first thing to note about the question is that you don’t have to be a religious fundamentalist to ask it. You don’t have to be a religious fundamentalist to consider it. In fact, you don’t even have to be a religious fundamentalist to answer it.”

          I have spent decades debating evolutionists and have yet to run across an honest one. And talk about zombie-infested minds- you don’t even have a clue how to test the claims of your position.

          • Colin
            Posted November 20, 2018 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

            So you are an atheist?

            • Joe G
              Posted November 20, 2018 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

              So you don’t have any evidence that debunks Dr Behe. Please retract your statement.

              • Colin
                Posted November 20, 2018 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

                Retract my statement? LOL, that’s rich. It wasn’t a statement, it was a question. You said that you weren’t religious, so I’m just trying to gain clarity on your position. Are you an atheist or a theist? If you can’t answer this simple question, it is indeed telling.

            • Joe G
              Posted November 20, 2018 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

              I am neither an atheist nor a theist. And you don’t have any evidence that debunks Dr. Behe.

              • Colin
                Posted November 21, 2018 at 8:41 am | Permalink

                Yes you are (one or the other). You either have belief in a god or gods, or you don’t.

              • ThyroidPlanet
                Posted November 21, 2018 at 9:00 am | Permalink

                This is – I think – an example of a debate club argument. It has much less to do with genuine truth claims about gods.

              • Posted November 21, 2018 at 9:07 am | Permalink

                One side in the debate doesn’t understand the law of the excluded middle.

              • ThyroidPlanet
                Posted November 21, 2018 at 9:34 am | Permalink

                Huh

                https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_excluded_middle

            • Posted December 1, 2018 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

              Oh my, so Colin asks: “So you are an atheist?”. What the hell ahs that to do with the truth of falsity of Intelligent Design? Honestly people, focus upon the arguments, the evidence, testing the hypotheses, and discard the knee-jerk reactions against the other side.

              • Colin
                Posted December 1, 2018 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

                If you look at the context of my question, it has everything to do with where he’s coming from. As has been said many times before, intelligent design is just creationism in a cheap suite. My question is germane to his position, for 99.99999999999999% of the time, objections to evolution by natural selection are because they threaten god-belief.

                Unfortunately this individual ran away like a coward when pressed on the question, and that is telling.

              • Posted December 5, 2018 at 10:41 am | Permalink

                ID = creationism is good rhetoric, but not borne out by the evidence. E.g. Many in the ID movement are not even theists. But hey, why should evidence like that matter when you have good rhetoric?

              • Posted December 5, 2018 at 10:56 am | Permalink

                I heard this elsewhere and I’m a bit surprised. So who do these non-theist ID believers posit as the designer? Aliens? Regardless of who they think it is, seems to me it’s a God by another name.

              • Posted December 6, 2018 at 12:13 am | Permalink

                Is quite simple really Paul. They realise that ID in-and-of-itself does not posit a God. ID is rather about detecting patterns in nature that could be fingerprints of a designer. In principle that designer could be God, aliens, or even an as yet unknown natural law. This it is a big tent movement.

              • Posted December 6, 2018 at 10:16 am | Permalink

                Don’t forget turtles.

              • rickflick
                Posted December 5, 2018 at 11:15 am | Permalink

                Yes. To get ID into schools around the first amendment. Stage two: allow teachers to suggest possible sources of ID. Stage three: introduce prayer to whatever you think the ID might be. Stage four: pull back the curtain and show it was God all along.

  3. Posted November 16, 2018 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    How could anyone with an iota of self respect remain in his job after a rebuke like that? The department is essentially apologizing for having a crank on the faculty.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted November 16, 2018 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      He met the criteria for tenure.

      • Posted November 16, 2018 at 9:22 am | Permalink

        Yep. You can’t get rid of a tenured fool, unless he pushes ID in the classroom. Then you can take action.

        • Posted November 18, 2018 at 12:01 am | Permalink

          What action should be taken if a biologist pushed UD (unintelligent design) in the classroom and attributed the arrival of the fittest to the ultimate god-of-the-gaps, Random, creator of all random mutations? What if the biologist followed the methodology of the flat-earthers and extrapolated micro to macro?

          I don’t personally believe that ID is a scientific theory, however, materialistic UD (nature was the result of a random event and all genetic changes occurred randomly without plan or purpose)then UD (“it just happened”) isn’t a scientific theory either.

          Maybe we need to approach natural history as agnostics knowing that stasis is natural while having our doubts whether the sudden appearance of the higher taxa and major new body plans was purely natural.

          • Posted November 18, 2018 at 4:33 am | Permalink

            I’m sorry but you don’t seem to understand what you’re talking about. Modern evolutionary theory does not say that “nature was the result of a random event” (natural selection isn’t “random”). And the view that evolution is a combination of a random process (mutation) and a nonrandom one (selection) is scientific because both of those propositions are testable. They have been tested and they have been supported. Have you read my book Why Evolution is True? If so, where is it wrong?

            As for your “stasis is natural” comment, and “the higher taxa appeared suddenly”, the first bit of that is incoherent and the second is wrong. You are spouting creationist/ID talking points here and don’t appear to know a lot about the theory you are criticizing.

            Or are you claiming that the vast majority of biologists who accept evolutionary theory because of the evidence are somehow wrong?

            • Joe G
              Posted November 20, 2018 at 11:23 am | Permalink

              Great, how can we test the claim that natural selection produced ATP synthase?

              Natural selection, which includes happenstance change/ mutation (Mayr), is just a process of elimination. So yes we have seen deficient organisms get eliminated from the population.

              It’s the mutation part that is the real question- is it really just a chance event? ID says that it isn’t.

              I have read your book “Why Evolution Is True” and you never say how to test your claim that blind and mindless processes did it. And given what it takes to get a duplicated gene expressed and altered for a new function it is a given that if such a thing did happen it didn’t happen via blind and mindless processes.

              • rickflick
                Posted November 20, 2018 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

                To say mutation “is just a process of elimination”. Is not true and shows you don’t know what you’re talking about. Mutations are mostly copying errors in DNA during gamete creation which occur at a fairly constant frequency. That isn’t elimination, that’s simply change over time. Some mutations are harmful, some neutral, and some beneficial for an organisms survival. Natural selection is the process which eliminates the negative mutations by reducing the fertility of the organism. Referencing elimination sounds like a lame ID talking point.

      • Posted November 16, 2018 at 9:56 am | Permalink

        Did he ever do any respectable research to warrant tenure and promotion to Professor? On his faculty webpage his Selected Publications are all irreducible complexity and ID.

        • rickflick
          Posted November 16, 2018 at 10:56 am | Permalink

          As a chemist, he must have done something to become tenured, like: Investigation of some physical chemical factors affecting the gelation of sickle cell hemoglobin. Once ensconced he’s free to spout drivel.

        • Ken Pidcock
          Posted November 16, 2018 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

          If I recall (I was a student at Lehigh), he did some interesting stuff with Z-DNA. In any event, he’s not an IDer because he isn’t otherwise qualified. He’s a devout Catholic who decided he could leverage his knowledge of biochemistry for apologetics. I can’t understand that – he has to know he’s lying, and that can’t feel good – but there you go.

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted November 16, 2018 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

            he did some interesting stuff with Z-DNA.

            Wossat? Please, tell me it’s not yet nother phrase from zombie movies (a comedy genre I’ve never been able to get my laughing gear around)
            OK, it’s (a) left-hand-thread form of DNA. I’ve managed to horribly abuse cable-laid ropes (which this link conveniently explains with the S-Z convention) to get them to squirt out sections of “Z rope”. I’ve never seen it happen by accident though, but in thinking about how ribozymal RNA loops can link up, I’ve ended up with a head filled with mangled knots resembling 3-way analogues of their illustration of a “DNA-to-Z-DNA” junction. There are some weird and hard to visualise things that happen due to the coiling (and supercoiling) of DNA, and it’s nice to see that someone has actually tried getting a handle on at least the terminology required. It makes a change from trying to work out the mineralogy of sheet silicates – curse you Cairns-Smith!

            he could leverage his knowledge of biochemistry for apologetics. I can’t understand that – he has to know he’s lying, and that can’t feel good – but there you go.

            The feel of lucre in the pocket eases many an anguished heart.

            • rickflick
              Posted November 18, 2018 at 9:12 am | Permalink

              “he has to know he’s lying”.
              I recall reading somewhere, his son, who is an atheist, claimed Behe absolutely believes what he preaches. As bizarre at that might seem.

              • Diane G
                Posted November 19, 2018 at 2:45 am | Permalink

                Those who truly believe in Christianity and all its teachings essentially believe in magic. Once you cross that bridge you can accept that anything is possible.

          • Posted November 18, 2018 at 12:24 am | Permalink

            I think he is fooling himself.

    • Posted November 16, 2018 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      I’m not saying he should be fired. I’m saying he should resign. Not to resign is dishonorable.

      • Posted November 16, 2018 at 10:09 am | Permalink

        I am sure that in Behe’s mind, what he is doing is honorable—fighting the good fight against an orthodoxy that refuses to see the evidence for IC and ID.

        Perhaps his views have changed, but I thought Behe accepted most of evolutionary theory. As a good RC (with nine homeschooled children), though, he supports the Church’s doctrine that evolution must have divine guidance.

  4. RPGNo1
    Posted November 16, 2018 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    “I realize that I’ve just given Behe publicity, but how many people who would buy an ID book read this website?”

    Not me.

    But I had a big grin on my face after reading the question “What is the reason or mechanism for evolution”?

    Well, let me ask you some questions, Mr. Behe: What is the reason or mechanism for gravity? Or intelligence? Why does a natural phenomenon have to have a reason?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted November 16, 2018 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      I suspect you’d get the same mumbo-jumbo about “intelligence,” and — were he of a mind to branch off into philosophy — some version of the cosmological argument.

      • RPGNo1
        Posted November 16, 2018 at 11:22 am | Permalink

        That’s a good thought.

    • Joe G
      Posted November 20, 2018 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      So stuff just happens and here we are? That’s your “science”? Really?

      • rickflick
        Posted November 20, 2018 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

        Short answer: Yes.

    • Posted December 1, 2018 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps you could begin with chemical evolution. This video by the highly published Professor James Tour would be a good start: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zQXgJ-dXM4

      • rjdownard
        Posted December 1, 2018 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

        Oh dear, Tour! More “Origins or Bust” arguments, as if any of that made the reptile-mammal transition or the Alus in our genome go away.

        • rickflick
          Posted December 1, 2018 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

          At least Tour has a real diploma to go with his bible studies. 😎

          • rjdownard
            Posted December 2, 2018 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

            True enough, though the whole block of active antievolutionists with such credentials who offer technical argument is absurdly small (barely fifty out of thousands currently). And all too often it looks like they out on a tunnel-vision cap to auger in on elements that reinforce their arguments (Gunter Bechly’s, ID’s new, and so far only, paleontologist, being another example, his arguments sounding like part Casey Luskin and part Duane Gish).

            Tour is all too typical in that regard, as is how he gets used (antievolutionist groupies on social media waving his video lecture like a talisman).

            • rickflick
              Posted December 2, 2018 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

              “antievolutionist groupies on social media”

              Yup. Even a few here lately.

      • rickflick
        Posted December 1, 2018 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

        I’m guessing he is a bit biased against abiogenesis. Note that just a few minutes into his talk he shows how complex a cell is and then says, “We have no idea how any of this got started.”
        Say what? Abiogenesis research is a very active branch of chemistry/biology. Wikipedia has 338 references, and around 50 bibliographic entries. Why would he say such a thing? Do you think the fact that Tour is a born again Christian might have something to do with his opinions?

  5. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted November 16, 2018 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Well, he has been known to be wrong at essentially every step before, and i see no promise that this will be any different. The above is loaded with so much that is wrong that it would take a bit of time to rebut. A competent freshman biology student can see thru the smoke and mirrors. But it will sell, unfortunately.

  6. Ken Pidcock
    Posted November 16, 2018 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    I believe that Michael Behe is sincere in his desire to deploy his knowledge of biochemistry to buttress theism, which he holds to be essential to cultural morality. That this requires intellectual fraud is his burden to bear.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted November 16, 2018 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      Making the frequent censure he receives from respected academic experts, like his Lehigh colleagues and our host, the Stations of the Cross along Behe’s own, personal Via Dolorosa.

  7. nay
    Posted November 16, 2018 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    I like the Department’s Position – scientists supporting Behe’s 1st Amendment and academic right to hold his personal unscientific/crank position while making clear that such is indeed unscientific and not supported by the school. Beautifully written. (I assume, of course, that the school does not allow him to teach his personal view in its classrooms.)

    • nay
      Posted November 16, 2018 at 9:47 am | Permalink

      P.S.-“What is the reason or mechanism for evolution?” Evolution “is” the reason AND the mechanism for the existence of species. The question makes no sense. While there may indeed be “no dumb questions”, I think this one qualifies as a “deepity”.

  8. Daniel Engblom
    Posted November 16, 2018 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    “But Intelligent Design goes a step further asking, what caused such astounding changes to take place? What is the reason or mechanism for evolution? ”

    Weird, I thought the mechanism, reason behind most evolution that caused such astounding changes to take place had already been studied for over a hundred years, called Natural Selection.

    When will a single sincere religionist acknowledge the existence of the main theory behind evolution, and not just talk about the fact of evolution itself?

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted November 16, 2018 at 10:46 am | Permalink

      As for ‘reason’ for evolution, that of course is a word meant to sooth the theistically minded, since things happen for a reason.
      But one might as well ask for the reason why stars make heavier elements by nuclear fusion. Or why hurricanes cause coastal disasters.

  9. koseighty
    Posted November 16, 2018 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    re: Publicity for anti-science books.

    I buy my science and counter apologetic books new and my anti-science and apologetic books used in an effort to support one and not the other while keeping up on both.

  10. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted November 16, 2018 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    “ … weakening the theory’s validity even more.”

    With no observable data, how can a theory – a hypothesis that has explained observed data – be weakened?

    • Ken Phelps
      Posted November 16, 2018 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      You must understand that “…the theory’s validity…” translates as “my emotional response to the the theory”. Validity is argued in papers, emotions are shared in books.

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted November 16, 2018 at 11:44 am | Permalink

        I thought of the most famous example where a theory was met with challenge – and then it made complete sense that Einstein’s theory was an extension to Newton’s, if not a separate theory altogether.

        That is, if a theory truly “challenged “ evolution, we would expect it to extend or build upon it or simply be a stand-alone theory – not un-do evolution by natural selection.

        I might have typos sorry.

        • grasshopper
          Posted November 17, 2018 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

          Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, has been challenged, embellished if you like, with mechanisms other than natural selection, such as gene flow and genetic drift, which supports your argument.

          But bear in mind that challenging String Theory could leave you in knots, or severely entangled.

          • ThyroidPlanet
            Posted November 17, 2018 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

            No

            Don’t

            The sadness

  11. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted November 16, 2018 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    “But Intelligent Design goes a step further asking, what caused such astounding changes to take place?”

    What is the language game being played here? If you answer “natural selection”, the illusion is that your answer acknowledges the “astounding changes” as something that sounds more exciting than “descent with modification”.

    “What is the reason or mechanism for evolution?”

    Isn’t the answer for the mechanism natural selection? And the reason for natural selection is thermodynamics?

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted November 16, 2018 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

      I think the cause of natural selection is, ultimately, thermodynamics.

      ‘reason’ has several possible meanings, one is ’cause’, the other is ‘purpose’, (it can also mean ‘justification’); and I’m sure IDers love to make the most of that ambiguity.

      cr

      • Richard Bond
        Posted November 17, 2018 at 6:06 am | Permalink

        Everything that happens in the universe follows a gradient of increasing entropy: evolution, star formation, growth and metabolism, decay, the lot. In that sense, the second law of thermodynamics is the “cause” of everything.

        • ThyroidPlanet
          Posted November 17, 2018 at 6:37 am | Permalink

          It explains it. It doesn’t cause it. The law just sits there.

          This I think is the gap that Behe and others use – after setting up an interesting scenario – evolution- they take a dive in the gap and ask “but what CAUSED all that, HMMMMM?!?!”

          • Richard Bond
            Posted November 17, 2018 at 6:57 am | Permalink

            Did you not notice the deliberate scare quotes?

            • ThyroidPlanet
              Posted November 17, 2018 at 7:04 am | Permalink

              Yes I get you

              I’m going for the language trickery Behe is playing…

            • ThyroidPlanet
              Posted November 17, 2018 at 7:25 am | Permalink

              And I’m also trying to say that using quotes here isn’t enough to uncover the trickery….?

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted November 17, 2018 at 6:40 am | Permalink

        Yes, there is something unclear about positing a “reason” – when it comes down to it, I’d have to say calling it “ambiguous” is wrong. It’s language play that deliberately misleads…

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted November 17, 2018 at 5:33 am | Permalink

      I think what’s going on here, and in general, is that old magician’s technique of misdirection.

      But what makes this interesting- if you will – seems to be the entanglement of misdirection with the precise language of science. With magic tricks you can see the misdirection if you learn it. Likewise with Behe’s writings, but the sad thing is when people look to Behe to teach them science, with the notion that they’ll learn it along the way to his conclusion.

  12. DW
    Posted November 16, 2018 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    I’ll wait for the Michael Bay film adaptation.

  13. Barry Lyons
    Posted November 16, 2018 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Jerry, this inane “devolve” idea is common among evolution deniers (I see it a lot on Twitter). I’ve never been able to wrap my head around this idea, and so I look forward to your review.

  14. Hempenstein
    Posted November 16, 2018 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    “…because it shows the Darwinian process cannot explain the creation of life itself…”

    Um, and when did it attempt to explain abiogenic origins? But as said in the first comment, Behe needs to read Nick Lane, and also wrap his head around the works of Jack Szostak.

    • Joe G
      Posted November 20, 2018 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

      How life began dictates how it evolved. ID says that not only is life intelligently designed but it was designed to evolve ad adapt.

      Nick lane has speculation and no science. Szostak ran into Spiegelman’s Monster

  15. Christopher
    Posted November 16, 2018 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    As a young adult wading into the evolution arena after being exposed to Dawkins by my wonderful philosophy professor I checked out Behe’s “Darwin’s Black Box” along with Dawkins’ “Blind Watchmaker”. I was quite naive and hadn’t realized who Bebe was but didn’t make it more than a few sentences before I discovered my error. I tried, I really did, but I have such a low bullish!t tolerance that I couldn’t read it. I doff my hat to those of you who can.

  16. Posted November 16, 2018 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    There’s an interesting irony to Behe’s thesis. He claims that mutation can only break down biological structure and it’s incapable of building it up. The same accusation could be made of his books on Intelligent Design. All his books do is attempt to tear down evolution. Where’s the science that builds up ID? Is the design still occurring and, if so, is there any evidence for it being guided by an intelligence?

  17. Posted November 16, 2018 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Hm, anything we can do to shame HarperCollins?

  18. Jon Gallant
    Posted November 16, 2018 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Dr. Behe’s publications after about 1998 are all in the ID category. Before then, however, he published 30 odd respectable papers in reputable journals, mostly dealing with polymer-chemistry aspects of DNA and of its quaternary organization with proteins into nucleosomes. His new book apparently focuses on the origin of life problem—which, we have to admit, is still poorly understood—in a manner analogous to the familiar “God of the gaps” line of argument. As science demystifies one problem after another, theists carry out a tactical retreat to whatever remains poorly worked out. Or to what cannot be worked out, like a “reason” for hydrogen.

  19. Christine Janis
    Posted November 16, 2018 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    ‘In its website on the book, HarperCollins (which should be ashamed at itself for publishing the biology equivalent of flat-Earthism)’

    I should note that this book is actually published by HarperOne, the woo-woo wing of HarperCollins that also published Darwin’s Doubt.

    This is how they describe themselves:

    ‘HarperOne is committed to publishing the most important books across the full spectrum of religion, spirituality, health, personal growth, social change, relationships, and creativity, adding to the wealth of the world’s wisdom by stirring the waters of reflection on the primary questions of life and inspiring readers to make change, both inside and out.’

  20. Posted November 16, 2018 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    I see all of these as teachable moments. I used to encourage the students to bring ’em in so they could be knocked out of the park.
    But then…I started teaching in a place where evolution was against the rules. So this fostered a level of combativeness and a feeling that finding out why the anti-evolutionists were wrong was fun.
    I have to say–I dont find the religious anti-evolutionists any more annoying than the secular ones (aka “Standard social science model believers”)

    • Joe G
      Posted November 20, 2018 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      Great- perhaps you can tell us how to test the claim that ATP synthase evolved via blind and mindless processes.

      • Posted November 20, 2018 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

        I can’t answer your question but I do want to remind you that mentioning things we do not know does not invalidate the theory of evolution.

        • Joe G
          Posted November 20, 2018 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

          Your alleged theory is full of things we don’t know. That is the point. And yet you try to pass it off as science.

          ID has a way to test the claim that ATP synthase was intelligently designed. And it follows Newton’s four rules of scientific reasoning.

          • Posted November 20, 2018 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

            Now you show your true colors. Things we don’t know are not passed off as science. If you don’t want to learn, you are wasting our time and your own. Good bye, sir.

      • rjdownard
        Posted November 26, 2018 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

        Since paleogenomics is increasingly reconstructing ancestral systems (including the parameters of mutualism in the mitochondrial endosympbiosis case), its only a matter of time before competing models are tested by direct experimentation Everything in evolution is potentially testable and verifiable in just that way. We hope Joe keeps up with the literature.

        • ThyroidPlanet
          Posted November 26, 2018 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

          The first I ever heard of that was Steve Benner’s work – blood cells, I think. Fascinating.

          • rjdownard
            Posted November 27, 2018 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

            Yes, Benner has been active in that field for the last 20 years (I have lots of his papers in my TIP data field). More recently Benner has been focusing on applying the paleogenetic toolkit to work out the parameters of early life (here and on other planets). Neat stuff.

  21. eric
    Posted November 16, 2018 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    I’ll have more to say about it after I’ve read it.

    Substitutionary atonement, atheist style! 🙂

  22. Posted November 16, 2018 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    “A system of natural selection acting on random mutation, evolution can help make something look and act differently. But evolution never creates something organically.”

    How do we know when something that evolution creates is “created organically” rather then simply being brought about? I will be interested to see (once the book is available) whether Behe actually says that a mutation from base A to base C is “devolution” and thus can occur, but a mutation back the other way (from C to A at the same site) is not possible because it would be undevolution, and that is impossible. It seems impossible that anyone could argue that.

    • Christine Janis
      Posted November 16, 2018 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      Many things are impossible: especially before breakfast.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted November 16, 2018 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

        Start your breakfast with coffee! Tar-barrel strength.

        • Posted November 19, 2018 at 11:24 am | Permalink

          Since we’re talking theology, why not go full Bishop Berkeley and do *actual tarwater*?

      • rjdownard
        Posted November 16, 2018 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

        Christine will know just how bad Behe’s argument in “Edge of Evolution” was regarding the reptile-mammal transition, having read my “Evolution Slam Dunk” dissection of his attempt to wave chloroquine resistance (of all things) at it (without ever addressing any of the fossil data), and muddling all the details even on the bacterial resistance end.

        Behe’s arguments (along with the more overt creationists he avoids thinking about) are an excellent opportunity to explore source methods issues, and illustrate by their example how failing to follow fair methods standards leads to the mess that is antievolutionism.

        In that respect, Behe’s new book can be instructive. But make no mistake about it, within the ID/creationism camp (that includes not a few politicians, including ones in the Trump administration and state governments) his latest offering will be hailed as monumental, and often authority quoted by followers who will never fact check any of his claims.

        • Joe G
          Posted November 20, 2018 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

          ID is not anti-evolution and fossil evidence does not support evolution by means of blind and mindless processes. Your alleged reptile-mammal transition would require so many just-so mutations as to be well out of the reach of blind and mindless processes. Just the evolution of the inner ear from the jaw bones is too much for blind and mindless processes.

          • Posted November 20, 2018 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

            Oh dear, Joe G., I’ve missed most of your comments about ID, which show a profound ignorance of both evolution and even ID. You spout nonsense with no backing (“ID is not anti-evolution”–seriously?), and you have no data or calculations showing that the reptile-mammal transition could not occur by “blind and mindless processes.” We’ve seen very rapid evolution in real time depending on those “blind” processes (a 10% change in finch beak size in ONE YEAR), as well as humans using those random mutations to create big changes through artificial selection. You can give no reason why natural selection, an analogue of artificial selection in which nature determines the optimum, couldn’t do the same thing. Your dislike of evolution is based on no data at all, but your ignorance and perhaps your religiosity. I don’t know if you’re religious, but you’re certainly ignorant about the things you speak of.

            As Laura Nyro sang, “Goodbye, Joe.”

            • ThyroidPlanet
              Posted November 20, 2018 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

              It seems this has less to do with science/reasoning and more to do with finding linguistic incongruities anywhere they might appear, pedantic interpretation of words, debate-club small fire starting…I think it’s interesting… for a while….

          • rjdownard
            Posted November 26, 2018 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

            By all means regale us with where the supposedly unattainable mutations are in the “alleged” reptile-mammal transition, especially since it appears no actually novel genes are involved, but rather the regulatory modification of them. Joe may fire away as to what limits of probable or improbable he wishes to draw, but we hope he draws on some of the available data to do it.

            Here’s how I surveyed the players in “Evolution Slam Dunk”:

            Focusing in on just the mammalian side of things, our middle ears involve yet more activity by our old friend, sonic hedgehog, Sandrine Testaz et al. (2001), along with others like Pax2, Hmx2, Hmx3, Bapx1, Bmp and Tgf, Juan Represa et al. (2000) and Zhe-Xi Luo (2011, 372-373). One experimental “knockout” of the MHox gene in mice (where genes are selectively removed to learn more about what particular DNA does in the organism) had a relevant effect: “the incus fails to demarcate and the palatoquadrate is partially retained, forming an articulation with the malleus. Thus, the MHox mutation results in cranial skeletal components that are morphologically similar to those seen in phylogenetically more primitive animals such as reptiles,” James Martin et al. (1995, 1246).

            This is a direct experimental window that allows modern science to peek into the past for clues as to what mutations contributed to the evolution of our own hearing. Seen in the light of modern genetics, the evolution of the mammal middle ear involves yet another sequence of “changes in the developmental program of the ancient chordate pharyngeal arches,” Takechi & Kuratani (2010, 417). The science work has continued to progress, of course, such as the review of middle ear dynamics by Neal Anthwal et al. (2013) pulling together a broad range of work, including more “knockout” experiments. All of that study continues to confirm that the scientists are on the right track.

            Furthermore, if you’re of the evolutionary persuasion, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the regulatory Bapx1 gene that comes into play with the mammalian malleus and incus operate in their ancestral counterparts, the articular and quadrate bones in fish, reptiles and birds, Craig Miller et al. (2003), Joanne Wilson & Abigail Tucker (2004), Abigail Tucker et al. (2004), Frank Eames & Richard Schneider (2008) and Zhe-Xi Luo (2011, 372-373).

            [Cited sources:]

            Anthwal, Neal, Leena Joshi, & Abigail S. Tucker. 2013. “Evolution of the mammalian middle ear and jaw: adaptations and novel structures.” Journal of Anatomy 222 (January): 147-160.

            Eames, B. Frank, & Richard A. Schneider. 2008. “The genesis of cartilage size and shape during development and evolution.” Development (AKA Journal of Embryology and Experimental Morphology) 135 (1 December): 3947-3958.

            Luo, Zhe-Xi. 2011. “Developmental Patterns in Mesozoic Evolution of Mammal Ears.” Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 42: 355-380.

            Martin, James F., Allan Bradley, & Eric N. Olson. 1995. “The paired-like homeo box gene MHox.” Genes & Development 9 (15 May): 1237-1249.

            Miller, Craig T., Deborah Yelon, Didier Y. R. Stainer, & Charles B. Kimmel. 2003. “Two endothelin 1 effectors, hand2 and bapx1, pattern ventral pharyngeal cartilage and the jaw joint.” Development (AKA Journal of Embryology and Experimental Morphology) 130 (1 April): 1353-1365.

            Represa, Juan, Dorothy A. Frenz, & Thomas R. Van De Water. 2000. “Genetic patterning of embryonic inner ear development.” Acta Oto-laryngologica 120 (January): 5-10.

            Takechi, Masaki, & Shigeru Kuratani. 2010. “History of Studies on Mammalian Middle Ear Evolution: A Comparative Morphological and Developmental Biology Perspective.” Journal of Experimental Zoology 314B (15 September): 417-433.

            Testaz, Sandrine, Artem Jarov, Kevin P. Williams, Leona E. Ling, Victor E. Koteliansky, Claire Fournier-Thibault, & Jean-Loup Duband. 2001. “Sonic hedgehog restricts adhesion and migration of neural crest cells independently of the Patched-Smoothened-Gli signaling pathway.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 98 (23 October): 12521-12526.

            Tucker, Abigail S., Robert P. Watson, Laura A. Lettice, Gen Yamada, & Robert E. Hill. 2004. “Bapx1 regulates patterning in the middle ear: altered regulatory role in the transition from the proximal jaw during vertebrate evolution.” Development (AKA Journal of Embryology and Experimental Morphology) 131 (15 March): 1235-1245.

            Wilson, Joanne, & Abigail S. Tucker. 2004. “Fgf and Bmp signals repress the expression of Bapx1 in the mandibular mesenchyme and control the position of the developing jaw joint.” Developmental Biology 266 (1 February): 138-150.

            • ThyroidPlanet
              Posted November 26, 2018 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

              This is great! Thanks!

              • rjdownard
                Posted November 27, 2018 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

                You’re welcome. Information is of no use if it is not known and made use of. So much splendid science has been done, putting data points on the field, and it is up to critics of evolution to account for them–ALL of them. Unfortunately too many of them are secondary redactors relying on dated quote mines, and the few (at best maybe 50) of the technically aware core fact claimants in antievolutionism ignore that content (whether by accident or Intelligent Design is hard to assess, but ignore it they do), and no more blatantly than in the reptile-mammal transition case.

    • Colin
      Posted November 16, 2018 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      Quote: “It seems impossible that anyone could argue that”

      Not when your mind is infected by the faith virus.

  23. Diane G
    Posted November 17, 2018 at 2:12 am | Permalink

    sub

  24. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted November 17, 2018 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    I’d like to try to illustrate what I think Behe is doing with a simpler scenario:

    My coffee was made with coffee grounds, produced by grinding coffee beans, grown from coffee plants. Hot water was boiled to pour over the grounds. The mixture was filtered into a cup. The grinder was manufactured in China from raw materials in the factory. The kettle of water was similarly manufactured. The water was supplied by the city water facility.

    But what caused the coffee to be made?

    What is the reason the coffee was made?

    … that’s teleological. It’s true that it would all just sit there if someone didn’t work to make it. I think Dawkins used an airplane to illustrate it for evolution.

    The build up to the punchline questions is important. As it is built up, there’s a sense of alienation that science or math can evoke, unlike things such as art. We can feel lost – especially if we don’t understand something, like before we take a class, or study something. This is the weakness I think that teleology can grip so firmly. I include myself in the group where there’s something like a spell being cast especially when you’re ignorant of important pieces of knowledge….

  25. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted November 17, 2018 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    “But Intelligent Design goes a step further …”

    Because going a step further means Intelligent Design would have to be better – right?….

    No. Going a step further can just as well mean it plunges into the abyss.

    It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so poisonous.

  26. Joe G
    Posted November 20, 2018 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    The mechanisms for ID are telic processes as opposed to your blind and mindless processes, Jerry. ID holds that organisms were not only intelligently designed, but designed with the ability to evolve and adapt.

    IDists can test the claim that, for example, ATP synthase was the result of intelligent design. Can anyone say how to test the claim it evolved by means of blind and mindless processes?

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted November 20, 2018 at 11:04 am | Permalink

      “Can anyone say how to test the claim it evolved by means of blind and mindless processes?”

      Here again is a language game. “Naturalistic” is what the more colorful “blind and mindless” means. The former is used in a formal setting, the latter in more literary narrative type writing. I don’t see the problem with either.

      • Joe G
        Posted November 20, 2018 at 11:16 am | Permalink

        Read what Jerry has to say:

        https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/02/21/natural-selection-and-evolution-material-blind-mindless-and-purposeless/

        And I noticed you failed to respond to the question

        • ThyroidPlanet
          Posted November 20, 2018 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

          I didn’t ask a question.

          “Blind, mindless and purposeless” is a colorful way to express the same idea of “naturally”.

          There is no problem here except possibly an exquisitely pedantic interpretation of the word “blind”, because only animals with eyes can be blind, and somehow that is an inconsistency in the chain of reasoning for “naturalistic.”

          I don’t see the problem.

        • ThyroidPlanet
          Posted November 20, 2018 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

          Oh I see – YOU asked the question. I apologize. You are correct- I did NOT answer YOUR question. Which I’m sure means a great deal to someone out there.

          • Joe G
            Posted November 20, 2018 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

            No, it just means that you don’t have a clue. That is typical of every anti-IDist

            • ThyroidPlanet
              Posted November 20, 2018 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

              Did my non-answer to your question score points for ID?

    • rickflick
      Posted November 20, 2018 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      “IDists can test the claim that, for example, ATP synthase was the result of intelligent design”.
      That’s an interesting claim. Checking with Wikipedia, we find a description of how ATP synthase might have evolved. Testing that hypothesis might be difficult.

      “The modular evolution theory for the origin of ATP synthase suggests that two subunits with independent function, a DNA helicase with ATPase activity and a H+
      motor, were able to bind, and the rotation of the motor drove the ATPase activity of the helicase in reverse.[13][17]”

  27. rjdownard
    Posted November 26, 2018 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, will recall that in future. I figured if the citations weren’t there, Joe could always grump on lack of specificity, plus as a reader I always like enough info to do follow-up (so nobody has to take anybody’s word for anything).


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