Scientists damn Behe’s new book; he responds lamely

As I’ve mentioned before, Michael Behe has a new creationist (i.e., Intelligent Design) book coming out soon: Darwin Devolves: The New Science about DNA that Challenges Evolution. While its official release date is February 26, three scientists have written an extremely critical review of the book in the journal Science (click on the screenshot below). One of them, Rich Lenski, did the famous lab-evolution experiments in bacteria that Behe discusses (and apparently tries to rebut) in his book. I won’t reiterate what Lents et al. say, as you can read their review below. The title tells the tale.

Behe, like all ID advocates, has a very thin skin. Although his books have sold decently in America because we have so many creationists seeking confirmation of what they like to believe, the response of scientists to Intelligent Design—and Behe’s books—has been pretty similar to the opinion of Judge Jones in the Kitzmiller ID case: this isn’t science but disguised religion.

So not two days passed before Behe responded on the Discovery Institute Evolution News site, crowing in triumph. Click on the screenshot below.

Woo-hoo!???

Behe promises a fuller response to Lents et al., but all his crowing is apparently about the reviewers having not responded to the “central argument of [Behe’s] book”—the “First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”. As Behe says:

In a few days I will offer a detailed rebuttal. But the overwhelmingly important point to notice right up front is that the reviewers (Lenski plus Josh Swamidass over at Peaceful Science and John Jay College biologist Nathan Lents) have absolutely no response to the very central argument of the book. The argument that I summarized as an epigraph on the first page of the book so no one could miss it. The one that I included in the title of a 2010 Quarterly Review of Biology article upon which the book is based. The one for which I chose the most in-your-face moniker that I could think of (consistent with the professional literature) to goad a response: The First Rule of Adaptive EvolutionBreak or blunt any gene whose loss would increase the number of offspring. The rule summarizes the fact that the overwhelming tendency of random mutation is to degrade genes, and that very often is helpful. Thus natural selection itself acts as a powerful de-volutionary force, increasing helpful broken and degraded genes in the population.

And they had no response! That’s because there is in fact nothing that can alleviate that fatal flaw in Darwinism. Much more to come soon.

In a separate post on Evolution News, IDer David Klinghoffer simply echoes Behe’s point, and helpfully adds that perhaps Science should have chosen reviewers that could have addressed Behe’s main point.

Unfortunately, Behe appears to have missed the fact that the reviewers did address Behe’s main point—at least twice.  What is that point? It’s apparently the contention that evolution nearly always relies on inactivated genes during nonadaptive evolution, as such genes can be useful (not making a product can increase your fitness if that product is superfluous or injurious in a new environment). On top of that, mutations that “break” or degrade genes are more common than genes that affect or alter gene function. Put these together and you get Behe’s Rule, but the rule itself is broken.

The problem with Behe’s Rule is that yes, random mutation most often degrades genes, and broken genes can be adaptive, but natural selection doesn’t just choose any gene; it chooses ones that increase fitness. And we have many examples of non-broken genes that increase fitness. These include the arising of duplicated genes and then the divergence of those genes to perform new functions on top of old ones—a very common mode of adaptation in nature that has created many useful “gene families.”

And Lents et al. know this. I’ve put in bold Lents et al.’s referral, in their review, to adaptation involving non-broken genes:

Behe argues. He allows that mutation and natural selection can explain species- and genus-level diversification, but only through the degradation of genes. Something else, he insists, is required for meaningful innovation. Here, Behe invokes a “purposeful design” by an “intelligent agent.”

There are indeed many examples of loss-of-function mutations that are advantageous, but Behe is selective in his examples. He dedicates the better part of chapter 7 to discussing a 65,000-generation Escherichia coli experiment, emphasizing the many mutations that arose that degraded function—an expected mode of adaptation to a simple laboratory environment, by the way—while dismissing improved functions and deriding one new one as a “sideshow” (1). (Full disclosure: The findings in question were published by coauthor Richard Lenski.)

. . . Behe is skeptical that gene duplication followed by random mutation and selection can contribute to evolutionary innovation. Yet there is overwhelming evidence that this underlies trichromatic vision in primates (8), olfaction in mammals (9), and developmental innovations in all metazoans through the diversification of HOX genes (10). And in 2012, Andersson et al. showed that new functions can rapidly evolve in a suitable environment (11). Behe acknowledges none of these studies, declaring an absence of evidence for the role of duplications in innovation.

I won’t list the many examples of adaptations based on non-broken genes, which involve far more than duplications (such examples can involve simple amino acid substitutions), but more about that later. In the meantime, the thin-skinned Behe is crowing like a rooster, failing to notice that behind that irascible old rooster is a farmer with an axe and a hunger for chicken stew.

82 Comments

  1. rob munguia
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the post. There are lot of examples of mutations originating new functions in Nei’s book “Mutation driven Evolution”.

  2. Posted February 9, 2019 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    Also worth mentioning, Klinghoffer’s claim that Behe’s argument provoked a panic attack at Science Magazine: https://evolutionnews.org/2019/02/early-science-review-of-darwin-devolves-a-panic-attack/

  3. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Behe is a marvel – how does he come up with these ideas? It must be very difficult.

    I’m puzzled though what “broken” means … and “non-broken” for that matter – wouldn’t it depend on a number of things? For instance a gene for hemoglobin that is mutated so it cannot bind O2 is ostensibly “broken”, however, how would we know it cannot serve some other role that increases fitness?

    Or consider the “degraded” mutations in Lenski’s experiment- what rules out any role for these genes in increasing fitness, perhaps facilitating citrate metabolism somewhere outside the biochemical pathway, I don’t know, say in helping expression of citrate-metabolizing genes, or facilitating transport of citrate?

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      On the very last point, the mutation I know best was a duplication of the gene needed to transport citrate into the cells. The gene is normally expressed only in the absence of oxygen, but the duplicated gene came under control of a promoter that turned it on in the presence of oxygen. No gene was ‘broken’ here, as I would think of such things. This new strain of E. coli was definitely more fit under the competitive growth conditions that were used, and it did not take long for it to happen.

  4. Steve Gerrard
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    One thing worth mentioning is that once a gene is “broken” or “degraded”, it is now good fodder for experimenting, so to speak. Since it is not doing anything needed, all sorts of mutations can occur in it without a negative effect, and sooner or later a useful new function can occur.

    The ID crew always seem to ignore genes that affect development or gene expression. This is ripe territory for evolution, as many of the differences between species can be described as differences in development or gene expression. The HOX genes are a particularly dramatic example.

  5. Vaal
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    If you take Behe’s vision of biology seriously, it depicts a biology that seems ton only continually break down rather than allowing for elaborate responses in populations over time to environmental pressures. It implies a “Designer” who either has to continually tinker with billions of his designs to keep them running…and yet 99 percent have gone extinct.

    Not sure this deserves the description “Intelligent.”

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      It’s all part of the plan.

    • Posted February 11, 2019 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      Somehow this reminds me of how Leibniz complained that Newton’s god was required to continually engage in divine intervention for purely physical reasons.

  6. steve oberski
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    The Lenski takedown of creationist loon Schlafly is a classic in the genre:

    P.S. Did you know that your own bowels harbor something like a billion (1,000,000,000) E. coli at this very moment? So remember to wash your hands after going to the toilet, as I hope your mother taught you. Simple calculations imply that there are something like 10^20 = 100,000,000,000,000,000,000 E. coli alive on our planet at any moment. Even if they divide just once per day, and given a typical mutation rate of 10^-9 or 10^-10 per base-pair per generation, then pretty much every possible double mutation would occur every day or so. That’s a lot of opportunity for evolution.

    P.P.P.P.S. I noticed that you say that one of your favorite articles on your website is the one on “Deceit.” That article begins as follows: “Deceit is the deliberate distortion or denial of the truth with an intent to trick or fool another. Christianity and Judaism teach that deceit is wrong. For example, the Old Testament says, ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.’” You really should think more carefully about what that commandment means before you go around bearing false witness against others.

    Full account at Lenski affair

  7. Posted February 9, 2019 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    In the writings of other creationists who reject any positive role for natural selection, it gets even worse. They believe that advantageous mutations are not just rare, but impossible. They believe that there is some sound information-theory reason for that, though they never explain why in any detail. That belief is trivial to refute: if a change in at a site in a DNA sequence from (say) G to A is deleterious, once that happens, a mutation back from A to G will be an advantageous mutation. And we know that mutations are possible at any site from any one base to any other. I don’t know whether Behe takes things this far, but lots of his followers do.

    • Posted February 10, 2019 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

      Oops. I thought I had not succeeded in posting this, so I tried again (see downthread), and people commented on that one. Can ignore this one.

  8. YF
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    ID 2.0! Alas, after a decade of remission these guys are banging their drums again. Such a shame that time and braincells will be wasted responding to these discredited arguments. Expecting Dembski to come out with a new book any day now…

  9. Geoff Toscano
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    In trying to choose a nifty title ‘Darwin Devolves’ Behe misuses the word devolves, assuming it’s the opposite of evolve. It means giving away powers.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      Interesting

      Perhaps then

      Darwin Unvolves

      Or

      Darwin Revolves

      The possibilities are endless.

      • Geoff Toscano
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

        Well Behe is a master in the art of invention.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      Interesting. I looked, and found it specifically means to give away power to a lower authority.
      Then there is de-evolve, which means to evolve backwards to an ancestral state.
      Neither really captures what Behe meant. Degrades would have been better.

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

        so Behe would be the lower authority?.. but then, since the higher authority gave away their power, Behe is now the higher authority… or the man on the Sistine Chapel ceiling is the higher authority…

        perhaps this is covered in detail in the book.

  10. Posted February 9, 2019 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Other creationists take things even further. They believe that advantageous mutations are not just rare, but actually impossible. They think that there is some deep argument based on information theory that establishes this, although they never quite explain in detail how that argument works. That the argument is wrong is easy to see: consider a site in a DNA sequence that can change from (say) G to A, and where that change in deleterious. Of course once that happens, a mutation back in the other direction, from A to G, will be advantageous. They think that the first can happen, but the second cannot. But we know that at any site mutations from any base to any other is possible. So much for deep information theory. I am not sure that Behe’s book will take things this far, but many of his admirers do.

    • Posted February 9, 2019 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      So, according to their “logic”, the omniscient and omnipotent G*d creates just deleterious mutations, never advantageous ones, but is benevolent nonetheless! You cannot make this stuff up! (A Christian opponent of mine once argued that mutations were a consequence of the Original sin.)

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

      Are you referring to Bill Dembski of “specified complexity”** fame? He wrote a befuddling & disorganised 2012 article in Evolution News on conservation of information & something he calls “search” – all very hand wavy. HERE

      ** A concept he fails to specify!

      • Posted February 9, 2019 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

        Dembski is referring to a number of papers by Robert Marks, Dembski, and Winston Ewert. For a detailed rebuttal of those papers (and thus of Dembski’s Evolution News post, see the post by Thomas English and I on 29 March 2015 at Panda’s Thumb (here). Basically they show “evolutionary searches” are hopeless — by including in the category of evolutionary searches vast numbers of utterly crazy and dysfunctional “searches”, and then finding that on average over all of them they do not better than random sampling of results. As soon as we restrict attention to “evolutionary searches” that have genotypes that have fitnesses, their result collapses.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted February 9, 2019 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

          Thank you Joe. I’m reading your [& your colleagues] Panda’s Thumb article now.

        • Posted February 10, 2019 at 6:47 am | Permalink

          This reminds me of Dave Thomas’s demonstration of algorithmic searching for good solutions to the Steiner problem (joining up dots with shortest total pathway). Like biological evolution, improving fitness does not require knowing the target (contrast “weasel”), and like the work you refer to, searches self-limit by selecting only those mutations that improve performance at each step. Very Darwinian. https://pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/07/target-target-w-1.html

          There was also work by Tanya Latty and others, showing ants behaving very much like Dave Thomas’s algorithm. Ants, it seems, are smarter than Dembskians

    • Posted February 10, 2019 at 1:56 am | Permalink

      They think that there is some deep argument based on information theory that establishes this, although they never quite explain in detail how that argument works.

      I would contest this. They trot out “information” like it is a magic phrase that lets them establish their argument. They do not use information theory.

      -Ryan

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted February 10, 2019 at 2:07 am | Permalink

        Joe is correct in what he says, but he’s referring to a small subset of the more ‘intellectual’** of the ID clown car cavalcade. e.g. the people he named in his reply to me. Also read the link he put there for me. There are other IDers who use “information” in a much looser way too.

        ** They can speak apparently coherently, lie fluidly, have a degree or better, can count their fingers & toes & arrive at a figure very close to the truth. That’s an ID intellectual.

  11. Roger
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    I miss the good old days when the ID staff would go around spamming everyone with their giant long comments of quote-mines that everyone was supposed to read and then convert to creationism I guess.

  12. Wayne Robinson
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Stephen Meyer has a new book coming out, albeit next year – ‘the Return of the God Hypothesis. Compelling Scientific Evidence for the Existence of God.’

    It seems to be a sequel to his ‘Darwin’s Doubt,’ in which in the final chapters he admitted that the purpose of Intelligent Design is to provide support for the belief in God.

    • Posted February 11, 2019 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      Hm, both Meyer and Behe at it again. Did the DI get a new source of funding?

  13. Andrew
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    What is It called when you spend your time trying to debunk facts so that you can carry on believing in your Sky Daddy theory? I can’t call that science.
    Perhaps the current shift to a more fact-free culture, empowered by Trump, has given extra fuel to these people.

    • Posted February 9, 2019 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

      The opponents of Trump also make vital contribution to the fact-free culture, such as the claims that sexes and races do not really exist, any difference between groups of humans is a social construct, human intelligence has no hereditary component etc.

  14. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Can someone jog my memory please – where are the Islamic Intelligent Design books and authors? Or any other religion?

    What is it with ID that it is so strongly associated with the man with the beard and toga on the Sistine Chapel ceiling?

    • Posted February 9, 2019 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      Muslim vies on evolution are, on average, at least as bad as Christian ones, and probably worse, but we have little awareness of them because we do not speak the relevant languages. Check Adnan Oktar. And also “The Developing Human with Islamic Editions” by Moore.

      My personal anecdotal evidence is that Muslim students are much more likely than Christian students to doubt or reject evolution, and only Muslim students actively resist being taught theory of evolution. This must be partly due to the fact that Muslims are (on average) much more religious than Christians.

    • Posted February 13, 2019 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      Harun Yahya is a (pseudonym for) prominent Muslim creationist; the Lubavitchers are officially creationist Jews, last I checked.

  15. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Behe, like all ID advocates, has a very thin skin.

    I dunno, Jerry, your unrequited bromancer, Michael Egnor, seems to have pretty thick skin. No matter how many times you callously spurn his intellectual advances, he seems to keep coming back for more, as cheerful and clueless as ever. 🙂

    • Posted February 13, 2019 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

      While both Islam and Judaism have their own creationist traditions, an interesting fact is that these days their creationists mostly recycle talking points of Christian fundamentalists. Harun Yahya’s acolytes cranked out book after book refuting evolution, but almost all the material in them was sloppily copied from sites such as Answers In Genesis (the sloppiness has led to hilarious mistakes such as showing a photo of an insect that, on closer examination, turned out to be a fishing lure). Similarly, if you talk to ultra-orthodox Jews about evolution you will experience deja vu — you hear nothing but Christian fundamentalist arguments.

      • Posted February 13, 2019 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

        Sorry, that was a comment on Keith Douglas’s comment just above.

      • Posted February 13, 2019 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

        Indeed, Harun Yahya (Adnan Oktar) has had meetings with Israeli rabbis.

        Decades ago, a nominally secularist but de facto Islamist education ministry in Turkey invited Institute for Creation Research to comment on their biology curriculum. Taner Edis has the wohoe sad story: http://edis.sites.truman.edu/islamic-creationism-in-turkey/

        Last I heard, Oktar was in big trouble with Erdogan; does anyone know how that’s playing out?

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted February 13, 2019 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

          Oktar is still locked up in Edirne F-Type prison since August 2018 – where prisoners starve themselves to death [sometimes genuinely]. Nearly 200 of his cult members also locked up, but probably spread throughout the nasty, nasty Turkish prison system. One or two of his bottle blond ‘kittens’ have been released – I doubt this is for reasons of justice, most likely they have been let go on condition they blacken Oktar beyond redemption & they’ve done an excellent job in the press. When the trial starts it will already be too late for him.

          I expect Erdogan has emptied Oktar’s bank accounts & Oktar is going nowhere ever. Here is an ENJOYABLY LURID TURKISH NEWS REPORT [in English]

  16. Posted February 9, 2019 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    The Atlas of Creation V4 (V4 no less) is one of the Muslim contributions to warding off Dawinism, like a cross is to a vampire. Many years ago reading about this book via a Richard Dawkins site IIRC, the book has lots of photographs… they actually used a fly fishermens fly as a specimen example, bloody hilarious it was.

    Have a look at this monster if you can, an utter refutation of Darwinian evolution, in particular the Foreword which commences with:
    “Darwinist ideology is based on the imposition of a preconception of uniformed people…”

    https://books.google.co.nz/books?id=XovBAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA870&lpg=PA870&dq=muslimbook+on+evolution&source=bl&ots=gE3nsVlUsW&sig=ACfU3U14HYASvT4n8BXhjeVNHeUuiJL0MA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjT–v6w6_gAhWafH0KHdhkDqMQ6AEwCHoECAgQAQ#v=onepage&q=muslimbook%20on%20evolution&f=false
    Wikipedia:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Atlas_of_Creation

    • DutchA
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

      Wow, uniformed in stead of uninformed makes it even more funny. 🙂

      • Posted February 9, 2019 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

        yes i’m a uniformed atheist 🙂 paid up and ready to go!

  17. Posted February 9, 2019 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    The Michael Behe minivan; it’s irreducibly complex, my man. If the right signal blinker stops working, the whole vehicle shuts down.

  18. Posted February 9, 2019 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    Excellent article Dr. Coyne. As another scientist put it aptly:

    Author: erosion is really, really common. We see it all over the place. Here are hundreds of known examples. Mountains can’t be natural.

    Reviewer: the author doesn’t address what we know about all the many, many geological processes that cause rock uplift.

    Author: the reviewers don’t even address my main argument!

  19. rjdownard
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    I was delighted to see Lents et al take note of the Summers 2014 PNAS paper on the multiple pathways to chloroquine resistance, and how Behe had avoided discussing its contents in “The Edge of Evolution”. (I had delved into that in “Evolution Slam Dunk” and sent that info to Nathan when he asked to see what work I’d done regarding Behe’s claims. The Science review was like old home week for me, as Joshua Swamidass had been a guest on my “Evolution Hour” YouTube talks a few months prior to Nathan’s January appearance, and Richard Lenski was a very early donor to my TIP project.)

    No one is ever going to accuse Behe or antievolutionists generally of paying attention to most of the data field, but defenders of evolution and science are not obliged to forget the details of it for them.

    More interestingly, Behe’s notions of genetic degeneration are sounding more and more like John Sanford (young earth creationist whose “genetic entropy” efforts have been wriggling into the ID universe of late). This cross-fertilization of dumb to dumber has long occurred down in the grassroots bottom feeders, as young earthers invoke non-YECer Behe’s “irreducible complexity” and bumptious nutball Kent Hovind has even channeled Muslim antievolutionist Harun Yahya (in turn cribbing his arguments from the ID literature).

    Inbreeding seems to be the fate of antievolutionism presently, given that there are only around sixty actual fact claimants in all the current gang (YEC, ID, and the marginal OECers like Hugh Ross). Behe, alas, is one of that select and not particularly august company.

  20. Posted February 9, 2019 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    I feel trapped in a time warp. Behe’s prime exhibit is his “first rule”, a banality that (as he himself reminds us) he has been pushing since his 2010 review, skewered by me and (much better) Boudry et al at the time, and then again at the Edge of evolution and then again now.

    To quote the theatre reviewer, Hebrews 13:8, Jesus Christ! The same today, yesterday, and tomorrow

  21. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Are there other strains of “intelligent” science? where, instead of just positioning itself as the antithesis of evolution by willfully misunderstanding the science, we have “intelligent disease”, whereby the germ theory of disease is discredited by deliberately confusing biology ; “intelligent cosmology”, “intelligent atomic theory of matter”, and so on – why does “intelligent design” have such traction but nothing else?

    I would distinguish the “intelligent” sciences from plain religious origin stories in that the “intelligent” versions will purposefully misinterpret and misunderstand the science, rather than ignore them completely.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

      Well of course there are wherever the hard or soft sciences or philosophy contradict a literalist, fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible:

      Adam & Eve
      The Flood
      Book of Exodus
      The Miracles of Jesus
      The Resurrection
      Biblical literalism
      The evolution of the Biblical canon
      The Apostles & the writers of the gospels
      The existence & divinity of Jesus/The Christ
      The Trinity
      The efficacy of prayer

      Areas of conflict:
      Age of the Earth & of the Universe
      Big Bang cosmology
      Multiverse hypotheses
      The supernatural versus Physics
      Determinism/Free Will

      The loony responses to the more ‘sciencey’ of the above boil down to the false assertion that there is “observational science” [good] versus “historical science” [bad! Were you there?].

      Bad sciences [where so call historical data is used] are geology, palaeontology, astronomy & cosmology which are all very, very naughty sciences except when these disciplines throw up something they can use in support of their arguments: “oooh look that nebula looks like a human eye. That couldn’t have come about my chance!”

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

        I left evolution/ID off since you covered it

    • Peter Taylor
      Posted February 10, 2019 at 3:32 am | Permalink

      There’s “Intelligent Falling”, of course:

      https://www.theonion.com/evangelical-scientists-refute-gravity-with-new-intellig-1819567984

  22. Posted February 9, 2019 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    An “intelligent designer” God creates humans after his image, toe-nails and anger issues and all, and now “devolves” the genes? Also creates swarms of “lesser” organism to feed off “advanced” life, who he gave a nervous system so they can feel the pain from all the stings, bites, parasites, boils and infections, because he is a perfectly good “intelligent designer”.

    • A C Harper
      Posted February 10, 2019 at 5:25 am | Permalink

      Who is to say that an “intelligent designer” was aiming at creating humans? Humans might just be a byproduct of designing an environment for the bacterium Treponema pallidum subspecies pallidum (syphilis). If god is ineffable we cannot know.

  23. Frank Huggins
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    This is all a straw man. Dr. Behe’s argument pertains to blind and mindless processes and not “evolution”, per se. You cannot show that there is enough time for blind and mindless processes to choose the right genes to duplicate, get them expressed and then change them to alter their function. You have to first show how those processes can produce eukaryotes, which you can’t.

    • Posted February 9, 2019 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

      Oops, the termites have arrived!
      Well, Mr. Huggins, if that’s your real name, you have no idea what you’re talking about. the book is certainly about evolution. If you knew ANYTHING about evolution, you would see that your scenario for duplication (“blind and mindless processes choose the right genes to duplicate”) has nothing to do with reality.

      I’d tell you to go read some population-genetics papers, but you’re surely a believer and thus your mind is as locked as Fort Knox.

    • Roger
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

      Okay well that disproves your blind mindless god then. Nice own-goal.

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted February 10, 2019 at 8:42 am | Permalink

      I not only can show from scratch that eukaryotes evolved from common ancestors by using open source given half an hour, we did it as a lab in biology. (The task was to show how eukaryote transcription factor paralogs evolved by treeing them.)

      But I later practiced at Ettema Lab that is specifically interested in deep eukaryote phylogeny, so looks at our evolutionary sister Asgard archaea clades.

      Here is your asked for biology evidence:

      [Disclaimer: First author Kasia was my room mate during my stay at the lab.]

  24. Posted February 10, 2019 at 2:08 am | Permalink

    Perhaps someone should link the review and this article on the Amazon website for the book.

    -Ryan

  25. Posted February 10, 2019 at 4:41 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  26. kelskye
    Posted February 10, 2019 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    I’m glad I’m not arguing with creationists online any longer. Any time one of these books come out, the arguments filter down to the keyboard crusaders who are convinced that they finally have the knock down argument against evolution. Yet since they don’t comprehend the arguments, they don’t understand the rebuttals.

    For that reason, I think, this book is the kind of pseudo-intellectual nonsense that thrives in the information age. Behe is a cultural parasite (though I don’t doubt Behe is sincere in his convictions about evolution.)

    • A C Harper
      Posted February 10, 2019 at 7:55 am | Permalink

      He’s found his niche. Specialised and energy poor but not much competition.

  27. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted February 10, 2019 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    I like how the excerpt starts “Behe argues”, since evidence and science he has not. But when I saw that review in my feed the other day I noticed that the ending is even better:

    “Ultimately, Darwin Devolves fails to challenge modern evolutionary science because, once again, Behe does not fully engage with it. He misrepresents theory and avoids evidence that challenges him.”

    And as expected Behe doubles down on that pity rejection!

    Speaking of creationism crackpottery in my feed, the execrable WND clued me in that the infamous Discovery Institute ‘many [but rarely biology] scientists doubts evolution’ list still makes the rounds [ https://www.wnd.com/2019/02/1000-scientists-go-public-with-doubts-on-evolution/ ]!

    The article is nice enough to claim the list started in 2001 and note that “virtually every scientist in the world believes the theory to be true.” But it fails to notice that in two decades [!] neither list nor other religious expression has not made any impression on science or significantly grown the list. And it refers to the usual erroneous creationist talking points by quoting people on the list, as if those points were valid (or even evolution). The list or article fail to merit a response.

    Incidentally, my search function says Behe is not quoted.

    • rjdownard
      Posted February 10, 2019 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

      With bad timing irony, a glib Islamic creationist lobbed the WND post at me on Twitter just yesterday, oblivious not merely to how unjustified the WND was to swallow the ID propaganda spin of Axe et al, but also to how the ID/YEC antievolutionism is ideologically not at all friendly to Islam. Another book project downstream for me is a full analysis of the Discotute’s Dissent signatories, documenting how marginal they are and how distant from the working field of evolutionary scientists (no heavy hitters in biology, paleontology etc).

      To put the 1000 signatories on the Dissent in context, I have a tracking of 65,000 working scientists who are the authors of the 26,000 technical papers I’ve drawn on in my research. There is virtually no overlap between those two data sets, meaning the DI’s brigade are not the ones doing the actual hard science work.

  28. rickflick
    Posted February 10, 2019 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    It’s too bad reputable scientists have to take time out of their productive lives to deal with stuff like Behe’s nonsense. But, his message must sound plausible enough to many poorly informed readers as to give the ideas legs among many. Thus, it is necessary to take time to pop those balloons before they gain altitude. (apologies for mixing metaphors).

    • Posted February 11, 2019 at 6:12 am | Permalink

      Alas, there is no good way of puncturing a lead balloon

  29. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted February 11, 2019 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    I think what Behe is doing is analogous to what advertisers do.

    I figure the advertiser would look at a product and it’s uses. They would look at who uses these products. Importantly, they would look at reasons people stop using the product, or reasons the product is inferior to other products, and develop advertising campaigns very carefully to extinguish or mask out the reasons to leave their product.

    Some of the elements of that campaign might involve uncertainty and doubt. Behe appears to be raising uncertainty and doubt. Why he chose to go after mutations and genes, perhaps has something to do with their undeniably central role in evolution, medicine, and science – so that, since there’s really no other name out there going after those things, Behe has thus made a name for himself.

    Or perhaps I’m way off.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted February 12, 2019 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

      Oh – I was trying to say “redirection/distraction “ much more than “uncertainty” or “doubt”. I perhaps got distracted myself.

      So an advertiser would consider arguments aboit their competing products, perhaps something like it’s less expensive, or it is easier to use – and counter these arguments for example with “its only 5% more expensive”, or “it only has 100 calories” (that’s a real one by Guinness), etc.

      How Behe is doing such a thing as an advertiser, I’m not sure, it’s very complex, but for some reason it’s amusing to think about his work like that. After all, he _is_ promoting a product, and in particular, a competing product.

  30. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted February 11, 2019 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    testing the comment system … I just wrote a long comment and I don’t see it… apologies…

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted February 11, 2019 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      Ah – I see it now. took a while.
      thanks.

  31. Posted February 12, 2019 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    The pingback is from the Portuguese version of this amazing article by John G West, at https://evolutionnews.org/2019/02/darwinists-devolve-review-by-swamidass-lenski-and-lents-borders-on-fraud/

    I don’t know how Jerry responds to being called a Darwinist (no one throughout my career as a chemist has ever called me a Daltonist, despite my obstinate belief in the exitence of atoms), but at least he is only being described as a “true believer” who is too close-minded to have read Behe, whereas the review by Lents, Lenski, and Swamidass “borders”, we are told in the title of the piece, “on fraud”.

  32. Posted February 17, 2019 at 12:16 am | Permalink

    In 2011 scientists transferred a green fluorescent gene to a rhesus monkey. They expected to see the monkey glow green light but as to their disappointment, it didn’t.

    Why?

    Because DNA is just passive form of biological information and it does nothing without epigenetic control and regulation. DNA strands have to be picked up into transcription. The main purpose of DNA for the cell is to manufacture functional RNA molecules. There’s the main code of life. There are several complex modification and repair methods used at RNA level such as alternative pre-mRNA splicing and RNA A-to-I editing.

    There is no mechanism for evolution. Any change in organisms is due to epigenetic regulation of pre-existing biological information OR corruption of information leading to re-organization of information (alternative epigenetic programming).

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted February 17, 2019 at 6:05 am | Permalink

      Hiya Tomi. I guess you’re a sophisticated creationist who likes to speak of genes & RNA, but denies evolution. A neat trick! Here’s a couple of your comments from elsewhere:

      [1] You commenting at a Christian’s blog:

      “It’s an inevitable fact that there is only one direction in nature. A dead end. Evolution has never been observed because there are no mechanisms that could increase biological information leading to increase in functional or structural complexity. That’s why creation and design. Don’t get lost.

      [2] You writing at your own sciencerefutesevolution site:

      “…Organisms are designed and created by God. Don’t get lost.”

      Now we know who you are lets move on to your green glowing monkeys. LOL.

      2011? The transfer of the gene to a monkey named ANDi was in early 2000 & the paper was written up in 2001.

      From January 2001: “Our ultimate goal is to produce human disease models. Primates show human pathology better than mice, which, in many cases, are the only systems we have for modeling human diseases,” says Anthony Chan, of the Oregon Regional Primate Research Center, in Beaverton. The report is published in this week’s issue of Science.

      The goal was to show that a foreign gene can be inserted into a monkey’s chromosome and produce a functional protein. The GFP gene was chosen because the protein it produces emits a fluorescent green glow that can easily be seen through a microscope. Eventually scientists want to insert human disease genes and study disease progression in monkeys.

      Tissue samples taken from ANDi’s cheek, hair, umbilical cord and placenta confirm that the cells contain the GFP gene and corresponding mRNA; the molecule that bridges the gap between DNA and protein. However, when the tissue was examined under the microscope, no green protein could be seen. “Maybe the quantity of protein is too small to be seen or maybe the mRNA is not being translated,” says Chan. The team will continue to monitor ANDi for GFP; some transgenic animals do not produce any foreign protein until after the first year.

      To create ANDi, Chan and his colleagues injected 224 unfertilized rhesus eggs with a virus carrying the GFP gene. The virus’s job is to integrate the gene into a random site on one of the chromosomes. Six hours later, each egg was artificially fertilized by sperm injection. Roughly half of the fertilized eggs grew and divided, reaching the four-cell stage. Forty were chosen and implanted into twenty surrogate mothers—two per mother. Of these, three healthy males were born and two twin males were stillborn. ANDi was the only live monkey carrying the GFP gene.

      Curiously, green fluorescent protein was produced in both stillborn males. Their hair and toenails had a green glow when examined under fluorescent light. It is not clear whether their deaths were due to the protein or to the twin pregnancy, which is rare and risky in rhesus.

      It will take considerably more research before monkeys like ANDi are common research animals in the lab. “We need to become more efficient at producing transgenic animals,” says Chan. “We need to learn when is the best time to inject the virus, how long to wait before fertilizing the eggs, and when to implant the embryos. We need to adjust the timing of a lot of steps and make a lot of improvements,” he added SOURCE

      A functional protein was produced in some non-surviving monkeys, and other ‘foreign’ functional proteins have been transferred artificially across species before & since this year 2000 example.

      Cherry picking one monkey experiment from nineteen years ago is a very selective way of supporting your case that the only direction in Evolution is downwards disintegration.

      You are a very naughty, naughty boy Tomi.

      Dishonest.

      • rickflick
        Posted February 17, 2019 at 10:16 am | Permalink

        Thanks for taking the naughty boy on so thoroughly. Now I can go back to my lab in the basement where I am attempting to make the worlds first pink guinea pig.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted February 17, 2019 at 10:49 am | Permalink

          LOL. Tomi Aalto is a loony super-troll plagiarist & my trouble is when a name goes in it sticks so he jumped out at me today after noticing his nonsense a few times over the years.

          He must have a ‘book’ of standard comments that he copy/pastes everywhere [super-trolls do that] with large chunks of ‘biology speak’ he’s borrowed out of context from creationist secondary sources.

          These people are sick wierdos

          Aren’t guinea pigs pink already?

          • rickflick
            Posted February 17, 2019 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

            I sense Tomi and his ilk had childhoods deprived of parental attention.

            “Aren’t guinea pigs pink already?”
            I’m going for flashing neon flesh. You’ll be able to eat the soup in the dark. You’ve got to go where the research funding takes you.

      • Posted February 17, 2019 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

        Great response, Michael!

        /@

      • rjdownard
        Posted February 17, 2019 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

        Indeed, a look at Tomi’s post on allegedly out of place prehistoric human stuff https://sciencerefutesevolution.blogspot.com/search?q=fossil shows his ability to credulously copy from the pseudoscience fringe of Cremo and company without even trying to fact check any of it.

        Perhaps Tomi would be clearer on (a) how old he thinks the earth is, (b) how old he thinks our human species is, and (c) does he ever try to fact check stuff?

    • Posted February 17, 2019 at 6:14 am | Permalink

      Tomi Aalto, you have no idea what you’re talking about. For one thing, when you map adaptive evolutionary changes, they’re not due to epigenetic changes in DNA. Please go join your fellow cranks on the creationist websites and bulletin boards, where lies like yours are commonplace.


3 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] a de Behe. Tais críticas, sem dúvida, continuarão a convencer os verdadeiros crentes, como o ateísta darwinista Jerry Coyne. Mas eles não vão impressionar os cientistas que têm a mente aberta o suficiente para ler Behe […]

  2. […] is in fact nothing that can alleviate that fatal flaw in Darwinism” says Professor Behe, stating the book’s central claim  in the mendaciously mislabelled creationist web journal Evolution […]

  3. […] is in fact nothing that can alleviate that fatal flaw in Darwinism” says Professor Behe, stating the book’s central claim in the mendaciously mislabelled creationist web journal Evolution […]

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