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Archive for the ‘Michael Behe’ Category

It seems the last two big cover stories in Christianity Today covering evolution issues have completely ignored the many scientists and others who accept evolution as the best explanation for some things, but have serious doubts about it as the best explanation for all of biological history.  These articles ignore those Christians who doubt evolution based primarily on the scientific evidence, not theology.

The latest cover story deals with the biography of a theistic evolutionist and a young earth creationist.  No biography of Michael Behe who was taught theistic evolution growing up, but who came to doubt Darwinism as he delved deeper into the science.  Sigh.  Christianity Today is dumbing down the church and missing the most interesting questions.

Christianity Today also never reviewed Alvin Plantinga’s book Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism, in which Plantinga devoted a whole section to Michael Behe’s design arguments, and had very positive things to say about them.  CT published an interview with Plantinga, but avoided all discussion of ID.

In the recent article, the author, Tim Stafford, asserts that Darrel Falk “has held to his plea for Christians to love and respect each other while advocating different points of view.”  Well, that is not quite right.  Falk has claimed elsewhere that he has a kind of “mission from God” to attack other believers:

With all respect for [Michael] Behe as a person, his science has turned out to be highly incompetent in the field in which he writes—biology.  Since he chose to take his science to non-professionals many of whom have not had more than one college course in biology (if that), you are correct: BioLogos needs to show that he, bless his heart, is professionally incompetent; one of our God-given tasks (to be frank this is the way we see it) is to demonstrate this to a public which (unlucky as they are) doesn’t have the biology background to know better.

When I asked Darrel Falk to explain how Behe was incompetent, he failed to do so.

 

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Here is my comment to this article, which I have been unable to post:

Dave,

You said,

“Behe makes an astonishing conclusion. He states “the formation of even one helpful intracellular protein-protein binding site may be unattainable by random mutation.” (page 157).”

You don’t even need to go to the book to see the problem with this. Behe says “may,” and you call that “an astonishing conclusion.” He is clearly not drawing conclusions here. If you read the quote in context, he is clearly speculating. This section of the book is not central to Behe’s argument, and he makes that clear.  When you attack his speculations, you do nothing to challenge the core arguments of the book.

You said:

“It is quite clear from this comparison that Behe thinks “random mutation” is a myth believed by most biologists on faith, with little evidence to back it up.”

Wrong. Not “random mutation.”

Behe:

“Just as nineteenth-century physics presumed light to be carried by the ether, so modern Darwinian biology postulates random mutation and natural selection constructed the sophisticated, coherent machinery of the cell. Unfortunately, the inability to test the theory has hampered its critical appraisal and led to rampant speculation. (p. 163).”

Do you really believe that Behe thinks “random mutation is a myth”? Have you really read the book?

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The major point of making these corrections is to show that David Ussery is not addressing Behe’s strongest arguments. He seems to be nipping around the edges.

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Michael Behe’s second response to David Ussery is here.  It seems clear to me that, once again, we see the folks at Biologos simply talking past ID arguments in their strongest form:

His main comment on the book’s next chapter, “What Darwinism Can’t Do” is to tell the reader to search PubMed for the words “cilium” and “evolution.” One gets lots of papers that contain both those words, he assures us. He naively assumes that means progress is being made on how the cilium could have arisen by a Darwinian mechanism. Ussery is simply wrong. Most of those papers have nothing to do with how the cilium evolved. Others contain interesting studies of which ciliary proteins are similar to which other proteins (which at best concerns only the topic of common descent) as well as vague, speculative scenarios, but none of the papers describes in testable detail how a structure like the cilium could have arisen step-by-step by a Darwinian mechanism. Dave’s argument might be dubbed “The Argument from Personal Credulity” — because he and others believe the cilium could arise by Darwinian means, it must have done so, and any paper that agrees it happened must contain strong evidence that it did happen. Credulity, however, is not ordinarily considered a scientific virtue.

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The post is here, which I am pleased to see confirms many of the comments I made in response to Ussery’s posts.  A portion:

Dave begins to show that he somehow just doesn’t get the big points of the book. . . .

. . .  Dave then first employs what turns out to be a frequent tool of his: citations of papers in the literature (implying they support his position) without even an attempt to explain how they pertain to the mechanism of evolution or the edge to Darwinian evolution that I argue for in my book. . . .

As an example of the power of mutation Dave writes that “One out of every 21 births in humans have some sort of STRUCTURAL change (and hence likely a functional change) in a protein, just from insertions from a single transposable element (alu), common in humans.” Right. Inserting a transposable element into the gene for a working protein is like inserting a spear into someone’s body. The structural change is overwhelmingly likely to destroy the protein’s biological function. It’s hard to have a productive dialog with a Darwinist who sees birth defects as evidence for the theory.

I discussed objections to my calculations of the improbability of multiple mutations at length years ago in response to printed reviews of The Edge of Evolution, and they are still online. Professor Ussery betrays no sign of having read them. He appears to think the discussion has begun fresh with his review.

 

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