defending his recent paper.
Mike Behe’s reply (excerpt):
Yes, complex gain-of-FCT events would not be expected to occur, but simple GOF’s would. Yet they didn’t show up.Professor Coyne then proceeds to put words in my mouth:
What [Be]he’s saying is this: “Yes, gain of FCTs could, and likely is, more important in nature than seen in these short-term experiments. But my conclusions are limited to these types of short-term lab studies.”
No, that is not what I was saying at all. I was saying that, no matter what causes gain-of-FCT events to sporadically arise in nature (and I of course think the more complex ones likely resulted from deliberate intelligent design), short-term Darwinian evolution will be dominated by loss-of-FCT, which is itself an important, basic fact about the tempo of evolution.
Above I quoted Coyne talking about “complex FCTs, which take time to build or acquire from a rare horizontal transmission event.” Yet cells aren’t going to sit around twiddling their thumbs until that rare event shows up. Any mutation which confers an advantage at any time will be selected, and the large majority of those in the short term will be LOF. Ironically, Coyne seems to underestimate the power of natural selection, which “is daily and hourly scrutinising, throughout the world, every variation, even the slightest….” A process which scrutinizes life “daily and hourly,” as Darwin wrote, isn’t going to wait around for some rare event.