Darwinism Evolution Intelligent Design

Publishers Weekly Review of Behe’s Forthcoming Book

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Denyse O’Leary mentioned this review in one of her posts. Here it is.

The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism
Michael J. Behe. Free Press, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-0-7432-9620-5
http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6430603.html

With his first book, Darwin’s Black Box, Behe, a professor of biology at Lehigh University, helped define the controversial intelligent design movement with his concept of “irreducible complexity.” Now he attempts to extend his analysis and define what evolution is capable of doing and what is beyond its scope. Behe strongly asserts, to the likely chagrin of young earth creationists, that the earth is billions of years old and that the concept of common descent is correct. But beginning with a look at malaria and the sickle cell response in humans, Behe argues that genetic mutation results in only clumsy solutions to selective pressures. He goes on to conclude that the statistical possibility of certain evolutionary changes taking place is virtually nil. Although Behe writes with passion and clarity, his calculations of probability ignore biologists’ rejection of the premise that evolution has been working toward producing any particular end product. Furthermore, he repeatedly refers to the shortcomings of “Darwin’s theory­the power of natural selection coupled to random mutation,” but current biological theory encompasses far more than this simplistic view. Most important, Behe reaches the erroneous conclusion that the workings of an intelligent designer is the only reasonable alternative to evolution, even without affirmative evidence in its favor. B&w illus. (June 5)

24 Replies to “Publishers Weekly Review of Behe’s Forthcoming Book

  1. 1
    IDist says:

    Can’t Wait 😀
    Behe will be giving them hard time, I’m sure.

  2. 2
    bFast says:

    “Darwin’s theory­the power of natural selection coupled to random mutation,” but current biological theory encompasses far more than this simplistic view.

    I’m still waiting for someone to show me anything in MET that extends beyond this simplistic view. Well, let’s modify random mutation with random variation — big deal. Further, we do see that some organismic systems have particular mechanisms which induce mutation to obtain a result. Such mechanisms, however, are ostensibly mechanisms that are the result of this simple mechanism.

    Random variation + natural selection is viewed by MET as the prime cause of every evolutionary phenomenon that I know of: HGT, genetic drift, population genetics, sexual selection …

    RV+NS explains it all. Either RM+NS explains it all or we have to consider the G word — we can’t do that because it is against our religion.

    I value my copy of “Darwin’s Black Box”, I will be purchasing Behe’s next book as soon as I can.

  3. 3
    The Scubaredneck says:

    “Although Behe writes with passion and clarity, his calculations of probability ignore biologists’ rejection of the premise that evolution has been working toward producing any particular end product.”

    Either this guy has never heard of the monkey-Shakespeare project or Dawkins’ weasel program or he thinks the rest of us can’t read. It’s funny how Darwinists will use progress towards an end as an illustration and, once you understand and repeat back the message, tell you that you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    The Scubaredneck

  4. 4

    “Most important, Behe reaches the erroneous conclusion that the workings of an intelligent designer is the only reasonable alternative to evolution, even without affirmative evidence in its favor.”

    Wouldn’t his critique and irreducible complexity be evidence in its favor?

    More “Darwin of the gaps” and an a priori faith comittment to materialism.

  5. 5
    tribune7 says:

    “Although Behe writes with passion and clarity, his calculations of probability ignore biologists’ rejection

    All biologists? Behe’s a biologist. I guess the definition of “biologist” no longer is based on accreditation but on the whim of reviewers.

  6. 6
    DanaMcgee says:

    “Most important, Behe reaches the erroneous conclusion that the workings of an intelligent designer is the only reasonable alternative to evolution, even without affirmative evidence in its favor”.

    There seems to be more than just a touch of nastiness towards Behe in this review. Again, I don’t think there is much we can do to persuade
    the people born in bred in the Darwinist religion that random mutation and natural selection is
    just not capable of producing the design we see in the world.

  7. 7
    DanaMcgee says:

    I just want to share a quote with all you folks from Roy Abraham Varghese’s book The Wonder of the World.

    The Tree of Life

    No matter how much the randomist wants to ay that there’s no progress or direction, the fossil record is a record of progression from unicellular to multicellular life, from amoeba to Homo sapiens. Whether this end-point was reached accidentally and purposelessly is a question that science can’t awnser because science as science can’t discern purpose or goals. It is extraordinary that:

    1. There is a clear progression,
    2. There are exact matches between sudden leaps forward in the tree of life and the existence of environments that allow these upgrades to survive and thrive,
    3. The matches were made in relatively narrow windows of time.

  8. 8
    DanaMcgee says:

    Continued…

    Evolution calls for adaption to environment, but where did this ability to adapt come from? And what is the source of the “raw material” that does the adaption and of the environment in which it adapts?

  9. 9
    TRoutMac says:

    I’ve heard Behe comment that he doesn’t dispute the idea of “common ancestry.” But, I think I’ve heard him differentiate that from the idea of “UNIVERSAL common ancestry.” I get the feeling that this book is aimed, at least in part, at discovering the distinction between the two.

    At any rate, I gather that Behe would be agree that there could potentially be NUMEROUS ancestors (perhaps each with a unique body plan?) and that evolution produced various versions of organisms from those established themes? Am I reading that correctly?

    It’s been a while since I’ve read Darwin’s Black Box… but I’ll look forward to reading this new one.

  10. 10
    mgarelick says:

    DanaMcgee said:

    Again, I don’t think there is much we can do to persuade
    the people born in bred in the Darwinist religion that random mutation and natural selection is
    just not capable of producing the design we see in the world.

    Two points:
    1) I think that scrutinizing RM+NS is one thing and offering a “reasonable alternative to evolution” is another.
    2) As to the latter, evidence or argument in favor of some theory of an alternative to evolution would be a step in the right direction toward persuasion. Is there anything Behe or anyone else has written that could be characterized as such a theory? I’m not saying that Behe is obligated to come up with it, but … anyone?

  11. 11
    TRoutMac says:

    Hey, I have a silly question that’s been bothering me for some time. Michael Behe and other ID proponents continually refer to the bacterial flagellum as an “outboard motor.” Now, I totally accept the idea of irreducible complexity and I think Behe’s knocked that whole thing out of the park. But when I look at the bacterial flagellum, I see an INBOARD motor, not at outboard motor.

    We say that a boat has an “inboard” motor when the powerplant resides INSIDE the hull of the boat. Typically, there’s a shaft that passes through the hull at the rear of the boat to which a propeller is attached, the propeller being OUTSIDE the hull. Conversely, we say that a boat has an “outboard” motor when the motor AND the propeller are attached to the OUTSIDE of the hull.

    Well, needless to say, the flagellar motor itself is housed INSIDE the wall of the cell. Is this not correct? And there’s a shaft that passes through the cell wall to which a propeller is attached. Right? So am I not correct to say it’s more accurate to call it an “INBOARD” motor?

    I’m sorry if this seems like a nit-picky little question… but it seems like we might be more persuasive in our arguments (I know, it won’t ultimately help) if we got these little details right.

    If I’ve totally misunderstood something, please correct me.

    Thanks.

  12. 12
    DanaMcgee says:

    mgarelick

    i am in almost total agreement. some kind of uniform theory of intelligent design needs to be developed.

  13. 13
    DanaMcgee says:

    Actually i recently checked out of the library the book Of Pandas and People.

    I was pleasantly surprised by it. In spite of the Darwinist propaganda surrounding it, I found a thoughtful, well written and unbiased account of the the design argument.

    The book is probably something you should take a look at.

  14. 14
    DarelRex says:

    Ms. O’Leary: “[Behe’s] calculations of probability ignore biologists’ rejection of the premise that evolution has been working toward producing any particular end product.”

    Doesn’t that argument strip evolution of any obligation to explain actual adaptations? It’s just an equivocation over the word “evolution”.

    Definition A: Evolution = whatever random mutation and natural selection do (or don’t do)

    Definition B: Evolution = the claim that random mutation and natural selection produced the various observed adaptations we see in biology today

    Switch back and forth between A and B fast enough, and the tautological truth of A starts to look like proof of B. Logigicians call this the fallacy of equivocation.

  15. 15
    BenK says:

    I have discovered, after much hard work, some evidence that intelligent agents can indeed design irreduceable complexity and specified complexity. Some of my shocking discoveries include:

    Language, computing, robotics, automotive engineering, etc.

    I honestly can’t understand people who argue that there is no positive evidence for design. The fact that intelligent agents can design artifacts profoundly analogous to organic systems is blindingly obvious.

  16. 16
    DarelRex says:

    Correction — My immediately prior post might create the impression that the argument on which I was commenting had been made by Denyse O’Leary. It was a Publishers Weekly reviewer’s argument.

  17. 17
    ericB says:

    mgarelick:
    1) I think that scrutinizing RM+NS is one thing and offering a “reasonable alternative to evolution” is another.

    Its worth being clear, even if it is already clear to some, that Behe is not attempting to provide an “alternative to evolution”, since he does not disagree with the historicity of evolution (see book description). Too many miss this fact.

    He does maintain that Darwinism, although real, is insufficient as a mechanism to account for the life that has developed.

    He (and others) observe that design by intelligent agents is the only known mechanism that has been observed to create this type of irreducible complexity. Thus, the best scientific inference we can make from the data we have (and in fact the only one grounded in observations) is that ID is the cause for the abundance of irreducible complexity necessary to life.

    Maybe we will someday discover some other mechanism, but a belief in an unknown, unobserved, future alternative to design is a faith proposition, not inferencee from observations.

  18. 18
    GilDodgen says:

    The reviewer is a clown.

    Although Behe writes with passion and clarity, his calculations of probability ignore biologists’ rejection of the premise that evolution has been working toward producing any particular end product.”

    This basically says that any outcome is as rare as any other, in a purely random scenario, which is true. But in an arena in which function is a prerequisite, any outcome won’t do. How can this not be obvious?

    Furthermore, he repeatedly refers to the shortcomings of ‘Darwin’s theory–the power of natural selection coupled to random mutation,’ but current biological theory encompasses far more than this simplistic view.

    Darwinian theory is essentially this simplistic, because all proposed Darwinian mechanisms for the generation of novel biological information are stochastic in nature.

    This is not hard.

  19. 19
  20. 20
    dacook says:

    Beautiful video. That would be great to show in Biology classes, with narration.

  21. 21
    jerry says:

    This video is outstanding and has been on this site about a year ago. There is a longer version that is available that is 8-10 minutes long. I believe it has something to do with infection.

    It was constructed to be disseminated to biology classes by Harvard.

  22. 22
    mgarelick says:

    I can’t figure out the pattern of posting or not posting my comments. Please enlighten me at mgarelickatcapsfdotorg. Thanks.

  23. 23
    jerry says:

    The website for the Harvard video is

    http://multimedia.mcb.harvard.edu/media.html

    Go there and there is the full length version with commentary and other videos are also available.

  24. 24
    ericB says:

    About Behe’s new book, balance the Publisher Weekly reviewer’s assessment with that of Dr. Philip Skell, Evan Pugh Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus, at Pennsylvania State University, and member of the National Academy of Sciences:

    “Until the past decade and the genomics revolution, Darwin’s theory rested on indirect evidence and reasonable speculation. Now, however, we have begun to scratch the surface of direct evidence, of which this book offers the best possible treatment. Though many critics won’t want to admit it, The Edge of Evolution is very balanced, careful, ¬and devastating. A tremendously important book.”

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