Intelligent Design

Darwinism—like every other natural process—devolves

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Lehigh University biochemist Michael Behe, author of the 1996 book Darwin’s Black Box,  which many consider to have sparked the modern intelligent design movement, is releasing a new book later this month entitled Darwin Devolves. The new book promises to be as revolutionary as his earlier books; here is some background to help readers appreciate the title and main theme of the book.

Although every other known natural (unintelligent) process tends to turn order into disorder, Darwinists have always believed that natural selection is the one natural process which can create spectacular order out of disorder. In my 2012 video Evolution is a Natural Process Running Backward I cited examples (beginning at the 10:50 mark) from Behe’s 2007 book The Edge of Evolution, to show that despite all the claims about the creative powers of natural selection, those creative powers have never actually been observed. Behe looks in detail at “the thrust and parry of human-malaria evolution” and concludes that it “did not build anything—it only destroyed things.” He reviews the results from Richard Lenski’s decades long E. Coli experiment, which a New Scientist article claims was “the first time evolution has been caught in the act,” and concludes that natural selection can only be credited with “breaking some genes and turning others off.” Thus, I concluded in the video, “it seems that perhaps natural selection of random mutations is like every other unintelligent cause in the universe after all, and tends to create disorder out of order and not vice-versa.”

As another illustration that natural selection of random mutations can only degrade, in this German TV interview, retired geneticist Wolf-Ekkehard Loennig recounts (minutes 24:00 to 28:00, turn on English subtitles if you don’t speak German) the well-funded attempts at, among other places, his own Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, to speed up evolution in plants using radiation and advanced artificial selection techniques. Loennig reports that only devolution occurred: the only progress observed before this effort was given up was that the genes that made some plants toxic were damaged, making these plants more useful as animal fodder. Who would have predicted that bombarding genes with radiation would not lead to major agricultural advances!

Behe’s new book expands greatly on this theme and concludes that natural selection of random mutations occasionally makes species better adapted to their environment by destroying things, but it never creates. So it is not, after all, the one natural process in the universe that can make Nature “run backward.” To understand what I mean by Nature running backward, you’ll have to watch the video.