Intelligent Design

He said it: Michael Behe on the endless moving of goalposts

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[O]ne needs to relax Darwin’s criterion from this: “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” to something like this:

If a complex organ exists which seems very unlikely to have been produced by numerous, successive, slight modifications, and if no experiments have shown that it or comparable structures can be so produced, then maybe we are barking up the wrong tree. So, LET’S BREAK SOME RULES!

Of course people will differ on the point at which they decide to break rules. But at least with the realistic criterion there could be evidence against the unfalsifiable. At least then people like Doolittle and Miller would run a risk when they cite an experiment that shows the opposite of what they had thought. At least then science would have a way to escape from the rut of unfalsifiability and think new thoughts.

(Michael Behe, “Answering Scientific Criticisms of Intelligent Design,” Science and Evidence for Design in the Universe, Proceedings of the Wethersfield Institute, Vol 9:146-147 (Ignatius Press, 2000))

Therein lies the key to much Darwinism today. Because Darwin must be right, any observation or information that can be gerrymandered to support his successors’ views trumps good evidence that Darwinism was not at work. And then the contrary evidence disappears down the memory hole. When the peacock’s tail did not turn out to support sexual selection, the fact disappeared from view so completely (along with the fact that natural selection does not explain the Monarch-Viceroy mimicry complex) that it is common to see them cited both by ardent Darwin believers as unqualified examples of Darwinism at work.

6 Replies to “He said it: Michael Behe on the endless moving of goalposts

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    Nothing In Molecular Biology Is Gradual – Doug Axe PhD. – video

    “Charles Darwin said (paraphrase), ‘If anyone could find anything that could not be had through a number of slight, successive, modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.’ Well that condition has been met time and time again. Basically every gene, every protein fold. There is nothing of significance that we can show that can be had in a gradualist way. It’s a mirage. None of it happens that way. – Doug Axe PhD.

    Experimental Evolution in Fruit Flies – October 2010
    Excerpt: “This research really upends the dominant paradigm about how species evolve”.,,, as stated in regards to the 35 year experimental failure to fixate a single beneficial mutation within fruit flies.

  2. 2
    GilDodgen says:

    I recently listened to Michael Behe debate Keith Fox, a Christian Darwinist, on Premier Radio UK. This was recorded during Behe’s recent UK lecture tour, and if you missed it, it is worth a listen:{A942B34A-2BF8-482C-BA7C-61F3C95DC77A}

    It is very frustrating to hear Fox repeatedly invoke protein sequence similarities as a purported refutation of irreducible complexity. Of course, this is a non sequitur, and does nothing to explain how molecular machinery could have been assembled by random mutation and natural selection.

    Behe comments that Darwinian theory is consistently granted extremely low standards of evidence that would be totally unacceptable in any other “scientific” field.

  3. 3
    GilDodgen says:

    Oops. Here’s that link again.

  4. 4
    RkBall says:

    Did you miss Behe’s point? I think he’s saying the goalposts ought to be moved because “could not possibly ” is too high a standard and “seems very unlikely etc. ” is a better set of criteria. Or did I misunderstand his point?

  5. 5
    molch says:

    “When the peacock’s tail did not turn out to support sexual selection…”

    If you are actually interested in the peacock’s tail and the current evidence about its role in sexual selection, you might want to read:
    Loyau et al. 2008. Animal Behaviour 76: e5-e9.

    …and references therein;

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    Here is one goalpost that I firmly believe will never move:

    The Law of Physicodynamic Insufficiency = Abel – November 2010
    Excerpt: The Law of Physicodynamic Insufficiency states that physicochemical interactions are inadequate to explain the mathematical and formal nature of physical law relationships.

    Many versions of a certain null hypothesis have been published in peer-reviewed scientific literature over the last decade with invitation to the world’s scientific community to falsify it (Abel, 2000, 2002, Abel and Trevors, 2005, Abel, 2006, Abel and Trevors, 2006, Abel, 2007, 2008, Abel, 2008, Abel, 2009, 2009, 2009, Abel, 2009, Abel, 2010, 2011, Trevors and Abel, 2004):

    “If decision-node programming selections are made randomly or by law rather than with purposeful intent, no non-trivial (sophisticated) function will spontaneously arise.”

    If only one exception to this null hypothesis were published the hypothesis would be falsified. Falsification would require an experiment devoid of behind-the-scenes steering. Any artificial selection hidden in the experimental design would disqualify the experimental falsification. After ten years of continual republication of the null hypothesis with appeals for falsification, no falsification has been provided.

    The time has come to extend this null hypothesis into a formal scientific prediction:

    “No non trivial algorithmic/computational utility will ever arise from chance and/or necessity alone.”

    How can such a bold, dogmatic prediction possibly be made by any reputable scientist? The answer lies first in the fact that it is just a null hypothesis designed for open-minded testing. The author of the hypothesis himself actively pursues falsification. Its deliberately absolutist tone begs falsification all the more in the challenging spirit of quality science.

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