Skip to comments.Pa. scientist again attacks evolution : The Edge of Evolution, Search for Limits of Darwinism
Posted on 08/21/2007 9:53:14 AM PDT by SirLinksalot
In 1996, Pennsylvania's own Michael J. Behe launched a frontal attack upon Darwinian evolution with the publication of Darwin's Black Box. Behe, a mild-mannered molecular biologist at Lehigh University, argued politely but vigorously that the standard Darwinian explanation (random mutations plus natural selection) simply couldn't explain the evolution of a number of significant structures and processes observed in living things. Intricate processes like human blood clotting, and intricate structures like the bacterial flagellum (which is built uncannily like an outboard motor) were "irreducibly complex" arrangements that couldn't have arisen by a series of chance steps. They therefore must have been designed, by an intelligence of some kind. Behe's book soon became the flagship of the movement known as intelligent design (ID).
Behe's presentation and subsequent defense of ID (including his testimony at the Dover trial in 2005) outraged much of the biological community. He was denounced by the self-styled defenders of science - biologists like Ken Miller and Jerry Coyne, and non-scientists like Michael Ruse and Barbara Forrest. They accused Behe (along with his allies in the ID movement) of recycling disproved arguments, of insolently refusing to genuflect before the Darwinian consensus, of misunderstanding the nature of scientific theory, and of trying to slip God (disguised as "the intelligent designer") into public-school science classrooms.
Intelligent design, if not nipped in the bud, would turn science classes into seminaries, set back modern medicine by denying the evolution of antibiotic resistance, and destroy confidence in science in general, relegating America to a backward technological status.
There was some reasonable criticism. Behe said that the bacterial flagellum could have been created only by multiple coordinated genetic changes, and that such coordination was beyond the power of random mutation. Miller argued that, given enough time, random mutations could accumulate, producing a flagellum by stages. Behe's purely qualitative argument couldn't disprove this possibility; without hard numbers, how did he know what random mutation could or couldn't accomplish?
Behe's new book, The Edge of Evolution, provides some hard numbers, coupled with an ingenious argument. The key to determining the exact powers of Darwinian evolution, says Behe, lies with fast-reproducing microbes. Some, such as malaria, HIV, and E. coli, reproduce so quickly that within a few decades, or at most a few millennia, they generate as many mutations as a larger, slower-breeding animal would in millions of years. By observing how far these creatures have evolved in recent times, we can estimate the creative limits of random mutation.
In the case of malaria, the creative limits appear quite low. Over the last few thousand years, several thousand billion billion malarial cells have been unable to develop an evolutionary response to the sickle-cell mutation, which protects its human bearers from malaria. On the other hand, malaria has proved able to develop Darwinian resistance to the antibiotic chloroquine. This resistance is based upon two simultaneous mutations affecting a malarial protein. Yet this rare double mutation has occurred fewer than 10 times since chloroquine was introduced 50 years ago, during which time a hundred billion billion malarial cells have been born. If this indicates the typical rate of occurrence of double mutations, then the Darwinian transformation of our pre-chimp ancestor into homo sapiens, which would have required at least some double mutations, would have taken at least a thousand trillion years, a time span greater than the age of the universe.
Drawing upon parallel mutation studies of HIV and E. coli for confirmation, Behe concludes that random mutations cannot explain the origin of most of the complex structures in living things. He concedes that Darwinian processes can make new species, but argues that they are incompetent to generate new kingdoms, phyla, or classes. The creative limit, the "edge of evolution," lies somewhere between the level of species and the level of class. Darwinian processes can account for the difference between a dog and a wolf, maybe even a dog and a bear, but not the difference between a lizard and a bird. Something other than random mutation must have produced such differences; for Behe, the "something" is intelligent design.
The response to Behe has been predictable. The editors of the major print media have assigned known enemies of ID to trash the book - Richard Dawkins for the New York Times; Coyne for the New Republic; Miller for Nature; Ruse for Toronto's Globe & Mail. A large part of each review is ad hominem, concerned with Behe's alleged religious agenda, his minority status among biologists, and other irrelevant matters. In Dawkins' review, the science is barely touched, and it's not clear from Ruse's review that he has even opened the cover of the book. Behe deserves better. The Edge of Evolution makes a serious, quantitative argument about the limits of Darwinian evolution. Evolutionary biology cannot honestly ignore it.
Cameron Wybrow is a freelance writer with a doctorate from McMaster University. He has published two books on the origin of modern science.
“Im eagerly awaiting the book where he explains how scientific Astrology is, according to his definition of science.”
Astrology says the orientation of planets affects human behavior. Most scientists probably doubt this, and someone might reasonably do studies and experiments to prove it is false. But if science can prove it is true or false, then why isn’t it a scientific hypothesis (albeit a false one)?
“Putting aside his rather thin basis for his observation, his solution to this perceived shortfall in natural variation...”
It is not a “perceived shortfall”. We have decades of hard data about the number of mutations in malaria and what they have produced. Your theory does not trump the physical data.
“...is that the invisible hand of God came down and made up for the supposed shortcomings of his own design of life; like a kid who built a radio-controlled car that cannot turn so he has to reach down and turn it by hand. Not a very flattering view of either biological systems or of God.”
Behe believes it is God, but science allows no claims about the existance or nature of God, so Behe doesn’t make them. His abiding by the rules of science while maintaining his personal beliefs does nothing to negate his scientific arguments.
The rest of your post is just an expression of your theology. It is you who are making theological arguments, not Behe.
I think you missed the point which was that the reviewer was substituting his own definition of a technical phrase, drawing erroneous conclusions based on his substitution, and then holding the author responsible. If this happened a single time as a result of misunderstanding, then one could point out the error and hope that the next time would be different. However, if it happens again and again, in spite of having been corrected, then there is something else going on. When it’s happening in a polemic, then the likeliest explanation is something akin to maliciousness.
When gravity didn’t seem to add up, physicists played with theoretical “dark matter” to try to make it make sense. Here there is actual consensus among scientists that there is an actual shortfall in the theory, yet the hypothetical solution they came up with was one dealing with physics. They didn’t say “It is the power of the creator that holds the universe together.”
Who said this, the author? Quite the Marxist ideology to wall out differing thought. There is no commonality in evolving antibiotic resistance and this human flesh body. Were there to be, there would be complete total chaos and we would literally have visible creatures, continuously creeping out of those superheated, global warmed primordial ponds of steaming evolving soup.
Who, what, when, where, and why did that primordial process evolve it self to an end. What great 'god' put out a cease and desist order?
A "scientist" who believes his concept should be chiseled in stone, figuratively, is not a scientist at all. That sounds more like a religious argument, that the concept pre-empts all. In science, the concept follows from the evidence--and there can always be countering evidence discovered.
Now it's external influence, not the hand of the almighty.
OK, Quantify the external influence. What is it and how did it work?
I am curious as to what...single thing...ID could possibly offer to mankind as a scientific advancement. Could you tell me that? And please don't repeat the "better understanding" stuff. When "better understanding" means "some unknowable, unmeasurable, untestable thing did it", then you've actually learned nothing, and never will.
“Countering evidence” or Falsification is a necessary part of validating a scientific concept.
For example, the assertion that “all real scientists” are in agreement on global warming and “all the data” support them, by definition should “cause a pause” in the minds of those who know basic scientific method.
WELL..... now you're into different waters.
Just because something can theoretically be falsifiable doesn't mean it is low reliability. For example, all real scientists are in agreement that the earth rotates and revolves around the sun, even though that is a falsifiable concept and all the data are in good agreement with that theory.
Countering evidence or Falsification is a necessary part of validating a scientific concept.
Allowing for the possibility of countering evidence or falsification is a necessary part. Falsification or countering evidence is not necessary in and of itself.
A “scientist” who thinks his concept should be chisled in stone is called an “IDer.”
Actualy if you are a real scientists you would first look at ALL the evidence and be honest about finding the truth and not propaganda. So lets cut to the chase to real science, which the word science all it realy means is “to know” its not a entity its like electricity it doesnt realy exist as a substance but it is a phenomenon.
So in all reality lets look at the facts. first of all you can see dishonesty far more from the evolutionist than from the iresponsible Christian. Evolutionists have been caught in numerous frauds. Lets look at some other tid bits that support actualy I.D. The SCIENTISTS that beleive in I D have the same PhDs as any other scientists as a matter of fact many of the I D scirmtists are far more credible and far more recognised and known in the scientific acheivment areas of Science also many of the most renowned scientists who have invented some of the most notable were CHRISTIAN scientists, so for Evolutionists to say they are scientists and all else are creationists is a propaganda dishonesty attack. I D ers have the same PhDs as any evolutionist.
Now for a little list and I do mean little just for tid bits and a starter.
The 1st law of thermo dynamics supports ID
The second law of thermo dynamics supports ID
The fact that ther is absolutly NO evidence nor any example of A Bio Genesis anywhere, also it is a known fact that you cannot get somehtingfrom nothing. (dont even try to bring up the Stanley experiments or you will be laughed off the stage)
Also no missing links which was also backed up by Steven J Gould, Darwin Himself who was a racist I might add, and countless other evolutionists and if there was millions and billions of years of fossil making which is ridiculous then there should be an overwhelming supply of these fossils since they would be the longest time frame of the transitions which there are absolutly none despite what weak no science evolutionists will try and point out that they are transitions completely no evidence to add to even support these claims what soever.
Also Carbon dating and Potassium argon dating just a complete laughable joke, where they create this mythical timeline called the geologic column which has no credibilty to it whatso ever and then they pick and choose which fits where the dated Supposedly accurate dated material, with the time line, what a joke, this is complete fraud, also Potassium Argon dating has never been right where the date of the object was already known when they brought rocks from Mnt. ST. Helens which dated into the millions of years and we know it was only 20 something odd years ago many examples of this. just hundreds of examples as this check it out for yoursleves!!!!! Peace!!!!