Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Behe answers to critics

I've been reading Behe's new book in what spare time I can find this summer. Some of the reviews of the book have been interesting, though Dawkins review was predictable. Pure rhetoric. Again, he hallows natural selection as if it is the holy grail in which he finds complete assurance that a designer is not necessary for the "illusion of design" we observe in nature. He stated that:

Natural selection is arguably the most momentous idea ever to occur to a human mind, because it — alone as far as we know — explains the elegant illusion of design that pervades the living kingdoms and explains, in passing, us.
When Dawkins spoke at KU, I was taken aback by his sense of awe, wonder and praise for natural selection. I swear you'd think that he revered NS with an almost spiritual reverence.

I guess that would support Nancy Pearcy's observation in her book, Total Truth, where she makes a very profound statement, IMO. She wrote:

Humans are inherently religious beings, created to be in relationship with God - and if they reject God, they don’t stop being religious; they simply find some other ultimate principle upon which to base their lives. can find Behe's response to the negative reviews of his book here.

Be sure to check out the brief interview with Behe here. I find it interesting that so many of the articles in response to the book are making a huge deal out of the fact that Behe accepts common descent. They act as if they are shocked by this admission, but they know as well as everyone else involved in this debate that Behe has never had a problem with common descent.

The interview I posted above poses an interesting question in regard to CD:

Q: In Edge of Evolution you indicate that some of the evidence supporting common ancestry is pretty persuasive. Yet a number of scientists have questioned some of the evidence for common ancestry. Do you think it is beyond the pale for them to do so? In your mind is it scientific to question common ancestry?

A: In my view it is certainly not “beyond the pale” for a scientist to question anything. Questioning and skepticism are healthy for science. I have no solutions to the difficult problems pointed to by scientists who are skeptical of universal common descent: ORFan genes, nonstandard genetic codes, different routes of embryogenesis by similar organisms, and so on. Nonetheless, as I see it, if, rather than Darwinian evolution, one is talking about "intelligently designed" descent, then those problems, while still there, seem much less insuperable. I certainly agree that random, unintelligent processes could not account for them, but an intelligent agent may have ways around apparent difficulties. So in judging the likelihood of common descent, I discount problems that could be classified as "how did that get here?" Instead, I give much more weight to the "mistakes" or "useless features" arguments. If some peculiar feature is shared between two species which, as far as we can tell, has no particular function, and which in other contexts we would likely call a genetic accident, then I count that as rather strong evidence for common descent. So, if one looks at the data in the way that I do, then one can say simultaneously that: 1) CD is very well supported; 2) grand Darwinian claims are falsified; 3) ID is confirmed; 4) design extends very deeply into biology.
Hmmm... I still believe common descent to be the materialist's mythical creation story. A microbe evolving from primordial stew has the makings of a fabulous bedtime story for imaginative children.