Behe is Trashing Evolution - - Because it Changes Things?


(George Brooks) #1

Behe recently wrote this in his response to Lenski’s critique of his new book:

"Professor Lenski is perhaps the most qualified scientist in the world to analyze the arguments of my book.” - Michael Behe

https://evolutionnews.org/2019/03/for-dreams-of-darwinian-evolution-first-rule-of-adaptive-evolution-is-an-insuperable-problem/

But then Behe begins to run down the list of his objections about Evolution - - which seemingly implies there are times when Evolution is not being guided by God. We can talk about how Behe could ever know when that is in some other thread!

Here is Behe’s weird response to the article:

Premise 1: “… selection will quickly spread any beneficial mutation, even if the mutation degrades an organism’s genetic patrimony…”

Premise 2: “Thus it will grab on to any mutation that helps at the moment, without regard to the long-term fate of the species, and comparatively quickly increase the numbers of that mutation over the generations until it is fixed in the population (that is, until all members of a species have it).”

Premise 3: “When that happens, the original unmutated version of the gene is gone. Thus any further potentially beneficial changes to come along must work with a degraded foundation.”

For now, let’s not even ask what Behe says to Evolutionists if they agree with him that God guides evolution… So, setting that aside, let’s “rehearse” Behe’s implied three premises with the subject matter of Land Mammals to Marine Mammals: notably, whales.

Premise 1: “… selection will quickly spread any beneficial mutation, even if the mutation degrades an organism’s genetic patrimony…”
In the case of whales, a proto-whale population, which until recently had four limbs used for negotiating land-based obstacles and prey, had a mutation spread throughout the group where the front limbs were now thoroughly “webbed up” between the digits. And the process will be repeated when a new mutation arrives, turning the webbed digits into something much more like a flipper!

Premise 2: “Thus it will grab on to any mutation that helps at the moment, without regard to the long-term fate of the species, and comparatively quickly increase the numbers of that mutation over the generations until it is fixed in the population (that is, until all members of a species have it).”
The entire population of this particular group of proto-whales only has recessive genes for the original front limbs. Only whales that receive both recessive/degraded genes will have the “old school” forward limbs. And eventually even the “recessive/degraded” genes will be gone from the proto-whale population in question

Premise 3: “When that happens, the original unmutated version of the gene is gone. Thus any further potentially beneficial changes to come along must work with a degraded foundation.”
When that happens, should the proto-whales ever try to seek food on land, or escape predators by seeking shelter on land, will suffer the degrading of their forward limbs.

Right, Dr. Behe! Perfect. That’s exactly what happened!

I’m not joshing ya. It’s just like you describe. And it happened to multiple different groups of proto-whales… not to just one odd group! ALL the proto-whales that didn’t shed their non-degraded genetic legacy of terrestrial limbs eventually went extinct.

The only kinds of whales left in all the oceans of the Earth are whales without working limbs in front or in the rear! Absolutely correct.

And so … we must conclude that Whales are DEVOLVED or DEGRADED Mammals, yes?

Prof. Behe is trying to show that something is wrong with Evolution because Evolution allowed (or required) genetic information - - specialized for Terrestrial Living - - to become DEGRADED during the change to specializing living in the oceans!

Tragic, yes? NO! Not tragic!!
This is how Evolution works. It’s how Evolution has to work if populations are going to survive the constant chain of climate and ecological changes that the Earth is constantly prone to! This is a poor argument if the CHANGE in question is what makes the life form BETTER in the HERE and NOW!

Similarly, calling a land-adapted tetrapod a DEVOLVED FISH (because it now has degraded gills that are barely visible and degraded FINS that look like … ( eeek… ickkk… hands!) is something I would expect to have heard from the Bible Study group I attended as a teen, at the local Nazarene Church!

Below is a little known image of what Adam would look like if God had not allowed humans to devolve from their Fishy Ancestry! Think of how many lives could have been saved during the global flood?.. if only humans had retained this precious genetic legacy???

Oh … wait a minute … I guess that’s why they weren’t ALLOWED to retain this precious genetic legacy!


(Chris) #2

In the linked post by Behe he nowhere mentions whale evolution but he does discuss polar bears. Wouldn’t it be better to discuss polar bears rather than make up a straw man about whales?


(George Brooks) #3

@aarceng,

No, not at all. Behe exploits the lack of familiarity with the polar bear situation to make his discussion about them seem strange and flawed.

The point I’m making, intentionally, is that as soon as you apply Behe’s logic to more familiar situations, it all becomes clear - - Behe is trying to make Evolution wrong because it works in “one direction”.

But that’s the way it has always been understood to work!


(Chris) #4

Well I haven’t read Behe’s latest book yet (have you?) but what I have read of previous work and discussion on line about the latest one I think you are grossly distorting what he actually says. It’s bad parody rather than fair comment.


(Matthew Pevarnik) #5

Thanks @gbrooks9. I think this is a nice summary. What do you think @aarceng about this whale evolution example?


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #6

The problem with problem with evolution is that it involves philosophical concepts as well as scientific. My guess is that Behe’s understanding of reality is based primarily on Philosophy, rather than science or theology. Philosophy is based on Ideals and Stability, rather than Material Change.

Remember Plato’s Ideal Forms. These forms do not change even if the environment changes. The Forms are Good. Change is bad. Evolution is change and therefore bad.


(Chris) #7

Well I haven’t read Behe’s latest book yet (have you?) but what I have read of previous work and discussion on line about the latest one I think @gbrooks9 is grossly distorting what Behe actually says. It’s bad parody rather than fair comment.

@Relates, from what I have read of Behe’s work and what I have seen of him speaking on line Behe’s understanding is very much based on the scientific evidence.
Try https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Behe


(Matthew Pevarnik) #8

They are exact quotes from the EN article applied to the context of the evolution of cetaceans. I’m not sure how @gbrooks9 is distorting anything here. Cetaceans really are “degraded” land mammals- losing nearly all their olfactory genes, some lineages losing their enamel producing genes, etc.


(Chris) #9

Except, as I understand it, that they do not apply to the context of whale evolution. You would have to refer this question to Behe.


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