Behe’s Latest Arguments: A Review of Darwin Devolves

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This is a bit puzzling.

Ham’s own ideas require hyper-evolution of animals after they left the ark. It isn’t clear how he fits that with the idea that there is only devolution.


From what I’ve gathered via conversations in other fora, the explanation is that the organisms on the Ark had a superset of all the genetic information of their living descendants. The diversification post-Ark is the result of different lineages losing different genes or alleles. So I would expect that Behe’s latest claims would fit well with that model.


@Joel_Duff is the resident YEC hyperevolution expert.

But if we ask recognized protein and genome-expert Bill Cole, gene loss models are intrinsically implausible. They’re “mission critical” for [splicing/apoptosis in embryo development/getting enough vitamin D/yadda yadda yadda…].


Some notable statements from “Behe’s Latest Arguments”:

As Behe points out, biologists claim that common descent is caused by random mutation and natural selection. If this is true and if life is constantly evolving around us, then it should be possible to identify sequences of specific chemical processes that lead to common descent. To convincingly demonstrate such mechanisms, they would need to be shown in series of organisms that cross multiple levels of taxonomic organization. Phylogenetic trees based on molecular homological studies do not establish a mechanism at all, and so studies of a different nature would be needed. In short, Behe is right. Nathan Lents claims that Behe is holding evolution to “an impossible standard” (Lents 2019). While that may or may not be true, it does not invalidate Behe’s argument.

Throughout the book, Behe points out that mutations degrade genetic information, and he provides numerous examples from E. coli to polar bears. In the course of these arguments, he unwittingly supports recent creation. He does so most clearly in the chapter entitled “The Family Line.” The diversity of life seen today can be accounted for in thousands of years through baraminology,1 a creation science field of study which identifies what the Bible calls a “kind” as being most closely aligned with the family level of Linnaean classification.2 We find it fascinating that Behe, who supports common descent, provides support for created kinds. It’s not surprising that he does so without any reference to the biblical kind.

We recommend this book to creationists who want to find biochemical support for their ideas and to evolutionists who question the idea that mutation and natural selection can explain common descent.

The bold font emphases above are my own.

I find the AIG article reviewing Behe’s book to be quite obtuse—and full of massive leaps which could easily pull a muscle in the unwary.

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I’m not quite sure how the sentence that references me fits with the rest of the paragraph. Am I missing something or is that a non sequitur?

@NLENTS, I had the same reaction. The review article appears to be full of non sequiturs on steroids.

By the way, one of the co-authors has a Ph.D. in entomology from Clemson (and two degrees from Bob Jones University) and the other author has a “Dr.” title but no description of academic degrees.

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The article struck me as standard AIG style “P.R. science speak” which is meant to reassure supporters that “We’re still on top of the latest science. Don’t be concerned.” Despite abundant financial resources, AIG rarely makes much effort to sponsor real scientific research nor to engage the scientific academy with its ideas. It’s all about preaching to the choir. (And many AIG supporters will be very pleased that a Bob Jones University graduate co-authored the article and achieved a PhD in Entomology. That makes it solid science and solid Christianity.)

Here’s another gem:

One of the weaknesses of this book and the ID movement, in general, is its lack of a credible story to account for what we observe. While it does have the unifying idea that all life appears to be designed by an intelligent being, questions about who that being is and how the amazing diversity displayed in the universe was brought into existence are neither asked nor answered.

(1) If the ID movement lacks “a credible story to account for what we observe”, what of AIG’s hyper-evolution of created kinds doctrine?!

(2) To Ken Ham and AIG, the ID movement is deficient because it doesn’t focus on talking about God as the Creator and the book of Genesis.


To say that common descent is caused by random mutation and natural selection is a really weird way to phrase it. In fact it is so oddly stated I have difficulties avoiding the suspicion that the person who wrote it is deliberately trying to confuse and obfuscate.

Mutations accumulating in isolated populations cause divergence. If the populations derive from a shared ancestral one, we expect them to diverge(become increasingly dissimilar) genetically over time. This is just statistically unavoidable.

The mechanism that causes divergence is mutation combined with a lack of geneflow between individual populations. The genome of species X is present in some population that then splits into two smaller populations. Now both populations have identical genome sequences of species X.
In sub-population 1 the genome sequence mutates in some way, in sub-population 2 the sequence mutates in another way. They have now diverged and are no longer identical.
Generations pass, and each population again independently of each other suffer mutations. It is unlikely for identical mutations to occur in parallel in the two isolated populations (though that does some times happen, it is comparatively rare). So the populations genetically diverge further. And so on and so forth. One or both of these sub-populations in turn can split again, repeating the process resuling in furher divergence. We can then sequence the genomes of members from the different populations and see that they are not identical.
If different species share common descent in this fashion, we should be able to show that those species can be arranged into these groups of increasingly distant relationships. And we can. We can elucidate relationships, and the histories they imply, that look for example something like this:

When whoever wrote that oddly nonsensical article says:

Phylogenetic trees based on molecular homological studies do not establish a mechanism at all, and so studies of a different nature would be needed.

… they are speaking incoherent nonsense. Same with this complete gibberish:

If this is true and if life is constantly evolving around us, then it should be possible to identify sequences of specific chemical processes that lead to common descent.

There are chemical causes of why mutations happen. But it is the accumulation of those mutations in populations that have become genetically isolated from each other(meaning genes are not exchanged between them) that cause divergence of sequences.

And just what the fork is “sequence of a specific chemical process” supposed to refer to?

There are sequences of genes that code for proteins and sequence of genes that don’t code for proteins. And, for example, those encoded proteins might be enzymes that catalyze certain chemical reactions. But that chemical reaction doesn’t have a sequence.
What is the sequence for the formation of peptide bonds? It’s a chemical reaction, it doesn’t have a sequence. There is a catalyst of that reaction, and the catalyst could be an enzyme or a ribozyme that has a genetic sequence. We can use that sequence from different species to infer the tree of common descent.

How can anyone be so confused as to write that obtuse article? It boggles the mind. It is a continuing challenge to not ascribe intentional dishonesty to these people.


Yes. As much as I try to avoid making too many assumptions about the internal motivations of an author, it’s hard not to wonder about an entomology PhD writing in such a manner.

When I read that sentence in the review and couldn’t figure it out, I even wondered if the authors were implying that, if Common Descent is true, then genomic scientists should be able to isolate particular nucleotide sequences which drive Common Descent. Are they actually complaining that no scientist has announced, “We found the DNA sequences within genomes which cause Common Descent. Here they are!”

Hmmm. I suppose such a discovery would be theoretically possible. It would involve everything in genomes which leads to reproduction! (After all, reproduction drives common descent.)

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After re-reading the review and Rumraket’s response, I found myself recalling various work environments of my youth. Whether in a lunch room of a building supply retail establishment or a university computer center break-room or a departmental faculty lounge, I used to see a whimsical sign over the coffee machine or fridge: “You don’t have to be crazy to work here—but it does help.”

Self-reflection (both personal and organizational self-reflection) can be a very good thing. Sometimes I read articles which bring back memories of those workplace signs.

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Ham’s idea is more like hyper devolution. All species diverged from the original genetically perfect Kinds aboard the Ark, shedding genetic information down to the pitiful decaying remains we see today.

Don’t ask me to explain it. @Joel_Duff does it much better:


With God, all things are possible…

Without God, with lots of time and luck, all things are possible… ;).