Darwin Devolves: The End of Evolution?

@NLENTS, Richard Lenski, and @swamidass reviewed Darwin Devolves by Micheal Behe. Our review is coming out on Thursday (February 7th) at 2pm.

Comment on the main thread here: Comments on Darwin Devolves Review.

Follow On Articles

  1. @AndyWalsh "Darwin Devolves" Ch 1: The Pretense of Knowledge

  2. @NLENTS Darwin Devolves’ — who’s the one really going backward here?

  3. @Jerry_Coyne Scientists scrutinize just two examples in Behe’s new book; find them deeply misleading « Why Evolution Is True

  4. Darwin Devolves: Miller's Coagulation Pathway Proposal

  5. Answering @Edgar_Tamarian: Does Summers et al Validate Behe?

  6. @NLENTS and @Art Lents and Hunt: Behe And The Polar Bear's Fat

  7. @J.E.S and @swamidass Retire Darwin Day?

  8. @swamidass I Agree With Behe

  9. Lenski: Three Part Series on Behe's Rule

  10. @Jerry_Coyne Rich Lenski answers ID creationist Michael Behe, dismantles “Behe’s First Rule of Adaptive Evolution” « Why Evolution Is True

  11. @NLENTS Darwin Devolves: “Devolution” is Not a Thing – The Human Evolution Blog

  12. @Jerry_Coyne Coyne: More criticisms of Behe’s new ID book

  13. Lenski: Lenski: Are Polar Bears Damaged?

Discovery Institute Responses

They produced their own guided here: Behe’s Darwin Devolves — How to Follow the Criticisms and Responses | Evolution News.

  1. Behe. Woo-hoo! In Science Review of Darwin Devolves, Lenski Has No Response to My Main Argument | Evolution News

  2. Klinghoffer. Klinghoffer: Early Science Review of Darwin Devolves — A Panic Attack?

  3. @bjmiller First Review of Darwin Devolves Relies Heavily on Circular Reasoning | Evolution News

  4. Klingoffer. Klingoffer: “Important Points” Omitted “In the Interest of Space” (response included)

  5. West. West: Review Borders on Fraud? (response included)

  6. Klinghoffer. Behe on Darwin Dissent List: “Overselling Darwinism Means Downplaying Its Difficulties” | Evolution News

  7. @Wayne_Rossiter Leisola: Cited to Attack Darwin Devolves, Study Devolves on Close Inspection (response included)

  8. Behe Behe: Responding to the Polar Bear's Fat (response included)

  9. Behe's Trainwreck Response to Science (response included)

  10. Klinghoffer Conversation Evolves: Richard Lenski Responds to Michael Behe | Evolution News (response included)

  11. West In the Controversy over Intelligent Design, Seeking Genuine Dialogue | Evolution News (response included)

  12. Perplexing: Michael Behe’s Critics Falsely Claim He Ignores Exaptation (response included)

  13. DI: On Chloroquine Resistance, Nathan Lents Severely Misrepresents Behe’s Arguments? (response included)

  14. ENV: Response to Hunt-Swamidass on on Chloroquine Resistance (response included)

  15. Behe: Darwinists Are “Famously Slow to Recognize Problems for Their Theory” (response included)

  16. West: Points to Racism in WUSTL's History (response included)

  17. Behe on Lessons From the Polar Bear Studies

Blog and News Coverage

  1. @Jerry_Coyne Coyne: Scientists damn Behe’s new book; he responds lamely

  2. Eureka Alert:
    https://eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-02/tcuo-dds021119.php Don’t like the title (we aren’t defending Darwin).

  3. Sensuous Curmudgeon: First Review of Behe’s New Book | The Sensuous Curmudgeon

  4. Sensuous Curmudgeon: Another Review of the Behe Review | The Sensuous Curmudgeon

  5. Nathan Lents is sticking to the science – John Jay Research


@Agauger, @pnelson, and @bjmiller, I hope that Behe is planning to respond. I am hoping to include a blog post here at Peaceful Science too.


The like to the article is now live. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/363/6427/590. At this time I am opening comments.


I feel like that was a solid review. I’m going to have to read the book. I like the information on the innovative power of duplications. I was unaware of those examples.


2 posts were merged into an existing topic: Comments on Darwin Devolves Review

I remind those from the DI responding to this review (e.g. @pnelson and @Agauger) that we had merely <1000 words, and were not able to explain any thing in detail. All the points we are making can be fleshed out at your request. We left out important points too, in the interest of space. Each point we reference is a strong critique or counter example on its own.


33 posts were merged into an existing topic: Comments on Darwin Devolves Review

That was a rather straightforward takedown.

Perfectly said.


And Behe responds, with some kind jest :smile:.


@NLENTS and I will let you know how we’ll respond.

Let me first say this — Woo-hoo!! I’m simply ecstatic about the review. Not because it’s favorable — it surely isn’t. But because it is so embarrassingly, cringe-inducingly weak. It’s the equivalent of a reviewer being rendered speechless, but soldiering on because he’s been assigned to write 700 words — gotta say something .

This, however, is silly gamesmanship and spin. I honestly wonder if anyone can take this seriously. It validates our final point:

Ultimately, Darwin Devolves fails to challenge modern evolutionary science because, once again, Behe does not fully engage with it. He misrepresents theory and avoids evidence that challenges him.


I find this fairly entertaining:

It’s the equivalent of a reviewer being rendered speechless, but soldiering on because he’s been assigned to write 700 words — gotta say something .

This is, actually, demonstrably false. Either he knows this and is taunting us (fun!), or just did not do his homework. I’m not sure which one.

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Whoa. I gotta say, that article does not seem like Behe. He’s usually serious and measured, but wow, he’s downright silly here. And why the lashing out? Klinghoffer seems to have rubbed off on him, which is a real shame. Behe is one of the few real scientists in their movement. He was the DI’s only real hope in their quest to be taken seriously. This really doesn’t help the cause.


Puzzling sentence from the review:

“Behe asserts that new functions only arise through ‘purposeful design’ of new genetic information, a claim that cannot be tested.”

Yet the rest of the review summarizes and cites evidence which, the authors claim, tests (and refutes) Behe’s arguments. So design cannot be tested, except when we test it.

Gotta agree with Mike on this one: the review largely ignores his main thesis in Darwin Devolves, but revisits old controversies. I expect his full reply, coming in a few days, will hammer that.


I’m not a fancy philosopher, but it seems to me that refuting an argument in favor of X doesn’t actually test X, just the argument used for X.


Um, the claims of Behe’s that are refuted in the review relate to the notion that adaptive evolution occurs only by “breaking” proteins. Not “that new functions only arise through ‘purposeful design’ of new genetic information”.


Yep. @pnelson missed the mark on that one. I’m not even sure it’s an argument in favor of ID. Does an argument against known evolutionary processes equal evidence for design? I think not.


We did hit on irreducible complexity and edge of evolution a lot. That is because Mike did not accurately present the status of those arguments, and his devolution case depends on both these two arguments being correct.

As for the new argument, he rules out anything but Darwinian processes being useful from the get go. He makes several important omissions. We point out several examples that counter his case, but there are more. The strange thing is that he seems to think Lenskis experiment is a good demonstration of his law, but Lenski’s experiment does not extrapolate to macroevolution. It’s designed to test other things.


There is also a bit of psychological projection going on. Behe seems to be describing himself:

" It’s the equivalent of a reviewer being rendered speechless, but soldiering on because he’s been assigned to write 700 words — gotta say something ."