I Agree With Behe


(S. Joshua Swamidass) #1

I want to affirm again my common ground with Behe. Dialogue is only possible if we keep our common ground in view, and we have much of common ground.

The review is just about 750 words, so it requires clarification on important points. We are tracking the conversation on the forum. The Discovery Institute responded to this review with five articles so far, and we expect many more to come. I am looking forward to dialogue with them. There are some acrimonious response (including an accusation of fraud!), so the dialogue will be messy. Even, Jerry Coyne jumped into the fray, in our defense. We have responded on the forum, and several more articles are planned in other venues. This article on the Polar Bear’s fat by Art Hunt and Nathan Lents is a good read too, explaining how Behe’s argument rests on important factual mistakes. We continue to invite Behe, Doug Axe, and the Discovery Institute into dialogue with us. I hope they will enter into conversation with us.

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Darwin Devolves: The End of Evolution?
Comments on I Agree With Behe
(John Harshman) #2

One of your heroes? You must have a long list if he makes it. OK, he was brave to risk (well, scuttle) his legitimate scientific career by this public descent into pseudoscience. OK, he was brave to depart from his new friends in affirming common descent. But shouldn’t a hero at least be honest in his scientific endeavors? He’s certainly not unique among scientists in ignoring criticism and evidence contrary to his pet ideas, but I hope nobody finds such behavior admirable. Bravery alone doesn’t make a hero.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #3

It is good to be magnanomous, especially when we are critiquing his science so heavily. In truth, I have always steered clear of critiquing him till this last year. I still really like him.

(Neil Rickert) #4

Is it dishonesty? Or is it misunderstanding?

Yes, there’s some of both, but I think it is mostly a matter of misunderstanding.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #5

Same here. He seems honest and well meaning. Unfortunately, at least for him, he also seems wrong. I have a hard time seeing him as villain. He was an important part of my journey to understand that there actually is an immense amount of evidence for evolution.

(John Harshman) #6

Misunderstanding is easy when your world view demands it, unfortunately.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #7

Yes, but I will take Behe over Ken Ham any day. Wouldn’t you?

(John Harshman) #8

Of course. But that’s like saying you’d take Trump over Idi Amin.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) pinned globally #9

(Jordan Mantha) #10

@swamidass, I wonder if you could clarify this the following quote from your article:

Sometimes, it seems, TEs and ECs forget that science does not deny God’s action; it is merely silent about it. Silence is not denial. God could have guided evolution, inspiring mutations, and direct things to His desired end. Nothing in science tells us He did not act in the world to create us.

I think that science is not silent about God’s action. Science will place limits on God’s action. For instance, it’s true that science can’t “see” a de novo Adam & Eve, but it can rule out a de novo Adam & Eve within the last 10,000 years that are the sole genetic progenitors of all people.

If God is working all the time “designing” through mutations, for instance, He’s doing it in the noise, no?

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #11

I did qualify it as “sometimes” :smile:.

TE and EC is known for opposing direct affirmation of God’s action. This is one reason, for example, that “one organization” had a large problem with my work on the Genealogical Adam and Eve.

You @Jordan, may be among a new breed of TE that is rising now. But I’m not convinced we should adopt the TE or the EC label. Let them carry their own baggage, and let’s find a better way.

Yes. I totally agree too. Let us find that better way.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #13

Alright, I took that out because I’m sure it was confusing people. I just like the guy, even though I disagree with him. What can I say?

(Matthew Dickau) #14

I appreciate this post, @swamidass , and I really hope your approach of seeking common ground spreads to more and more people on all sides of the origins debate.

It really seems to me that Christian who affirm evolution, and Christians who affirm ID theory, have way more in common than not. It’s strange that there can be such conflict between them sometimes… but I suppose the same could be said about most every doctrinal disagreement within Christianity.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #15

Thanks @structureoftruth. At this point I’m getting no love from DI. I suppose we will find out if excercising my academic freedom to offer a professional critique of Behe is an unforgivable sin. I hope not!

Actually, it may require more of us seeking common ground to be known amoung their base. I like Behe. None of this is personal. Can you help get the word out that we are here to engage with ID and give them a fair hearing? They don’t have to do an end run around scientists. We want to engage with them.

(Guy Coe) #16

It’s that “evolution” is such a trigger word among so many people of faith, while ID is so thoroughly denigrated in the popular press (–and here), that folks are too disposed NOT to find common ground, based on the best evidence, reasoning and countervailing viewpoints.
I’m enjoying Nathan’s book with the thought in the back of my mind, “well, sure --why would God want to make into some kind of flawless apex predator?”
Only the (New Jersey? : ) mafia wants those…

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #17

Well @Guy_Coe, the last time you bugged RTB about me, it was to good effect. Any chance you can calm DI down in the next couple weeks? They seem on edge.

(Guy Coe) #18

You walked into a hornet’s nest by having to post a review that was well presented, but had to be too sparsely worded!
Keep up with the dialogue with @Paul_Nelson and @Agauger , and next time I see Dr. John West I’ll see what I can do to promote dialogue. He’s a good guy. Remember Sternberg, too, and that many different viewpoints are aggregated under their particular “big tent.”

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #19

Perhaps, but we also clarified we were looking forward to dialogue with them. They have been unwilling. It has gotta be hard for them right now. I’m sympathetic in some ways. At some point though, they have to stop with the ad hominems and attempt a conversation about our disagreements.

(Guy Coe) #20

You know how effectively they can rev up a P.R. buzzsaw… give them time, and your own honest olive branches. Storm before the calm, my friend!

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #21

You are one of their supporters. It helps to let them know what you think internally. That can help clear the storm. It seems they want scientists to engage with their work, but they don’t know quite what do when we do engage with them. Almost like the dog that catches a car.