Lents and Swamidass: Our Questions for Behe’s Darwin Devolves

I must admit to being a bit confused here. Perhaps I have indeed missed something. It appears that you are saying that you and @NLENTS are not addressing Behe’s new book/arguments here in this thread about his new book? Comments like the one quoted below by @NLENTS sure sound like it:

“I’ve now finished the book and I agree that it was more than that and it did make its way to some good scientific discussions of how mutations can effect beneficial change by diminishing or destroying function to a gene/protein. Unfortunately, in my reading, Behe completely omits mention of examples that are contrary to this and that’s what is frustrating for us.”

Then your earlier comment that I first responded to (“His argument, in fact, depends on the absence of counter examples.”) uses a quote of that comment. Thus your comment appeared to be in relation to Behe’s new book (generally) and the counter examples that @NLENTS says are missing (specifically). However, I now see that you are saying that your comment was a reference to Behe’s older IC arguments (“IC can not evolve”). If so, then I agree that this argument does depend on an absence of counter examples as you say.

I appreciate the new thread and I am interested in the topic, but I don’t have time to do it justice.

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In his book, Behe makes the claim that the work from his two prior books have not been refuted. He does this by ignoring all the refutations that been put forward. That is what I am focusing on now. When it his book comes out in February, we will be able to explain the problems with his newer arguments (there is not much there) in more detail. For now, I am confining my critique to what he already has in public.

Arguing about the “Devolution” argument is going ot be pointless now any ways, as most people are going to do what you are doing here. Just avoiding the point, and suggesting we wait till we read the whole book. That is no good, and waste of time. If you would like to make the argument for your self, independent of Behe, you certainly can and should give it a shot. You will find that this is just not in accord with the evidence.

Also, with you in mind, I excerpted a few helpful articles in another thread. Hopefully this helps you get “unconfused”.

You are a student in biology, and when I was at your stage I also was convinced by Behe. Then, I learned some more about Biology, and found that it was a fallacious argument. I was a Christian too @Dan_Durston, and still am a Christian and science. I think the Behe was ultimately right in he is arguing that God created us (and He did), however his argument is false. There is no value in false arguments for true claims. God does not need fallacious arguments, does he?

For that reason, I encourage you to dive into this for yourself and learn with us. We are happy to show you how evolutionary science works. We are also glad to explore with you how evolutionary science can make sense alongside Christian faith:

@Dan_Durston, when you get a chance, take a look at this article I wrote about my story, and tell me what you think?


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I don’t think this is true at all. As far as I know, everyone agrees that mutations are much more likely to harm than help, and much more likely even to be neutral. I don’t know any molecular or evolutionary biologist that would disagree with that. So, if by “overall pattern,” you are implying a numbers game, then we are all in agreement. Instead, Behe argues that breaking things is all mutations can ever do and is therefore insufficient as the source of biodiversity. He states very clearly that adaptive radiation at the level of genus and species fits the mold of modern evolutionary but with mutations always being destructive in doing so. (He also chooses his examples selectively here and, in at least one case, selective explains his example.) But he then goes further and says that higher-level diversification at the level of family and up, when new structures, functions, etc. appear (in other words, macroevolution, although he defines it more rigidly than necessary, I suspect to better fit his overall notions) requires an influx of new genetic information from somewhere other than mutations.

So, as @swamidass says, the absence of counter-examples is central to his argument and the existence of those examples demolishes his point. In fact, there are examples of gain- and alteration-of-function mutations that have been crucial for adaptation. Also, he is really doubling down with his “line in the sand” between lower-taxonomic-level microevolution and higher-level macroevolution, and seems to ignore all that has been done to show that such a mechanistic division does not exist. But that’s another matter, though not unrelated.


The elephant in the room which Behe ignores is changing environmental selection pressures. Of course evolution works by modifying existing genomic sequences or “breaking things” as Behe puts it. But such things are almost always only “broken” when they are no longer needed by the population due to changing selection pressures while the new uses for the “broken” parts are beneficial in the new changed environment. New genetic variations arise in every generation. The genetic changes which are retained in the population gene pool are those which are fixed by selection and drift. That’s where the “new genetic information” comes from - feedback from the environment.

Sadly I must conclude this book is just one more attempt by Behe to push a false argument hoping the lay public won’t tumble to the false picture Behe paints.


The key concepts never mentioned once:

  1. Exaptation.
  2. Muller’s two step and Dr. Orr.
  3. T-urf13 and @art hunt.

For the record though, there is a section about the bad design argument with which I totally agree. I’m going back through to note the places I agree with him. He also affirms common descent.

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