Moran: Let's Be Fair to Behe

Larry Moran from The Sandwalk is a secular biologist, who writes about evolution. He was in a prolonged exchange with Behe over the Edge of Evolution: Prof. Behe's debate with Prof. Moran. One Coyne’s post (Scientists scrutinize just two examples in Behe’s new book; find them deeply misleading « Why Evolution Is True) Moran makes an important defense of Behe, with which I agree.

Let’s try and be a little more fair to Michael Behe. He accepts evolution and he accepts common decent and the fact that Earth was formed billions of years ago. What he’s trying to prove in his books is that there are limits to what evolution can accomplish and since we observe that evolution surpasses those limits (according to him) then there must be an intelligent designer guiding evolution.

This idea that evolution is true but God guides it is a common belief among religious folk in all countries. They don’t reject evolution, they just think that in addition there’s a lot of room for their gods to play a role.

Jerry asks, “But why is Behe trying to make a scientific case against evolution in a “trade book” rather than in the scientific literature?”

Here’s the link to Behe’s paper in the scientific literature – the one that forms the main theme in his new book.

Behe, M. J. (2010). Experimental evolution, loss-of-function mutations, and “the first rule of adaptive evolution”. The Quarterly Review of Biology, 85(4), 419-445. doi:

I note that the scientific literature does not lend itself to explaining complex ideas about evolution and that’s why scientists often publish trade books where they can cover the topic more thoroughly. There are quite a few examples ….

“Origin of Species” by Charles Darwin
“The Selfish Gene” by Richard Dawkins
“Evolution: The Modern Synthesis” by Julian Huxley
“Wonderful Life” by Stephen Jay Gould
“Endless Forms Most Beautiful” by Sean Carroll
“Speciation” by Jerry Coyne and Allen Orr
“One Long Argument” by Ernst Mayr
“Extinction: Bad Genes or Bad Luck” by David Raup
“Mutation-Driven Evolution” by Masatoshi Nei
“The Logic of Chance” by Eugene Koonin
“The Structure of Evolutionary Theory” by Stephen Jay Gould

and many more.

I’m not saying that Behe’s book is as good as these books; all I’m saying is that the fact that he publishes a trade book on evolution should not be held against him otherwise you would also have to criticize the following authors for publishing trade books …

“The Language of God” by Francis Collins
Finding Darwion’s God” by Kenneth Miller
“The Runes of Evolution” by Simon Conway Morris
“Evolution: A View form the 21st Century” by James Shapiro

My issue, of course, is different. As the recent ENV article repeats, and fails to refute,

Behe “ignores evidence,” “misrepresents theory,” and “avoids evidence that challenges him.”

Science Review Offers False Accusations about Chloroquine Resistance | Evolution News


@eddie, you would love this post by Moran.

I think it would be helpful if Behe could make his views a bit clearer. At times he seems to be on the theistic evolution side, but other times he states quite clearly that something can’t evolve. If evolution is being guided by God, then why shouldn’t we see beneficial mutations occurring in living populations? If God is guiding Darwinian mechanisms, as he defines them, then why can’t they produce IC systems? It’s a bit like someone saying they accept the Germ Theory of Disease, but still think a disease is caused by demons. It just doesn’t compute.


Calling @Eddie Hope you are doing well. Come back to the discussion ( under 100,000 words please) :sunglasses:

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Under a 1000 please.

I’m reading five different books right now, I don’t need a sixth.

What’s this? Patrick, you want me to come back? Now I’m confused. I left because I was trying to follow a two-word instruction you gave me some time back. :smile:

Actually, I’ve been busy trying to eke out of living. We non-tenured academics, lacking a steady paycheck like that of our tenured peers, have to eke out our living with various teaching gigs, supplemented by other kinds of work in between. So I simply ran out of time to spar on the internet. Every hour I spend on the internet is an hour I’m not being paid for, and that I should be using to gain more income, to pay the bills.

But I’m touched by the fact that you miss me, so to speak. It is the spirit of Valentine’s Day which moves me to break my silence and return your gracious gesture, by admitting that I miss you, too, so to speak. :wink:



Sorry to hear that. Engineering in the corporate world was much more lucrative for me. It has allowed me to blissful early retirement.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you. :rofl:

But we really need you here. Try to catch up on all the PS/DI back and forth. And provide commentary.

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Hello, Joshua. Thanks for remembering me. Actually, I liked both posts by Moran, under Coyne’s column. Not only was his call for fairness to Behe a pleasant surprise; his explanation of why scientists sometimes do (and should) write books in addition to articles was excellent, and made the points I tried to make in an earlier discussion here, without success. And while he was at it, he nicely disposed of the “trade books, as opposed to technical books, are automatically worthless” sneer that is so common in these debates. Moran goes up two points in my estimation. Coyne, on the other hand, remains at the same low level he was at before, i.e., only slightly above Dawkins, Myers, and Dennett. (Coyne’s saving grace in relation to those others is that he at least has a bit of a sense of humor.)

Anyhow, must get back to my current paid work. Maybe I’ll pop in again on the next minor holiday. Wouldn’t want Patrick to feel neglected. :smile:


Thanks @eddie next minor holiday is St. Patrick’s Day. Remember to paint your ass green for the parade. :sunglasses:

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You are assuming that I will be sober enough on St. Patrick’s Day to even stand, let alone walk in any parade. Which reminds me: I had better start stocking up my fridge with cans of Guinness.


Actually its bigger then all this. WHY is there such desperate concentration on trivial points from a ID scientist who AGREES with common descent/evolution save in explaining everything and so creation from happanchance??
This is because ID thinkers like Behe have drawn sio much blood there is fear of him. Rightly so!
I am YEC and don’t agree with common descent/long ages/euals evolution or any need to see genes are relevant in creation from unguided systems. I mean genes are just a minor part of a bigger system in biology.
Yet Mutationism is so unlikely, so neeeded, that tweeking it causes problems.
Behe is making a bigger case then a polar bear case of gene atrophy.
Possibly he is wrong on details, teach ID thinkers to drop any evolutionist jazz, but his opponenys are just squeezing minor details about minor genetic codes.
Nothing to see here except a bigger problem with mutationism in biology origins.

Because 1+1 does not equal 3, and it is fun, not desparation.

It’s like he’s peeking in my window at my bookshelves.

See you Monday then!

We are :sunglasses: Atheist engineers has replaced “God is watching you at all times” with 10 million HD zero light day/night visible/infrared cameras.