Perplexing: Michael Behe’s Critics Falsely Claim He Ignores Exaptation

So Behe does not use the term “exaption”. And he does not describe as a feature that helps to explain evolution. Rather, he take it to be a case of devolution and he sees it a problem for evolution.

So Behe does not use the well known name, and he misdescribes it. But it is all our fault for not noticing that he actually did discuss it. Sigh!


Yes. He was accused of ignoring it. We now know that is false.

@mung if you want to play word games it cuts both ways. This ENV article agrees with us that Behe never mentioned “exaptation,” confirming that we the reviewers were correct.

Also we never accused him of anything. We are discussing what he said in his book.

Setting aside the use of the specific term (which he did not use) I can grant he mentions some related concepts in passing. Behe often brings up concepts briefly just to dimiss them because he deems they are not relevant to his argument. This is just another example of this sort.

He never mentions “exaptation”, and never engages how this impacts his devolution argument, though he does mention some related concepts just to dismiss them. We are seeing why this matters in the Polar Bear example.


It probably says a lot about the DI position that they are making every effort to score points via word games. There is the article linked here and West’s article from yesterday:

The Science review misrepresents Behe right from the start: “In 1996, biochemist Michael Behe introduced the notion of ‘irreducible complexity,’ arguing that some biomolecular structures could not have evolved because their functionality requires interacting parts, the removal of any one of which renders the entire apparatus defective.” (emphasis added)

Well, no. Behe doesn’t claim that irreducibly complex systems can’t evolve . He claims they are extremely unlikely to evolve by unguided natural selection and random mutations . There is a difference. A more accurate statement would be: “Although Behe accepts much of modern evolutionary theory (such as common descent), he thinks it highly improbable that irreducibly complex systems can be produced by an unguided Darwinian process of natural selection acting on random mutations.” Stated that way, Behe’s position might appear reasonable even to some readers of Science . And if your goal is to give Behe “a fair hearing,” surely you would want to state his position as accurately as possible, right?

The fact that he did not explicitly state that IC structures “could not evolve” wins him points somehow - Dr. Behe only believes that the likelihood of their evolution is small enough that the possibility can be ignored.


The article however points out the exact opposite. If you were discussing what he wrote in the book you’d not have made the mistake of claiming he failed to address exaptation.

Your case boils down to “he didn’t actually use the word ‘exaptation’ therefore he did not mention the possibility of a trait that has been co-opted for a different use.” And that is of course, nonsense. He clearly did.

If you read up on exaptation you might even come away thinking that Behe was right to not use that term but rather the terms he chose to use instead. I certainly wouldn’t try to make a case for malfeasance based on the lack of use of a specific term when the actual topic was clearly discussed.

Will a retraction be published?

We can only hope he would publish a retraction, but ID proponents are not known for this.