Message to Behe: You may very well be an evolutionist

| 33 Comments

Well, if Behe can call Miller an intelligent design proponent because of his Christian faith, showing that ID really is all about religion, then it seems that it is not more than fair that we call Behe an evolutionist for his acceptance of common descent, and his somewhat self-contradictory claim that after God set it all in motion, evolution could very well have played itself out via purely natural processes of regularity and chance. But if that is the case then ID, which is based on eliminating such natural processes to infer design seems to have lost its claim to it.

Miller Wrote:

Even more confusing is Behe’s attempt to meld this version of design with science. He tries to argue that his God need not intervene to produce change because “the purposeful design of life to any degree is easily compatible with the idea that, after its initiation, the universe unfolded exclusively by the intended playing out of natural laws.” Really? Bebe has just provided two hundred pages of passionate arguments that natural laws are not sufficient to explain evolutionary change, only to turn around and claim that they are. His core argument is that the natural laws that produce mutations cannot generate the diversity needed to explain evolutionary change. Then he insists that the unfolding of our universe is governed entirely by those same natural laws. And Behe does nothing to dispel this self-contradiction.

Kenneth R. Miller “Faulty Design” Review of “The Edge of Evolution” CommonWeal, October 12, 2007

Miller Wrote:

But the book contains a genuine surprise—a blanket concession to what nearly all Americans would regard as the core of Darwin’s theory: the notion of common descent.

Yet Miller also observes that some tears are starting to show in the ‘Big Tent’

Miller Wrote:

Those hoping that Behe would argue or a biblical version of human origins will be shocked. Indeed, Behe tells his readers that there must be “no relying on boly books or prophetic dreams,” and that it “would be silly” to treat the Bible as some sort of scientific textbook.” Amen.

Amen indeed.

So who was outing whom I wonder :-)

33 Comments

I am not the first one to come to this conclusion it seems

Behe is convinced, with good reason, that God must be involved at the kick-off, assembling life at the level of the irreducibly complex. Apparently he thinks that natural, random processes can take it from there and account for all the rest of the development.

Do you think that Behe will eventually jump ship off the ID bandwagon and apologize to everyone he insulted with his lame propaganda?

If he were an honest man, I’d think so!

Another one

Do you believe a designer only set the universe in motion, or do you think a designer intercedes occasionally?

[Behe] Well, as a Christian I think God has intervened in human history. But in order to set up the general universe — including the design apparent in cells — I think God could have done that in a single instant, which unfolded over time.

Michael Behe on The Edge of Evolution by Paul Comstock California Literary Review, September 24th, 2007

Again, a Christian at heart but certainly willing to accept that God could have preloaded the universe with design.

In the end, from a scientific perspective, Behe’s position seems quite similar to Miller’s. So is Miller an Intelligent Design proponent or is Behe an evolutionist? Well both, Miller is an ID proponent from a religious perspective, and Behe is an evolutionist when it comes to how life evolved and perhaps even as to how life arose.

In its proper perspective, it all seems to fall in place.

It looks very much as if Behe’s latest stance (based on the above) is theistic evolution.

I think if Behe could just drop the arguments from incredulity, he would then become a rational person, and hence no longer an IDologist.

For some reason, which I cannot fathom right now, this made me think of Star Wars, where Darth Vader has just cut off Luke’s hand.

Darth Miller: There is no escape. Don’t make me destroy you. Behe, you do not yet realize your importance. You have only begun to discover your power. Join me, and I will complete your training. With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to America.

Behe: I’ll never join you!

Darth Miller: If only you knew the power of evolution. Dembski never told you what happened to your credibility.

Behe: He told me enough! He told me the scientific community killed it.

Darth Miller: No. You never had any credibility.

Behe: No… no… it’s not true… that’s impossible!

Darth Miller: Search your feelings, you know it to be true.

LOL, keyboard kill to soteos :) That has to be one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen written about the whole ID farce.

In the end, from a scientific perspective, Behe’s position seems quite similar to Miller’s.

That’s what Behe claims, but it’s not at all true. Miller accepts evolution and doesn’t believe in frontloading. He misinterprets Behe when he writes

His core argument is that the natural laws that produce mutations cannot generate the diversity needed to explain evolutionary change. Then he insists that the unfolding of our universe is governed entirely by those same natural laws. And Behe does nothing to dispel this self-contradiction.

There’s no contradiction; Behe says God put all the diversity in at the beginning, and then natural laws could have proceeded from there; these would, of necessity, be somewhat different from the laws of the ToE. But reality is that diversity arose via evolution, it wasn’t frontloaded. Behe might be an odd sort of IDiot, but he’s no evolutionist.

Miller is an ID proponent from a religious perspective, and Behe is an evolutionist when it comes to how life evolved

Thanks PvM, that helped me sort this thing out to my current satisfaction. I have mulled this over since I didn’t want to look like the village curmudgeon. (I may be, but I sure doesn’t want to look like it. :-P)

My problem is that while I stand up for anyone to speak a personal opinion, I do think there effectively exist professional responsibilities. But the demarcation issue isn’t easy.

For example, IIRC the rather recent flap with the YEC geologist (? I can’t remember the details right now) that got his PhD while not accepting his science outside his work. My initial opinion was that it wouldn’t make him an effective scientist professionally or socially, but that it was in order though he should perhaps not expect to be hired by a serious lab. But as I remember it people managed to convince me that science expects devoted scientists so the issue of his PhD was indeed serious.

OTOH, I don’t approve of Miller’s book subtitle A Scientist’s Search For Common Ground Between God And Evolution to Finding Darwin’s God. It should have been titled “A theist’s search…”, while Miller’s credentials speaks for themselves.

But the above puts this into focus. Miller accepts the facts, but puts his god into the gaps by magical mechanisms. While Behe puts his god into the gaps by magical mechanisms, but doesn’t accept the facts.

Behe might be an odd sort of IDiot, but he’s no evolutionist.

Quite, he doesn’t accept the major mechanisms. Behe is like a man that has taken out a car engine, rolls the car down a slope and yells that he has “a car” that takes him anywhere he needs.

But in the religious perspective, he may be claimed to be. It seems to me many adherents to “theistic evolutionism” believes in frontloading, a teleological process that inevitably has led to humans or “human-like intelligence”.

Without actually reading Miller, it becomes impossible to judge whether he falls into Behe’s camp. The link above sure relates book parts where Miller expands on such views:

“If evolution really did take place, then God must have rigged everything. Otherwise, how could He have been sure that evolution would have produced us?”

“… the very fact that we are here to make a fuss means that the physical constants of the universe were set up in a way that made our existence possible.”

But that may be implementations of his religion’s fundamental theology. Miller’s own belief seems to be summed up in:

“Surely this means that mankind’s appearance on this planet was not preordained, that we are here not as a product of an inevitable procession of evolutionary success, but as an afterthought, a minor detail, a happenstance in a history that might just as well have left us out. I agree.”

Not surprisingly I don’t get further than Amiel Rossow did in his review. Miller doesn’t seem to reconcile his religion with his facts, despite the intention of his book.

As I have been saying for a decade, Behe probably personally accepts all of evolution. Even if he truly thought that his “designed ancestral cell” hypothesis had promise in 1996, he undoubtedly recognizes its flaws now. The only remaining formal alternative is a “saltation” hypothesis. But despite vague allusions to it as a possibility, Behe doesn’t offer much confidence in that either.

What puts Behe - like all DI fellows - 180 degrees apart from “evolutonists” is not any personal belief, but his dogged insistence of misrepresenting it in every way possible. And his steadfast refusal to admit being wrong even when he abandons unsuccessful arguments.

On that note, doesn anyone know if he apologized yet for inserting that period?

Popper's Ghost Wrote:

Behe says God put all the diversity in at the beginning…

Note that he seems to have retreated from “the beginning of life” to “the beginning of the universe.” Of course, like a true postmodern IDer he stops short of committing to anything. Meanwhile, Miller ironically seems to favor that the designer might intervene via quantum indeterminacy. But he doesn’t pretend that his idea is scientific, or challenges “Darwinism.”

As you know, my real interest is not in what Behe lets on, but how the more “don’t ask, don’t tell” ID leaders react to it. I could be wrong, but if, “in their hearts” they truly thought he was wrong, I think that they’d be at least having some friendly public debates.

Dale Husband Wrote:

Do you think that Behe will eventually jump ship off the ID bandwagon and apologize to everyone he insulted with his lame propaganda?

My bet is no. Nor do I think that the DI will “fire” him, as some critics speculate. Unlike other pseudosciences ID/creationism is not primarily about the money (although I could be wrong about that too, given the Howard Ahmanson connection). But the lure of pseudoscience is so great that few who get hooked ever change their ways. Kevin Trudeau went to jail, and he’s still at it.

If Behe believes that all of the divine intervention occurred at the beginning of life on earth, and that life evolved since then according to natural laws, then it seems more correct to regard his views as an alternative to abiogenesis than evolution. But, then, I guess a book entitled “The Edge of Abiogenesis” would simply leave most of his readers scratching their heads and wondering what abiogenesis is. :-)

To my previous comment, I’ll add the obvious – that Behe’s views aren’t a scientific alternative to anything. Whether you view it as a challenge to abiogenesis or evolution, Behe’s claims are still just another God of the gaps argument.

The ultimate difference with Behe is that he claims (or, rather, lies) that his position can be demonstrated scientifically, while I have not hear Miller make such a claim (his claim appear to be appeals to emotion). What Behe thinks about the supernatural, although important, does not determine his status as a scientist (or not, in his case). What matters is how he deals with evidence (or doesn’t, in his case). It doesn’t matter what his position is, if he claims he can support it scientifically but commits all sort of logic and scientific errors that show his supposed science to be a pseudoscience, he is no friend of science no matter what the position he is trying to defend might be. Even if he was a strict atheist who accepted evolution 100% his methods of promoting his position are unacceptable.

Mark,

IDers and classic creationists have been baiting-and-switching evolution with abiogenesis for decades. I particularly like how they go from “abiogenesis is impossible” to implying that it occurred millions or more times. Most IDers have learned to be more subtle, preferring the more ambigiuous “common design” to “special creation,” but confident that most of their audience would infer the latter.

Soteos,

Very funny. However, you neglected an obvious line:

Darth Miller: Mike, I’m your father. You know, common descent and all that. Now quit fooling around and use your training to do some real science boy. The farce has been with you long enough.

I thought Dimski said ID is not friend of theistic evolutionists. Therefore I guess Behe is no longer welcome in the IDC tent.

Speaking of which, has anyone else notice the stench coming from that tent? Smells like rotting fish heads.

Behe’s an evolutionist via its effects, but not vis-a-via its causes. That is, he accepts the evidence for evolution that depends upon MET’s mechanisms for their causes, he just denies MET’s causes. It’s a bizarre position, this acceptance of the effects of mutation plus natural selection, while denying that these actually are the cause of evolution (yes, he does accept natural selection–but why would a designer utilize natural selection? That isn’t how we design organisms).

To say it another way, Behe accepts the predictions of non-teleological evolution, he just denies that it is responsible for those predictions. God had to step in to make life look like it evolved for no purpose and according to naturalistic competition for resources–surely about the weirdest use of teleology yet, to make things look non-teleological.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

Do you think that Behe will eventually jump ship off the ID bandwagon and apologize to everyone he insulted with his lame propaganda?

Naw, don’t think so. It is almost impossible to turn a crackpot around. Look at Duesberg. They almost always get weirder and more extreme as time goes on. C’mon this is the guy that believes malaria was created by god to kill hundreds of thousands of kids every year.

We also don’t know what most of the IDers really believe. Dembski apparently believes that hordes of angels and demons roam the earth and has implied that angels are in charge of genetically engineering the species of the biosphere as needed. I wonder if the have their own version of RAC?

It is more likely that Behe will come out some day as a full fledged YEC. If you are going to go the pseudoscience route might as well do it right.

Behe seems to accept at least the possibility of “front loading,” with natural evolutionary mechanisms taking effect after abiogenesis. But, if he can accept this, then why does he go to such great lengths in “Edge of Evolution” to attempt to show that the natural mechanisms of variation cannot suffice to account for evolutionary changes during the course of evolution?

Seems to be yet another inconsistency.

If Behe accepts the natural unfolding of life, being ‘front loaded’ at the beginning, then for all practical purposes he accepts evolution and its mechanisms, although he may believe that God provided initial guidance, such a position is not one of science.

So why the strong response to Miller? Because Miller, in his review for a Christian magazine, focused not just on the poor science but worse, he pointed out issues which cause some discomfort amongst Christians such as Behe’s acceptance of common descent. His position in his latest book is much stronger than the one in Darwin’s Black Box. Behe also reiterates that the Bible is not a book of science, again an issue of contention amongst ID supporters. And finally, Miller pointed out the theological impacts of Behe’s position.

On UcD and the DI blog site, people have misrepresented Miller’s position as “rejecting ID because of its theological flaws”, rather than “rejecting ID because of its scientific flaws” and yet, Ayala and Miller also have a powerful theological point to make. A creator who created with purpose and active intervention, the malaria parasite, has some explaining to do. While people may argue that a creator who sets in motion something is equally guilty, we all know that direct and indirect culpabilities are quite different.

What if the malaria parasite arising is just a side effect of a larger plan set in motion tens of billions of years ago? A plan which did not lead to malaria inevitably but rather because of its reliance on natural processes of regularity and chance?

From a theological perspective, such a position is far more defensible than that of a God intervening explicitly to create the malaria parasite, which causes the death of millions of people.

Behe could care less about Miller’s scientific objections, what must have hurt is Miller’s review of Behe’s flawed theology as well as Miller emphasizing that ID is not a friend of YECism.

And here we have, in a little bit more focus than usual, the core problem: folks discussing life and evolution without bothering to demarcate whether they’re speaking of science or theology. This is especially true of the two ends of the spectrum, the all or nothings, for whom there is “only one truth”. Both fundies and atheists have trouble accepting that science and theology can come to different conclusions without the other being “wrong”. If the rest of us could just force these culture warriors to preface all remarks about evolution with “This is a science statement”, or “This is a theology statement”, then this whole controversy would go away and we could find other hobbies. Sure, the DI, CRC, and other assorted wing-nuts will continue to lie, but the majority of the public won’t be as confused as they are now.

Miller is just a biologist who happens to be a Catholic.

His views are straightforward and easy to understand.

His understanding of biology is mainstream. In fact, he is a more rigorous adherent to evidence-based mainstream biology than are some non-religious, formerly-super-prestigious biologists who have retreated into individual crackpottery in their old age.

I am not Catholic, but I am aware of the diversity and controversies within Catholocism. Miller’s personal stances as a Catholic are his own business unless he chooses to make them public. However, he has made it publicly clear that he is a member of the Catholic faith and community; he has not publicly rejected Catholocism, nor has he been ex-communicated.

Miller’s views are easy to understand, because he has no reason to disguise them.

There is an objective record of what modern biology concludes. There is also an objective record of theological writings about Catholocism. Miller’s beliefs are transparent, except for reasonable limitations of personal privacy.

In contrast, it has frequently been noted that the exact beliefs of ID/creationists are hard to extract. Even those who claim YEC beliefs fudge about the details or their political goals. Those who claim ID are even more dissembling.

One interpretation is that they are committed to an agenda, to defending their egos, and/or to attacking perceived enemies, rather than to specific underlying beliefs.

Perhaps Behe and his ilk are unwilling to acknowledge any type of view that can be understood or verified by others, so that they can constantly claim to “believe” whatever seems the most convenient. By this analysis, trying to ascertain “what Behe really believes” is a pointless exercise, except to the extent that we can gather what political movements he lends his support to.

Mr. Christopher Wrote:

I thought Dimski said ID is not friend of theistic evolutionists. Therefore I guess Behe is no longer welcome in the IDC tent.

Dembski did indeed say that, but he also said that ID can accommodate all the results of “Darwinism.” So he has no problem whatever with Behe’s personal belief as long as Behe misrepresents evolution (caricaturing it as “Darwinism” is a great start) and holds to the ID party line (“Darwinism” can’t explain X, ID is not a mechanistic theory, yada yada). The only reason that Behe doesn’t do the complete “don’t ask, don’t tell” now is because he is on record as accepting CD long before the ID strategy was perfected.

There has been a lot of buzz lately because Dembski, who has repeatedly admitted a ~4 billion year history of life, said that he doubts that humans and other apes evolved from common ancestors. Technically, neither does Behe. Dembski chose his words very carefully, so that we still don’t know if he truly thinks that humans are “modified dirt” and not “modifed monkeys,” or whether just agrees with Carl Woese, whom he regarded as denying “universal common descent” (IIRC, Woese merely thinks that eubacteria and archebacteria arose independently). Incidently, I have to wonder if Behe had Woese in mind when he said that there are scientists who deny common descent but “know the relevant science better.”

ID is all about word games, not honest belief. Behe plays word games, Miller does not. Behe is welcome, Miller is not. It’s that simple.

“Both fundies and atheists have trouble accepting that science and theology can come to different conclusions without the other being “wrong”.”

If they come to different conclusions to the same problem then one or both of them must be wrong. There cannot be two correct explanations for the same thing.

It is useless to look for logic and coherence in IDism, since it has never been, and never will be, a scientific hypothesis, but instead is only a legal strategy developed to insert pseudoscientific arguments against evolution into public school science classes. What Behe really believes is unknown and besides the point; he only has to sound scientific enough to sell books to rubes.

Behe’s concession is not different from those espoused for many years by people of faith that try to reconcile the scientific facts with their religious beliefs. Namely that God kick started the universe with the natural laws that “created” all around us. This is of course espoused by people with some training in science without been scientist themselves. Does that mean that Behe and others, presumably within the Big Tent of ID, are going full circle back to their future? Another stone thrown into the ID grave and to show how vacuous and rudderless these guys are.

TheBlackCat:

“Both fundies and atheists have trouble accepting that science and theology can come to different conclusions without the other being “wrong”.”

If they come to different conclusions to the same problem then one or both of them must be wrong. There cannot be two correct explanations for the same thing.

I think TheBlackCat’s statement is way to broad. I would agree that a properly formulated scientific inquiry should have only one correct answer (which may be what makes it scientific in the first place), but questions outside the realm of science are not so cut and dried. Any question of “why” can be quite ambiguous in this respect. “Why do flowers smell good?” “Why is there air?” (“To blow up volleyballs.” – Bill Cosby)

This ultimately may be at the heart of the whole issue. Getting a scientific answer to a religious question probably doesn’t work for most people of faith.

Just my $.02.

I still can’t get over looking at the title of this thread, and thinking it was going to be a rip on Jeff Foxworthy’s:

“You know you’re a redneck if…”

Dale Husband:

Do you think that Behe will eventually jump ship off the ID bandwagon and apologize to everyone he insulted with his lame propaganda?

If he were an honest man, I’d think so!

Who did Behe insult? Seriously. I thought an insult is when you attack someone’s character or intellect. And while Behe gets insulted quite regularly, I’ve never read anything of his that I felt was an insult to anyone else. He simply disagrees with a lot of people. I don’t consider disagreement with the consensus view as a type of insult.

“Both fundies and atheists have trouble accepting that science and theology can come to different conclusions without the other being “wrong”.”

If they come to different conclusions to the same problem then one or both of them must be wrong. There cannot be two correct explanations for the same thing.

Yes, and one of fundies many problems is that they insist on false empirical claims.

But the statement is also leaky from the other end. Many atheists are agnostics and couldn’t care less about what religions claim outside of empirical matters, and other atheists may say that non-empirical theological claims are not wrong but without empirical value.

The farce has been with you long enough.

Yodawkins: Crude matter are we, not this vacuous design. Mike, Improbable Mount you infer, when 900 years old you teach, look as good you will not.

Clumsy Brute:

Dale Husband:

Do you think that Behe will eventually jump ship off the ID bandwagon and apologize to everyone he insulted with his lame propaganda?

If he were an honest man, I’d think so!

Who did Behe insult? Seriously. I thought an insult is when you attack someone’s character or intellect. And while Behe gets insulted quite regularly, I’ve never read anything of his that I felt was an insult to anyone else. He simply disagrees with a lot of people. I don’t consider disagreement with the consensus view as a type of insult.

I was referring to this incident.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/blog/post/[…]6ZEH0HZZXVX4

You don’t think Behe was being insulting to Abbie Smith with his sexist comments to her there? I did!

Yodawkins: Crude matter are we, not this vacuous design. Mike, Improbable Mount you infer, when 900 years old you teach, look as good you will not.

Ah, but, Yoda also said that there’s only do or do not, that there is no try. But it appears to me that ID pushers can be quite trying sometimes. ;)

Henry

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on October 30, 2007 11:39 PM.

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