This guest post by Nathan Lents is cross-posted from The Human Evolution Blog. It was co-authored with Arthur Hunt of the University of Kentucky, who first pointed out some of these errors on the Peaceful Science forum. I wish I had spotted these myself before Richard Lenski, Josh Swamidass, and I wrote our review for Science, but I took Behe's word on the polar bears because it all sounded solid. In other words, I did what Behe hopes all his readers will do - just believe him and not check the reference. Lesson learned, and kudos to Art for catching this and for working with me on this post. Matt Young is the moderator of the post on PT. We have discussed the Science review here
The release of Michael J. Behe’s newest book, Darwin Devolves: The New Science About DNA That Challenges Evolution, is nearly upon us and so the first chapter was made publicly available to entice readers. In this chapter, Behe outlines his main thesis: at the molecular level, adaptive changes are largely due to events that in some way destroy or damage proteins and enzymes. He calls it the first rule of adaptive evolution and to illustrate his point, he discusses the evolution of polar bears and describes the molecular events in that evolution as nothing more than a series of damaging mutations that result in a more adapted organism.
But first, a quick introduction to Behe for those who may not know who Behe is or where this is coming from. With the release of his first book, Darwin’s Black Box, in 1996, Behe helped revolutionize and reorganize the resistance to modern evolution under the banner known as “Intelligent Design,” often abbreviated as ID. Many consider ID as simply creationism by another name, but the ID community works hard to distance themselves from that label. They insist that ID is a scientific theory, not a religious one, based on what they consider evidence that cells and organisms were designed intentionally, rather than the result of the aimless and unguided forces of evolution. Scientists and federal courts disagree, but this has not stopped the steamroller of pseudoscientific claims from the ID community.