On today’s ID the Future biologist Michael Behe and Philosophy for the People host Pat Flynn conclude their conversation (posted by permission here) about some of the best objections to Behe’s central case for intelligent design. One objection Behe and Flynn tackle in this episode: the idea of evolution overcoming the irreducible-complexity hurdle through co-option. That is, maybe the precursors to what would become one of today’s molecular machines, such as the bacterial flagellum motor, co-opted simpler machines being used for other purposes, allowing evolution to build a bacterial flagellum motor one small step at a time over thousands or millions of generations, even though the completed bacterial flagellum ceases to function at all when just one of its many key parts is removed. Behe has illustrated the idea of irreducible complexity with a mechanical mousetrap. Take away just one of its several key parts and it ceases to function even a little bit as a mousetrap. Evolutionist Kenneth Miller counters by noting that parts of the mousetrap could have served other purposes, such as a paper weight or a tie clip. Listen in to hear Behe’s explanation as to why such imaginative reasoning is no help to the evolution of irreducibly complex biological wonders like the bacterial flagellum. At the end of the conversation, Flynn points listeners to a web page where he has gathered his several conversations with Behe over the years, including two that involved debates with pro-evolution guests. That page is here. Flynn also calls attention to Behe’s four books, including his latest one, where he answers many objections posed by his critics, with many of the critiques appearing in high-level science journals. The book is A Mousetrap for Darwin. You can get it here and here in hardcover, paperback, or Kindle/eBook.
Today’s ID the Future wraps up a debate over evolution and intelligent design between Lehigh University biologist Michael Behe and Benedictine College theologian Michael Ramage. Both Behe and Ramage are Catholic, and they carry on their conversation in the context of Catholic thinking about nature and creation, in particular the work of Thomas Aquinas and contemporary Thomist philosophers. Ramage seeks to integrate his Thomistic/personalist framework with modern evolutionary theory’s commitment to macroevolution and common descent. Behe doesn’t discount the possibility of common descent but lays out a case that any evolution beyond the level of genus (for instance, the separate families containing cats and dogs) cannot be achieved through mindless Darwinian mechanisms and, instead, would require the contributions of a designing intelligence. Behe then summarizes both the negative evidence against the Darwinian mechanism of change and the positive evidence in nature for intelligent design. This debate was hosted by Pat Flynn on his Philosophy for the People podcast, and is reposted here by his permission.
On today’s ID the Future Darwin Devolves author and biologist Michael Behe discusses two recent technical papers that the news media billed as dramatic evidence for evolution. As Behe explains in his conversation with host Eric Anderson, a careful look at the papers themselves shows that both cases involve devolution. That is, the biological forms in question did not evolve novel structures and information; instead they threw away things to achieve a niche advantage. In the first study, in the journal Nature Microbiology, the researchers found that in Africa, where “most rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) for falciparum malaria recognize histidine-rich protein 2 antigen,” the malaria parasite has repeatedly evolved a way to sometimes elude detection, giving it a selective advantage, since this sneakier form of the parasite is less likely to be treated with anti-malaria drugs and eliminated. But what gets lost in the media hype is that the trick is managed by deleting histidine-rich protein 2 (pfhrp2) and 3 (pfhrp3) genes—devolution. A similar story unfolds in a Current Biology article focused on the yeast S. cerevisiae. Behe says the thinking used to be that, as an earlier and simpler evolutionary form, it was no wonder this yeast had fewer introns than later, more sophisticated organisms higher up the evolutionary tree. But as Behe underscores and as this recent paper argues, it looks instead like the yeast devolved, tossing off genetic information to achieve a niche advantage while sacrificing functionality outside the niche. But evolution’s grand tree-of-life story requires constructive evolution, not more and more cases of organisms tossing parts overboard. Instead, here we have two more examples strengthening Behe’s thesis that devolution dominates the biological scene, swamping by many orders of magnitude cases of genuine, complexity-building evolutionary mutations (if any such exist), rendering the prospect of substantive constructive evolution hopeless.
In today’s ID the Future, intelligent design pioneer Michael Behe continues his conversation with philosophers Pat Flynn and Jim Madden. Here in Part 2 of a three-part series, Behe offers an illustration from language and Madden presses him, noting that meaning detection in language is not parts to whole. A lively exchange ensues and then Behe turns the discussion back to his primary focus, detecting design in molecular biological machines by recognizing the purposeful arrangement of parts. From there the conversation turns to everything from epigenetics, systems biology, and autopoiesis to co-option, mousetraps, tie clips, biologist Kenneth Miller, and the philosophers Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas. For Behe’s newest book, A Mousetrap for Darwin, go here. This discussion is presented here with permission of philosopher and podcaster Pat Flynn.
Today’s ID the Future features Darwin Devolves author and Lehigh University biologist Michael Behe speaking about the logic and evidence of intelligent design with two philosophers, Pat Flynn and Jim Madden. In a friendly, stimulating exchange, Flynn and Madden press Behe with objections — some philosophic, others scientific — to see how well his position stands up to scrutiny from experts who have engaged the subject. Here in Part 1 of a three-part series, Behe counters the charge that ID is an argument from ignorance, and then the three men compare the contemporary design argument to philosopher Thomas Aquinas’s fifth way. For Behe’s newest book, A Mousetrap for Darwin, go here. This discussion is presented here with permission of philosopher and podcaster Pat Flynn.
On today’s ID the Future we go behind the scenes at the recent Conference on Engineering in Living Systems, where host Jonathan Witt sat down with Dustin Van Hofwegen, a biology professor at Azusa Pacific University in California. The two discuss the private conference, which brought together biologists and engineers to study how engineering principles and a design perspective can and are being applied to biology — to plants and animals but also to Van Hofwegen’s area of focus, the Lilliputian realm of microbial biology. The two quickly move into a conversation about Van Hofwegen’s article in the Journal of Bacteriology, co-authored with Carolyn Hovde and Scott Minnich, based on research they did at the University of Idaho. As Van Hofwegen explains, the research focused on one of the most ballyhooed evolutionary changes to come out of Richard Lenski’s long-term evolution experiment at Michigan State University, a decades-long study of many thousands of generations of E. coli bacteria. Perhaps the biggest evolutionary development in the course of the experiment involved some bacteria beginning to feed in citric acid. Interesting, to be sure, but as Van Hofwegen explains, E. coli already has this capacity; it’s just a matter of switching it on. Van Hofwegen, Hovde, and Minnich demonstrated this through do-or-die experiments with E. coli, which led to the bacteria developing the capacity not in years or decades, as in the Lenski experiment, but in fourteen days, in as little as 100 generations. Van Hofwegen unpacks why this is an embarrassing result for Neo-Darwinism, then he and Witt discuss another study, this one focused on antibiotic resistance but with a similar result: the findings suggested that the antibiotic resistance observed came not by evolving anything new but by tweaking something already present — in this case, by actually breaking something.
On today’s ID the Future, Rob Crowther continues his conversation with Casey Luskin, the intelligent design proponent who previously worked for Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture and has now returned. As Luskin explains, he left to pursue a PhD in geology at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa. The two discuss the wild conspiracy theories circulated by opponents of intelligent design when Luskin stepped away from Discovery Institute five years ago. Luskin also tells about an upcoming book he’s been working on with William Dembski, another intelligent design proponent who stepped away from day-to-day ID work and is now putting a foot back in the ID waters. Also on tap in today’s conversation, Luskin and Dembski’s upcoming appearance at the 2021 Dallas Conference on Science and Faith, and advances in the ID 3.0 research initiative, including some recent peer-reviewed papers.
On this ID the Future, Michael Behe continues discussing A Mousetrap for Darwin, his newest book. Understanding of the cell has grown “by leaps and bounds” since the 1990s, when Behe’s first book appeared. Fresh discoveries have revealed ever more complex structures inside the cell. As Behe explains, it isn’t just the bacterial flagellum that’s irreducibly complex; the “hook” region inside the flagellum is, too. Evolution’s proper place of study has moved from gross anatomy and population genetics to biochemistry. In his conversation with host Eric Anderson, Behe says that intelligent design theory’s predictions are coming true over time, while for every step of increasing knowledge, it gets “worse and worse” for the theory of evolution by undirected unintelligent processes. Purchase his latest book here.
On this ID the Future, Eric Anderson interviews Michael Behe about Behe’s new book, A Mousetrap for Darwin. In this episode, Behe explains that he was spurred to build this collection of essays by a review in the journal Science claiming he had never answered his critics on key points. That annoyed Behe, because he had, multiple times. A Mousetrap for Darwin compiles more than a hundred of his responses, some of them from difficult-to-access places. The book also contains fresh material from Dr. Behe, including some lively behind-the-scenes details about his interactions with colleagues and critics. In this episode, the Lehigh University biochemist answers misconceptions about irreducible complexity, responds to the claim that “molecular machines” is a misnomer, relates the surprising confessions some of his fellow biologists have made outside the spotlight about evolutionary theory, and offers his appraisal of why scientists in general don’t know what’s going on with studies in evolution or intelligent design. Behe remains optimistic, though. “You can’t deny the data forever,” he says.
On this ID the Future Eric Anderson and physician Howard Glicksman further discuss a recent Journal of Anatomy article suggesting possible evolutionary changes in humans: a persistent, prominent median artery in some people’s arms. Journalists have hyped this as evolution in action, but Anderson and Glicksman say there’s little reason to treat this as an evolutionary change, even if it’s real. And they say it’s far from clear how natural selection could select for this as an “adaptation” when its most obvious effect is to contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome and other health problems.