Michael Behe’s Book, as Reviewed by Richard Dawkins

The New York Times is going to publish Richard Dawkin’s review of Michael Behe’s new book on Sunday. It was previously up behind the TimesSelect wall, but it’s now available for public viewing.

Here’s a selection of what Dawkins has to say about The Edge of Evolution:

I had expected to be as irritated by Michael Behe’s second book as by his first. I had not expected to feel sorry for him.

After his humiliation in court [at the Dover trial], Behe — the star witness for the creationist side — might have wished to re-establish his scientific credentials and start over. Unfortunately, he had dug himself in too deep. He had to soldier on. “The Edge of Evolution” is the messy result, and it doesn’t make for attractive reading.

Behe correctly dissects the Darwinian theory into three parts: descent with modification, natural selection and mutation. Descent with modification gives him no problems, nor does natural selection. They are “trivial” and “modest” notions, respectively. Do his creationist fans know that Behe accepts as “trivial” the fact that we are African apes, cousins of monkeys, descended from fish?

… Behe, as is normal at the grotesquely ill-named Discovery Institute (a tax-free charity, would you believe?), where he is a senior fellow, has bypassed the peer-review procedure altogether, gone over the heads of the scientists he once aspired to number among his peers, and appealed directly to a public that — as he and his publisher know — is not qualified to rumble him.

The review makes me wish that the people who read (and believe) Behe’s books were the same people that read the New York Times.

Alas.


[tags]atheist, atheism, New York Times, Michael Behe, Richard Dawkins, The Edge of Evolution, Dover, Intelligent Design, Charles Darwin, Discovery Institute[/tags]

  • Gadren

    Didn’t Behe write up the section about Dawkins for Time’s list of Influential People? He’s just getting his just desserts.

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    Behe vs. Dawkins. Oh man. Poor Dawkins, having to read Behe.

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    Behe vs. Dawkins. Oh man. Poor Dawkins, having to read Behe.

  • http://sansfaith.blogspot.com godma

    Gadren wrote: “Didn’t Behe write up the section about Dawkins for Time’s list of Influential People?”

    Yes, that’s right.
    Here is the published (excerpted) version.

    and the original is posted here.

    I wonder what the story is behind that and this.

  • http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~ludtke/prof/index.htm cautious

    This review is positively delightful, although it does stray a bit into commenting on Behe’s (hilarious) courtroom appearances and the whole “being an embarassment to the department he is part of”.

    Oh wait I just commented on them too. It’s hard not to, because the entire discussion of ID v science is based on the idea of rejecting various amounts of scientific consensus. Science can be extremely intolerant of people who push forward what might be brilliant ideas, but who can’t for the life of them present evidence in favor of these ideas. This is because science is about not just thinking up brilliant ideas, but also busting your arse and doing research to support your ideas with evidence and facts. The ID movement has been, and seems like it will remain, more interested in trying to disprove its opposition than to prove its own worth.

    Recently this guy, Guillermo Gonzales, was denied tenure at Iowa State University. Of course the team responsible for reviewing his professional life had to deal with his part in the ID literary world, and might have given him a lot less decent chance at a happy academic future because of his beliefs.

    I don’t know how to feel about this, seriously. On one hand, I think that scientists should be judged on the science they do, not on the opinions they have. This is why it bothers me when scientists in the political consulting world have to worry about losing their jobs if they say the wrong facts.

    On the other hand, ID scientists actively want to redefine and restructure all of science. This is why having a guy who thinks of the Geneva Conventions as quaint run the Justice Department seems like a bad idea to me. (ok I know Alberto Gonzales is not related to this topic, but an attorney general who hates the law seems like a very good analogy to an ID scientists)

    …it’s confusing, which must be the reason why evolutionary scientists would much rather deal with creationist kooks than scientists who don’t want to keep their religion out of the lab. Ken Ham is funny because he’s an idiot, Behe/Gonzales/Dembski are sad because their research, regardless of how good it is, will always be poisoned by their opinions.

  • Miko

    Recently this guy, Guillermo Gonzales, was denied tenure at Iowa State University. Of course the team responsible for reviewing his professional life had to deal with his part in the ID literary world, and might have given him a lot less decent chance at a happy academic future because of his beliefs.

    I don’t know how to feel about this, seriously.

    Although the reasons for his denial of tenure are confidential (as in, the university won’t reveal them: he personally could choose to do so; the fact that AFAIK he hasn’t suggests that the reasons don’t actually have to do with his ID nonsense), the ID thing is definitely a worthwhile reason to deny him tenure. He treats it as science, not literature, and he was using his credibility of the university to ‘back up’ his claims.

  • http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~ludtke/prof/index.htm cautious

    A wikified version of the news is here (and I have to apologize for mispelling his last name in my post, oops).

    Yeah, the entire controversy does seem to me to be a bit of professional (probably unintended) martyrism on the part of Gonzalez. That this somehow hasn’t become a larger political storm is somewhat odd. The Discovery Institute is not strapped for cash, they could be making this a bigger story than it is. But nothing has (seemingly) happened in over 2 weeks. And I just skimmed through this dreck to try to see if anything new had happened, looks like no.

    Well, for now the ID people seem very firm in their belief that being denied tenure because a person publishes ID books is a bad thing. For that reason alone I’m not willing to think it’s a bad thing.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X