Behe Continues to Ignore Evidence Against Him

Behe Continues to Ignore Evidence Against Him February 18, 2019

During the 2005 Dover trial, Michael Behe was humiliated on the witness stand by attorney Eric Rothschild when he stacked up books and journal articles on the evolution of the immune system so high that he couldn’t see over them, admitting he had read none of them. And he’s still not bothering to read the scientific research so he can keep ignoring the evidence in his latest book.

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Behe also ignores the fact that some of his prior arguments have been dismantled (2). He includes a lengthy appendix that argues that the blood-clotting cascade is irreducibly complex, for example, but fails to mention Kenneth Miller’s simple, elegant scheme for its stepwise evolution (3) or the fact that a progenitor fibrinogen gene has been discovered in echinoderms (4).

Behe doubles down on his claim that the evolution of chloroquine resistance in malaria by random mutations is exceedingly unlikely because at least two mutations are required, neither of which is beneficial without the other. His calculations have already been refuted (5), and it has long been known that neutral and even deleterious mutations can provide stepping stones to future adaptations. Indeed, a 2014 study, unmentioned by Behe, reported discovery of two genetic paths through which malaria has evolved chloroquine resistance through multiple steps (6).

Missing from Behe’s discussion is any mention of exaptation, the process by which nature retools structures for new function and possibly the most common mechanism that leads to the false impression of irreducible complexity…

Behe is skeptical that gene duplication followed by random mutation and selection can contribute to evolutionary innovation. Yet there is overwhelming evidence that this underlies trichromatic vision in primates (8), olfaction in mammals (9), and developmental innovations in all metazoans through the diversification of HOX genes (10). And in 2012, Andersson et al. showed that new functions can rapidly evolve in a suitable environment (11). Behe acknowledges none of these studies, declaring an absence of evidence for the role of duplications in innovation.

When you declare that there is no evidence for X phenomenon but don’t bother addressing the mountains of research on X phenomenon, you show that you aren’t making an honest argument at all. You’re engaged in intentional deception. Most of the prominent ID advocates have kind of drifted off and gone on to other things over the last decade or so, but not Behe. He’s still pushing his pet theory — and ignoring all the evidence against it.

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