Re: Reading Behe... Any thoughts?

Massie (
Wed, 19 May 1999 15:22:26 -0700

AJ Crowl wrote:
> Hi ASA,
> Well I decided to bite the bullet and actually read the book that started
> the current ID furore - "Darwin's Black Box" - and my first leaf through has
> left me a bit disappointed with Behe's argument style. I'll be a bit more
> specific on that another time, but one thing springs to mind as I read it...
> his basic argument impressed me as being: Darwinists haven't explained the
> origins of various complexly interconnected biochemical mechanisms in living
> things, therefore it was designed. Is that an impression that I share? To me
> that's not quite starting off correctly. Shouldn't he have laid down his
> cards and said "I want to show that these systems had to be designed. I find
> no explanation of them in naturalistic terms, therefore let's consider the
> possibility of design... what would it require? That no naturalistic
> explanation is possible? Or better analogies between human design and
> biological design?
> >From what I've gleaned from arguments on the list that's the kind of
> questions that his approach has generated... what would make something
> designed obviously so?
> And are naturalistic explanations ruled out by some a priori principle that
> can be demonstrated? As far as I can tell, no. And no one seems to have set
> out to do so. Behe seems content with the "failure of imagination"
> argument - "we can't imagine how therefore it can't happen", which is
> totally 'unfair' considering the complexity of the systems and hypothetical
> formative environments - what human head could hold such and manipulate it
> so as to imagine it? Not mine.
> If former posts have covered this specific territory before, direct me to
> them [if convenient] or name a good reference. I've followed most of the
> main reviews, but something more in-depth might be better. Personally I'm
> currently neutral on this issue at this level of biological description
> since it's a relatively unknown field - lots of territory yet to be
> explored. I'm finding Behe's style a bit annoying though, so a better ID
> reference might be appreciated. At an organismic level Darwinism seems
> reasonable and well supported by the data, but God's fingerprints might well
> be in the details. If cellular regeneration is one miracle God can do then
> working at the microlevel might well be His calling card.
> Adam
> ____________________
> Is your God image an idol?

Actually, a great theorem of philsophy and science is that nothing,
including this, can be proven. It can always be argued that due to the
lack of complete knowledge that a given proposition cannot be proved.
Do you believe in the law of gravity as a universal principle? What
about on the other side of the galaxy? etc.

Now, what is the real import of Behe. It is actually to point out that
Dawinian theory of gradual changes cannot be suppported in the face of
the facts related to irreducible complexity unless one is to propose a
mechanism, yet to be discovered, for macroscope single generation
change. Such a mechanism is not know to exit. The final result is that
you must have faith (what an awful word) that such a mechanism exists or
abandon the theory.

What do we replace this theory of gradualism with? Socially in science,
as has been amply pointed out, it is quite impolite to go without a
thoery and thus even a bad one cannot be abandend without a
replacement. Sorry, jackets are requited after 6PM.

He does not prove design. The reasons to believe in design are there
but, see above, one cannot prove anything even this. However, given our
friend mr Okum, it looks like a good alternative unless you a priori are
certain that tenue does not come to those with faith (oops, see above
for salutationism.)

Bert Massie