Re: [asa] Atheist finds God thru Behe's books....

From: Cameron Wybrow <>
Date: Fri Oct 09 2009 - 23:08:46 EDT

John, I'm glad to see you are feeling more open-minded to Behe's
presentation these days.

As for your specific arguments on the technical side, most or all of them
were made by critics of Behe after *The Edge of Evolution* came out. Behe
replied to every one of the critics on his blog site. (I heard a
rumour that was no longer allowing author blogs, so that site may
be down. However, all the material has been re-posted at Uncommon Descent.)
I will not say in a partisan manner that Behe decisively refuted every
argument, but it does it appear to me that he did not duck any criticism,
and made a serious effort to give a good scientific reply in every case.
(In keeping with his classy behaviour, he declined to reply to all the
nasty, ad hominem flak which accompanied many of the reviews.) In any case,
you can pursue your detailed objections by reading Behe's responses.
Perhaps he has already addressed your concerns.

For the most part, Behe doesn't jump to theological conclusions. He says
that life indicates design, and he adds (speaking personally, not as a
scientist) that he thinks the designer is God. Unlike some other ID people,
he's written no works of Christian apologetics (that I know of). He may
occasionally have spoken of his religious views in Catholic or other
Christian settings -- I don't know. But I would wager a small sum that he
has never made any claim that from design you can prove the truth of the
Trinity or the Bible or anything of the sort. I would expect that such
religious talks as he has given would be more along the lines of: Christian
faith has nothing to fear from science, because the latest science points to
(doesn't demonstrate, but strongly points to) the designer that Christians
(along with Jews and others) have always believed in.

I suspect that Behe is participating in the Villanova conference because it
is a *Catholic* event, not because it is (if it is, which is uncertain) a
specifically *YEC* event. Remember that Behe is Catholic, and it is not
surprising that he would go to a Catholic conference on religion and science
occurring nearby, in his own state. It would be over-reading to infer more,
especially since Behe is on record as accepting macroevolution and an
ancient earth and is not going to win any acceptance from YECs no matter
what he does.


----- Original Message -----
From: "John Walley" <>
To: "Cameron Wybrow" <>; "asa" <>
Sent: Friday, October 09, 2009 5:18 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Atheist finds God thru Behe's books....

I shared Bernie's skepticism toward Behe which I know is also shared by many
on this list but I for one have read his books. In fact I defended Edge on
this list quite vehemently after I read it several years ago as I had the
same reaction as did McWhorter. It all just seemed so obvious to me after
reading Edge. I have run the gamut of reactions to Behe but after this video
I am now back to the more sympathetic posture towards him. I think he
presented himself very well in that video and his position is very rational
and logical. I think design as opposed to totally unguided randomness is a
no brainer and I think Behe deserves credit for that. I also think his
malaria example is novel and unique and is as close to any experimental
evidence as to exactly what evolution can do that we have and he is
justified to bring that out. And that experimental evidence speaks for

However, on balance I have criticisms of Behe I would offer him if he asked.
The most technical one which was crystalized after reading all the reviews
and a lot of discussions on this list is that Behe's approach to evolution
appears to be primarily focused on single point mutations (as in the the
malaria example) and that is only one of many sources of variation in
evolutionary mechanisms. And 500 years of single point mutations in malaria
is not enough of a data point to be representative of billions of years of
evolutionary history and dozens of sources of variation. Although I think he
does a very thorough job of examining this single mechanism in the case of
malaria and it does compellingly support his position, I think it is
somewhat simplistic to allow the reader to believe that that is the sole or
even the primary mechanism of evolution. So probably the most accurate
response to his whole argument is so what? I don't agree that it necessarily
 proves what he says it does and it is almost misleading to imply it does.
And as a biochemist, he should know better.

Also on the theological front, I think it is a mistake for him to reject any
place for randomness in nature and to say that everything is intentional and
designed. In fact, having some randomness is key to any meaningful theodicy
and Behe totally misses it on this one. Further I I think Behe is too quick
to jump to the conclusion of design from both his malaria and IC examples
and he is too eager to be associated with the design=special creation wing
of the church which also includes YEC. Just today we saw Behe speaking at
some YEC oriented event. This is a very serious error of judgment on his
part I think and it empowers Carroll and the others to oppose him so

Compare Behe to Collins who likely have the identical beliefs on God working
through evolution but look at the difference in the public's reaction to
them. I have drawn this distinction here before but it is worthwhile to draw
it again. Behe is shunned by his own dept as a professor at a PRIVATE
university, but Collins is appointed the head of a GOV'T agency with a $22B
Now how can that happen if they have the same beliefs about evolution? I
think Behe is too quick to jump to theological conclusions that are
unwarranted while Collins is much more cautious about it and plays his cards
much more politically prudently. They are also on opposite sides of the
abortion issue as well which also contributes to this disparity. BTW did
anyone else read Crichton's latest NEXT and get that the main scientist
character that played the political establishment in Washington and attended
all the prayer breakfasts' was probably based on Collins?


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Received on Fri Oct 9 23:10:34 2009

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