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

From: Schwarzwald <>
Date: Sat Oct 10 2009 - 18:01:13 EDT

Heya John,

I don't think "There is no way that it could evolve by Darwinian evolution.
Therefore God did it." is a fair rendering of Behe's view here whatsoever.
He's openly speculated about other possible mechanisms, including
evolutionary ones (front-loading, etc.) He makes it clear that even an
inference to design is not enough to get one to God as far as the science
goes. He does not suggest shrugging our shoulders and ceasing to investigate
evolution. I also reject, if I have you correct on this, the idea that Behe
is doubtful of -all- evolution rather than just "Darwinian" evolution. Not
all evolution is Darwinian evolution - not all evolution is classified as
unguided. (Personally, I'm of the mind that even purely 'Darwinian'
evolution can never be scientifically demonstrated to be unguided, so a lot
of this is a curiosity for me rather than a major issue.)

Now, you say you reject the "Darwinian" label because it's so obvious that
Darwin was wrong about some major issues. I happen to agree with that. The
problem is, Darwin is a tremendously important figure for some people. Even
on subjects where he was clearly, radically wrong (what cells are, for
example) his being wrong is downplayed, ignored, and even bringing up as
much is a serious faux pas. The "Darwin Was Wrong" cover of New Scientist
earlier this year sparked quite a lot of outrage among a number of regular
Darwin defenders (you may write them off as radical atheists) purely for the
sin of loudly pointing out Darwin being incorrect. There's too much at stake
- not scientifically, but socially and politically - for Darwin's
shortcomings to be recognized.

Which is why I think your level-headed position - let's recognize Darwin's
shortcomings and the limitations of known mechanisms and admit, atheist and
theist alike, that there's a faith/belief component to our views of
evolution - can't be accepted. And I don't think the playing field is equal
here - the ID camp would be absolutely overjoyed for both parties to admit
that our understanding of evolution and biological development is radically
incomplete. For atheists (I'm speaking here of the outspoken, animated
variety of new atheist we all know of), this would be unthinkable. The
entire utility of Darwin for them is in the supposed scientific certitude
that life, particularly human life, came about via unguided means. If that
becomes a mere possibility rather than the stuff of in essence certainty,
it's hard to distinguish that from defeat for them. Go look at the reactions
many had when Paul Davies offhandedly pointed out that simple belief in
things like 'laws of nature', and therefore science in general, proceeds on
faith. It wasn't pretty.

I suppose another way of saying what I'm saying here is - this isn't about
science alone. Certainly not for ID proponents or even TEs. Certainly not
for atheists. What we're seeing in this discussion are largely political
maneuverings in the service of goals that have little to nothing to do with
evolution, or even science.

On Sat, Oct 10, 2009 at 5:18 PM, John Walley <> wrote:

> "There is no way that it could evolve by Darwinian evolution. Therefore
> God did it."
> In this I agree with Bernie. I think Behe needlessly conflates evolution
> with Darwinian evolution. And he uses the ideological (atheist) baggage of
> "Darwinian" evolution (ala Martinez Hewlett) to attack evolution itself,
> leaving some mystical "God did it" mechanism as the result.
> To me the Darwinian qualifier is meaningless and irrelevant. I think the
> valid scientific claims of Darwin were common descent, random mutation and
> natural selection and on these I agree with him. What Darwin didn't know was
> that these alone were not sufficient to explain all of evolution but they do
> explain a good bit of it. More on this in a second.

> The unguided abiogenesis musing was conditional and he himself said "But if
> (and Oh! what a big if!) we could conceive in some warm little pond" so it
> does not deserve to be counted among the above scientifically verifiable
> claims. I know Dawkins and the atheists try to smuggle that in with the rest
> of Darwin that have been verified but it is a Trojan Horse strategy. Both
> the atheists and the Christians need to decouple the personal unbelief of
> Darwin with his otherwise scientific claims because first they don't matter
> and they only serve to confuse the actual science. On this I agree with
> Bernie that Behe fails to do this and I think he unfairly tries to demonize
> evolution itself by associating it with Darwin's atheism and countering it
> with direct intervention by God.
> Now as to how much of evolution can Darwin's scientifically testable claims
> explain, I think Behe has made some valid points as to the limitations of at
> least single point mutations. However in fairness Darwin and no one else
> could know how limited this could have been in his day so it was a very
> plausible theory at the time. Now only the die hard atheist kool-aid
> drinkers can defend the random mutation alone hypothesis and there is no
> point in debating that because it is just as much a position of faith as
> Behe's direct intervention.
> Again the false dilemma is between the atheist position of rejecting God by
> rejecting intervention and appealing to naturalism of the gaps in spite of
> all the complexity and odds against it on one hand, and rejecting evolution
> because of the atheist implications and appealing to God of the gaps to have
> somehow done it in some mystical way but just not through evolution on the
> other hand. The only rational way to resolve this is to accept the known
> mechanisms of evolution and to see them supplemented with the belief (not
> science) of unknown but guided processes. This leaves us at a level playing
> field with the atheist without giving either side an advantage and both
> resorting to their faith to complete the picture. I don't think Behe and ID
> in general is willing to do this and instead he wants to insist on the
> imprimatur of science to support his side which is exactly what the atheist
> wants as well so we have the ongoing death struggle between the two
> camps.
> This is where I think Collins has a superior response because it is a
> scientific inference and not ideologically driven like the other two
> extremes. It also just happens to be much easier to defend as well.
> Thanks
> John
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: Cameron Wybrow <>
> To: asa <>
> Sent: Sat, October 10, 2009 4:31:16 PM
> Subject: Re: [asa] Atheist finds God thru Behe's books....
> Bernie, you wrote:
> "I admit I also haven't read his books".
> Within the normal conventions of conversation and the English language,
> this sentence has only one possible meaning. It means that you have read
> neither *Darwin's Black Box* nor *The Edge of Evolution*.
> You now say, as if in contradiction to what you wrote earlier:
> "I wasn't clear when I said I didn't read Behe; I meant I didn't read his
> latest. I saw much of his earlier stuff."
> This is muddy. *Darwin's Black Box* was part of Behe's "earlier stuff".
> So is that what you "saw"? Does "saw" mean "read"? And if so, "read in its
> entirety"? (Including all the detailed biochemical argument?) Or does it
> mean only "skimmed"? Or does it mean only "looked at the cover of"? (Which
> would be the normal meaning of "saw".) And if not *Darwin's Black Box*,
> what "earlier stuff" did you read?
> This sounds evasive, Bernie. Either you've read Behe's books all the way
> through or you haven't. First you admitted you hadn't, and now you are
> clouding the issue. The issue is: what have you read, and how thoroughly
> did you read it?
> On another point: You do not seem to understand why Behe is very careful
> to use the word "Darwinian". He is not against "evolution". By speaking
> against "Darwinian evolution" he is speaking against a model of evolution
> entirely dependent on unguided and unplanned processes. In contrast, Behe
> has praised the evolutionary writing of Michael Denton, who is not a
> Darwinian and asserts that the universe was fine-tuned in advance for
> biological evolution.
> With you, Bernie, Behe can't win. If he criticized "evolution" by itself,
> without the adjective "Darwinian", you'd be all over him for being a YEC,
> for denying the genetic evidence for common descent, etc. But when he puts
> the adjective "Darwinian" in, precisely so that he won't be misunderstood,
> you're all over him for that.
> On another point: Behe agrees that features of the human genome tend to
> indicate our descent (on the physical as opposed to the spiritual side) from
> an apelike creature. It does not follow that he would agree with you about
> the *causes* of this process. Lipstick on the husband's collar doesn't
> prove which woman he was kissing, or where the tryst took place, or what the
> husband's motives were for straying. There is a great deal still to be
> explained.
> There is no God-of-the-gaps argument in Behe. The accusation of
> "God-of-the-gaps" arguments always presumes that science has built up a very
> tight structure of explanation, with only a few "gaps" remaining to be
> filled. Thus, if someone were to argue that the erratic orbit of Pluto
> disproves the nebular hypothesis of the origin of the solar system, and
> infers that God personally placed each planet (or at the very least, Pluto)
> in a unique orbit, that would be an example of "God of the gaps", because it
> would rest entirely on a temporary failure of explanation of a model which
> can explain everything but Pluto very well, and might be able to be adjusted
> to account even for the orbit of Pluto. But if you understand Behe's
> argument, you will know that he rejects the premise that Darwinian
> explanation is tight and virtually complete, with just a few holes here and
> there. Biochemically speaking, he argues, Darwinian explanation is
> virtually *all*
> gaps. There are no satisfying biochemical explanations for how *any* of
> the necessary evolutionary distances were traversed by Darwinian means. The
> fact that you speak of "God of the gaps" indicates that you accept (from
> Behe's point of view) a massive overestimation, and hence false description,
> of our state of knowledge.
> Cameron.
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Dehler, Bernie" <
> To: "asa" <>
> Sent: Saturday, October 10, 2009 1:33 PM
> Subject: RE: [asa] Atheist finds God thru Behe's books....
> > Hi John-
> >
> > When I listened to Behe, I thought the opposite of you. I thought "If he
> has a point, the truth, then the rest of the world will eventually catch-up
> with him. He'll go down in history as a first-rate scientist making this
> breakthrough, probably as big as Darwin, since his new theory significantly
> either breaks evolution or adds to it in some major new way."
> >
> > I know his university and peers give him trouble. However, they could
> also go down in history if they gave him support, if Behe turned out to be
> right.
> >
> > However, they should only give him support if there's at least some hope
> or possibility for him being right. If there is a possibility, it seems
> like it should be a good thing to be creating alternate hypotheses, even
> radical (the more radical, the better, like Darwin).
> >
> > So really, I disagree about even looking at consequences. I say follow
> the truth, regardless of consequences. There's nothing wrong at all with
> making waves, if you have a possibility of being right.
> >
> > So for me, the bottom line is, "does he have a chance at being right?"
> >
> > I asked for a concise statement for the ID hypothesis. Mike (Nucacids)
> gave it, thanks. I realized after writing that, what I really meant is
> "what evidence is there to test the hypothesis." (BTW- sorry Cameron, I
> wasn't clear when I said I didn't read Behe; I meant I didn't read his
> latest. I saw much of his earlier stuff. You seem to pick-up on some of
> the most trivial points sometimes.)
> >
> > After listening to the 40 min. video- it is clear that Behe thinks, and
> says many times, that his examples demonstrate "it is impossible for
> Darwinian mechanisms to produce them." It seemed like he never says
> "evolution" without the adjective "Darwinian." That is what seems so stupid
> to me, for people to only look to natural selection and random mutation as
> if that is the only mechanisms for evolution... there are many more
> (discovered since Darwin), and more to be discovered, I'm sure. So
> basically what evidence does Behe have for his hypothesis? It is "Look at
> this (insert mouse-trap type object). There is no way that it could evolve
> by Darwinian evolution. Therefore God did it." Why is it not so obvious to
> everyone that the theory jumps right from "Darwinian evolution can't do it"
> -> "we don't know how it could evolve" -> "therefore God did it all at once
> by speaking it into existence."
> >
> > It looks exactly like a 'science-stopper' to me.
> >
> > In Paley's day, he could have said the same (probably did). "Look at the
> complexity of humans. We are too far above animals. We had to be made by
> fiat... God's spoken word, directly, uniquely." Now pseudogenes show beyond
> a reasonable doubt that humans descended from an apelike creature. His logic
> was proven false in the same way, which was "Isn't it amazing and wonderful"
> -> "We don't know how it could happen" -> "God did it by special creation."
> >
> > A rush to "god of the gaps" is very unhealthy for science (even fatal).
> In this way, when confronted with a scientific mystery, the answer is "God
> did it! You'll never find the answer because God just did it!" Maybe God
> did "just do it." But the job of science is to strive to figure out how
> nature might do it, and by looking into this over the centuries, mankind has
> been shocked as to what can be found out, and discarded "God did it" many
> times already.
> >
> > ...Bernie
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Received on Sat Oct 10 18:02:00 2009

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