Re: [asa] ID question?

From: Cameron Wybrow <>
Date: Sat Oct 17 2009 - 03:41:35 EDT


Either we were not watching the same video, or we have very different modes
of interpretation. I did not think that Behe came across as being "against
evolution". He could only have come across in that way to someone who is a
novice in these debates, and, being unfamiliar with the various shaded
positions, supposes that any doubts about Darwinian mechanisms automatically
translate into doubts about evolution *per se*. But you and Bernie have
been on this list for years, listening (presumably carefully) to people who
know the various shaded positions, and reading posts by those (including,
just to name a few, myself, Ted Davis, Schwarzwald, and Mike Gene) who
clearly have read Behe carefully and have made the effort to explain him
carefully. Therefore, I cannot excuse any misinterpretation.

The distinction between "evolution" and "Darwinian evolution" is not rocket
science. There are "tortoises" and "Galapagos tortoises", "democracies" and
"liberal democracies", "monarchies" and "constitutional monarchies",
"prizes" and "Nobel Prizes", "biologists" and "developmental biologists",
"engineers" and "electrical engineers", "soft drinks" and "caffeinated soft
drinks", "ginger ales" and "Vernor's Ginger Ale". Anyone who can grasp the
difference between the generic and the specific, and who takes the time to
learn the various historical uses of the word "evolution", should be able to
see that "Darwinian evolution" is only one out of many possible versions of
a process called "evolution", and that Behe is attacking a specific account
of evolution rather than evolution generically.

I won't say any more on this, because if you and Bernie can't understand
what I've said above (which is the same as what I've already said many times
before, but in the simplest form I can put it), it is not likely that you
will understand anything else that I say.

I will, however, point out one important thing. Behe is a central figure
within ID. If you don't get Behe straight, your comments regarding ID will
be confused and will have no argumentative value. So, although you are not
an objectionable debating partner in your tone or manner, I am going to back
out of further discussions with you about Behe, until you can convince me by
the things that you say that you understand his position.


----- Original Message -----
From: "John Walley" <>
To: "Dehler, Bernie" <>; "asa" <>
Sent: Friday, October 16, 2009 8:45 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] ID question?

> This is exactly right. Behe does make claims against Darwinian evolution.
> I asked the same question before, is there another form of evolution that
> Behe is more comfortable with? If so, he didn't mention it in the video
> that I recall.
> I know he has spoken and written other things in other places about
> evolution but in this video he does come across as being against
> evolution. Its not like it was heavily edited either and made to look a
> certain way nor was he responding to a strict set of questions. He could
> have said anything he wanted and made any point he wanted and left any
> impression he wanted but this is what he chose. Why is everyone then
> apologizing for Behe and saying this is a mischaracterization of him?
> John
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: "Dehler, Bernie" <>
> To: asa <>
> Sent: Fri, October 16, 2009 10:06:11 AM
> Subject: RE: [asa] ID question?
> Hi Cameron-
> " Please find me one statement, anywhere in Behe's work, where he says
> that he is "against evolution", or else do the honourable thing and
> publically
> withdraw your comments."
> If you watch the video- he said repeatedly that "Darwinian evolution"
> couldn't do such and such. What other kind of evolution is there? Is he
> saying there's another kind of evolution that he accepts? If so, what does
> he call it?
> ...Bernie
> -----Original Message-----
> From: [] On
> Behalf Of Cameron Wybrow
> Sent: Thursday, October 15, 2009 10:08 AM
> To: asa
> Subject: Re: [asa] ID question?
> Bernie:
> Your remarks about Behe are incorrect. They are not only unsupported by
> any
> references to his works; they show an almost complete misunderstanding of
> his position. It is not Behe who is in a "muddle".
> Such a high degree of misunderstanding suggests a lack of familiarity with
> Behe's writing. And this reminds me that you still have not answered my
> earlier question: which books and essays of Behe have you read entirely
> through?
> Please find me one statement, anywhere in Behe's work, where he says that
> he
> is "against evolution", or else do the honourable thing and publically
> withdraw your comments.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Dehler, Bernie" <>
> To: "asa" <>
> Sent: Thursday, October 15, 2009 11:39 AM
> Subject: RE: [asa] ID question?
>> Hi Bill- you apparently see the ID debate as "guided vs. unguided
>> evolution" but I see it as "evolution vs. special creation." ('Special
>> creation' being creation by fiat.)
>> This is what I think I'm starting to see in the current origin's debate
>> culture: Because evolution has been proven by pseudogenes, people want to
>> shift the argument from "did evolution happen" to now "is evolution
>> guided." I think this is the current crisis for OEC's. But I think OEC's
>> reject evolution, so if they want to now accept it, even as 'God-guided,'
>> they still have to leave the camp and come over to TE. The OEC camp will
>> always be there, and it is only for those who reject evolution, guided or
>> not.
>> I think some OEC's are attempting to make a switch from "evolution is
>> false" to "evolution is maybe God-guided" and appeal to Intelligent
>> Design
>> to save face (like a ploy to straddle the fence of accepting both modern
>> science and simultaneously rejecting/accepting evolution).
>> Behe is a perfect example of this muddle, by apparently rejecting
>> evolution (in some aspects) and accepting it for human common descent.
>> Therefore, Behe is neither for or against evolution. Creationists
>> generally like to separate evolution into micro and macro. When Behe says
>> he accepts common descent for humans, that is macro evolution. So here we
>> have Behe accepting micro/macro evolution yet still against evolution for
>> other things. I guess he needs to define another category of evolution,
>> so he can accept micro and macro, but reject this third thing/part of
>> evolution.
>> ...Bernie
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Bill Powers []
>> Sent: Wednesday, October 14, 2009 4:14 PM
>> To: Dehler, Bernie
>> Cc: asa
>> Subject: Re: [asa] ID question?
>> OK. I've got to say something about this.
>> Bernie, you apparently believe something like:
>> Intentional/Design theories fail because they have not been able to
>> demonstrate that unguided evolution could not have done it.
>> This is a rather strange way to do science, and only the kind of game
>> that
>> a bully would employ. Is there any kind of evidence that it could be said
>> "unguided evolution" could not do that?
>> What a more civilized approach would be is that evolutionary mechanisms
>> were clearly defined so that what is likely and what is not might be
>> become clear. This would entail, for example, temporal stochastic
>> equations. Is the abrupt arisal of species a problem for unguided
>> (whatever one means by that) evolution or not? It doesn't seem to me that
>> evolutionary biology is prepared to even address the question
>> intelligently.
>> How can there be honest theory comparison when the theory is so vague?
>> ID can also be required to be more explicit. It needs to describe in
>> detail a story, which is nothing more than evolution offers. The story
>> would describe, for example, what are the minimal capabilities and steps
>> required for a Guide to act.
>> Comparing an explicit evolutionary mechanism and a guided one could be
>> fruitful. For one, the guided story is one that could be possibly
>> employed by human agents. The process of putting it together permits
>> dialog between the two. One supporting a guided mechanism might argue
>> that such and such step was entirely unlikely given available resources.
>> In ths same the unguided advocate might argue that such and such a step
>> might be accomplished without guidance, and here's how.
>> In developing explicit guided mechanisms and paths, perhaps new
>> definitions and understanding of what is guided and what is not will
>> arise. For now it is vague.
>> As far as I can tell there is no good evidence available to distinguish
>> guided from unguided evolution. I don't see why "pseudogenes" are any
>> better off in this regard. They appear to adopt a position that you
>> oppose: an argument form ingnorance. Just because we know of no "reason"
>> that a "pseudogene" would exist does not imply that some "reason" might
>> be
>> later found. So all that can be said is that no "reason" is known YET.
>> Sound familiar? What is more, unless you know God or all putative
>> designers better than I do, I don't see how you (or anyone) can say that
>> "pseudogenes" were not intentional.
>> The argument begins to look like Antony Flew's Invisible Gardener. One
>> might ask what is the difference between and invisible Gardener and no
>> Gardener at all, or what is the difference between an invisible designer
>> (guided evolution) and no designer at all (unguided evolution). But I
>> take from Flew's argument something different from what he intended. All
>> his argument suggests to me is that given the evidence provided I have no
>> reason to prefer a Gardener or none at all.
>> Frankly, I think, if one must proceed along these lines, that the
>> evidence
>> better supports a guided universe. The only argument offered in Flew's
>> case to prefer no Gardener at all is Occam's Razor. But I take this to be
>> an epistemological criterion, and see no reason for it to bind ontology.
>> Indeed, if it did, it would argue for a Gardener.
>> bill
>> On Wed, 14 Oct 2009, Dehler, Bernie wrote:
>>> William Paley used the 'watchmaker analogy' to demonstrate the idea of
>>> intelligent design. We can just tell, by looking at nature, that things
>>> are obviously designed by God by fiat, such as man, because of their
>>> complexity.
>>> Darwin creates a stir with an alternate hypothesis of man's creation via
>>> biological evolution instead. It is a competing hypothesis. Evolution
>>> has now won, for explaining the biological creation of man, because of
>>> DNA evidence like pseudogenes.
>>> So my question: Isn't Behe's 'moustrap' irreducible complexity the same
>>> EXACT situation? It is basically saying since we don't know how it could
>>> have evolved, therefore it was intelligently designed (by God or
>>> aliens).
>>> The only difference is that Behe goes into great detail trying to
>>> explain
>>> how it can't be done by known "Darwinistic evolutionist" mechanisms, but
>>> Paley could have (and maybe did?) done the same thing (explaining
>>> why/how
>>> known science of his day could not explain evolution for humans).
>>> I would like to know what is so different about Behe, compared to Paley.
>>> Paley has a 'complexity' argument with the watch, and Behe introduces
>>> irreducible complexity, but both are proposing ID because known science
>>> can't explain it... yet.
>>> It is interesting to me that Paley's argument for the biological
>>> creation
>>> of man is not discarded because it is wrong with the idea of complexity,
>>> but because the evolutionary process has evidence "beyond a reasonable
>>> doubt." So complexity may still be a valid way to detect ID, yet in this
>>> case, it turned out wrong as science accumulated more facts. It could be
>>> the same with irreducible complexity. A valid way to detect ID, yet
>>> disproven in the future when more facts become available.
>>> But what is the evidence to prove irreducible complexity? It seems like
>>> the only evidence is "evolution can't do it or explain it... yet."
>>> ...Bernie
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Received on Sat Oct 17 03:42:39 2009

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