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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Edge of Evolution: The significance of Michael Behe's new book

In response to my review of Behe's new book Edge of Evolution, a most interesting thread of comments followed my notice of said review at Uncommon Descent. Here is my response to the thread:

I hope all commenters and viewers on this thread get and read Behe's "Edge of Evolution."

That's because I think it has focused the debate in a way that most discussions do not.

He is not claiming that Darwinian evolution cannot occur.

He gives examples of situations where it did occur.

The reason we know it did occur is that we know EXACTLY what happened at the biochemical level: Natural selection acted on a random mutation to enable a life form to acquire a new trait.

Behe then asks, given the number of generations that have passed (again, a known/knowable quantity), how much change has this process driven? The answer is, very little.

Both Dawkins (dogs) and Matzke (exaptation) are evading the issue.

Dog breeding is NOT random. Contra Dawkins that matters very much indeed.

The human is inducing changes in the dog that the dog's genome accommodates but does not encourage. Nature has not independently rewarded these changes. Behe, by contrast, is talking about new traits, developed by Darwinian evolution, that are known to confer a benefit in terms of survival of the fittest (resistance, for example).

Similarly, we do not know the complete sequence of biochemical steps by which the panda's "thumb" took shape. Matzke INFERS Darwinian evolution as the cause.

These people are anxious to avoid confronting the difference between the amount of change over time that Darwinian evolution has been observed to cause - when the events can be monitored - and the amount of change over time that they need it to cause.

You will find Edge of Evolution a very interesting read.

Incidentally, if you were planning to buy The Spiritual Brain: A neuroscientist's case for the existence of the soul (by neuroscientist Mario Beauregard and myself), you can save money at Amazon.com by buying it together with Edge of Evolution.

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