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Monday, December 13, 2010

But, Jerry, what about all those dogs?

Apparently, Jerry Coyne is now attacking me, re Behe's paper. To judge from his blog post's title, he has me confused with Discovery Institute.*

(Behe's paper is available for free download here.)

Dr. Coyne claims that Behe's findings apply only to artificial selection in the lab. But, at the feet of the great Richard Dawkins, I learned that artificial selection like human breeding of dogs, has proved Behe both wrong and ridiculous, in Edge of Evolution. That is precisely because dog breeding is equivalent to the process that applies throughout nature:
Don’t evade the point by protesting that dog breeding is a form of intelligent design. It is (kind of), but Behe, having lost the argument over irreducible complexity, is now in his desperation making a completely different claim: that mutations are too rare to permit significant evolutionary change anyway. From Newfies to Yorkies, from Weimaraners to water spaniels, from Dalmatians to dachshunds, as I incredulously close this book I seem to hear mocking barks and deep, baying howls of derision from 500 breeds of dogs — every one descended from a timber wolf within a time frame so short as to seem, by geological standards, instantaneous.
All you have to do, it seems, is leave out intelligent design.

Dawkins said this in the Bible and all the wise nodded in assent.

Well, either artificial selection is relevant or it isn't. Maybe Coyne and Dawkins should talk more.

*We share some initials, it's true. My middle name is Ileen. The confusion is inevitable.


Are Darwinists running out of insults and profanity?

Recently, biochemist Michael Behe published an article in Quarterly Review of Biology, titled "Experimental Evolution, Loss-of-Function Mutations and 'The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution'," arguing that "the most common adaptive changes seen ... are due to the loss or modification of a pre-existing molecular function."

So, not only must the long, slow process of Darwinian evolution create every exotic form of life in the blink of a geological eye, but it must do so by losing or modifying what a life form already has.

This, apparently, got evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne's recent attention:
Anyway, Behe reviews the last four decades of work on experimental evolution in bacteria and viruses (phage), and finds that nearly all the adaptive mutations in these studies fall into classes 1 and 3. We see very few “gain of FCT” mutations. Although this is not my field, the review seems pretty thorough to me, and the conclusions, as far as they apply to lab studies of adaptation in viruses and bacteria, seem sound.
It looks as though Coyne must now actually take Behe's argument seriously.

Of course, he should have a long time ago, but for years Darwinists were happy to let trolls lob insults and profanity. Somewhat the way a deadbeat curses the bank officer who knows he hasn't got the goods.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:


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