Michael Behe, father of “irreducible complexity,” vs. natural genetic engineering

Michael Behe infuriated traditional Darwinists with his concept of irreducible complexity more than 20 years ago.

He argues instead for Intelligent Design. But what does ID really mean? Is it a puff of smoke? A perfectly executed pool shot at the start of the Big Bang? External intervention at various points along the way? Intrinsic cellular intelligence?

Perry Marshall and Michael Behe discuss where to draw the dotted line.

Download The First 3 Chapters of Evolution 2.0 For Free, Here – https://evo-2.org/3-free-chapters

Where Did Life And The Genetic Code Come From? Can The Answer Build Superior AI? The #1 Mystery In Science Now Has A $10 Million Prize. Learn More About It, Here – https://www.herox.com/evolution2.0

11 Responses

  1. James Serafin says:

    Michael describes IDvolution – ID=Intelligently Designed
    volution – having a volute or rolled-up form.

    God “breathed” the super language of DNA into the “kinds” in the creative act.

    This accounts for the diversity of life we see. The core makeup shared by all living things have the necessary complex information built in that facilitates rapid and responsive adaptation of features and variation while being able to preserve the “kind” that they began as. Life has been created with the creativity built in ready to respond to triggering events.
    Since it has been demonstrated that all living organisms on Earth have the same core, it is virtually certain that living organisms have been thought of AT ONCE by the One and the same Creator endowed with the super language we know as DNA that switched on the formation of the various kinds, the cattle, the swimming creatures, the flying creatures, etc.. in a pristine harmonious state and superb adaptability and responsiveness to their environment for the purpose of populating the earth that became subject to the ravages of corruption by the sin of one man (deleterious mutations).

  2. James Serafin says:

    Michael keeps pushing for the root cause driver. The information had to be “front loaded” What is the driver that causes the fight to live?

  3. James Serafin says:
  4. Jim Mccrudden says:

    An excellent podcast where both “agreed-but”; agree but distinguish, the hallmark of good debate.
    Any chance of a printout I can download. It’s tough finding things afterwards in a podcast.

    • You’re welcome to post the MP3 URL into a transcription program such as http://www.temi.com.

      • arthur harris says:

        Evolution is a mystery because you approach it as a scientist. The re-positioning of genes as described by McClintock is easily explained once one understands the relationship between the general and the particular but to date that has not been properly understand. In short when one proceeds from general to particular the process is totally different to when one proceeds from particular to general In McClintock’s work what is relevant is general to particular or species to its varieties. The form which the varieties take is DISJUNCTIVE. Either …..or. (When proceeding from particular to general the process is CONJUNCTIVE) What that means is that a species given situation 1 may produce a Variety 1 or given situation 2 may produce Variety 2 or given Situation 3 may produce Variety 3 etc..(The key word id “OR”) In 1892 the Austrian Anton Kerner collected seeds from lowland plants and sowed them in the Alps at 7,200ft. The flowers now changed form and looked like a new species. He then took the seeds from the Alpine flowers and replanted them in the Vienna Botanic Gardens and they resumed the lowland form. The seeds could express themselves Either….or depending on where the were planted or what they encountered.
        If a species had adopted the form of Variety 1 for a given situation that now produced hardship then this Variety could go to seed (its Species) and the Species could re-express itself to fit the new situation. Ditto for cancer cells. Until biologists understand the relationship between the particular and the general evolution will forever be a puzzle.

  5. Tom Godfrey says:

    Perry Marshall,

    You asked, “Where Did Life And The Genetic Code Come From?” A search for a reasonable answer to this question may have been what motivated you to interview Michael Behe. I watched the whole interview video with interest after having read both your book (Evolution 2.0: Breaking the Deadlock Between Darwin and Design) and Behe’s (Darwin Devolves: The New Science About DNA That Challenges Evolution). Your interview covered that key question and possible answers from the two perspectives featured in those two books. The idea that an authoritative answer should involve science seems to have been taken for granted through and through.

    The question is really all about history, and Intelligent Design involves claims about history, for example, the claim that an intelligent mind was somehow involved in the origin of life and the genetic code. In contrast, natural genetic engineering involves claims about nature and the laws of nature as currently observed and subject to experimentation in line with the scientific method. This is an area where science shines and often proves useful in the development of modern technology.

    History is not such an area, because what happened when life and the genetic code originated cannot be observed now. We have no time machine that would allow a scientist to run experiments in actual primitive environments. Modern origin-of-life experiments necessarily involve assumptions or educated guesses about them. One can speculate about origins, based on observation of currently available clues interpreted under various assumptions, or one can prefer documented testimony deemed credible, what many of us claim to find in the Bible.

    Darwin’s ideas about evolution involve both history (what happened in the past) and science (what is going on right now and at any time in the future, barring a miracle). I think the whole notion of a deadlock between Darwin and design would disappear if only both sides recognized that science is not the right tool for making any certain claims about history, especially the part of earth history that covers the origin of life, an area where one can reasonably entertain the possibility that miracles of God were involved. Scientists embrace methodological materialism, and this makes perfect sense when their topic is not history but nature and the laws of nature.

    They naturally reject any account of origins that involves miracles or the intervention of a supernatural agent. Those of us who reject their no-miracle presupposition in the context of origins are free to accept what is revealed in Genesis and Exodus. We can do this without apology or any felt need to explain how we can see even the most distant stars. Even a child can believe the Bible and its stories about miracles. If anyone could explain or demonstrate how a miracle could have been an effect produced through purely natural means or processes, would it still count as a miracle?

    If anyone wins your $10 million prize, it will be a triumph of science, all right, but it will tell us nothing definite about history. It might fuel robust speculation, but there would be no way to prove that the prize-winning solution accurately reflects what actually took place when life began in the distant past. I suspect that your prize money is quite safe, but who am I to say?

    • arthur harris says:

      Tom Godfrey rightly questions the role of science in trying to solve the mystery of evolution. This is a unique puzzle. Let us imagine that llfe began some 3.5 billion years ago (ALPHA) and then a chain of events led to the present time (OMEGA). What is absent from a lot of discussion about evolution is the correct methodology for analyzing the problem. So we start at ALPHA with a set of principles by which evolution and its course were predetermined? If so then where do we look for those principles?. If we start at OMEGA and look backwards in time then we will never solve the problem.The present is the CONSEQUENT we seek to explain by finding the correct antecedent. But the rules of material implication ( which have stood the test of time and are the basis for the scientific method) state that a if the consequent is true then the antecedent may be true or false. We cannot support one antecedent without eliminating ALL other possible antecedents. With evolution because one must argue backwards from consequent to antecedent this is impossible.
      Firstly because the fossil record is in complete. Secondly the fossil record informs us only about corporeal structure NOT about behaviour or mental operations. Darwin ‘s explanation was devised by standing at OMEGA, using hindsight terms such as “natural selection” and “common ancestor” which have no predictive value and hence cannot be tested. Moreover relying on fossil evidence he concluded that mutations to corporeal structures determine behaviour. He NEVER eliminated the alternative that BEHAVIOUR and MOTIVATION led to corporeal changes. In single cell organisms as the motivation changes so too does the “furniture” within the cytoplasm. As Tom Godfrey has suggested the scientific method based on how one makes inferences from about hypotheses using experimental results do not apply to the problem of evolution.
      The PRIMARY QUESTION in evolution is WHAT IS THE CORRECT METHODOLOGY FOR ANALYZING THIS UNIQUE PROBLEM? No answer! Instead of first solving that we have speculative ideas being thrown up ( including Darwin’s)
      Now the idea of “irreducible complexity” has a particular meaning which is directed at torpedoing Darwin’s idea of complexity arising by the accumulation of thousands of minute mutations. However irreducible complexity does not exclude the idea of streamlining. Any part of an organism not involved directly in attaining a certain goal is gradually eliminated and by retaining and fusing together only those parts which are essential one ends up with complexity where every part is essential. One has only to watches a dolphin or a penguin moving in the water to understand streamlining. In a famous Japanese experiment a slime mold ‘s body takes the form of the shortest route between two entrances of a maze. This is achieved by the slime mold first covering the whole maze and then withdrawing all parts that do not directly lead to food placed at each entrance. So what is referred to as “irreducible” complexity can be reduced to a cruder initial form which is then subjected to laws of streamlining.

  6. Tom Godfrey says:

    Arthur Harris,

    Thanks for agreeing with me at least partially. Perry Marshall has decided not to dialog with me any further, since we are at an impasse on the question of applying the scientific method and using experimental results to determine what took place in the most distant past. He evidently continues to believe that “scientific” studies of currently available physical evidence, interpreted under the no-miracle presupposition, should be considered a reliable source of information and used to guide one’s interpretation of Genesis. Maybe you can convince him to reconsider his position on this.

    I like your alpha and omega analysis, but a more conventional approach to making the same point might be to show that evolutionists commit the logic fallacy of affirming the consequent (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affirming_the_consequent).

    For example, some of them have told me that we should be impressed by the discovery of Tiktaalik remains where it was predicted they should be found (https://tiktaalik.uchicago.edu/searching4Tik.html). This is how it works. Assume that macroevolution actually took place in the course of earth history, gradually converting a single common ancestor into all of the life forms that can be observed today, make a prediction based on this assumption, and if the prediction (consequent) is affirmed or shown to be true, then go ahead and conclude that those assumptions (antecedents) must be true as well. Is this the way reasonable people should think?

    Here’s another example from Perry’s book. He explained in chapter 2 (p. 13) how he found “persuasive evidence for evolution.” He wrote, “I visited the Whale Center of New England next door and discovered one of the most compelling cases for evolution I’ve seen.” What was it? He continued (p. 14-15), “Sure enough, this whale had a tiny set of legs, folded up near the back of its body, disconnected from the rest of its skeleton and suspended in the flesh—remnants of an earlier ancestor having been some other type of mammal. […] the exhibit regarded the whale legs as evidence of evolution. The evolution beast had its claws in my skin and wouldn’t let go.” So there you have it. Once again, evolutionist assumptions (antecedents) had to be true, because one of its predictions (the consequent of vestigial legs in the body of a whale) had been affirmed. How could this line of reasoning possibly go wrong (https://www.icr.org/article/vital-function-found-for-whale-leg)? Perry was hooked.

    Nevertheless, I probably should clarify that I believe the scientific method does apply to the problem of evolution, but only when we are talking about presently observable evolution, which is subject to study and experimentation of the kind that ordinary scientists use to test hypotheses. An example of what I have in mind is the famous experiment run by Richard Lenski (http://www.evo-ed.com/Pages/Ecoli/index.html), which Behe discussed in his book Darwin Devolves (pp. 172-79). It was all about decades of observable evolution of E. coli bacteria.

    Behe wrote (p. 174), “The cells were allowed to do whatever came naturally.” Well, what came naturally? He continued (p. 174), “Although an imaginative movie producer might picture the cells evolving into some intelligent, slimy creature that stalked the campus at night, the actual results were more modest, but still exciting to academicians: the cells started to grow faster.” A few pages later, Behe revealed the “bottom line” for this impressive experiment (p. 179):

    “After fifty thousand generations of the most detailed, definitive evolution experiment ever conducted, after so much improvement of the growth rate that descendent cells leave revived ancestors in the dust, after relentless mutation and selection, it’s very likely that all of the identified beneficial mutations worked by degrading or outright breaking the respective ancestor genes.[footnote 15] And the havoc wreaked by random mutation had been frozen in place by natural selection.”

    With this bottom line, what can one reasonably conclude about origins or the history of life on earth? I suggest that we should answer, “Absolutely nothing.” It does tell us something about an observed process that might be useful for making predictions about what may happen in the future, barring a miracle. Such knowledge is a great benefit of using the scientific method, but let’s not fall for any logical fallacy or foolishly imagine that this is a good way to discover truths about history. Speculation and educated guesses may be fine, but they should not be confused with certain knowledge of true history.

    I suggest that the best we can do to know history is to recall personal experiences or to consult revelation or testimony deemed credible, but suppose someone decides to reject all such testimony as unreliable, not trusting even the Bible. Can we reasonably conclude that such a person is doomed to knowing nothing for sure about history? This is where we need to avoid argumentum ad ignorantiam. It may well be true that I do not know any way to use the scientific method to learn definite truths about history, but it does not follow that no such way can possibly exist. Skeptics are free to continue their quest. Let’s just be careful not to be fooled by fallacious claims. In the meantime, I believe that God did what the Bible says he did.

    I agree with you that “irreducible complexity does not exclude the idea of streamlining,” but I am not so sure that “what is referred to as ‘irreducible’ complexity can be reduced to a cruder initial form which is then subjected to laws of streamlining.”

    Your slime mold example seems irrelevant to me. The complexity of interest existed in the design of the maze even before any streamlining solution was attempted, right? I think we are supposed to be interested in the origin of complexity. We might imagine a primitive dolphin or penguin with useless bodily features that interfered with swimming, so they might have been gradually lost over the years in a streamlining process, but we have not yet begun to speculate about the origin of their essential parts, have we? Even the crudest initial form of such a creature could have already been extremely complex. Can you provide better examples of what you have in mind?

    By the way, your paragraphs will stand out better if you press the Enter key twice instead of just once at the end of each one. I usually compose my comments in a separate document and then cut and paste them into the small text box on the form for submission.

  7. George Louridas says:

    I would like to present briefly some of my oncoming thoughts about the historical importance of Christianity and to the problem of our conscious existence which is related to a physical world designed by God.

    1. Religion and Christianity. Love to everyone, Belief in God and after-life Hope, are basic concepts of Christianity. This Christian teaching changed the world. Christianity is the Religion that shaped all our societies including the non-Christian world.
    2. The influence of Christianity on Christian and/or non- Christian societies is overwhelming. The Christian beliefs and way of life affected immensely and positively all human societies and shaped our present world. Our societies, especially the Christian societies, are based on Christianity, Roman inheritance on administration, and Greek/Hebrew philosophy and culture.
    3. Modern Physics, Astrophysics and Cosmology. Those sciences are trying to interpret and explain the nature and function of the Complex World Reality as far as we understand it at the present time. Both, General theory of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics explain the physical world using a variety of world models. As more new findings are added to these world models so more complicated our world becomes. So, a designed principle is needed to interpret the unexplained physical complexity.
    4. Classical Biology and neo-Darwinism as conceptual presentations. Evolution theory, genes and genetic code should be interpreted differently. Modern Biology explanations should be based on the novel concepts of epigenetics and to the complexity of cellular, tissue and organ functionality. The genes and DNA sequences are only the patterns for protein production while the “order” for protein selection is the prerogative of the cellular integrative mechanisms. Cells, tissues, organs, phenotypes and environment are working together as interrelated functional networks with informational interchange. Phenotypes acquire from internal and external environments important information and direct this to the body’s cellular or tissue informational network. This complex informational system is basic for adaptation and keeps us alive. This complicated and interrelated informational system is not possible to be made by chance, only by design.
    5. Significance of the Brain and Consciousness in order to understand and explain the World. The brain consists of a dense neuronal network system with hierarchical construction, information transduction and network interdependence. Trillions of neuronal interconnections in our brain through brain neurons synapses direct the whole informational system of our body. But, the electrical neuronal connectivity only partly can explain lower functions of consciousness. The higher functions of consciousness like learning, language, emotions, affections, love and awareness are elusive. Only design could explain the existence of human consciousness and neuronal complexity. Connection between consciousness and quantum mechanics is speculative but possible. In this respect the role of design is imperative in order to explain the improbability for the brain complexity to be created by chance. I am not recall a “God of the gaps” but a divined schedule in all stages of the physical and human history. Only a Creator God has the foreknowledge to make a world based on complex networking with an information interexchange system in order to create an intelligent world.
    6. The inescapable concept of a Designed World. The physical complexity of the World at all levels from quantum mechanics and cellular functionality to human consciousness invoke the presence of a Designer/Creator. I believe that Christianity gives an answer to the problem of our existence and also gives meaning to our presence on earth. If the purpose of our mother-nature was to give us “a nice and prosperous life” and to “have a good time” and nothing else, then she failed in her intentions as our life would be insignificant and meaningless.

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