Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Behe v Dembski

In doing some research on a post about one of Behe’s papers, I came across this little gem. Back in 2004, around the time he and David Snoke published their paper in Protein Science, William Dembski announced at DDDV that this paper “may well be the nail in the coffin [and] the crumbling of the Berlin wall of Darwinian evolution.” Here is Behe in a reply to Michael Lynch’s response to that paper:

It sometimes happens in science that there is a marked difference between the stories people tell about the implications of a work and the actual details of the work. Some people have made great hay about the implications of our article. We subscribe neither to triumphant views in some circles that our paper disproved Darwinism, nor to overwrought ones that it supports some grand anti-science conspiracy.

I wonder if Behe has told Dembski to stop saying that his paper is the “nail in the coffin” of evolution, or told the DI to stop crowing about it as a paper that supports ID? It doesn’t, of course; it actually strongly supports evolution and argues against irreducible complexity.

Comments

  1. #1 J-Dog
    December 28, 2006

    “I wonder if Behe has told Dembski to stop saying that his paper is the “nail in the coffin” of evolution…”

    I would say the answer is no, Behe has not asked Dembski to be quiet. They both believe in Big Juju and The Big Lie (Tell the rubes a lie loud and proud, and don’t back down).

    Say what you will about the idiots of ID World and their minions, they stick together. They KNOW they’re right, dammit, they have God on their side, and NO amount of facts are going to change one of their pin-headed little minds.

  2. #2 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    December 28, 2006

    Should we give Dembski credit for not producing a Flash animation mocking Michael Lynch?

  3. #3 David Heddle
    December 28, 2006

    J-Dog,

    You cannot possibly know for certain that Behe is not embarassed by Dembski’s statement. Furthermore, the ID community is not monolithic. For example, Hugh Ross is persona non grata on UD for proclaiming that the designer is God (go Hugh!), and for unceasingly attacking the scientific claims of YECs–an unpardonable sin in the Dembski camp.

  4. #4 J-Dog
    December 28, 2006

    David Heddle – I suggest you be more careful with your assumptions.

    You can not know for certain that I don’t know about Behe’s innermost feelings.

    For example, Behe and I could be best friends, and talk everyday on the phone. We could have grown up neighbors, and gone to the same schools.

    BTW – IMO, The ID community IS monolithic in the sense that they believe in the same thing, ID… Just because he’s not welcome on UD, like yourself, does NOT mean that he is smart enough to throw off the God and/or ID yoke.

  5. #5 Jeebus
    December 28, 2006

    Should we give Dembski credit for not producing a Flash animation mocking Michael Lynch?

    I’m not so sure. Check out one of Dembski’s latest posts, on Uncommondescent:

    I’m considering offering $250 for the winning entry in a flash animation contest. I’d like the flash animation to incorporate the following elements:

    (1) Portray Richard Dawkins as a cult deprogrammer.
    (2) Portray a 7-year old Stephen Colbert as the theist he must convert to atheism. (See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuXpysYEhgA and below)
    (3) Employ 10 classic Dawkins quotes.
    (4) No violence.
    (5) I’ll throw in an extra 100 bucks for a flatulent version of Dawkins (only for private use — maybe). (my emphasis)

    Pure hilarity!

  6. #6 J-Dog
    December 28, 2006

    Jeebus – Dembski is such a tool that I bet a bottle of old scotch that he doesn’t realize that “Stephen Colbert” is both a character AND a person.

    The Stephen Colbert that interviewed Dawkins, was the character. We the public actually have no idea what the person Stephen Colbert thinks about religion, but I would guess that he DOES believe in evolution, not ID. (From comments that the real Stephen Colbert made to Judge Jones after the Dover Trial.)

    So, if you talk to Dembski, please tell him he is an idiot for me, and that the REAL Stephen Colbert COULD be an atheist.

  7. #7 choo-choo train
    December 28, 2006

    My problem with Behe is, the 2004 paper proves his dishonesty. He has to know his model shows that if you put in real-world numbers, “Irreducibly Complex” things can evolve every second of every day. Yet he hasn’t renounced IC. This has to be dishonesty.

  8. #8 slpage
    December 28, 2006

    This has to be dishonesty.

    Don’t discount the power of self-delusion.

  9. #9 Ed Brayton
    December 28, 2006

    choo-choo train wrote:

    My problem with Behe is, the 2004 paper proves his dishonesty. He has to know his model shows that if you put in real-world numbers, “Irreducibly Complex” things can evolve every second of every day.

    But it’s even worse than that; the 2004 paper shows that even without real world numbers, even if you rig the experiment to make it as unlikely as possible by using low population numbers, ignoring multiple sources of genetic variation and ruling out all possible function from any intermediate stages, such an IC system can evolve in a virtual blink of an eye in geological time. His rationalization of this, of course, is that the protein binding site they evolved using this program was far less complex than the bacterial flagellum, and that much is true; the binding site required only 3 or 4 amino acid residues to be in place, as opposed to many whole proteins in the flagellum. But Behe himself admits that the binding site was also IC, so the very concept of irreducible complexity is destroyed by his own experiment. More importantly, if you work with more real world numbers and variables, particularly if you allow for all of the known sources of genetic variation and allow for functional intermediates – which we know exist within the flagellum – for at least some of those proteins, there is no question that such a system could evolve naturally. It may take a long time, of course, but bacteria have been here for nearly 4 billion years. If it took 100 million years to evolve such a system, or 500 million years for that matter, there was more than enough sequential trials available to get it done given real world population numbers and real world variables.

  10. #10 Jim Lippard
    December 28, 2006

    J-Dog: While the real Colbert may well believe in evolution, he is also a theist (a Catholic).

  11. #11 doctorgoo
    December 28, 2006

    Jim, do you know he’s an active Catholic? Someone who identifies himself as Catholic might still be an atheist.

  12. #12 Kristine
    December 28, 2006

    even if you rig the experiment to make it as unlikely as possible by using low population numbers, ignoring multiple sources of genetic variation and ruling out all possible function from any intermediate stages, such an IC system can evolve in a virtual blink of an eye in geological time. His rationalization of this, of course, is that the protein binding site they evolved using this program was far less complex than the bacterial flagellum

    But so what. At this point, they may as well drop the flagellum argument altogether.

    I’ll stick my foot in it (not being a scientist) and say that the assumption of as few mutations as possible in phyletic mapping is probably wrong–scrupulous, but wrong–and that the benefits of variation are even more robust that evolutionary biologists assume them to be.

    Sorry, Behe. Man, it’s so obvious that ID is crashing and burning. Do these guys want to end up irrelevant?

    I don’t get it.

  13. #13 tacitus
    December 28, 2006

    Jim, do you know he’s an active Catholic? Someone who identifies himself as Catholic might still be an atheist.

    He teaches Sunday School at his local Catholic church, so it’s a reasonably safe assumption that he’s not an atheist.

  14. #14 RBH
    December 28, 2006

    Behe studiously avoids mentioning that Dembski recently redefined “irreducible complexity” in such a way that while a three-legged stool and a mousetrap are IC under Behe’s definition, they’re not irreducibly complex under Dembski’s new and improved definition. See my posts in The Death of Irreducible Complexity. These guys regularly cut each other off at the knees and don’t even notice it. They just keep getting shorter and shorter.