Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Coulter Hearts Behe

With evolution becoming a political issue again after Rick Perry’s ignorant babble on the subject, you knew it wouldn’t take long for Ann Coulter to say some really stupid things about the subject. And she’s all about the Behe, folks.

This week, we will consider one small slice of the mountain of scientific evidence disproving this mystery religion from the Victorian age.

Most devastating for the Darwiniacs were advances in microbiology since Darwin’s time, revealing infinitely complex mechanisms requiring hundreds of parts working together at once – complex cellular structures, DNA, blood-clotting mechanisms, molecules, and the cell’s tiny flagellum and cilium.

No, this week you’ll declare “golly gee, that sure is complex! God must have done it!” over and over again, while totally ignoring the well-tested explanations for how they got to be complex through the process of evolution. And your credulous readers will lap it up like a saucer of milk because they’re as ignorant as you are.

The (extremely generous) test Darwin set for his theory was this: “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”

Thanks to advances in microscopes, thousands of such complex mechanisms have been found since Darwin’s day. He had to explain only simple devices, such as beaks and gills. If Darwin were able to come back today and peer through a modern microscope to see the inner workings of a cell, he would instantly abandon his own theory.

It is a mathematical impossibility, for example, that all 30 to 40 parts of the cell’s flagellum – forget the 200 parts of the cilium! – could all arise at once by random mutation.

Wow, that sounds like a really compelling argument from incredulity — until you recognize the false premise. No scientist would ever suggest that all 30 to 40 parts arose all at once by random mutation, so we are once again dealing with a very poorly constructed straw man. Coulter simply ignores, out of complete ignorance, the many ways that evolution can build up such a system through duplication and cooption. This is hardly a controversial idea in science, it happens all the time in the lab and in the wild. The only ones who don’t seem to get it are creationists.

As Michael Behe, biochemist and author of “Darwin’s Black Box,” explains, even a mechanism as simple as a three-part mousetrap requires all three parts to be working together at once. Otherwise, you don’t get a mousetrap that catches half as many mice – and thus might win a survival of the fittest competition – you don’t get a mousetrap at all.

The more we have learned about molecules, cells and DNA – a body of knowledge some refer to as “science” – the more preposterous Darwin’s theory has become. DNA is, as Bill Gates says, “like a computer program, but far, far more advanced than any software we’ve ever created.” (Plus DNA doesn’t usually crash when you’re right in the middle of reproducing.)

Evolution fanatics would rather not be called on to explain these complex mechanisms that Darwin himself said would disprove his theory.

Except that scientists, in fact, love explaining how how such complex mechanisms evolve. And they’re very, very good at it. You see, Behe’s views don’t hold up very well under scrutiny. In fact, he got beaten like a narc at a Grateful Dead rally when he got cross examined at the Dover trial. In fact, he was forced to admit that his own research actually disproved the concept of irreducible complexity on the witness stand. If you’re relying on Behe to disprove evolution, you’ve already lost that fight.