Meanwhile, the reviews of Michael Behe’s new book The Edge of Evolution are starting to appear. Michael Ruse weighs in with a short review for The Globe and Mail. His verdict:
Although I am a hard-line Darwinian evolutionist and loathe and detest IDT, I have a grudging admiration for Darwin’s Black Box. It’s wrong through and through, but has a certain style – it is a brilliantly written piece of advocacy, powerful because (generally) it seems so modest.
I am afraid, though, that The Edge of Evolution is a bit of a sad sack. Nothing very much new, old arguments repeated, opposition ignored or dismissed without argument. What does surprise me is how emphatic Behe now is in putting a distance between himself and the older Creationists. For a start, he stresses his commitment to evolution. He thinks the world of life is as old as is claimed by any more conventional biologist. He also wants to give natural processes of change a role in life’s history. For instance, the genetic mechanisms that led to the production of anti-freeze in fish that live in Arctic conditions are explicitly acknowledged to be those of random mutation sifted through the processes of natural selection, the survival of the fittest.
Overall, however, we are still where we were with Darwin’s Black Box. The micro-world is too complex to be a product of nature. Something – or rather, Some Thing – else was needed. I presume the converted will like this book, although I do wonder about the extreme biblical literalists. These latter do not think IDT goes anywhere like far enough, but have agreed for the moment to let the IDT supporters do the blocking. When the battle has been won against evolution will be time enough to ask for a lot more.
Sounds about right, though I think calling Darwin’s Black Box “brilliant” in any way is a bit much. I agree with the basic point though. DBB was well written. One of the things that strikes you about the YEC literature is just how comically amateurish most of it is. DBB wasn’t like that. It was actually readable.
I am currently slogging my way through EoE. It is really, really boring. The writing is clumsy, and the attempts at levity or familiarity fall flat. I have finished the first two chapters, and will eventually finish the whole thing, but everytime I look at it I am overcome with a desire to clean the bathroom, or scoop out the litter box.
On the other hand, Chapter Three bears the tantalizing title, “The Mathematical Limits of Darwinism.” This I’ve got to see! On the other hand, Mark Chu-Carroll has already had a look, and I have a sneaking suspicion I’m going to arrive at the same conclusion as he:
The part of the book that is most annoying to me, and thus the part that I’ll focus the rest of this review on, is chapter three, “The Mathematical Limits of Darwinism”. This is, basically, the real heart of the book, and for obvious reasons, it seriously ticks me off. Behe’s math is atrociously bad, pig-ignorant garbage – but he presents it seriously, as if it’s a real argument, and as if he has the slightest clue what he’s talking about.