Only if it is found can the edge of evolution be calculated
NOTE: This was first published here on 8.25.08, and is simply being re-published as a separate post now.
No person–Darwinist, design proponent, or other–who wants to make a rational argument can seriously entertain an idea that pulls the rug out from under reason. Edge of Evolution, 226
No matter that Behe pulled the rug out from under reason at the beginning of the book.
There is a plethora of problems with Edge of Evolution, many of which I hope to address in the future. But the really big problem is something I want to address now, before I resume posting about DBB. The impossible problem for Behe is that he never once was able to show that evolution is responsible for some organic change, and that design is responsible for other organic change. Crucially, this is true for P. falciparum’s evolution of chloroquine resistance. Since under his own assumptions he cannot show that Plasmodium falciparum was not designed, either in the past (front-loading of the universe or of the genome) or in an ongoing intervention by the Creator, to develop resistance–and he merely assumes that such resistance evolved–from the very beginning his calculations have absolutely no basis at all.
Don’t suppose for a second that there aren’t many other problems with his calculations, which include the fact that he has no understanding of or regard for the population dynamics of malaria, knowledge of the selectional pressures for and against the mutations that give P. falciparum its resistance to chloroquine, nor even how many mutations are needed to confer positive selection. My present point is that from the very beginning he has no criterion for deciding what is designed and what is not, but he comes up with calculations based upon his mere belief that malaria evolved chloroquine resistance, rather than that resistance being designed.
The trouble is that the instant he decided that the supernatural designs organisms via evolution, and without any of the normally-recognized design characteristics being involved (like rationality, evident purpose), finding out what was caused by evolution and what was caused by “design” became completely and utterly impossible. Apparently the “designer” simply adds in mutations which cannot be expected to occur by chance, and (apparently) natural selection does the rest. And there is no qualitatively or quantitatively noticeable break between this “design process” and evolution. So how can this doofus ever presume to find out what evolved and what had to be designed, when he has nothing by which to decide what was designed and what was not?
What real science does is to understand cause and effect relationships first, and then to show reliably how one cause produces discernable effects, and to distinguish these effects from those caused by other processes, as best as can be done (and it is not possible to always distinguish effects). You already know what is design and what is not.
Behe’s way of determining what is designed and what is completely circular, save his initial assumption that what is happening today is not caused by non-human design. Because he simply believes that what is happening today is evolution and not design, he takes the mutations in humans and in P. falciparum to have evolved, and then makes illegitimate extrapolations from the already bogus figures that he got from that. Only if he already knew how to distinguish between design and evolution based on cause-and-effect criteria would he be able to show that chloroquine resistance is not the result of design, however, and he has no criteria which indicate that chloroquine resistance is not designed by his shadowy supernatural designer (or a designer indistinguishable from a supernatural one).
So he “found the edge of evolution” by merely assuming the edge of evolution–through his fully unsupported belief that design is not responsible for what is happening today. Even if he had begun this quest in all intellectual honesty (there is little indication of intellectual honesty in Behe’s writings), he would, as he himself noted, have to reevaluate what might have been designed in light of his “conclusion” that life was designed (see EoE 168), and would have to question his previous assumption that malaria has simply evolved. He does not do so, and if he had he would have had to face up to the fact that, lacking anything that distinguishes “design in life” from what has evolved, he simply cannot distinguish between the “two processes” at all.
He has pulled the rug out from any ability to reason in the empirical sciences, mainly because he’s strained so hard to claim that what evidently evolved was designed. By asserting that “looks designed” and “looks evolved” mean the same things, he has no basis whatsoever to come up with qualitative or quantitative criteria for determining design. This is another place where I made similar points.
The man seems to have no self-awareness, nor any capacity for thinking through his “scientific claims”. It appears that he is a hedgehog, plodding along with his one idea, and oblivious to the fact that he undermines his own claims during the course of his “argumentation.
This is part of a series of posts that I am combining into one long post, which may be found at The Edge of Evolution