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Saturday, December 05, 2020

Mouse traps Michael Denton

Michael Denton is a New Zealand biochemist, a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute, and the author of two Intelligent Design Creationist books: Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (1985) and Nature's Destiny (1998).

He has just read Michael Behe's latest book and he (Denton) is impressed [Praise for Behe’s Latest: “Facts Before Theory”]:

Behe brings out more forcibly than any other author I have recently read just how vacuous and biased are the criticisms of his work and of the ID position in general by so many mainstream academic defenders of Darwinism. And what is so telling about his many wonderfully crafted responses to his Darwinian critics is that it is Behe who is putting the facts before theory while his many detractors — Kenneth Miller, Jerry Coyne, Larry Moran, Richard Lenski, and others — are putting theory before the facts. In short, this volume shows that it is Behe rather than his detractors who is carefully following the evidence.

I don't know what planet Michael Denton is living on—probably the same one as Michael Behe—but let's make one thing clear about facts and evidence. Behe's entire argument is based on the "fact" that he can't see how Darwin's theory of natural selection can account for the evolution of complex features: therefore god(s) must have done it. This is NOT putting facts before theory and it is NOT carefully following the evidence.

It's just a somewhat sophisticated version of god of the gaps based on Behe's lack of understanding of the basic mechanisms of evolution.

(See, Of mice and Michael, where I explain why Michael Behe fails to answer my critique of The Edge of Evolution.)


John Harshman said...

I thought Denton was favoring the idea that the universe was set up to favor evolution, and that the whole of life was fore-ordained at the Big Bang. When did he change to constant tinkering?

Larry Moran said...

He used to think that way but this is his current view:

"To understand the core weakness of the Darwinian worldview, it is important to understand what Darwinian natural selection requires. The process will work its magic, building up functional structures in organisms, only when two very strict conditions are met: First, the structure must be adaptive—that is, helpful to the organism in flourishing in its environment—and second, there must be a continuum of structures, functional all along the way, leading from an ancestor species to the descendant.

That is, the thing we are trying to explain must in some way help the creature survive, and between the creature and the creature's ancestor there must be a gradual change, each step of which is stable and enhances fitness, or success in reproduction.

This is what a strawman looks like

Robert Byers said...

It is indeed that selection will not create complexirt but its also that complexity is so impressive that a intelligent being only could create complexity. I think the rub is in the wghole concept. of mutations being johnny on the spot and not selection is the rub.
many iD do think mutationism has been the mechanism for bodyplan changes in biology since some point in history. I don't. Its not errors but that mutations are only special cases of the innate ability of biology to change as needed. anyways they still make god undercutting points on selections ability to juggle.

John Harshman said...

That's what he doesn't like, but what does he like? Has he gone over to the constant tinkering with genomes, fiat creation, or what?

dean said...

"many ID do think"

No, they don't. That's the problem.