Discussion of everything related to the Theory of Evolution.
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For discussion of the book Darwin's Black Box, by Michael J. Behe. While I have only read 6 or so of the chapters, I know it fairly well. The book is a refutation of Darwinism thru the examination of microbiological evidences, particularly thru irreducably complex systems--systems that cannot operate wtihout all of their parts in place, an unlikely event if one uses Darwinistic, non-creator involved gradualism.[/b]
Just a quick suggestion. You might want to consider changing your poll to "do you agree with Behe's argument against Darwinism?" Darwin is a huge figure in modern ecology, and one would need to produce a tremendously strong argument in order for a work to be published. =)
Any effective religious book refuting Darwinism coming out now would be a little late. Religion today is not as powerful a force as it was in Chuck's day. He knew what he wrote was going to be controversial. That's the reason why terms like "evolution," "natural selection," and "survival of the fittest" are not used in Origin of Spedies.
Also, remember that Origin of Species was an unfinished work. Chuck only published it because someone else came up with the same idea at the same timie. He wanted the credit (who wouldn't?), but would have much preferred to break the idea slowly to the world.
You should read "Darwin's Ghost" by Steve Jones - I is the updated version of the origin of species
You would be surprised at how many people haven't read the origin! (I have to admit, I haven't read it myself but I'm reading Darwin's Ghost, which is like a modern version of the origin)
Last edited by thank.darwin on Thu Feb 10, 2005 9:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.
Behe's argument is not at all convincing, nor is it anything new. It's essentially the argument that Darwin himself considered in The Origin of Species with respect to the evolution of the eye. The only real difference is that Behe is applying the argument at the level of biochemistry, and he's come up with a new name for it.
Conceptually, one major problem with the irreducible complexity argument is that it actually erects a straw man. It sounds like a compelling argument against evolution only if you start out by looking at "irreducibly complex" systems and then imagining that the previous evolutionary step was the same system minus one of the parts. If that's how you look at it, it most certainly will seem that evolution can't do the job.
As Darwin pointed out, though, evolution need not work that way. Complex organs (or biochemical pathways) need not evolve by accumulating the parts (in their modern forms) one by one until the entire system is in place. No one believes that the human arm, for example, evolved by having human fingers appear on the shoulders of some ancestral species that had no forelimbs at all. Where did arms come from? Well, they're just modified mammalian legs. Where did mammalian legs come from? Well, they are just modified reptilian legs. Etc, etc, etc. Ape arms have the same parts human arms do -- they are just a little bit more "leglike".
Another, more philosophical, problem with Behe's argument is that it essentially takes the form, "We don't have a fully detailed, complete natural explanation to account for the evolution of these systems, therefore, no natural explanation exists." Of course, if that's the way you look at it, you would have to imagine that natural laws can't accomplish much of anything, because there is virtually nothing in science that is complex enough to be very interesting and for which we have a totally complete natural explanation. If you're going to propose supernatural processes every time science doesn't have a 100% complete answer, there will be little point in doing science to begin with.
One way that an irreducibly complex system can evolve is that a component can go from being beneficial to being crucia to the system in question. Imagine, for example, that we are trying to think about the irreducibly complex system composed of parts A, B, and C. The system, in its modern form, is totally nonfunctional unless all three parts are present. How could it have evolved? Here's one way (working backwards):
Previous step: The system is composed of parts A, B, C+D. Parts C and D perform the same function, but C+D do it better than D alone. Part D is eventually eliminated when small improvements are made to C, allowing C to do the job without D.
Previous step: A+E, B, C+D Same principle as above:
Previous step: E, B, D. Now, the system EBD might not be irreducibly complex. It might be able to perform the function in question, in a less efficient manner, without B.
Components A, B, and C all were originally parts of other biochemical systems. Each was co-opted to be a component in the new ABC system. Perhaps the other biochemical systems that A, B, and C were originally components of were lost to evolutionary history. In modern times, then, we see system ABC that looks irreducibly complex, and we may not even be able to see the previous functions of these components in other biochemical systems.
There are other ways that apparently irreducibly complex systems can evolve, but that's all I have time to write at the moment.
I should point out that even Behe has conceded -- in a published article -- that his original concept of irreducible complexity was flawed for some of the very reasons I discussed above. (Though, oddly, he still seems to be arguing that such systems couldn't have evolved.) I don't have the reference at hand right now, but if folks want it, I can post the reference and the exact quote when get back to work on Tuesday.
Evolutionary explanations have been proposed for many of the systems that Behe uses as examples in his book. Behe, of course, rejects them because they are not 100% complete, step-by-step accounts. But, why should science be expected to know the complete answer? His argument for why such systems could not evolve was really a conceptual one. Various plausible conceptual answers have been given. Insisting that scientists discover every single step in the process in great detail is a little like saying:
"Babies can't form from single cells because there is no way for a fetus to get food."
Scientist: "That's not true, because the fetus gets nutrients from the mother's body through the umbilical cord."
"Oh yeah? Well, then, smarty pants.... Give me every single biochemical and biological process involved in fetal development and digestion in the mother's body! Oh? You can't? Then NYAH NYAH NYAH!"
Here's a link: Evolution of the Bacterial Flagella http://www.health.adelaide.edu.au/Pharm/Musgrave/essays/flagella.htm
Ideology...is indispensable in any society if men are to be formed, transformed and equipped to respond to the demands of their conditions of existence. -- Louis Althusser, For Marx
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