Darwin Devolves by Michael J. Behe News, Responses to Critics, Purchasing

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Excellent Adventure: Behe Barnstorms Brazil

On a new episode of ID the Future, Darwin Devolves author and Lehigh University biochemist Michael Behe sits down with host Rob Crowther to discuss Behe’s recent speaking trip to Brazil, and where he sees the Darwinism/design debate heading in the next few years. Download the podcast or listen to it here. Oh, and check out these excellent travel snaps, courtesy of our friends Marcos Eberlin and the folks at Discovery Institute’s branch at Mackenzie Presbyterian University in São Paulo. In their conversation, Behe enthuses about Brazilian food and hospitality, and says the students at the schools where he spoke were refreshingly open to considering the evidence for intelligent design. It was typical of what he finds elsewhere, he says. There is a generational

Berlinski Banters Entertainingly with ID-Friendly Muslims

I had the following dream last night. In it, mathematician and Darwin skeptic David Berlinski was stretched out on a red couch, schmoozing entertainingly with a couple of ID-friendly, C.S. Lewis-quoting Muslim chaps. Dr. Berlinski stretched out so far that the pair of interviewers were confined to one distant end of the couch, though they didn’t seem to mind. They cracked up at all his jokes, as I did, too. Dr. Berlinski held a cane with a golden head which he used to illustrate points, and he appeared not in his usual splendid attire but, much more casually, in a cut-off jean jacket over a t-shirt. It was quite a fun dream and went on for about 45 minutes or so. I’m kidding, actually: it wasn’t a dream, though there is arguably an element of the surreal. It was a video from the

Coyne, Bechly, Miller, Berlinski: Scientists Debate David Gelernter’s Darwin Apostasy

This year when three scientists preemptively reviewed Michael Behe’s major book Darwin Devolves in the journal Science, Behe sought a chance to reply. The editor turned him down. So here’s some progress to report: Jerry Coyne “reviewed” Yale polymath David Gelernter’s recent knockout essay confessing the gravest doubts about Darwinian theory. Coyne wrote for the online magazine Quillette. When three Discovery Institute scientists sought an opportunity to reply and defend Gelernter, they were granted the opportunity! A Challenge for any Biologist Go ahead and check out the exchange for yourself. I challenge any biologist, or any thoughtful adult, to read Coyne and then the response from our colleagues, paleontologist Günter Bechly, physicist Brian Miller, and mathematician

Darwin Devolves — Evidence Keeps Rolling In

Several new papers have appeared that reinforce key points of my recent book, Darwin Devolves. (Hat tip to Paul Nelson.) The first one — “Quantifying the pathways to life using assembly spaces” — is from a group of theoreticians at Arizona State and the University of Glasgow. (The work was discussed by one of the authors, Sara Imari Walker, at a meeting this July in Italy, “Mind Matters: Intelligence and Agency in the Physical World.” Walker is a frequent collaborator of Paul Davies.)  Reeking of ID The paper investigates phenomena that reek of intelligent design, but the authors ascribe design either to an extrinsic agent or to (presumably undirected) evolution. Herein, we present the foundations of a new theoretical approach to agnostically quantify the amount of

Peppered Moths and More: Intelligent Design Takes Ownership of Evolution Icons

Intelligent design is taking ownership of some of the characters in Jonathan Wells’s book Icons of Evolution. Darwinians never had a rightful claim to them.  Peppered Moths Rare is any article about peppered moths that does not celebrate them as supreme examples of Darwinian evolution by natural selection. An open-access paper in Nature Communications Biology breaks that mold by focusing on a new skill in this species: the ability to “feel” color. Before adult peppered moths can fly into the tops of trees and challenge Darwinism there (unless they are tacked onto the trunks), they have to live as caterpillars. The Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology summarizes new findings about camouflage in the larval stage: It is difficult to distinguish caterpillars of the peppered

Molecular Motor Threads a Spiral Staircase

Let’s get acquainted with another irreducibly complex molecular motor. This one is a master at unfolding proteins, even the tough nuts that are hard to crack. Its method is ingenious. One shouldn’t think that icons of intelligent design in biochemistry are restricted to the few favorites, like the bacterial flagellum, kinesin, and ATP synthase. There are thousands of them — tens of thousands! Each one is fascinating in its own way. Today’s focus is on one, called the “Cdc48 ATPase complex,” or Cdc48 for short. It’s another ATPase (meaning, it uses ATP for energy) with an important job: unfolding proteins. Most proteins, you recall, are folded into globular shapes. Some of those can get pretty tightly wound, held together with electrical charges and mechanical forces.

Design for ATP Extends Beyond the Rotary Engine

As Michael Behe says in Darwin Devolves, the bacterial flagellum, that icon of irreducible complexity — which has never been explained by a Darwinian process — is one of two rotary engines found in cells. The other is ATP synthase, another icon of intelligent design. Three new papers this month find more things about it to admire. For an introduction, see our animation. Efficiency Expert A paper in PNAS by Kwangho Nam and Martin Karplus explores “Insights into the origin of the high energy-conversion efficiency of F1-ATPase.” And do they mean efficiency! F1-ATPase is a small motor protein, composed of 3 α- and 3 β-subunits that surround a central γ-subunit. The β-subunits alternate cyclically between 2 major conformational states to produce the rotation of the

Irreducible Complexity Defeated? Behe on Ken Miller’s Mousetrap Tie-Clip

Biologist Kenneth Miller thought he had scored a point against biochemist Michael Behe’s concept of irreducible complexity. At a conference, says Miller, “I removed two parts from a mousetrap (leaving just the base, spring, and hammer), and used that 3-part device as a functional tie-clip.” Check out this bonus video from the Science Uprising series, where Behe amusedly tells what’s wrong with Miller’s demonstration: https://youtu.be/zTtLEJABbTw He also explains the “edge of evolution,” which he has traced to the level of biological family, as in cats versus dogs. Down to that level in the taxonomic scheme, evolution must reflect intelligent design. Further down, Darwinian processes may reign, primarily by breaking, though, rather than building. The author most

Time to Put a Lid on Cichlid Evolution Propaganda

According to researchers at Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich, “Cichlid diversification in East Africa has become a central paradigm in evolutionary biology.” The subject, therefore, merits some attention for Darwin watchers. When evaluating a claim, it’s important to focus on central paradigms. If this is one of them, it looks pretty weak. Cichlids comprise a large family of fish, primarily living in freshwater habitats. Because they show tremendous variety in size and coloration, evolutionists have taken a keen interest in how they diversify. The news item introduces the family: Cichlids (Cichlidae) are a group of small to medium-sized fish that are ubiquitous in freshwater habitats in the tropics. They are particularly notable in exhibiting a wide range of

Not Oparin’s Coacervates Again!

The “warm little pond” idea was a mere suggestion when Darwin wrote to Joseph Hooker in 1871, a year before his death, but it was too vague to be taken seriously. Over 50 years later, in 1924, Alexander Oparin developed the idea with a little more rigor. He did so with the help of J.B.S. Haldane, speculating on how building blocks of life could be contained inside temporary droplets of organic goo. Wikipedia says, “For decades the theory of Oparin and Haldane was the leading approach to the origin of life question,” adding, “However, the lack of any mechanism by which coacervates can reproduce leaves them far short of being living systems.”  Also lacking was any mechanism for the transition from chance droplets to the elaborate lipid membranes in modern cells, with