Thursday, December 2, 2010

Behe, Intelligent design and Christian integrity

Michael Behe is touring the UK giving talks promoting “Intelligent Design” (ID). His main evidence is an argument that some natural structures are “irreducibly complex”, a phrase which he seems to have coined. His favourite argument is the mousetrap which can only function with all of its parts intact and in exactly the right place. This video shows that his argument is false:

One of the structures creationists put forward as evidence against evolution is the human eye. However, the eye is strong evidence for evolution because all of its stages of development can be seen in currently living creatures. Also, half an eye actually does serve a purpose as is explained in this video:

Of course, the main problem with Intelligent Design is that the people promoting it claim not to be doing it from religious motives when many of them are fundamentalist Christians who have previously promoted religious creationism. The reason for this is that they want ID taught as part of the UK school curriculum and they can’t do that if they tell the truth and say its a religious doctrine. So much for their claim that God is a God of truth. For me this is the real problem with ID. If people want to promote creationism then let them do it honestly. Dishonesty like this just brings Christianity further into disrepute. You can read more about this in my article "why creationism is bad for Christianity".

Incidentally, Behe’s own university now has a disclaimer on its web site stating its support for evolutionary biology.


  1. He sat there intelligently designing a tieclip and said there is no intelligent design.
    Who would make the tieclip which also had irreducible parts and complexity for a tieclip. What a fallacious argument for a scientist.
    I could take a car engine and other carparts and design a pump - this does not
    mean that the car and the pump were not designed and assembled intelligently.
    Utter nonsense.

  2. Gordon - surely most evolutionists are trying to disprove the Bible although many keep this
    hidden such Lyell and Darwin who said Lyell
    told him to avoid direct attacks on the Bible
    but to undermine it cunningly. Does this appear
    honest to you.

  3. No, scientists are trying to find the truth of the physical world. I know a few research biologists and your type of argument is something that doesn't figure in their thinking.

  4. Irreducible complexity (IC) is another idea that will eventually fall by the wayside. I will let the reader find it for themselves, but examples listed as "irreducibly complex" have, in fact, been shown to be reducible (as indicated in Gordon's post, but there are other such examples).

    In my own opinion, it is asking a bit much to assume irreducible complexity for anything, because it seems a bit bold to take the position that no other structures, etc., could have existed previously (that may no longer exist in a recognizable state) that led to the development of a structure that is in its current state. Personally, as a scientist, that seems like an untenable stance to take.

    As an aside and with regards to the above comment, I don't think it is the motivation of most evolutionists to try and disprove the Bible (there are a few vocal ones like Dawkins who are basically against the notion of the supernatural in any form). Evolution, as a process, has nothing to say that informs the Bible, nor does the Bible have anything to say that informs evolution (with regards to mechanistic understandings of how evolution works). One could make the case that evolution has led to the current state of the human condition, and the Bible offers a roadmap out of it; but, as a Christian, I wouldn't bother relating the two much more than that.

    The evolutionist, as a scientist, does take great objection to someone who has no understanding of evolution telling us that everything we understand about evolution is wrong, whether that person is a Christian, etc., is irrelevant. I don't tell my accountant that everything he knows about numbers and the tax code is wrong, so why should it be the reverse? What the scientist fears even more is the inept understanding of how to "do" science creeping into our educational system due to errant understandings of the Bible. Such ignorance has huge societal implications on a grand scale when multiplied by millions of people.

  5. Gordon, you correctly identify the dishonesty inherent to C4ID and its 'Gang of Three'. Considering one of them is an Emeritus Professor of Medical Genetics, their Introduction to Intelligent Design is particularly poor.