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October 31, 2011

Comments

A couple of thoughts.

First, Koukl seems confused as to what role God would play in a theistic evolutionary process. He says, “The question is, if God used evolution...where is God in that process?” He seems to think that theistic evolution is an attempt to simply add God to the evolutionary process when that process is, by their own admission, already sufficient without God as an explanation of the diversity of species. But is there really anything of substance here to worry about? No. Christians have for centuries taught that God can exercise his providential control over nature either with secondary causal means, without secondary causal means, or even against secondary causal means. From the perspective of traditional Christianity, it is sheer heretical nonsense to think that the only role God can play in a process is that of a tinkering miracle mongering interventionist. On the contrary, God can create, sustain, and concur with secondary natural causes in order to accomplish his ends. There is no need, therefore, for God to introduce 72 miracles, or any miracles at all, in order to create stars. Instead, God could use stellar evolution, a completely non-miraculous process, to create stars. Similarly, God can use biological evolution, or perhaps some other completely non-miraculous process, to create the diversity of species. I’ve actually heard Koukl suggest that God might not be able to do this, since it’s too hard. Stars and planets are one thing, Koukl seems to think. But fish and rabbits! Surely God will have to draw from his treasure chest of miracles to make fish and rabbits! Well I’m sure that it is within the power of omnipotence to find a naturalistic way to make fish and rabbits, and I see no reason at all to take Koukl’s or my lack of imagination as some insight into the limits of the power of omnipotent competence. Theistic evolutionists, therefore, are not adding God as an extra proximate causal link in an otherwise natural causal process. Instead, they are saying that God is the creator and sustainer of a series of secondary natural causes with which he concurs and which produces the variety of species we see today. In that respect they are making the distinctions made by Aquinas, who writes,

I answer that, Two things belong to providence--namely, the type of the order of things foreordained towards an end; and the execution of this order, which is called government. As regards the first of these, God has immediate providence over everything, because He has in His intellect the types of everything, even the smallest; and whatsoever causes He assigns to certain effects, He gives them the power to produce those effects. Whence it must be that He has beforehand the type of those effects in His mind. As to the second, there are certain intermediaries of God's providence; for He governs things inferior by superior, not on account of any defect in His power, but by reason of the abundance of His goodness; so that the dignity of causality is imparted even to creatures...God's immediate provision over everything does not exclude the action of secondary causes; which are the executors of His order, as was said above (19, 5, 8).[ST Part 1, Question 22, Article 3]

Second, Koukl has previously said that he believes theistic evolution is incoherent. Witness:

Theistic evolution means design by chance. That’s like a square circle--there is no such thing. Blending Darwinian evolution with creation is like putting a square peg in a round hole. It just doesn’t fit (from http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5653)

If theistic evolution is incoherent, however, then it is necessarily false, and therefore incompatible with everything, including Christianity. Why, then, is Koukl now hinting toward the direction that theistic evolution is consistent with Christianity? Witness:

There is the view that these micro-changes can be added up over a long period of time to get big giant changes, and that is called macroevolution or the general theory of evolution, and it’s probably what most people have in mind when they say, “Is Darwinism or evolution consistent with Christianity?” It’s the descent with modification thesis; it’s the neo-Darwinian thesis, genetic modification acted upon by the environment and natural selection that produces all the changes that we see in the Darwinian tree. Now, my response to that is, I don’t think that model is actually true, but just because it’s false doesn’t mean that the ideas are necessarily inconsistent with Christianity.

Maybe Koukl doesn’t know that if something is incoherent then it is incompatible with everything. That should be pretty clear, however, since if something is incoherent, then it can’t possibly be true, and so the conjunction of it with anything you please also can’t possibly be true.

I actually agree with Malebranche on this. To claim that natural processes must have "gaps" in order to fit God in is in fact to diminish omnipotence, as Aquinas implies in the quote above.

About two years ago I published a piece in the St. Thomas Journal of Law & Public Policy, "How to Be An Anti-Intelligent Design Advocate," in which I distinguish the ID view of natural design and the classical Thomistic view of design. The former is really the consequence of accepting a mechanistic philosophy of nature inherited from the Enlightenment. Although it is certainly not wrong to suggest arguments within that paradigm--as Paley did--it is, I believe, granting naturalism far too much. To read my article, just click my name.

Dr. Beckwith,

Thanks for the link to the article. Folks also might be interested in the following article, where Michael Murray draws interesting parallels between the current disputes between theistic evolutionists and ID folks and the disputes between Leibniz and Newton in the early 18th century.

http://commonsenseatheism.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/Murray-Natural-Providence-Reply-to-Dembski.pdf

Koukl certainly isn’t the first Christian to insist on introducing miracles into the system of nature in order to give God a hand in things. In his Opticks, Newton suggested that the motions of the planets would increase in irregularity until “the system wants a reformation.” Leibniz apparently understood Newton to be suggesting that God must periodically restore our solar system to order via miraculous intervention. Instead of joining the chorus of those eager to slap God into whatever we currently have no naturalistic explanation for, Leibniz wrote this:

Sir Isaac Newton and his followers also have a very odd opinion concerning the work of God. According to them, God Almighty needs to wind up his watch from time to time, otherwise it would cease to move. He had not, it seems, sufficient foresight to make it a perpetual motion. No, the machine of God’s making is so imperfect, according to these gentlemen, that he is obliged to clean it now and then by an extraordinary concourse, and even to mend it, as a clockmaker mends his work, who must consequently be so much the more unskillful a workman as he is more often obliged to mend his work and to set it right…I hold that when God works miracles, he does not do it in order to supply the wants of nature, but those of grace. Whoever thinks otherwise must needs have a very mean notion of the wisdom of power of God.

Samuel Clarke responded to these remarks with the same basic mistake Koukl makes above. Clarke claimed that Leibniz had no room for God’s providence or governance in nature. With far greater care and insight than is to be found in Clarke’s objection, Leibniz replied,

I do not say the material world is a machine or watch that goes without God’s interposition, and I have sufficiently insisted that creatures need his continual influence. But I maintain it to be a watch that goes without needing to be mended by him; otherwise we must say that God revises himself. No, God has foreseen everything. He has provided a remedy for everything beforehand. There is in his works a harmony, a beauty, already pre-established. This opinion does not exclude God’s providence or his government of the world; on the contrary, it makes it perfect. A true providence of God requires a perfect foresight. But then it requires, moreover, not only that he should have foreseen everything but also that he should have provided for everything beforehand with proper remedies.

Leibniz may have overstated a few things in this passage, but the point is clear and firmly entrenched in the Christian tradition: God is not so incompetent as to have to resort to miraculous tinkering in order to accomplish his ends.

I'll offer a simpleton's approach:

Any Christian would confirm the Creator is the source of all things -- all things material, all things logical, all things relational. Included in "all things", by definition, are the tools and processes of creation, including evolution, micro or macro.

So to say that we, the observers, are heretical when we observe the Creator using the tools of creation is nonsensical. Why deny the Creator the tools of his creation?

When we marvel at a finely crafted piece of furniture and note the cleverness of the tools that were used in its assembly, we do no harm to the skill and creativity of the carpenter who made it.

Oh good, Malebranche bagged his heretic already. Whew.
Love the language, Malebranche, you are a shining of example of the love you proclaim. Not.

1) Intelligent Design does not posit a tinkerer.
2) Intelligent Design does not require "gaps" in order to fit God in.
3) All it posits is a situation in which the hallmarks of design (a mind-product) are evident in the creation and development of the natural world.
4) It does not put design at odds with Providence, omnipotence or secondary causes.
5) Intelligent Design suggests that design can be implemented through secondary causes just as Aquinas allows that miracles can occur through secondary causes.
6) when it talks of "chance" and "nature" in opposition to design it does so on the presumption that these terms are being used outside of the Christian understanding of Providence.

Sadly, I can not run the video far enough to get to the real point (Imago Dei) and so am only responding to the comments above which, typically, do not allow for any subtlety or deep thinking on the part of those chosen as opponents.

BTW,
Since Thomas Aquinas is a favourite source on this topic, I ought to point out, Malebranche, that he not only believed in predestination but that God, in His omniscience and sovereignty, predestins the reprobate to Hell.

At one point Greg notes that theistic evolution is untenable if all it does is marry God to a naturalistic process that would run fine on its own without God.

I agree with this. I agree with it in the same way that I agree that any view is untenable if it marries God to a contradiction. There is no such a thing as a naturalistic process that can run fine on its own without God. There can be no such a thing, any more than there can be a round square or a married bachelor.

The laws of nature are nothing more than the patterns that God has freely chosen for the succession of ideas in the minds He creates. There is no necessity to them apart from the fact that they are decreed by Almighty God. By this definition, natural processes, i.e. process that proceed according to natural law, are simply processes that proceed according to the will of God. Natural processes can't run fine on their own without God.

With that said, there is a big caveat even about theories of theistic evolution that avoid this incoherency (which is, I suspect, all of them). This caveat, I think, is generally overlooked by the proponents of those theories. To wit, whatever view you come up with, if it's to be compatible with Christianity, it is going to have to allow for a particular fall of a singular first man. Otherwise the particular salvation bought by Christ cannot exist as the NT authors describe it: as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive. The work of Christ is inextricably linked to the fall of an individual man: Adam.

Given this particular fall, there is another point also worth bringing up. That is that the perfect Eden home of that first representative of humanity seems to be at odds with a world ruled by the struggle against death and against competing species for survival. Indeed, the world there described seems to be at odds with the very tendency of all things to fall into chaos. It is the Fall that resulted in a world that was subjected to frustration and enslaved to corruption. That was not the way things started.

It seems that evolution, if it exists at all, came about after and because of the Fall. So it could not have been what gave rise to humanity in the first place.

So that's the challenge theistic evolutionists face.

I discount evolution because it isn't a very good scientific theory.

The October 2011 issue of Scientific American had this comment: "looking at life on Earth ... we have no way to decide whether the similarities [such as the use of DNA and proteins] reflect common ancestry or the needs of life universally". (Steven Benner of the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution in Gainesville, Florida.

This bit of refreshing honesty is from, of course, someone working in the hard sciences, a chemist. Most evolutionary hard liners come from the non experimental "sciences" and the ranks of educators and journalists.

Wisdom Lover

"Natural processes can't run fine on their own without God."
So does God regulalrly intervene to change natural laws and processes?

Wisdomlover,

I am curious about your statement: "There is no such a thing as a naturalistic process that can run fine on its own without God."

Do you feel that God is constantly making everything happen with application of His power and attention? Is He constantly deciding what to do with every tiny aspect of creation?

Could you explain what you meant by your statement?

Dr. Beckwith,

That was a clever article, thanks for the link.

I think WisdomLover is correct here. Malebranche brings up a good point that God most often uses second causes, but fails to appreciate the presuppositional incoherence of naturalism and its incompatability with revelatory epistemology. That is not to say that the scriptures are exhaustive in the details of creation, but that the details of creation revealed are themselves foundational for our understanding of the nature of God.

When God reveals Himself, He always does this as a first cause. Apparent second-causal revelation in scripture always refers back to some first-cause activity. Even Christ, whose incarnation was a first cause, marked His ministry with first-cause signs. The Apostles were given first-cause signs to mark their revelatory calling and even Paul refers back to first-cause activity in the Law of Moses.

So the Biblical creation account, while it only gives us some details, is sufficient to doubt any naturalistic take on the genesis of the known universe and particularly life on Earth.

Physics-

Please explain what you mean by this strange term "natural law"

Cog-

Of course He is. Nothing is outside of His control. If God weren't contantly maintaining the universe it would lapse into non-being. And if there were some small part of it that He should not maintain, it would lapse into non-being.

Put another way, the law is the law because, and only because, He enforces it.

Daron writes:

"2) Intelligent Design does not require "gaps" in order to fit God in.
3) All it posits is a situation in which the hallmarks of design (a mind-product) are evident in the creation and development of the natural world....
6) when it talks of "chance" and "nature" in opposition to design it does so on the presumption that these terms are being used outside of the Christian understanding of Providence."

Here's the problem, Daron. #2 seems inconsistent with #6. Remember, in order to establish design--according to the Behe/Dembski model--one must first eliminate law and chance as options for accounting for the phenomenon in question. In other words, a condition for the design inference is a gap in the ordinary workings of nature. There's no getting around that, if you take the BD model seriously. Secondly, ID is often presented as a response to the materialism of Dawkins, Dennett, et al., the "new atheists." Consequently, any gap that closes--one that initially seemed congenial to a design inference but we later find out is best accounted for by chance and/or law--is a defeater to ID and thus positive evidence for the New Atheists. To then assert that we are suggesting chance and law as contrary to design "on the presumption that these terms are being used outside of the Christian understanding of Providence" smacks of special pleading. You are--whether you realize it or not--providing fodder for atheism and setting up your fellow Christians for intellectual disappointment. Do you actually think that anyone is going to find it remotely plausible that the defeat of naturalism rests on ID, but in case it doesn't work, theism defeats naturalism by some meta-understanding of Providence? You can't put all your eggs in one basket and then say that you are satisfied with the omelet you are served minutes later.

Wisdom Lover, are you under the impression that God created a system that needs his constant intervention or it will collapse? Is God not capable of creating a universe good enough to not collapse if he doesn't interfere?

Am I understanding your view correctly?

A fertilized egg becomes an adult human being.

Does this require divine intervention as well?

Suppose the egg and the sperm were built in a lab?

RonH

"Am I understanding your view correctly?"

Heb 1:3 He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.

Act 17:24 "The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands;
Act 17:25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things;
Act 17:26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation,
Act 17:27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;
Act 17:28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are His children.'

Jer. 31:35 "Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name:"

Matt. 10:29"Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father."

There are many more supporting proofs of this truth.

M.M.-

You ask:

Is God not capable of creating a universe good enough to not collapse if he doesn't interfere?(emphasis mine)

I'm not sure why you would think that the 'ability' to exist without the sustainer of all existence would count as a good (or 'good enough') thing. It sounds more like a contradiction to me.

And no, I do not think God is 'able' to work a contradiction. Though I'm more inclined to follow C.S. Lewis in the way to express this 'limitation'. Putting "God can" in front of nonsense doesn't transform the nonsense into sense.

Ron-

Without the 'intervention' of God, there would be no lab in which to make the egg and the sperm.

This use of the word "intervention" is odd. It as if there were some system that is just chugging along without God that He interferes with.

It makes sense to talk about me intervening in something. There are all sorts of processes and chains of events that proceed without me. I can interfere in them and therefore be said to intervene.

But there is not the slightest speck of existence that does not depend entirely on the ongoing maintenance of Almighty God. Nothing that God does can properly be called intervention. Whatever happens happens because God makes it so. There's no intervention about it.

According to Calvin in his Commentary on Hebrews 1:3, the universe became visible with the creation as we know it.

I interpret this to POSSIBLY mean that even if the universe is billions of light years old, it matters not. It took on matter, revealing what was already here, living, dead, ancient or otherwise. And in harmony with the Genesis Creation account. That is, becoming visible with the creation of matter 6-10 thousand years ago.

Teleology could be thought of as constant intervention build into a process involving material causes.

Could a factory make a book without the author's constant intervention? Some would argue, yes, just flip the switch and it starts producing books without the author even being alive. But I would argue that the author is guiding the process all the way via the software system - which is an extension of the author's teleology.

The gathering of the raw materials and the building of the book factory is also an example of constant intervention by the author.

Cog,

Read again and see if you have not misunderstood Benner.

RonH

WL,

What evidence do you have for your view of natural processes?

RonH

Hi Dr. Beckwith,
I admire your work and witness a great deal, but I don't think you give ID proponents a fair shake nor interpret them in the best light possible.
If you take Behe seriously, as you admonish, then you take seriously his claim that, however he personally believes design was instantiated, it is entirely possible on his accounting that it was all inputted at the inception of the universe. As theistic evolutionists, including those of the ASA, are fond of saying that God fine-tuned the constants and conditions at the beginning, so does Behe think that events were also fine-tuned. And that when these events play out, and result in such observable phenomena as irreducible complexity and rare-protein binding sites, then conscious planning is at work.
This is no more special pleading than is the Catholic idea that miracles are compatible with secondary causes.

""In other words, a condition for the design inference is a gap in the ordinary workings of nature. ""

The condition for the inference is a phenomena that does not appear to be the product of a random walk through the possibilities. This does require that when we talk of randomness and chance we mean actual randomness and actual chance; not, rather, something that might appear random to our limited view but is actually planned out. This is the chance that is being discussed. When Behe says that natural selection can't account for a feature if the feature is not selectable this is not gap-thinking, but strict logic. When he says, correctly or not, that the mutations would not be expected to occur time and again, in the proper order, or at the same time, if they were all equally as likely he is not talking about gaps but straight statistics. If there is a bias in such changes toward functionality then that points toward foresight, not blind, purposeless events. The metaphysical baggage of blindness and purposelessness are the claims his project addresses.

Do you actually think that anyone is going to find it remotely plausible that the defeat of naturalism rests on ID, but in case it doesn't work, theism defeats naturalism by some meta-understanding of Providence? You can't put all your eggs in one basket and then say that you are satisfied with the omelet you are served minutes later.

And this is precisely what I don't appreciate in your tack, or that of other theistic evolutionists, when criticizing ID. Nobody is putting all their eggs in one basket and it is very hard to see how someone could come to this conclusion. This is merely one more defeater for materialists who rely on an argument, supposedly from science (but not), to dismiss design (or, in this case, God). Behe, for instance, was an orthodox Christian believer before he ever started to doubt the Darwinian claims. His eggs are not in the ID basket.

The argument from design is no more one basket than is the cosmological argument, the moral argument, the transcendental argument, the argument from the Resurrection, the numinous, etc. Some might think these arguments are all weak and point in the wrong direction, some might not be convinced at all, and some might find that one or another of them removes false stumbling-blocks to belief. This is the case for all arguments and all apologetics, not just the teleological argument.

Neither is it the case that when Behe or Dembski or Meyer find that design is the best inference for the cause of a phenomena that they have outlawed Providence or design for all other aspects of Creation. What they claim is that, by these tools, design has been implicated in a given situation. This says nothing about whether or not God has planned every event or whether or not He is upholding the universe moment by moment. This is the equivalent of answering the charge 'there is nothing alive in this solution' by showing with a microscope that there are living creatures - it says nothing about whether or not even more examples of life could be found with another tool or a higher resolution. All other tools are still available and all other baskets are allowed to hold their eggs. This is just one basket and holds just the appropriate eggs.

"I actually agree with Malebranche on this.

Sounds a little like some kind of apology, like even a broken clock is right some times. ;~)

Also, I thought this:

Please explain what you mean by this strange term "natural law"

from WL was pretty funny.

Ambassadors,

I think Physics is referring to physical law.

dave,

A light year is the distance light travels in a year; it is a unit of distance not time.

The age of the universe is 14 billion years.

RonH

Daron,

When Behe says that natural selection can't account for a feature if the feature is not selectable this is not gap-thinking, but strict logic.

What do you mean "not selectable"?

RonH

Oh hey, RonH,
Not selectable = provides no reproductive advantage to the organism.
If there is nothing to select there is no natural selection.

Ok, so by 'strict logic' you could mean 'useless tautology'.

But you probaby don't.

So what do you mean? Is it something other than his basic IC?

(signing off for the "night")
RonH

The argument is not one of definitions but of demonstrations. If the materialist claims that a feature can be built up step by step but can't demonstrate the selectability of the steps then he has no argument from Natural Selection. This is a logical fact and is step one of Behe's project.
When people are misled into believing that all or most complex features can be built up this way it is useful to demonstrate the actual truth - that the steps are not selectable and the materialist's secret weapon - the ratchet of natural selection - is impotent. Behe merely brings these facts to light - and to do so is not to argue from gaps.

Here's what your Wikipedia article says of physical law Ron:

Physical laws are typically conclusions based on repeated scientific experiments and observations over many years and which have become accepted universally within the scientific community.
This is quite a nice definition of physical law in the absence of a law enforcer. What this definition means is simply this. We see the constant conjunction of events and we come to expect one event, that we call the cause, to follow the other event, that we call the effect. And that's all

What this means is that the idea of explaining something as happening by physical law is really quite nonsensical. Physical law, so understood, has no necessity whatsoever. The relation from cause to effect is nothing more than an expression of what we have come to expect.

When you abstract an enforcer of natural law from said law all you are expressing by the law is a hunch. I'm sorry to say that hunches explain nothing. And hunches cause nothing to come to pass.

My main evidence for my view of natural processes is that I've never seen any other view coherently presented.

All the things we refer to as natural. All our talk about the nature or essence of things seems to boil down to just this: an expression of how God freely chooses and ensures that things shall behave.

Very good comments again, WL.

Thanks Daron.

One proofreading error though.

Where I said this

We see the constant conjunction of events and we come to expect one event, that we call the cause, to follow the other event, that we call the effect.
I obviously should have said this
We see the constant conjunction of events and we come to expect one event, that we call the cause, to be followed by the other event, that we call the effect.
I did mean to criticize the abstracted notion of law as modally weak (a well-worn Humean charge). I did not mean to say that it inverted the order of cause and effect (which would be a ridiculous charge).

Thanks Daron,

So what would be an example of a feature being not selectable?

RonH

You're welcome, RonH,
Something like a rotor and motor with no flagellum.
Speaking of which, are you just spinning your wheels or do you have something to say about my argument?

This one's been on my mind for years. This seems as good a place as any to share it, regarding the presumed fallacy of gaps reasoning:
http://www.newdualism.org/papers/R.Larmer/Gaps.htm

Daron,

The rotor is part of the motor, but I think see what you mean.

You have identified a particular evolutionary state out of which
the system couldn't evolve, namely...

All the parts minus one are present and in their final form. By inspection, we can see the system doesn't work.
This is Behe's standard IC right? Usually stated as: Remove one part and the system fails to function.

Is that right?

RonH


Daron,
Re: your link discussing gap reasoning.

That's why I like to talk about what we know thus far and to ask for reasons why we should think something is true. I do this when discussing the creation of new life as it relates to God.

We know via demonstration that every new life requires that a life of some kind already in existence must be involved in the process of creating it. When someone claims that the naturalistic theory is true - that the first created life came from non-life - I ask for reasons why anyone should think that is true. There are no reasons, just imagined possibilities. Even the argument that there was no life around at the time is a question-begging assertion. This hasn't been demonstrated. It's imagined.

So while this doesn't prove that God exists, it does demonstrate that, currently, there is no reason to think that the naturalistic theory is true.

SteveK,

Prions, viruses, plasmids. Are these alive? The boundary between life and non-life is not sharp - even today.

RonH

RonH,

Prions, viruses, plasmids. Are these alive? The boundary between life and non-life is not sharp - even today.

The term can be slippery. That's why I said "life of some kind". Some of these examples ought to be put in the "I don't know" category. If we stick with what we do know, my comment above is accurate.

Close enough, RonH. But I'm not about to explore all of Darwin's Black Box with you one quippy question at a time or revisit 12 years and an internet's worth of back and forth. If you have something relevant to say let's hear it. Otherwise, my argument was addressing the false notion that ID proponents are heretics creating false notions of God and boxing His activity into unexplained scientific gaps.

Good points, SteveK.
The arguments are based upon what we do know.

RonH,
Why do you insist on running headlong into every tree instead of ever making it into the forest?
Since you continually laud your ability to reason and deal with arguments why don't you ever, just once, get a point? Monkeying around the fringes all the time will get you nowhere.

Why do you insist on running headlong into every tree instead of ever making it into the forest?

Great visual, Daron. Can't get past the fringe.

Daron,

Ok, so far we've established the idea of a state that evolution can't pass through.

What's next?

Paraphrasing Behe

Remove one part and the system fails to function.
...in other words, the penultimate evolutionary state was...
All parts, minus one, are present in their final state.

We're talking about a thought experiment that involves reversing evolution.

But clearly, if we simulate reversing evolution and look at those possible penultimate states, we have more choices than to remove an entire 'part'.

These 'parts' are long proteins - 100's or thousands of amino acids long. There are many options for each 'part' besides entirely removing it: insertions, substitutions, deletions.

So, Behe eliminates a small number of possibilities - the ones that consist of removing an entire 'part'. Assuming there are 40 'parts', there are 40 such possible final mutations.

But the real number of possibilities he needs to eliminate is, perhaps, in the 10's of thousands. Many (most?) of these possibilities, I think you'll agree, leave the system working. Many, in fact, leave it functionally unchanged. Behe doesn't account for these; he just pretends they don't exist.

Remember: Behe sets out to prove that the system could not evolve. To do that he needs to eliminate all the possibilities - not just a tiny fraction that clearly don't work.

So 40 down, 4 to 40,000 to go.

And that's just for the last mutation. The mutation before that will be just about exactly as much work.

RonH

If Behe takes this project seriously and starts working backwards through all the billions and billions of possible evolutionary branches... and if he lives long enough... he'll probably meet up with a type 2 or type 3 secretion system.

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