First Review of Darwin Devolves Relies Heavily on Circular Reasoning
The authors argue that many of the traits found in life give evidence that they are the product of evolutionary processes having dramatically altered ancestral precursors. How do the authors come to this conclusion? First, they assume that all biological features are the result of undirected processes transforming features in ancestral organisms. Second, they identify some remarkable trait in life, such as the auditory ossicles in mammals. Then, they explain its origin through evolution without providing any substantive details. Finally, they use the “fact” that evolution formed the new trait as evidence for its unlimited creative power.
This line of argumentation only appears compelling to those who assume from that start that the core assumptions of the standard evolutionary model are true.
Behe also ignores the fact that some of his prior arguments have been dismantled (2). He includes a lengthy appendix that argues that the blood-clotting cascade is irreducibly complex, for example, but fails to mention Kenneth Miller’s simple, elegant scheme for its stepwise evolution (3) or the fact that a progenitor fibrinogen gene has been discovered in echinoderms (4).
Behe doubles down on his claim that the evolution of chloroquine resistance in malaria by random mutations is exceedingly unlikely because at least two mutations are required, neither of which is beneficial without the other. His calculations have already been refuted (5), and it has long been known that neutral and even deleterious mutations can provide stepping stones to future adaptations. Indeed, a 2014 study, unmentioned by Behe, reported discovery of two genetic paths through which malaria has evolved chloroquine resistance through multiple steps (6).
The references cited are:
3. K. R. Miller, in Philosophy of Biology: An Anthology, A. Rosenberg, R. Arp, Eds. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2004), pp. 439–449.
4. X. Xu, R. F. Doolittle, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 87, 2097 (1990).
5. R. Durrett, D. Schmidt, Genetics 181, 821 (2009).
6. R. L. Summers et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 111, E1759 (2014).