Thursday, November 08, 2007

Joan Roughgarden reviews The Edge of Evolution for The Christian Century. Once again, she suggests that Behe has missed the boat. Her criticism is similar to that of Kenneth Miller's, who argued that, in the vein of William Dembski, Behe demands that his beneficial mutations appear simultaneously and fully functional. As did Miller, Dr. Roughgarden (who has a Ph.D from Harvard and teaches biology at Stanford) argues that this is not how evolution works. Evolution

In her point by point summary of the good aspects of the book, she suggests something that has been absent from the the discussion:

Third, Behe has introduced a glimmer of an idea of how to test the ID theory by arguing that the moments in history when the higher organisms (according to the Linnaean classification system) originated were marked by bursts of nonrandom mutation. This is an empirical claim that can be tested, although not easily. (Discovering that the emergence of higher organisms coincides with anomalous bursts of directed mutation would support the ID position without falsifying Darwinism, because Darwinism takes no position on what causes the variations on which natural selection acts.)

She also suggests that the focus of the debate is off-kilter:

At this point, one might wonder what all the fuss is about. If Behe is not claiming either divine intervention or miracles, then the dispute between ID and Darwinism comes down to arguing about genetic details of interest mainly to professional biologists. I'd like to think that The Edge of Evolution marks the beginning of a midcourse correction for ID proponents. If so, I welcome it.

I do, as well.

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