25 November 2010

Michael Behe in Belfast

I had other plans, so didn't go to hear Michael Behe, the "Intelligent Design Theorist" speak at a church in Belfast last night. If you recall, Mike is the chap whose blithe assertions that evolutionary theory could not explain "irreducible complexity" caused such mirth at the 2005 Kitzmiller trial in the USA. He lost the battle in 2005, and the whole comcept of irreducible complexity as a barrier to evolution has been repeatedly and comprehensively debunked - evolution is a complexity generating algorithm, you could say - irreducible complexity is an expected outcome of the process. More recently Mike has been touting the notion that certain multiple changes in genes need to occur simultaneously to avoid the immediate death of an organism, but likewise, not only has he not made his case, he appears unable or unwilling to explain how standard evolutionary theory has a problem with these - instead, like other religious apologists for "Intelligent Design", he prefers a straw man version of evolution lifted pretty much straight out of creationist apologetic tracts.

Still, it's interesting to note that a Catholic who accepts the Earth is 4.67 billion years old and that humans and chimps do in fact have a common ancestor has been invited to preach at the Crescent Church in Belfast. Time was when such a phenomenon would have been regarded as impossible. Maybe miracles do happen.

So did anyone go to hear him? Has he changed his tune? Has he any actual goods this time?


  1. Here is a response from some members of the British Centre for Science Education: http://www.bcseweb.org.uk/index.php/Main/MichaelBeheInBritain

  2. And as if that is not enough, Will Crawley from the BBC has a short interview with Mike Behe on BBC iPlayer. It'll expire soon, but I think it will remain available on iTunes: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00vmszk#synopsis - FF through to about 1:06.

    The problem remains that Behe still makes the same mistake - irreducible complexity is not the same as unevolvable complexity. The modern neodarwinian synthesis remains intact.

  3. I thought Will did very well in that interview.

  4. I haven't heard great reports re: the Crescent. At one point he used the argument "If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck..."

    Which is exactly what is being disputed!

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