Darwin’s new clothes — the story of Michael Behe

Monday Musings for June 15, 2020

Good morning, Musers,

Hans Christian Anderson wrote a story for the ages — The Emperor’s New Clothes. The hero was a young boy who evaluated the data and spoke the truth — in spite of the minister who through moral weakness decided to lie — in spite of the trusted official who lied to keep his job — and in spite of the emperor and a band of “chosen men,” who decided secretly and individually to lie collectively about the garments. When the emperor walked by in royal procession, the boy took one look and said “... But he isn't wearing anything at all!" Michael Behe is that boy.

Michael Behe is a professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Why do I want to give him the Emperor’s New Clothes award? Because — in spite of the life-sciences’ overcommitment to Darwinism — in spite of the fact that universities have refused people tenure for revealing even a hint of intelligent design sympathy in their research — and in spite of the fact that he would be a pariah in life-studies circles from the day he challenged Darwin, Behe called it like he saw it: Darwinian evolution cannot account for the irreducibly complex machines found in our cells.

Why does this conclusion — based on observations that any of Behe’s peers can duplicate (and which even a lay observer can see is reasonable) — cause such a stir in academia? Irreducible complexity speaks to design, design speaks to a mind, a mind speaks to purpose... and the main tenets of Darwinism are that evolution has no mind behind it and no target in front of it.

When evolutionists use the term “random mutations, ” they are not saying that processes involved are mathematically random; they are saying that they are undirected... and “undirected” is the hill that academia is willing to die upon — and well it might.

How do they explain these little machines in our bodies? ... the ones that need all their parts to work or else they won’t work at all? Such machines could not have come about by the sequential processes that are assumed to be the basic drivers of evolution between species. The academy has agreed to lie... secretly, individually and collectively... like the emperor and his entourage.

When Behe was doing post-doc work, he started noticing the “design” features in our cells and assumed that, because he was a newbie, people out there somewhere had already addressed these threats to the foundations of Darwinism. He, like everyone else who is trying to make progress in life, kept his head down, did his work... and assumed that the academy had proven the foundations of Darwinism. But it hadn’t. Enter Michael Denton.

Behe read Michael Denton’s book, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, and found he was not alone in his misgivings on Darwinism. Denton has a medical degree as well as a Ph.D. in biochemistry. He is an extraordinarily qualified scientist. But he’s a religious agnostic, so he has no metaphysical axes to grind. He saw the holes in Darwinism because they were there... not because they supported theism.

Denton put himself in the ID (Intelligent Design) doghouse with this book back in 1985, and Behe has joined him there. Will the academy ever let them out? Andersen doesn’t think so.

“The Emperor shivered, for he suspected they were right. But he thought, ‘This procession has got to go on.’ So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn't there at all.”

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