…the overwhelmingly important point to notice right up front is that the reviewers (Lenski plus Josh Swamidass over at Peaceful Science and John Jay College biologist Nathan Lents) have absolutely no response to the very central argument of the book. The argument that I summarized as an epigraph on the first page of the book so no one could miss it. The one that I included in the title of a 2010 Quarterly Review of Biology article upon which the book is based. The one for which I chose the most in-your-face moniker that I could think of (consistent with the professional literature) to goad a response: The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution: Break or blunt any gene whose loss would increase the number of offspring. The rule summarizes the fact that the overwhelming tendency of random mutation is to degrade genes, and that very often is helpful. Thus natural selection itself acts as a powerful de-volutionary force, increasing helpful broken and degraded genes in the population.
And they had no response! That’s because there is in fact nothing that can alleviate that fatal flaw in Darwinism.
So the central claim of his book is that sometimes, gene loss can be adaptive, something that no competent evolutionary biologist would consider a remarkable claim. Of course, they would disagree with his implication that that is the only process allowed or that no mutation could increase complexity or that novel functions can not increase the fitness of an individual. Contrary to Behe’s laughable claim that Lents, Swamidass, and Lenski had no response to his central tenet, they did: they pointed out that he ignores the various ways evolution proceeds (it’s not just by “breaking” genes), and that he runs away from the evidence of clear examples of mutations that increase complexity.
Behe is skeptical that gene duplication followed by random mutation and selection can contribute to evolutionary innovation. Yet there is overwhelming evidence that this underlies trichromatic vision in primates, olfaction in mammals, and developmental innovations in all metazoans through the diversification of HOX genes. And in 2012, Andersson et al. showed that new functions can rapidly evolve in a suitable environment. Behe acknowledges none of these studies, declaring an absence of evidence for the role of duplications in innovation.
Because they politely pointed out instances where his
First Rule of Adaptive Evolution falls flat on its face without explicitly saying it’s wrong by name, Behe thinks they didn’t respond to it — I guess he needs it said literally. So here, I’ll help, I’m not very polite. Behe’s
First Rule of Adaptive Evolution is stupid and wrong, isn’t a real rule, and we have multiple examples that refute it, which Behe doesn’t comprehend, because he’s an ignoramus about evolution.