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Michael Behe  William Jennings Bryan

Francis Bacon  (1561–1626)  Web  Amazon  GBS

A little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion.

For God, on the first day, only created light, and assigned a whole day to that work, without creating any material substance thereon.    Novum Organum  section 70

But any one who properly considers the subject, will find natural philosophy to be, after the word of God, the surest remedy against superstition, and the most approved support of faith. She is therefore rightly bestowed upon religion as a most faithful attendant, for the one exhibits the will and the other the power of God. Nor was he wrong who observed, "Ye err, not knowing the Scriptures and the power of God;" thus uniting in one bond the revelation of his will, and the contemplation of his power.    Novum Organum  section 89

Let us begin from God, and show that our pursuit from its exceeding goodness clearly proceeds from him, the Author of good and Father of light.    Novum Organum  section 93 


James Barr  (1924–2006)  Regius Professor of Hebrew at Christ Church, Oxford  Web  Amazon  GBS

Probably, so far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Genesis 1-11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that (a) creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience; . . . Or, to put it negatively, the apologetic arguments which suppose the "days" of creation to be long eras of time, the figures of years not to be chronological, and the flood to be a merely local Mesopotamian flood, are not taken seriously by any such professors, as far as I know.    letter to David Watson  April 23 1984

But the same point, the unity of the poem, could be understood, and has been understood, in the very opposite sense: namely, God makes himself known in two complementary ways, first through the great works of creation which control the world, and secondly through his special communication exemplified here by his law. The two channels of natural and revealed theology are here very properly to be seen. It is not surprising that the Psalm was seen as a fine manifestation of their complementarity, as was traditional in the older Christianity.    Biblical Faith and Natural Theology  (1993)  Chapter 5.2  p.87

I do not have any starting-point within the tradition of natural theology. In principle, my starting-point is rather against it. To me the arguments of natural theology are not a congenial field. Even if natural theology should be a valid mode of procedure, I doubt if I would find it easy to practice it. In this respect, I share many of the doubts and objections that modern theologians have voiced against the whole idea of it. ... What I do find, after a long period of struggling with the problems, is that the Bible does imply something like natural theology and makes it impossible for us to avoid the issues that it involves.    Biblical Faith and Natural Theology  (1993)  Chapter 6.1  p.102-3

The God of Israel alone had power, other gods were nonentities who could not do anything; Yahweh alone had created the world and guided what went on within it.     Biblical Faith and Natural Theology  (1993)  Chapter 7  p.142

Once again we see: natural theology is supported by the Bible, may be made to combine with the Bible, but is also an aspect of the cultural limitedness of the Bible. The Bible, especially the Old Testament, built upon the Near Eastern cultural patterns of the Semitic-speaking peoples. It knew nothing about the way in which the world had actually originated or how the earliest human beings had lived.    Biblical Faith and Natural Theology  (1993)  Chapter 7  p.154-5

More might be made, perhaps, of the creation story of Genesis itself. For generations people have become accustomed to say that the first chapter of Genesis did not purport to be a scientific account of the origins of the world, and this was an understandable apologetic response to the fact that the account is not scientifically true. But to say that Genesis does not purport to be scientific may be a mistaken sort of apologetic argument. In its own context and purpose, for the people who elaborated it and composed it, it was a sort of scientific account. Something akin to the thinking of Mesopotamian list science may have lain behind it, and this, with the implication of transreligious and transcultural understanding, lends a certain tinge of natural theology. The writers of Genesis meant it as a cosmological organization of the world, in which a place and role are given for the great outer elements, light and dark, sky, earth, and sea, sun, moon, and stars, and also for the closer, inner environment, vegetable and animal, and finally for humanity at the centre of it all. Its seven days, linked by the subsequent genealogies with the chronology which runs down through the following centuries, deliberately inaugurate the exact temporal and calendrical framework for later history. To us none of this constitutes a science; it is closer to legend or mythology. But to them it was as close as they could come to a sort of science. However, none of the base on which it was worked out was scientific. They had no means of knowing how the world had begun, no means of experimentation, no methods of research other than the most obvious human experience. Their view of the world rested on religious tradition, both without and within Israel, and on the refashioning of these traditions in order to fit with the monotheistic deity of Israel. And thus, though, as we have seen, the Israelite doctrine of creation was one of the major influences out of which natural theology was to come, nothing worthy of the name of science was involved in the evolution of that doctrine or in its exposition.     Biblical Faith and Natural Theology  (1993)  Chapter 9.1  p.175-6

The failure, as it was supposed to be, of the quest for the historical Jesus left the impression that Jesus could not be accounted for as a historical person.    Biblical Faith and Natural Theology  (1993)  Chapter 9.3  p.194

Some people said that the Jews were newcomers on the scene of world history and therefore had no status within civilization such as the Greeks had. Not at all, wrote the Jewish historian Josephus: the Jews have been here all the time and, unlike the Greeks, who have a lot of different and contradictory books, the Jews have one precise and unified history, one single narrative that goes back to the creation of the world about five thousand years before. The central point was the one book that gave a clear, or fairly clear, sequence in years from the absolute creation of the world down into later history.    “Pre-scientific Chronology: The Bible and the Origin of the World” (1999)

see also: Biblical Chronology


Basil  (329–79)  Web  Bishop of Caesarea 

And the evening and the morning were one day. Why does Scripture say "one day" not "the first day"? Before speaking to us of the second, the third, and the fourth days, would it not have been more natural to call that one the first which began the series? If it therefore says "one day," it is from a wish to determine the measure of day and night, and to combine the time that they contain. Now twenty-four hours fill up the space of one day--we mean of a day and of a night; and if, at the time of the solstices, they have not both an equal length, the time marked by Scripture does not the less circumscribe their duration. It is as though it said: twenty-four hours measure the space of a day, or that, in reality a day is the time that the heavens starting from one point take to return there. Thus, every time that, in the revolution of the sun, evening and morning occupy the world, their periodical succession never exceeds the space of one day.     Homily II.8

"Let the earth bring forth." This short command was in a moment a vast nature, an elaborate system. Swifter than thought it produced the countless qualities of plants.     Homily V.10

The water had been gathered into the reservoir assigned to it, the earth displayed its productions, it had caused many kinds of herbs to germinate and it was adorned with all kinds of plants. However, the sun and the moon did not yet exist, in order that those who live in ignorance of God may not consider the sun as the origin and the father of light, or as the maker of all that grows out of the earth.     Homily VI.2


Leo Behe  (b. 1990)  Atheist  Web

I would like everyone to realize that he doesn't have any sort of religious agenda and he's not trying to denigrate science in any way.    The Humanist  September 2011  p.34

Michael Behe  (b. 1952)  PhD  Biochemistry  Professor of Biological Sciences at Lehigh University  Web  Blog  Amazon  GBS  AV

By irreducibly complex I mean a single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning. An irreducibly complex system cannot be produced directly (that is, by continuously improving the initial function, which continues to work by the same mechanism) by slight, successive modification of a precursor, system, because any precursors to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional.    Darwin's Black Box  (1996)   p.39

In the abstract, it might be tempting to imagine that irreducible complexity simply requires multiple simultaneous mutations -- that evolution might be far chancier than we thought, but still possible. Such an appeal to brute luck can never be refuted... Luck is metaphysical speculation; scientific explanations invoke causes.    Darwin's Black Box  (1996)   p.40

In the face of the enormous complexity that modern biochemistry has uncovered in the cell, the scientific community is paralyzed. No one at Harvard University, no one at the National Institutes of Health, no member of the National Academy of Sciences, no Nobel prize winner -- no one at all can give a detailed account of how the cilium, or vision, or blood clotting, or any complex biochemical process might have developed in a Darwinian fashion.    Darwin's Black Box  (1996)   p.187

Some proponents see great significance in the fact that they can write short computer programs which display images on the screen that resemble biological objects such as a clam shell. The implication is that it doesn't take much to make a clam. But a biologist or biochemist would want to know, if you opened the computer clam, would you see a pearl inside? If you enlarged the image sufficiently, would you see cilia and ribosomes and mitochondria and intracellular transport systems and all the other systems that real, live organisms need?    Darwin's Black Box  (1996)   p.191

Imagine a room in which a body lies crushed, flat as a pancake. A dozen detectives crawl around, examining the floor with magnifying glasses for any clue to the identity of the perpetrator. In the middle of the room, next to the body, stands a large, gray elephant. The detectives carefully avoid bumping into the pachyderm’s legs as they crawl, and never even glance at it. Over time the detectives get frustrated with their lack of progress but resolutely press on, looking even more closely at the floor. You see, textbooks say detectives must “get their man,” so they never even consider elephants.

There is an elephant in the roomful of scientists who are trying to explain the development of life. The elephant is labeled “intelligent design.” To a person who does not feel obliged to restrict his search to unintelligent causes, the straightforward conclusion is that many biochemical systems were designed.    Darwin's Black Box  (1996)   p.192-3

Coyne complains the book is ‘heavily larded’ with quotations from evolutionists. This leads into his being upset with being quoted himself, as discussed above. That aside, however. I don’t know what to make of this statement. What is a book concerning evolution supposed to contain if not quotes from evolutionists? Quotes from accountants?    "Reply to my critics"  Boston Review  November 1996

The reviewers are not rejecting design because there is scientific evidence against it, or because it violates some principle of logic. Rather, I believe they find design unacceptable because they are uncomfortable with the theological ramifications of the theory. In his essay to the Pontifical  Academy of Science, Pope John Paul II noted that a theory of evolution has two parts, the mechanism and the philosophy attached to that mechanism. Putting it like that, however, makes it sound as if any philosophy can be mixed and matched with any mechanism. But the situation is not really that clear-cut. While Catholics and many other Christians could accommodate the mechanism of Darwin to their theolgy (with the reservation that the course of evolution is not  truly random, but foreordained by God), materialists require something like Darwinism because, ultimately, materialism says that life and intelligence had to arise unaided from brute matter.    Signs of Intelligence  (2001)  p.100

I never wrote that individual parts of an IC system couldn't be used for any other purpose. (That would be silly—who would ever claim that a part of a mousetrap couldn't be used as a paperweight, or a decoration, or a blunt weapon?) Quite the opposite, I clearly wrote in Darwin's Black Box that even if the individual parts had their own functions, that still does not account for the irreducible complexity of the system. In fact, it would most likely exacerbate the problem... Miller's argument is that since a subset of the proteins of the flagellum can have a function of their own, then the flagellum is not IC and Darwinian evolution could produce it. That's it! He doesn't show how natural selection could do so; he doesn't cite experiments showing that such a thing is possible; he doesn't give a theoretical model.    Response to Begley  February 18 2004

Although scientists would love to undertake larger, more comprehensive studies, the scale of the problem is just too big. There aren't nearly enough resources available to a laboratory to perform them.

So, in lieu of definitive laboratory tests, by default most biologists work within a Darwinian framework and simply assume what cannot be demonstrated. Unfortunately, that can lead to the understandable but nonetheless corrosive intellectual habit of forgetting the difference between what is assumed and what demonstrated. Differences between widely varying kinds of organisms are automatically chalked up to random mutation and natural selection by even the most perceptive scientists, and even the most elegant of biological features is reflexively credited to Darwin's theory.    The Edge of Evolution  (2007)  p. 9-10

Thanks to its enormous population size, rate of reproduction, and our knowledge of the genetics, the single best test case of Darwin's theory is the history of malaria. Much of this book will center on this disease. Many parasitic diseases afflict humanity, but historically the greatest bane has been malaria, and it is among the most thoroughly studied. For ten thousand years the mosquito-borne parasite has wreaked illness and death over vast expanses of the globe. Until a century ago humanity was ignorant of the cause of malarial fever, so no conscious defense was possible. The only way to lessen the intense, unyielding selective pressure from the parasite was through the power of random mutation. Hundreds of different mutations that confer a measure of resistance to malaria cropped up in the human genome and spread through our population by natural selection. These mutations have been touted by Darwinists as among the best, clearest examples of the abilities of Darwinian evolution.

And so they are. But, as we'll see, now that the molecular changes underlying malaria resistance have been laid bare, they tell a much different tale than Darwinists expected -- a tale that highlights the incoherent flailing involved in a blind search. Malaria offers some of the best examples of Darwinian evolution, but that evidence points both to what it can, and more important what it cannot, do. Similarly, changes in the human genome, in response to malaria, also point to the radical limits of the efficacy of random mutation.

Because it has been studied so extensively, and because of the astronomical number of organisms involved, the evolutionary struggle between humans and our ancient nemesis malaria is the best, most reliable basis we have for forming judgments about the power of random mutation and natural selection. Few other sources of information even come close. And as we'll see, the few that do tell similar tales.     The Edge of Evolution  (2007)  p. 12-3

The defense of vertebrates from invasion by microscopic predators is the job of the immune system, yet hemoglobin is not part of the immune system. Hemoglobin's main job is a part of the respiratory system, to carry oxygen to tissues. Using hemoglobin to fight off malaria is an act of utter desperation, like using a TV set to plug a hole in the Hoover Dam. Even leaving aside the question of where the dam and TV set came from -- which is no small question -- it must be conceded that this Darwinian process is a tradeoff of least-bad alternatives. The army in its trenches is suffering loss upon loss. No matter which way it turns, in the war fought by random mutation and natural selection, it is losing function, not gaining.     The Edge of Evolution  (2007)  p.29-30

Both sickle and HbC and quintessentially hurtful mutations because they diminish the functioning of the human body. Both induce anemia and other detrimental effects. In happier times they would never gain a foothold in human populations. But in desperate times, when an invasion threatens the city, it can be better in the short run to burn a bridge to keep the enemy out.     The Edge of Evolution  (2007)  p.34-5

Real arms races are run by highly intelligent, bespectacled engineers in glass offices thoughtfully designing shiny weapons on modern computers. But there's no thinking in the mud and cold of nature's trenches. At best, weapons thrown together amidst the explosions and confusion of smoky battlefields are tiny variations on old ones, held together by chewing gum. If they don't work, then something else is thrown at the enemy, including the kitchen sink -- there's nothing "progressive" about that. At its usual worst, trench warfare is fought by attrition. If the enemy can be stopped or slowed by burning your own bridges and bombing your own radio towers and oil refineries, then away they go. Darwinian trench warfare does not lead to progress -- it leads back to the Stone Age.     The Edge of Evolution  (2007)  p.42-3

Is the conclusion that the universe was designed -- and that the design extends deeply into life -- science, philosophy, religion, or what? In a sense it hardly matters. By far the most important question is not what category we place it in, but whether a conclusion is true. A true philosophical or religious conclusion is no less true than a true scientific one. Although universities might divide their faculty and courses into academic categories, reality is not obliged to respect such boundaries.     The Edge of Evolution  (2007)  p.232

The strong appearance of design allows a disarmingly simple argument: if it looks, walks and quacks like a duck, then, absent compelling evidence to the contrary, we have warrant to conclude it's a duck. Design should not be overlooked simply because it's so obvious.    Design for Living  February 7  2005

The most essential prediction of Darwinism is that, given an astronomical number of chances, unintelligent processes can make seemingly-designed systems, ones of the complexity of those found in the cell. ID specifically denies this, predicting that in the absence of intelligent input no such systems would develop. So Darwinism and ID make clear, opposite predictions of what we should find when we examine genetic results from a stupendous number of organisms that are under relentless pressure from natural selection. The recent genetic results are a stringent test. The results: 1) Darwinism’s prediction is falsified; 2) Design’s prediction is confirmed.    Amazon Blog  June 18, 2007

On occasion I receive astonished inquiries from Europeans asking how Americans can allow a judge to rule on what are essentially philosophical matters. Good question -- although it seems some European bureaucracies are getting in on the act now, too.    Amazon Blog  November 2, 2007

The importance of this discussion is that it sets the stage for the whole book by showing that random mutations much more easily debilitate genes than improve them, and that this is true even of the helpful mutations. Let me emphasize, our experience with malaria’s effects on humans (arguably our most highly studied genetic system) shows that most helpful mutations degrade genes. What’s more, as a group the mutations are incoherent, meaning that they are not adding up to some new system. They are just small changes -- mostly degradative -- in pre-existing, unrelated genes. The take-home lesson is that this is certainly not the kind of process we would expect to build the astonishingly elegant machinery of the cell. If random mutation plus selective pressure substantially trashes the human genome, why should we think that it would be a constructive force in the long term? There is no reason to think so.

No Darwinian reviewer of The Edge of Evolution has paused long to ponder the effects of malaria on the human genome. I wonder why.    Amazon Blog  November 2, 2007

One has to dig hard into the data to see that the bacterium is losing genetic info. In press coverage for this paper, he avows a “new dynamic relationship was established” in the bacterium’s evolution, and one has to read the details of the paper to find out that this is due to a degradative mutation that compromises its normal ability to repair its DNA.     New work by Richard Lenski  October 21 2009

As for "no scientific controversy," even a brief excursion into the history of science shows many uncontroversial, widely-accepted theories that were in fact wrong. There was no scientific controversy in the 19th century about the existence of the ether, or the adequacy of Newton's laws. And, if one relies on science journals for her entire perspective, there is no controversy today about whether undirected natural processes can account for the origin of life. Yet neither can any scientist today detail a plausible theory of the origin of life. So the bare question of whether some idea is or is not controversial within the scientific community is itself simply a sociological question, not a scientific one.    
Probability and Controversy  October 29 2009

David Berlinski  (b. 1942)  Postdoctoral fellow in mathematics and molecular biology at Columbia University  Web  CV  Amazon  GBS  AV

"It is just a matter of time," one biologist wrote recently, reposing his faith in a receding hereafter, "before this fruitful concept comes to be accepted by the public as wholeheartedly as it has accepted the spherical earth and the sun-centered solar system." Time, however, is what evolutionary biologists have long had, and if general acceptance has not come by now, it is hard to know when it ever will.    The Deniable Darwin  Commentary  June 1996

The probability that a monkey will strike a given letter is one in 26. The typewriter has 26 keys: the monkey, one working finger. But a letter is not a word. Should Dawkins demand that the monkey get two English letters right, the odds against success rise with terrible inexorability from one in 26 to one in 676. The Shakespearean target chosen by Dawkins -- "Methinks it is like a weasel"-is a six-word sentence containing 28 English letters (including the spaces). It occupies an isolated point in a space of 10,000 million, million, million, million, million, million possibilities. This is a very large number; combinatorial inflation is at work. And these are very long odds. And a six-word sentence consisting of 28 English letters is a very short, very simple English sentence.

Such are the fatal facts. The problem confronting the monkeys is, of course, a double one: they must, to be sure, find the right letters, but they cannot lose the right letters once they have found them. A random search in a space of this size is an exercise in irrelevance. This is something the monkeys appear to know...The entire exercise is, however, an achievement in self-deception. A target phrase? Iterations that most resemble the target? A Head Monkey that measures the distance between failure and success? If things are sightless, how is the target represented, and how is the distance between randomly generated phrases and the targets assessed? And by whom? And the Head Monkey? What of him? The mechanism of deliberate design, purged by Darwinian theory on the level of the organism, has reappeared in the description of natural selection itself, a vivid example of what Freud meant by the return of the repressed.    The Deniable Darwin  Commentary  June 1996

Before you can ask 'Is Darwinian theory correct or not?', You have to ask the preliminary question 'Is it clear enough so that it could be correct?'. That's a very different question. One of my prevailing doctrines about Darwinian theory is 'Man, that thing is just a mess. It's like looking into a room full of smoke.' Nothing in the theory is precisely, clearly, carefully defined or delineated. It lacks all of the rigor one expects from mathematical physics, and mathematical physics lacks  all the rigor one expects from mathematics. So we're talking about a gradual descent down the level of intelligibility until we reach evolutionary biology.     Expelled  April 18 2008  29.33

Matthew Arnold put his hands on it when he spoke about the 'withdrawal of faith'. There is a connection between a society that has, at least, a minimal commitment to certain kinds of transcendental values and what human beings permit themselves to do one to the other.     Expelled  April 18 2008  1.05.18

Darwinism is not a sufficient condition for a phenomenon like Nazism but I think it, certainly, a necessary one.     Expelled  April 18 2008  1.06.19

Curiously enough, for all that science may be very good thing, members of the scientific community are often dismayed to discover, like policemen, that they are not better loved. Indeed, they are widely considered self-righteous, vain, politically immature, and arrogant. This last is considered a special injustice. "Contrary to what many anti-intellectuals maintain," the biologist Massimo Pigliucci has written, science is "a much more humble enterprise than any religion or other ideology." Yet despite the outstanding humility of the scientific community, anti-intellectuals persist in their sullen suspicions. Scientists  are hardly helped when one of their champions immerses himself in the emollient of his own enthusiasm. Thus Richard Dawkins recounts the story of his professor of zoology at Oxford, a man who had "for years... passionately believed that the Golgi apparatus was not real." On hearing during a lecture by a visiting American that his views were in error, "he strode to the front of the hall, shook the American by the hand, and said -- with passion -- 'My dear fellow, I wish to thank you. I have been wrong these fifteen years.'" The story, Dawkins avows, still has the power "to bring a lump to my throat."

It could not have been a very considerable lump. No similar story has ever been recounted about Richard Dawkins. Quite the contrary. He is as responsive to criticism as a black hole in space. "It is absolutely safe to say," he has remarked, "that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution that person is ignorant, stupid or insane."    The Devil's Delusion  (2008)  p.6-7

Within mathematical physics, there is no concept of the evidence that is divorced from the theories that it is evidence for, because it is the theory that determines what counts as the evidence. What sense could one make of the claim that top quarks exist in the absence of the Standard Model or particle physics? A thirteenth-century cleric unaccountably persuaded of their existence and babbling rapturously of quark confinement would have faced then the question that all religious believers now face: Show me the evidence. Lacking the access to the very considerable apparatus needed to test theories in particle physics, it is a demand he could not have met.    The Devil's Delusion  (2008)  p.50


Robert Mackenzie Beverley  (1798-1868)  Amazon  GBS

In the Theory with which we have to deal, Absolute Ignorance is the artificer, so that we may enunciate as the fundamental principle of the whole system, that IN ORDER TO MAKE A PERFECT AND BEAUTIFUL MACHINE IT IS NOT REQUISITE TO KNOW HOW TO MAKE IT. This proposition will be found, on careful examination, to express in a condensed form the essential purport of the Theory and to express in a few words all Mr Darwin's meaning; who, by a strange inversion of reasoning, seems to think Absolute Ignorance fully qualified to take the place of Absolute Wisdom in all the achievements of creative skill.    The Transmutation of Species  (1867)  p.295  see also: Daniel Dennett


Michael Behe  William Jennings Bryan

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