The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution: A reply to Jerry Coyne

At his blog, Why Evolution is True, Jerry Coyne, professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Chicago, has been analyzing my recent paper, “Experimental Evolution, Loss-of-Function Mutations, and ‘The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution,’” which appears in the latest issue of the Quarterly Review of Biology. Although I usually don’t respond to blog posts I will this time, both because Coyne is an eminent scientist and because he does say at least one nice thing about the paper. First, the nice thing. About half-way through his comments Professor Coyne writes: My overall conclusion: Behe has provided a useful survey of mutations that cause adaptation in short-term lab experiments on microbes (note that at least one of these–Rich Lenski’s study– Read More ›

Methinks New PNAS Paper Is Like a Weasel

A paper by Wilf and Ewens recently published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, titled “There’s plenty of time for evolution,” reads like a printed version of Groundhog Day — the classic movie where comedian Bill Murray keeps awakening to find it’s the same day again. The paper’s authors sniff at unnamed benighted folks who think there hasn’t been enough time for (Darwinian) evolution to build the complexity we see in life. Not so, they protest. Why, all one has to do to see the light is to use the right mathematical model: “After guessing each of the letters, we are told which (if any) of the guessed letters are correct, and then those letters are Read More ›

The Edge of Evolution, as seen by Dave Ussery and BioLogos

In his next installment Professor Ussery complains that I wasn’t enthusiastic enough in my chapter “What Darwinism Can Do.” As an example of common descent I pointed to Baker’s yeast, for which there is good evidence that sometime in the past its genome duplicated. But I also noted that other yeasts with unduplicated genomes have done fine for themselves. The point was that gene or even whole genome duplication is not the powerful tool that Darwinists often claim. That point passed over Dave’s head. His main comment on the book’s next chapter, “What Darwinism Can’t Do” is to tell the reader to search PubMed for the words “cilium” and “evolution.” One gets lots of papers that contain both those words, Read More ›

Dave Ussery Ruminates about The Edge of Evolution

The first part of Professor Ussery’s review of The Edge of Evolution on the website BioLogos is mainly an exercise in throat clearing, where he describes his “philosophical and personal perspective,” notes that he and I agree on common descent, and correctly points out that my book concerns the mechanism of evolution. In the second installment Dave begins to show that he somehow just doesn’t get the big points of the book. In writing of the sickle cell and other antimalarial mutations which degrade the genome, I had said that they were “hurtful.” He misunderstands this, writing, “the example [Behe] gives us is not a ‘good mutation.’” But the sickle cell and other antimalarial mutations most certainly are “good” mutations Read More ›

BioLogos Voices Sing the Same Old Tune

I normally do not respond to criticisms and reviews of my work that are simply posted on the internet. Rather, I engage reviews, comments, and articles that appear in journals or prominent newspapers and magazines. The reason is that those printed venues usually ask noted scientists or philosophers to review books, so that they are very likely to contain the most pertinent and insightful comments. After all, if a book challenging Darwinian evolution is reviewed separately by the likes of Sean Carroll, Jerry Coyne, Michael Ruse, and Richard Dawkins, then the odds are good that they would have discovered any major errors, if such there be. However, if upon considering their criticisms, we see huffing and puffing instead of reasoned Read More ›