Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Review of Pat Sullivan's review of Dawkins' review of Behe's "Edge of Evolution"

So here's the back story. Michael Behe writes a book, called "The Edge of Evolution". Richard Dawkins (not Dawkin's, Mr. Sullivan) reviewed "The Edge of Evolution". And Mr. Sullivan reviewed Dawkins review. Here, I will review Mr. Sullivan's review of Richard Dawkins' review.

Yep, I'm really going to do it. Just because it'll make me laugh.

Exactly my point in my post here in number 2 and 3... Always say ID scientists are creationists and always say they are not real scientists. In other words, demean them which is my point number 1.
Beg pardon, your point number what?

Honestly, if you folks insist on using the word "Darwinist", I think it's only fair if we use the word "creationist". Really, we could be using "bronze age mythicist".
Here is a review of Dawkin's review written by Logan Gage. A quote from this review: "Dawkins is a master of rhetoric. Only he could take a clear example of intelligently designed evolution (dog breeding) and offer it as a convincing “proof” of Darwinian evolution."
Now, who's review? *heavy sigh* Ok, bud. I'll spell it out for you, as slowly as I can possibly type. Behe claims that we could never expect in all the time on earth that random mutation could produce the variety of organisms seen on earth. Never in a billion years. That's Behe's claim. Dawkins shows that random mutation is sufficient to produce all the variety seen in dogkind. He is not using this as an example of evolution via natural selection. The only point he's trying to make is that random mutations happen, and happen frequently. He's merely pointing towards random mutations as a source of the change in all the varieties of dogs on earth.

Unless you're suggesting that the mutations that produced dogs were made by genetic Egyptian and Chinese genetic engineers in the bronze age, can we agree these were randomly produced mutations? And they are sufficient to produce every size and shape of dog on earth, in a matter of a few thousand years. Get it? Now multiply that time period by about 1,000,000. Might be enough time to account for all life on earth? Maybe?

From Pat Sullivan's comments:
I found his comparison of very intelligent dog breeding to be a rather silly argument for blind, random, slow evolution, especially for new species.
Really? You find it silly? That's good, because he's not arguing that. He's arguing that random mutations can happen sufficiently frequently to produce massive changes in an organism. That is all. Mutations happen. Alot of 'em.
Even [another commenter] cite[s] it as proof something can evolve really fast. Sure, if it is be guided intelligently!
Oy. Are you trying to be obtuse? This is just an argument for frequency of mutations. That is all. Please stop. Mr. Sullivan, you're clearly not ready to understand natural selection, so we can skip that lesson for today. Just try to comprehend that random mutation is sufficient to produce change. Again, unless you're positing bronze age molecular biologists making directed changes in the genome...

But fortunately, Mr. Sullivan clears it all up with this quote from a wise philosopher:
I said to someone over 30 years ago, "I fear a man's science is guided and governed by his underlying philosophy." I believe it even more now.
Oh. Never mind, you're quoting your own wise wisdom of wiseness. Thanks for sharing.



Sheldon said...

Funny post. Yeah that Sullivan is some bonehead! These guys are so anxious to jump on some point they think is refuting Darwinian evolution that they don't pay attention to important details like the difference between mutation and selection!

I first became aware of this Sullivan character on his post about why it took writing systems so long to evolve, yet young children learn it in a few years. The guy has no context for understanding anything but I guess marketing.

Blake Stacey said...

I hadn't added anything to the list in a while, so this makes a welcome new entry! Thanks.

D. Pew said...

Love the post, although I think you got your facts mixed up. I believe Dawkins is implying that there is enough genetic diversity already within an animal's genes (via ancestral mutations) that can explain the diversity of dog breeds elicited via natural selection. Dogs highlight this because few mutations were likely to occur in the time since they originated from Timber Wolves and today, but look at the diversity of traits between breeds.

I am lovin' the 65th skeptics carnival!

The Factician said...

D. Pew,

Thanks for the comment.

Dawkins is not implying that these are variations that were merely bred away from the original wolf species. He is implying that they are de novo mutations:

If mutation, rather than selection, really limited evolutionary change, this should be true for artificial no less than natural selection. Domestic breeding relies upon exactly the same pool of mutational variation as natural selection.

I think you may be getting hung up on "pool of mutational variation". That isn't a pool of existing mutants, but a pool from which changes can be extracted. This fits very well with what we think about mutation frequencies in metazoans.

Behe says that there isn't enough time for these mutations to happen. But breeding of domesticated animals (and plants) and experiments in the laboratory demonstrate that mutation frequencies are easily sufficient to account for the large changes seen between various dog breeds.

I hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone witnessed a random selction actually happening with the successful result that its characteristics then take over?