Tag Archives: Irreducible complexity

Breaking away – an interesting case study

All parents of mature children recognise that their offspring (interesting word that) must learn to break away from their parents. That as one’s children develop their own individuality there is plenty of scope for differences of opinion and conflict. And perhaps these differences are a normal part of the child developing an independent, autonomous personality.

Unfortunately this sometimes leads to estrangement. This is particularly tragic if it becomes permanent. I personally think that this period in a family’s life provides learning situations for parents, as well as children. And perhaps the parents, as the more mature party, have an obligation to put that learning into practice and ensure they do everything to prevent estrangement becoming permanent.

So I warmly endorse PZ Myers words of advice to Michael Behe‘s son (currently estranged from his parents) to make peace with his family while he can (see Michael Behe’s son has a surprise).

Behe’s son has abandoned the Catholicism he was raised in and become an atheist. There is obvious family conflict. But interestingly, he has announced this on reddit and is discussing it with others. He proves to be very articulate – which bodes well for his desire to become a writer. And the other participants in the discussion are proving to be thoughtful and respectful themselves. So there is an interesting discussion going on.

From what I have read so far Richard Dawkins, and his book the God Delusion (which apparently played a key role in Behe’s son’s deconversion), are being discussed. Together with evolution, Behe’s role in the Kitzmiller case, intelligent design, and morality. Quite sensibly, I thought.

In fact, I am really impressed – for an internet discussion.

It’s worth following – go to IAmA son of Michael Behe, the Catholic biochemist who coined the term “Irreducible Complexity”. I turned away from my family’s Catholic faith two years ago and am now an outspoken atheist.

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“Knowledge” from ignorance

Recently, I came across the very relevant statement in a paper I was reading:

“Ignorance cannot support a knowledge claim of any sort except perhaps for the trivial claim that we simply do not know.”

I think this is something we should keep in the front of our minds when we consider those creationist and religious apologetics arguments justifying anti-science positions. You know, Bill Dembski‘s “design filter” – “if we cant show something is caused by chance, or by laws of nature, then it must be intelligently designed.” Or Michael Behe‘s irreducible complexityargument. Or the “cosmological” argument, the “fine tuning” argument, etc., etc.

If we don’t have evidence we should be happy to say: “I don’t know.” And, ideally follow that with: “Let’s find out.”

To use lack of information to support a knowledge claim is just not logical.

By the way – the paper is by Carol E. Cleland & Shelley Copley (2005). “The Possibility of Alternative Microbial Life on Earth,” International Journal of Astrobiology 4, pp. 165-173. It discusses the possibility that life may have originated on earth more than once and these forms may be basically different. Peter Ward, in his book Life as We Do Not Know It also discusses this possibility.

It’s intriguing. Maybe we will discover “alien” life on earth before we discover extra-terrestrial life.


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