Behe on IC: a new Neo-Darwinism is required (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Friday, December 29, 2023, 17:06 (114 days ago) @ David Turell

A new paper recognizes the need:

"A peer-reviewed paper published towards the end of last year in the Elsevier journal Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology has a provocative title: “Neo-Darwinism Must Mutate to Survive.” The paper’s abstract opens with points that few would dispute:

"Darwinian evolution is a nineteenth century descriptive concept that itself has evolved. Selection by survival of the fittest was a captivating idea. Microevolution was biologically and empirically verified by discovery of mutations.

"However, there then comes a major “but”:

"There has been limited progress to the modern synthesis. The central focus of this perspective is to provide evidence to document that selection based on survival of the fittest is insufficient for other than microevolution.


"...just what is the basis for saying this? It’s calculations showing that the likelihood of microevolutionary processes adding up to macroevolutionary changes is highly improbable:

"Realistic probability calculations based on probabilities associated with microevolution are presented. However, macroevolution (required for all speciation events and the complexifications appearing in the Cambrian explosion) are shown to be probabilistically highly implausible (on the order of 10^50) when based on selection by survival of the fittest. We conclude that macroevolution via survival of the fittest is not salvageable by arguments for random genetic drift and other proposed mechanisms.

" “We are critical, as previously explained, of the position that macroevolution is sufficiently explained by the processes useful for microevolution — in particular that mutations and survival of the fittest are adequate to the task,” and argue that “Microevolution does not explain speciation — only smaller changes.” (my bold)


"...clearly they share a critical perspective on neo-Darwinism that is very similar to that of the intelligent design community. Consider this striking passage:

"Survival of the fittest is adequate to select for such changes (gains) which occur within one genome primarily by single fixed mutations (and perhaps sometimes by horizontal gene transfer). Macroevolution, however, requires major changes necessitating multiple changes that logically most frequently occur in multiple genomes. Therefore, the concept survival of the fittest is inadequate to conserve individual changes in multiple genomes where the individual changes generate no increased fitness. … Thus, survival of the fittest is illogical when proposed as adequate for selecting the origination of all complex, major, new body-types and metabolic functions because the multiple changes in multiple genomes that are required have intermediate stages without advantage; selection would not reasonably occur, and disadvantage or death would logically prevail. (my bold)


"It is our perspective that the burden is too great for survival of the fittest to select evolutionary changes that accomplish all evolutionary novelty. Thus, evolution lacks a sufficient mechanism for multifactorial selections because a process that looks forward, is nonrandom, deterministic, or occurs by an unknown biological process, is required. The position of mainstream biologists regarding this aspect of evolution is that nature is always non-purposeful and, therefore, the proposed selection (process, force, tendency), could not possibly be natural (scientific). However, our perspective is that this is a supposition of necessity rather than an established principle. Logic demands that it be open to investigation. This first requires an openness to ideas and science must be open to new ideas.


"They use a case study of the origin of the Krebs cycle — a metabolic pathway involving 12 enzymes that is necessary for life. They believe that this is a useful test for evolution. They assume that the genome is “ripe” to produce each enzyme where a minimal number of mutations is needed for a gene to suddenly become functional. They therefore choose an incredibly generous value of 0.00001 as the probability that a given enzyme can be created by a single mutation.

"They calculate the likelihood of producing all 12 enzymes needed to produce a selectable function as 10^51. They note this is below 10^50, a probability that was called “negligible” by Émile Borel, the French mathematician, who stated “this process of evolution involves certain properties of living matter that prevent us from asserting that the process was accomplished in accordance with the laws of chance.”


"In the end, producing a complex feature like the Krebs cycle is just too improbable because “Selection based on survival of the fittest, for anything beyond single mutational changes in a genome, is insufficient scientifically and biologically.” They conclude, “there is something besides mutations and survival of the fittest needed to explain evolution.'” (my bold)

Comment: As Behe noted about reactions in cells being IC, the Krebs cycle is obviously IC md is in all cells that are active. This negates dhw's expanded assumptions about the meaning of IC's required associations. The complex cellular reactions and organs must all be considered as stand alone, just like the mousetrap doing its function with no outside help.

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