Michael J. Behe A (R)evolutionary Biologist

Michael Behe

A (R)evolutionary Biologist

Michael J. Behe is Professor of Biological Sciences at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. He received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Pennsylvania in 1978. Behe’s current research involves delineation of design and natural selection in protein structures.

In his career he has authored over 40 technical papers and two books, Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution and The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism, which argue that living system at the molecular level are best explained as being the result of deliberate intelligent design. The books have been reviewed by the New York Times, Nature, Philosophy of Science, Christianity Today, and many other periodicals. Darwin’s Black Box has sold over 250,000 copies and was internationally reviewed in over one hundred publications. Both National Review and World magazine named it as one of the 100 most important books of the 20th century.

Behe has presented and debated his work at major universities throughout North America and England.

Darwin Devolves

Twenty years after publishing his seminal work, Darwin’s Black Box, Behe shows that new scientific discoveries point to a stunning fact: Darwin’s mechanism works by a process of devolution, not evolution. On the surface, evolution can help make something look and act different, but it doesn’t have the ability to build or create anything at the genetic level.

Critically analyzing the latest research, Behe gives a sweeping tour of how modern theories of evolution fall short and how the devolving nature of Darwin’s mechanism limits them even further. If we are to get a satisfactory answer to how the most complex, stunning life-forms arose, it’s time to acknowledge the conclusion that only an intelligent mind could have designed life.

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Listen: Michael Behe on a Citrate Death Spiral

On a new episode of ID the Future, biochemist Michael Behe reviews the Long Term Evolution Experiment (LTEE) at Michigan State, where Richard Lenki’s team was initially excited to see what they thought was a new species forming in their flasks of E. coli. Download the podcast or listen to it here. As Behe has written at Evolution News, one flask of E. coli in Lenski’s experiment evolved the ability to metabolize (“eat”) citrate in the presence of oxygen. But along with it came multiple mutations breaking genes, degrading genetic information, and ultimately increasing the bacteria’s death rates. It all goes to support Behe’s thesis in Darwin Devolves: evolution is good at creating niche advantages by breaking things; it isn’t good at building fundamentally novel

Citrate Death Spiral

Michigan State University biologist Richard Lenski and collaborators have just published a terrific new paper in the journal eLife.1 Anyone who wants to see a crystal-clear example of the inherent, unavoidable, fatal difficulties that the Darwinian mechanism itself poses for unguided evolution should read it closely. The paper concerns the further evolution of a widely discussed mutant strain of the bacterium E. coli discovered during the course of Lenski’s Long Term Evolution Experiment (LTEE). The LTEE is his more-than-three-decades-long project in which E. coli was allowed to grow continuously in laboratory flasks simply to observe how it would evolve.2 As I’ve written before, almost all of the beneficial mutations that

Darwin’s Desperation?

They used to just ignore us. That worked for many years. Rare appearances of the loathsome words “intelligent design” in scientific journals were quickly squashed, as Richard Sternberg can attest. Occasional payouts to avoid lawsuits, like at the California Science Center, could be dismissed as inconvenient hush money, quickly settled and ignored by the press.  Meanwhile, Darwinism marched on, confident and triumphant. Largely unimpeded by any need for debate, evolutionary biologists and psychologists, safe in the accepted custom of methodological naturalism, could spin their just-so stories without fear of contradiction. The media were willing accomplices, keeping the public submissive and quiet, satisfied with the daily illusions pouring forth from the ministry of

Behe Vindicated Again: Sherpas Climb Everest Easier, Because Darwin Devolves

How can Tibetans survive high altitudes that leave lowlanders gasping? The answer is found in broken genes. A new paper on the Tibetan genome vindicates what Michael Behe said in Darwin Devolves: evolution breaks things, but sometimes, like in the case of polar bears, the result can allow organisms to thrive in specific environments. Yes, this follows on the heels of last week’s Behe vindication; see here. A team of 16 scientists, writing in PNAS, sought to understand the genetic basis for Tibetan high-altitude adaptation in more detail. Tibetans and Nepalese, many of whom serve as guides for lowlanders wanting to conquer Mount Everest, routinely carry heavy burdens at altitudes above 14,000 feet, the average elevation on the Tibetan plateau. In its entry on Sherpa people,

Harvard Molecular Geneticist Vindicates Michael Behe’s Main Argument in Darwin Devolves

When Michael Behe’s book Darwin Devolves came out last year, critics were quick to pounce. Skeptic Magazine wrote that “In Darwin Devolves, Michael Behe continues to dig himself further into the hole he opened 20 years ago with Darwin’s Black Box.” Three Quarks Daily stated that Behe’s central thesis in the book, “is clickbait, the book title misleading, and the argument long since rebutted.”  That thesis is what Behe calls the “first rule of adaptive evolution,” namely that Darwinian processes tend to “Break or blunt any functional gene whose loss would increase the number of a species's offspring.” A review in the journal Science called Behe’s arguments “quixotic” and charged that “here are indeed many examples of loss-of-function mutations

Judge Michael Behe’s Case for Intelligent Design Yourself

“That Behe fellow is a known Christian. And he has been seen entering, and leaving, churches. And so therefore this idea of intelligent design, that’s a religious idea. That’s not science.”  With that line, summarizing the approach of many of his critics, biochemist Michael Behe got a laugh of recognition from the audience at the 2020 Dallas Conference Science & Faith this past January. You can watch his presentation now: https://youtu.be/24t2eCjPbq4 Behe got a laugh because, as with much of humor, he was caricaturing…but not by a lot. Here Professor Behe invites us to review the sweep of his argument for intelligent design, as he has presented it in his books and other publications, form Darwin’s Black Box to Darwin Devolves, from irreducible complexity to the

Helpful Devolutionary Mutations Are Rapid and Unavoidable: Paper Reinforces Darwin Devolves

An interesting paper that strongly reinforces the lessons of Darwin Devolves was recently published in Nature Ecology and Evolution.1 University of Michigan biologists Piaopiao Chen and Jianzhi Zhang looked at the effect of changing environments on the evolution of laboratory yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. They grew 12 replicate cultures of a pure yeast strain separately for 1,120 generations in each of five disparate, challenging environments: 1) in the presence of the carcinogenic dye Congo Red; 2) in the presence of copper ion; 3) at pH 8; 4) in the presence of hydrogen peroxide; and 5) in the presence of the antibiotic neomycin. They also grew replicate cultures successively for 224 generations apiece in the five conditions  —  that is, the first 224 generations in

Behe and Swamidass Debate Evolution and Intelligent Design at Texas A&M

Biochemist and CSC Senior Fellow Michael Behe shared the stage with physician and computational biologist Joshua Swamidass this past Thursday evening at an overflow event at Texas A&M’s Rudder Theatre in College Station, TX.  The meeting, titled “God and/or Evolution?” was part conversation, part debate. Behe made the case for intelligent design in biology. Swamidass argued for methodological naturalism and modern evolutionary theory while also allowing for the separate de novo creation of Adam and Eve, an idea outlined in his new book. The format had Behe going first and then Swamidass responding. Then each speaker got a shorter chunk of time for follow-up comments, followed by a Q&A sent via tweets that were selected and read by the moderator.  Behe

Critic Josh Swamidass Meets Michael Behe Tonight at Texas A&M

Someone had a clever idea: stage a debate between biologist Michael Behe and his critic Joshua Swamidass on “God and/or Evolution?” Proof that it was a clever idea is that the event, tonight at Rudder Theatre at Texas A&M University, is already sold out. The sponsor, Veritas Forum, was urging as of yesterday, “If you are unable to attend tomorrow’s Forum, please cancel your order so we can release tickets to our waitlist.” Josh Swamidass was one of the trio of authors who reviewed Professor Behe’s book Darwin Devolves: The New Science About DNA That Challenges Evolution in the journal Science. If you are disappointed that you can’t attend, don’t worry. You can assume that the debate will reprise the exchange over Darwin Devolves. But the review’s criticisms,

Philosophical-ish Objections to Intelligent Design: A Response to Paul Draper

Recently I was asked by several people whether I had ever responded to an old review of Darwin’s Black Box by Purdue University philosopher of religion Paul Draper. I had not done so, but will use the occasion to respond now and to clear up a couple of philosophical-ish objections that have been raised against intelligent design over the years. In 2002 Draper — then on the faculty of Florida International University — published a paper in the journal Faith and Philosophy: Journal of the Society of Christian Philosophers, entitled “Irreducible complexity and Darwinian gradualism: a Reply to Michael J. Behe.”1 Draper wrote that “My goal in this paper will be to show that, while this challenge is both more original and, with a few modifications, more powerful than many of

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