Michael J. Behe A (R)evolutionary Biologist

Articles

In addition to his books and academic writings, Michael Behe writes regularly at Evolution News. Of note, Behe and his colleagues have written at great length in response to objections to his arguments and expanded on many of his key concepts, such as irreducible complexity and the edge of evolution.  
Academic Writing

Academic Writing

Getting There First: An Evolutionary Rate Advantage for Adaptive Loss-of-Function Mutations

Michael J. Behe

Biological Information: New Perspectives, edited by R. J. Marks II, M. J. Behe, W. A. Dembski, and B. L. Gordon. World Scientific Publishing, Hong Kong, 450-473.

Abstract: Over the course of evolution organisms have adapted to their environments by mutating to gain new functions or to lose pre-existing ones. Because adaptation can occur by either of these modes, it is of basic interest to assess under what, if any, evolutionary circumstances one of them may predominate. Since mutation occurs at the molecular level, one must look there to discern if an adaptation involves gain- or loss-of-function. Here I present a simple, deterministic model for the occurrence and spread of adaptive gain-of-function versus loss-of-function mutations, and compare the results to laboratory evolution experiments and studies of evolution in nature. The results demonstrate that loss-of-function mutations generally have an intrinsic evolutionary rate advantage over gain-of-function mutations, but that the advantage depends radically on population size, ratio of selection coefficients of competing adaptive mutations, and ratio of the mutation rates to the adaptive states.

Experimental evolution, loss-of-function mutations, and “the first rule of adaptive evolution”

Michael J. Behe

The Quarterly Review of Biology 85(4) (December 2010), pp. 419-45.

Abstract: Adaptive evolution can cause a species to gain, lose, or modify a function; therefore, it is of basic interest to determine whether any of these modes dominates the evolutionary process under particular circumstances. Because mutation occurs at the molecular level, it is necessary to examine the molecular changes produced by the underlying mutation in order to assess whether a given adaptation is best considered as a gain, loss, or modification of function. Although that was once impossible, the advance of molecular biology in the past half century has made it feasible. In this paper, I review molecular changes underlying some adaptations, with a particular emphasis on evolutionary experiments with microbes conducted over the past four decades. I show that by far the most common adaptive changes seen in those examples are due to the loss or modification of a pre-existing molecular function, and I discuss the possible reasons for the prominence of such mutations.

Simulating evolution by gene duplication of protein features that require multiple amino acid residues

Michael J. Behe, David W. Snoke

Protein Science, Volume 13, Issue 10 (October 2004), pp. 2651-2664.

Abstract: Gene duplication is thought to be a major source of evolutionary innovation because it allows one copy of a gene to mutate and explore genetic space while the other copy continues to fulfill the original function. Models of the process often implicitly assume that a single mutation to the duplicated gene can confer a new selectable property. Yet some protein features, such as disulfide bonds or ligand binding sites, require the participation of two or more amino acid residues, which could require several mutations. Here we model the evolution of such protein features by what we consider to be the conceptually simplest route—point mutation in duplicated genes. We show that for very large population sizes N, where at steady state in the absence of selection the population would be expected to contain one or more duplicated alleles coding for the feature, the time to fixation in the population hovers near the inverse of the point mutation rate, and varies sluggishly with the λth root of 1/N, where λ is the number of nucleotide positions that must be mutated to produce the feature. At smaller population sizes, the time to fixation varies linearly with 1/N and exceeds the inverse of the point mutation rate. We conclude that, in general, to be fixed in 108 generations, the production of novel protein features that require the participation of two or more amino acid residues simply by multiple point mutations in duplicated genes would entail population sizes of no less than 109.

Irreducible Complexity: Obstacle to Darwinian Evolution

Michael J. Behe, David W. Snoke

In Debating Design: from Darwin to DNA, Ruse, M. and Dembski, W.A., eds. (Cambridge University Press: 2004), pp. 352-370.

Reply to My Critics: A Response to Reviews of Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution

Michael J. Behe

Biology and Philosophy, Volume 16, (2001) pp. 683–707.

Abstract: In Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution I argued that purposeful intelligent design, rather thanDarwinian natural selection, better explains some aspects of the complexity that modern science has discovered at the molecular foundation of life. In the five years since itspublication the book has been widely discussedand has received considerable criticism. Here Irespond to what I deem to be the mostfundamental objections. In the first part of the article I address empirical criticisms based on experimental studies alleging either that biochemical systems I discussed are not irreducibly complex or that similar systems have been demonstrated to be able to evolve byDarwinian processes. In the remainder of the article I address methodological concerns, including whether a claim of intelligent design is falsifiable and whether intelligent design is a permissible scientific conclusion.

Self-Organization and Irreducibly Complex Systems: A Reply to Shanks and Joplin

Michael J. Behe

Philosophy of Science 67, (2000) 155-162.

Abstract:

Some biochemical systems require multiple, well-matched parts in order to function, and the removal of any of the parts eliminates the function. I have previously labeled such systems “irreducibly complex,” and argued that they are stumbling blocks for Darwinian theory. Instead I proposed that they are best explained as the result of deliberate intelligent design. In a recent article Shanks and Joplin analyze and find wanting the use of irreducible complexity as a marker for intelligent design. Their primary counterexample is the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction, a self-organizing system in which competing reaction pathways result in a chemical oscillator. In place of irreducible complexity they offer the idea of “redundant complexity,” meaning that biochemical pathways overlap so that a loss of one or even several components can be accommodated without complete loss of function. Here I note that complexity is a quantitative property, so that conclusions we draw will be affected by how well-matched the components of a system are. I also show that not all biochemical systems are redundant. The origin of non-redundant systems requires a different explanation than redundant ones.

An overabundance of long oligopurine tracts occurs in the genome of simple and complex eukaryotes

Michael J. Behe

Nucleic Acids Research, Volume 23, Issue 4 (February 25, 1995), pp. 689–695.

Abstract: A search of sequence information in the GenBank flies shows that tracts of 15–30 contiguous purines are greatly overrepresented in all eukaryotlc species examined, ranging from yeast to human. Such an overabundance does not occur in prokaryotlc sequences. The large Increase in the number of oligopurine tracts cannot be explained as a simple consequence of base composition, nearest-neighbor frequencies, or the occurrence of an overabundance of oligoadenosine tracts. Oligopurine sequences have previously been shown to be versatile structural elements in DNA, capable of occuring in several alternate conformations. Thus the bias toward long oligopurine tracts in eukaryotic DNA may reflect the usefulness of these structurally versatile sequences in cell function.

The protein-folding problem: the native fold determines packing, but does packing determine the native fold?

Michael J. Behe, E E Lattman, and G D Rose

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), (May 15, 1991)

Abstract: A globular protein adopts its native three-dimensional structure spontaneously under physiological conditions. This structure is specified by a stereochemical code embedded within the amino acid sequence of that protein. Elucidation of this code is a major, unsolved challenge, known as the protein-folding problem. A critical aspect of the code is thought to involve molecular packing. Globular proteins have high packing densities, a consequence of the fact that residue side chains within the molecular interior fit together with an exquisite complementarity, like pieces of a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle [Richards, F. M. (1977) Annu. Rev. Biophys. Bioeng. 6, 151]. Such packing interactions are widely viewed as the principal determinant of the native structure. To test this view, we analyzed proteins of known structure for the presence of preferred interactions, reasoning that if side-chain complementarity is an important source of structural specificity, then sets of residues that interact favorably should be apparent. Our analysis leads to the surprising conclusion that high packing densities–so characteristic of globular proteins–are readily attainable among clusters of the naturally occurring hydrophobic amino acid residues. It is anticipated that this realization will simplify approaches to the protein-folding problem.

Binding of p-Nitrophenyl Phosphate and Other Aromatic Compounds by β-Lactoglobulin

Harold M.Farrell Jr., Michael J.Behe, Judith A. Enyeart

Journal of Dairy Science, Volume 70, Issue 2 (February 1987), pp 252-258

Abstract: Results obtained from gel filtration showed that β-lactoglobulin binds p-nitrophenyl phosphate with a stoichiometry of 1 mol of ligand per 18,360 monomer. Circular dichroic spectra confirmed the binding and implicated tryptophan and phenylalanine residues in the interaction. Fluorescence of the protein was quenched on binding also supporting complex formation; analysis of these data indicates that p-nitrophenyl phosphate binds to β-lactoglobulin A with a dissociation constant of 31 μM. The B and C genetic variants of β-lactoglobulin bind p-nitrophenyl phosphate with dissociation constants of 63 and 70 μM, respectively. In addition, a series of other nitrophenyl compounds and pyridoxal phosphate were also investigated by fluorescence analysis and found to bind to the protein. These results are discussed with respect to a recent hypothesis that β-lactoglobulin binds retinol and is structurally related to serum retinol binding protein.

Temperature‐dependent conformational transitions in poly(dG‐dC) and poly(dG‐m5dC)

Michael J. Behe, Gary Felsenfeld, Shousun Chen Szu, Elliot Charney

Biopolymers, Volume 24, Issue2 (February 1985), pp. 289-300

Abstract: The double‐stranded helical complexes of poly(dG‐dC) and of poly(dG‐m5dC) are shown to convert from B‐ to Z‐DNA‐type conformations at moderate or low ionic strengths, lower for the 5‐methyl than for the non‐methyl species, in a highly cooperative temperature‐dependent equilibrium. In the presence of low concentrations of divalent ion, e.g., Mg2+, the temperature at which the B → Z transition occurs is virtually independent of the salt concentration and the B‐conformation is favored at lower temperature, while the Z‐conformation is favored at higher temperature. Since the Debye‐Hückel screening parameter changes rapidly with ionic strength in this region, electrostatic interaction with the free ions appears to be only a small factor in the forces that promote the transition; the temperature dependence must derive principally from effects on the solvent. The temperature dependence at high salt concentrations is also reported.

Evolution News

Evolution News

COVID-19 and Biochemical Design

Editor’s note: The link for Dr. Behe’s webinar has been UPDATED. The COVID-19 pandemic has many people wondering: Just what are viruses? How do they work? Can they easily evolve to become even more deadly? This afternoon at 3 pm Eastern Daylight Time, I will present the first lecture in a three-part series sponsored by the British Centre for Intelligent Design. You can join me by clicking here. I will discuss viruses in historical time, their basic biochemical design, where they came from, and what they might evolve

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

Evolution, Design, and COVID-19

I’ve been asked to comment on the coronavirus epidemic and evolution. Much of what I wrote six years ago during an outbreak of Ebola virus applies to the current predicament as well.1 The bottom line is that, while of course the virus is dangerous, the situation can be compared to a strong storm on the ocean. The waves may be huge and the surface roiling, but the deeper waters continue as they always have, essentially undisturbed. In a similar way, although superficially it changes very rapidly, some researchers think that the coronavirus2 and many other virus types3 have remained basically the same for tens of millions of years. What Is a Virus? Viruses are scraps of genetic material (some composed of DNA, some of RNA, usually wrapped in a protein coat) whose total genetic

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

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

Important Medical Effects but Modest Mutations

I was asked to address a comment left by a viewer of one of Discovery’s YouTube videos. The comment is:1 Some monkeys have a mutation in a protein called TRIM5 that results in a piece of another, defunct protein being tacked onto TRIM5. The result is a hybrid protein called TRIM5-CypA, which can protect cells from infection with retroviruses such as HIV. Here, a single mutation has resulted in a new protein with a new and potentially vital function. New protein, new function, new information. A bit of Googling shows that the text was taken word-for-word from an old article (2008) on the New Scientist website2 (perhaps by way of intermediate copying). That was during a period when the 150th anniversary of the publication of the Origin of Species was fast approaching, and many

Darwin on Trial — As Fresh and Relevant as Ever

Editor’s note: Phillip E. Johnson, Berkeley law professor and author of Darwin on Trial and other books, died on November 2. Evolution News is sharing remembrances from Fellows of Discovery Institute. Dr. Behe’s most recent book is Darwin Devolves. The following essay appeared originally as the Foreword to the 20th Anniversary edition of Darwin on Trial. Twenty years can be a virtual eternity in modern science, so rapidly do new discoveries accumulate. Twenty years ago the idea of determining the entire DNA sequence of even a tiny living organism such as a bacterium, let alone the genetic endowment of a large animal such as a mammal, seemed a dream. Yet shortly before I wrote this foreword, the 1000th kind of bacterial genome was sequenced. The DNA code of humans was

Darwin Devolves — Evidence Keeps Rolling In

Several new papers have appeared that reinforce key points of my recent book, Darwin Devolves. (Hat tip to Paul Nelson.) The first one — “Quantifying the pathways to life using assembly spaces” — is from a group of theoreticians at Arizona State and the University of Glasgow. (The work was discussed by one of the authors, Sara Imari Walker, at a meeting this July in Italy, “Mind Matters: Intelligence and Agency in the Physical World.” Walker is a frequent collaborator of Paul Davies.)  Reeking of ID The paper investigates phenomena that reek of intelligent design, but the authors ascribe design either to an extrinsic agent or to (presumably undirected) evolution. Herein, we present the foundations of a new theoretical approach to agnostically quantify the amount of

Puppy Dog Eyes for Darwin

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports on the canine musculature that underlies “puppy dog eyes.” The study has gotten tons of affectionate press, probably because puppies are so darned cute. The story is also cast in an evolutionary framework. The researchers found that a particular muscle abbreviated LAOM is almost always present and well-developed in dogs but is often missing or much less well-developed in wolves. The muscle allows dogs to raise their inner eyebrows in a way that humans find attractive. Since dogs are descended from wolves, the change is ipso facto “evolution.” The authors go on to speculate that the trait was selected over time by humans adopting the dogs that seemed cutest. Well, okay, why not. However,

Déjà Vu at National Review

Some guy once wrote that there’s nothing new under the sun. He must have had political conservatives’ pro-Darwin arguments in mind. Yesterday National Review posted an essay by Razib Khan. (See here and here for more on that.) Khan is a Wikipedia-described atheist, writer, and doctoral student in genetics. He is also a self-described conservative. The essay seeks to assure conservatives that Darwin’s theory is “a crowning achievement of Western civilization and a rejoinder to the modern myths of the Left.” Conservatives should happily embrace whatever is claimed in Darwin’s name because “The science built upon the rock of Charles Darwin’s ideas is a reflection of Western modernity’s commitment to truth as a fundamental value.” What’s more, coos Khan,

Can’t Anybody Here Make Distinctions?

This is the fourth in a series of posts responding to the extended critique of Darwin Devolves by Richard Lenski at his blog, Telliamed Revisited. Professor Lenski is perhaps the most qualified scientist in the world to analyze the arguments of my book. He is the Hannah Distinguished Professor of Microbial Ecology at Michigan State University, a MacArthur (“Genius Award”) Fellow, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences with hundreds of publications. He also has a strong interest in the history and philosophy of science. His own laboratory evolution work is a central focus of the book. I am very grateful to Professor Lenski for taking time to assess Darwin Devolves. His comments will allow interested readers to quickly gauge the relative strength of arguments against the

Thanks, Professor Lenski, the LTEE Is Doing Great!

This is the third in a series of posts responding to the extended critique of Darwin Devolves by Richard Lenski at his blog, Telliamed Revisited. Professor Lenski is perhaps the most qualified scientist in the world to analyze the arguments of my book. He is the Hannah Distinguished Professor of Microbial Ecology at Michigan State University, a MacArthur (“Genius Award”) Fellow, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences with hundreds of publications. He also has a strong interest in the history and philosophy of science. His own laboratory evolution work is a central focus of the book. I am very grateful to Professor Lenski for taking time to assess Darwin Devolves. His comments will allow interested readers to quickly gauge the relative strength of arguments against the

A Response to My Lehigh Colleagues, Part 3

Recently two of my Lehigh University Department of Biological Sciences colleagues published a seven-page critical review of Darwin Devolves in the journal Evolution. As I’ll show below, it pretty much completely misses the mark. Nonetheless, it is a good illustration of how sincere-yet-perplexed professional evolutionary biologists view the data, as well as how they see opposition to their views, and so it is a possible opening to mutual understanding. This is the third of a three-part reply. It continues directly from Part 2. See here for Part 1. Of Course Proteins Are Machines A basic difference between the views of Greg Lang and Amber Rice and my own concerns the nature of the molecular foundation of life. They object that I consider many biochemical systems to be actual

A Response to My Lehigh Colleagues, Part 2

Recently two of my Lehigh University Department of Biological Sciences colleagues published a seven-page critical review of Darwin Devolves in the journal Evolution. As I’ll show below, it pretty much completely misses the mark. Nonetheless, it is a good illustration of how sincere-yet-perplexed professional evolutionary biologists view the data, as well as how they see opposition to their views, and so it is a possible opening to mutual understanding. This is the second of a three-part reply. It continues directly from Part 1. A Limited Accounting of Degradation Greg Lang and Amber Rice cite a number of articles to show that loss-of-function mutations are just a small minority of those found in studies of organisms. However, the truth is that loss of function mutations account

A Response to My Lehigh Colleagues, Part 1

Recently in the journal Evolution, two of my colleagues in the Lehigh University Department of Biological Sciences published a seven-page critical review of Darwin Devolves. As I’ll show below, it pretty much completely misses the mark. Nonetheless, it is a good illustration of how sincere-yet-perplexed professional evolutionary biologists view the data, as well as how they see opposition to their views, and so it is a possible opening to mutual understanding. This is the first of a three-part reply. I’d like to begin by enthusiastically affirming that the co-authors of the review, Greg Lang and Amber Rice, are terrific young scientists. Greg’s research is on the experimental laboratory evolution of yeast, and he’s an associate editor at the Journal of Molecular Evolution.

Archives at Evolution News

Featured Articles

Citrate Death Spiral

Michigan State University biologist Richard Lenski and collaborators have just published a terrific new paper.

Viruses, COVID-19, and Evolution

In this online Zoom webinar, Dr. Behe reviews the biochemistry of viruses in general and COVID-19 in particular. He uses these topical examples to illustrate a fundamental principle: Darwinian and other unintelligent evolutionary mechanisms can change life marginally, in ways that are medically important, yet they cannot explain life’s complex structure. Rather, the elegant molecular structures of life required purposeful Read More ›

An Empirical Argument for Intelligent Design

Michael Behe Presents at Dallas Science and Faith Conference 2020
Professor Michael 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 First Rule of Adaptive Evolution. This is, from top to bottom, an empirical argument, as he points out. It can only be Read More ›

Secrets of the Cell, Episode 5: The X-Factor in Life

In this episode of Secrets of the Cell, biochemist and bestselling author Michael Behe explores the key missing factor in Darwinian explanations of the complexity of life. Further Exploration Use the links below to explore more about the issues raised in this episode. More about Michael Behe MichaelBehe.com (website) Articles by Michael Behe “Michael Behe Investigates Evolution & Intelligent Design” Read More ›

Evolution, Design, and COVID-19

With respect to the coronavirus epidemic and evolution, the bottom line is that, while of course the virus is dangerous, the situation can be compared to a strong storm on the ocean. The waves may be huge and the surface roiling, but the deeper waters continue as they always have, essentially undisturbed. In a similar way, although superficially it changes very rapidly, some researchers think that the coronavirus and many other virus types have remained basically the same for tens of millions of years.

Secrets of the Cell, Episode 4: The Effects of Mutation

In this episode of Secrets of the Cell, biochemist and bestselling author Michael Behe explores the impact of mutations on evolution. Do random mutations and natural selection provide an explanation for the development of new organisms and features in the history of life? Further Exploration Use the links below to explore more about the issues raised in this episode. More Read More ›

God and/or Evolution?

The scientific community seeks to give an account of the world around us in terms of mathematical laws and natural processes; this description even extends to the account of biological life’s origin and evolution. For Christians, this consensus has posed a number of challenges. Does evolution account for biological life? Was God involved in evolution? How? Is there evidence to Read More ›

Secrets of the Cell, Episode 3: The Power of Evolution

In this episode of Secrets of the Cell, biochemist Michael Behe starts by exploring the amazing mechanical gears discovered in planthopper insects that scream “design!,” and then he moves into a discussion of the theory of evolution and what it hopes to explain. Further Exploration Use the links below to explore more about the issues raised in this episode. More Read More ›

Secrets of the Cell, Episode 2: The Complexity of Life

Join biochemist and bestselling author Michael Behe as he explores “reducible” and “irreducible” complexity at the foundation of life in Episode 2 of his series “Secrets of the Cell.” Further Exploration Use the links below to explore more about the issues raised in this episode. More about Michael Behe WEBSITE: MichaelBehe.com More about Irreducible Complexity WEB PAGE: “What Is Irreducible Read More ›

Secrets of the Cell, Episode 1: Someone Must Have the Answer!

Discover the amazing world of micro-machines inside our cells — and learn about biochemist Michael Behe’s personal quest to understand what brought them about. Further Exploration Use the links below to explore more about the issues raised in this episode. More about Michael Behe Michael Behe biography Michael Behe books and articles VIDEO: Michael Behe: Up Close and Personal VIDEO: Read More ›

Evidence Keeps Rolling In

Several new papers have appeared that reinforce key points of my recent book, Darwin Devolves. (Hat tip to Paul Nelson.) The first one — “Quantifying the pathways to life using assembly spaces” — is from a group of theoreticians at Arizona State and the University of Glasgow. (The work was discussed by one of the authors, Sara Imari Walker, at a Read More ›

A Response to My Lehigh Colleagues

Recently in the journal Evolution, two of my colleagues in the Lehigh University Department of Biological Sciences published a seven-page critical review of Darwin Devolves. As I’ll show below, it pretty much completely misses the mark. Nonetheless, it is a good illustration of how sincere-yet-perplexed professional evolutionary biologists view the data, as well as how they see opposition to their Read More ›

Darwin Devolves

The New Science about DNA that Challenges Evolution
The scientist who has been dubbed the “Father of Intelligent Design” and author of the groundbreaking book Darwin’s Black Box contends that recent scientific discoveries further disprove Darwinism and strengthen the case for an intelligent creator. In his controversial bestseller Darwin’s Black Box, biochemist Michael Behe challenged Darwin’s theory of evolution, arguing that science itself has proven that intelligent design is a better Read More ›

Here’s How to Tell if Scientists are Exaggerating

How much can the public trust confident claims by scientists? Especially about morally or politically or philosophically charged topics? Alas, not so much, as the New York Times Magazine reminds us once again in a recent article, “How Beauty Is Making Scientists Rethink Evolution.” The subtitle asks, “The extravagant splendor of the animal kingdom can’t be explained by natural selection alone — ...

What is Intelligent Design?

Synopsis: Michael Behe and Stephen Meyer Explain the Inference to Design
How do we recognize design? How do we realize that something has been put together intentionally by an intelligent agent? What is intelligent design? Our minds recognize the effects of other intelligent beings when we see the purposeful arrangement of parts, such as the letters and words in a book. Or, the intentional design of something like Mt. Rushmore. We Read More ›

Can the Theory of Evolution be Simulated through Lab Experiments?

Synopsis: Michael Behe on Richard Lenski and Limits to the Theory of Evolution
Michigan State University biologist Richard Lenski tests evolution and random mutations acting on natural selection to determine what evolution can do. He has experimented with bacteria to see what new functions can evolve just through random mutations acting on natural selection. Biologist Michael Behe has found that there are severe limitations to getting the coordinated mutations that natural selection needs Read More ›

Revolutionary

Revolutionary tells the story of biochemist Michael Behe and the revolution he helped spark with his book Darwin’s Black Box, inspiring a new generation of scientists and thinkers who are challenging Darwinian evolution and exploring evidence in nature of intelligent design. Learn about Behe’s journey, how those opposed to his ideas tried to kill intelligent design in federal court, and how recent Read More ›

Intelligent Design Under Fire, pt. 4: Q&A with Charlotte Laws & Larry Herber

In Intelligent Design Under Fire, Dr. Stephen Meyer and colleagues Dr. Jonathan Wells, Dr. Michael Behe, Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez, and Dr. Paul Nelson respond to questions about intelligent design from a panel of critics. Part 4 features questions from writer and columnist Dr. Charlotte Laws, retired geology professor Dr. Larry Herber, comparative religion professor Dr. Craig Nelson, and others. Video Read More ›

Icons of Evolution 10th Anniversary: Michael Behe

In Icons of Evolution, biologist Jonathan Wells compared icons of evolution — such as homology in vertebrate limbs — with published scientific evidence, and revealed that much of what we teach about evolution is wrong. Published in 2000, the book raised troubling questions about the status of Darwinian evolution that are still plaguing scientists today.

Experimental Evolution, Loss-of-Function Mutations, and “the First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”

Adaptive evolution can cause a species to gain, lose, or modify a function; therefore, it is of basic interest to determine whether any of these modes dominates the evolutionary process under particular circumstances. Because mutation occurs at the molecular level, it is necessary to examine the molecular changes produced by the underlying mutation in order to assess whether a given Read More ›

Waiting Longer for Two Mutations

A roll-up of "Waiting Longer for Two Mutations", Parts 1-5
An interesting paper appeared recently in an issue of the journal Genetics, “Waiting for Two Mutations: With Applications to Regulatory Sequence Evolution and the Limits of Darwinian Evolution” (Durrett, R & Schmidt, D. 2008. Genetics 180: 1501-1509). As the title implies, it concerns the time one would have to wait for Darwinian processes to produce some helpful biological feature (here, Read More ›

Response: Waiting Longer for Two Mutations

Published letter in response to Durrett & Schmidt
In the Abstract of their recent article, “Waiting for Two Mutations: With Applications to Regulatory Sequence Evolution and the Limits of Darwinian Evolution” (GENETICS 180: 1501–1509, 2008), Durrett and Schmidt write that one of their aims is “to expose flaws in some of Michael Behe’s arguments concerning mathematical limits to Darwinian evolution.” Their effort, however, is itself seriously flawed. They Read More ›

Intelligent Design 101

Leading Experts Explain the Key Issues
Intelligent Design 101 brings together leading scholars and researchers from the fields of science and intelligent design studies, such as Michael Behe and Phillip Johnson. Their detailed and insightful essays form an introduction to intelligent design, from the basics of the theory, to its history and growing place in science and education. Table of Contents List of Illustrations — 9 Contributors Read More ›

Korthof and Pseudogenes: Part 4

The Dutch biologist Gert Korthof maintains a website devoted to in-depth reviews of many books on evolution. Aside from often-insightful remarks, a delightful feature of his site is that he can write with great strength of feeling and yet not engage in insults or ad hominem remarks. He has posted an extensive review of The Edge of Evolution.  He makes two main points. Read More ›

Microbe Magazine and the Bacterial Flagellum: Part 3

Dear Readers, This is the third in a series of responses I’m posting this week. In “Evolution of the Bacterial Flagellum” (Microbe Magazine, July 2007), Wong et al seek to counter arguments of intelligent design proponents such as myself that the flagellum did not evolve by random mutation and natural selection. Unfortunately, their otherwise-fine review misunderstands design reasoning and so Read More ›

Science, E. coli, and the Edge of Evolution: Part 2

Dear Readers, This is the second in a series of responses I’m posting this week, this one regarding the Darwinian website The Panda’s Thumb, where a woman named Abbie Smith questioned whether results from HIV research actually square with the claims I made that little fundamental change has occurred in the virus, even though it attains enormous populations sizes and has a much Read More ›

Science, E. coli, and the Edge of Evolution

Dear Readers, As I wrote in The Edge of Evolution, Darwinism is a multifaceted theory, and to properly evaluate the theory one has to be very careful not to confuse its different aspects. Unfortunately, stories in the news and on the internet regularly confuse the facets of Darwinism, ignore distinctions made in The Edge of Evolution, or misstate the arguments of intelligent Read More ›

Beyond the Edge of Evolution: The New York Times Story

Dear Readers, As I wrote in The Edge of Evolution, Darwinism is a multifaceted theory, and to properly evaluate the theory one has to be very careful not to confuse its different aspects. Common descent, natural selection, and random mutation are separate concepts; the first two are well supported, but the power of random mutation is not. I argued that evolution Read More ›

Response to Richard Dawkins

Dear Readers, Here I respond briefly to Richard Dawkins’ review of The Edge of Evolution in the New York Times. I must admit I was surprised that he agreed to do it. In the past Dawkins has said that on principle he would not interact with proponents of intelligent design, because that would give us publicity. I guess when the New York Times offers writing Read More ›

Response to Kenneth R. Miller, Continued

Yesterday, in the first part of my response to Kenneth Miller’s review, in which I addressed his substantive points, I ended by showing that a reference he cited did not contain the evidence he claimed it did. In this final part, I more closely examine Miller’s tendentious style of argumentation. Speaking of throwing around irrelevant references, Miller writes: Telling his readers that Read More ›

Response to Kenneth R. Miller

Dear Readers, Here I respond to the unfavorable review of The Edge of Evolution by Kenneth R. Miller in Nature. Like Sean Carroll, whose review in Science I discussed earlier, he employs much bluster. But Miller goes well beyond simple bluster. I overlooked Carroll’s rhetoric and dealt only with his substantial arguments. This time I’ll do things differently. Today I’ll respond to Miller’s substantive points. Read More ›

Back and Forth with Jerry Coyne, Part 3

Dear Readers, Tonight concludes my response to University of Chicago evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne, which began earlier this week.  As you know if you’ve been following my blog here, Professor Coyne reviewed my new book Edge of Evolution in The New Republic.  I replied to his response here, and he has responded to my reply at TalkReason.org.  Because it quickly gets awkward to include all of Read More ›

Back and Forth with Jerry Coyne, Part 2

Dear Readers, Today I have continued my response to University of Chicago evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne, which began yesterday and will conclude tomorrow.  Just a reminder that I’m only quoting the portions of his response that I specifically address here because it quickly gets awkward to include all of the context.  Readers who want to see the full back-and-forth should read his Read More ›

Back and Forth with Jerry Coyne, Part 1

Dear Readers, University of Chicago evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne has responded at TalkReason.org to my reply here on Amazon.com to his review of The Edge of Evolution in The New Republic. Here I will respond back — not to everything he wrote (nor to other posts and replies on that website), but only to what I think are the more important points of his original Read More ›

Response to Critics, Part 3: Michael Ruse

Dear Readers, Today I give you one last response for now, to Michael Ruse’s review of Edge of Evolution. After more reviews are in, I’ll compose a comprehensive response. I leave you with this for now. Michael Ruse in The Globe and Mail Michael Ruse is a philosopher of biology who has written over a dozen books on aspects of Darwinian thought. Read More ›

Response to Critics, Part 2: Sean Carroll

Dear Readers, Yesterday I responded to Jerry Coyne’s review of my new book, The Edge of Evolution.  Today it’s Sean Carroll’s turn. Sean Carroll in Science Almost the same day that The Edge of Evolution was officially released Science published a long, lead review by evolutionary developmental biologist Sean Carroll, whose own work I discuss critically in Chapter 9. The review is three parts bluster to Read More ›

Response to Critics, Part 1: Jerry Coyne

Dear Readers, Major reviews of The Edge of Evolution have begun to appear. Because the conclusion of the book is so controversial, it’s no surprise that responses by some Darwinists so far have been pretty emotional and defensive. I’ll be writing brief replies here to unfavorable reviews by the most prominent academic Darwinists, just to point out important miscues and errors. Later, Read More ›

The Edge of Evolution Q&A

If you have any questions about my new book, Edge of Evolution, you might enjoy taking a look at this brief interview I just gave. Question & Answer With Michael J. Behe, author ofThe Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism What do you believe Darwinian evolutionary processes can actually do? THE EDGE OF EVOLUTION asks the sober question, what is it Read More ›

The Edge of Evolution

From C-SPAN2’s Book TV, Michael Behe talks about his book, The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism (Free Press). Behe argued that advancements in the science of genetics reveal that the process of evolution is driven far more by pre-existing design than by random mutation and natural selection, the foundations of Darwin’s theory of evolution. After Read More ›

The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism

In this sequel to his bestselling book Darwin’s Black Box, Discovery Institute senior fellow Michael Behe hones his argument for intelligent design (ID) by investigating the precise “edge of evolution.” Behe’s basic thesis is that Darwinian evolutionary processes can cause some changes in populations of living organisms, but they cannot cause all changes. Thus, there is an “edge,” or limit, Read More ›

The Edge of Evolution

The Search for the Limits of Darwinism
When Michael J. Behe’s first book, Darwin’s Black Box, was published in 1996, it launched the intelligent design movement. Critics howled, yet hundreds of thousands of readers and a growing number of scientists were intrigued by Behe’s claim that Darwinism could not explain the complex machinery of the cell. Now, in his long-awaited follow-up, Behe presents far more than a challenge Read More ›

Signs of Intelligence

Understanding Intelligent Design
Signs of Intelligence is a collection of essays from various scholars of the intelligent design movement, including many fellows of the Discovery Institute who are explaining the precise meaning of the scientific theory of intelligent design. When the NCSE reviewed this book, they called it “aimless.” A more accurate description would have been “threatening a wide variety of disciplines behind Read More ›

Darwinism Defeated?

The Johnson-Lamoureux Debate on Biological Origins
This volume contains a debate between design advocate Phillip E. Johnson and evolutionary biologist Denis Lamoureux, with commentary from other scholars in this debate. Though differing in opinion over evolution, all contributors are Christians who conduct the discussion in a civil manner. Dr. Lamoureux asks challenging questions of Johnson, asserting that Johnson’s position is based upon “God-of-the-gaps” type arguments. Lamoureax Read More ›

Darwinism, Design, and Public Education

This balanced volume contains essays by both supporters and critics debating intelligent design and whether design should be allowed in public school science classes. The scholars approach the question from the standpoints of constitutional law, philosophy, rhetoric, education, and science. Legal scholar David DeWolf, and Discovery Institute Senior Fellow, argues that teachers should have the academic freedom to teach intelligent Read More ›

Whether Intelligent Design is Science

A Response to the Opinion of the Court in Kitzmiller vs Dover Area School District
Senior Fellow, Dr. Michael Behe, testified as an expert witness in the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School Board intelligent design trial in 2005. Judge Jones issued a ruling against the school board and in so doing asserted that intelligent design was not based on science. Dr. Behe disagrees, and here we publish his direct responses to many claims of the Court.

Michael Behe on Molecular Exploitation and the Theory of Irreducible Complexity

The bottom line of the study is this: the authors started with a protein which already had the ability to strongly interact with three kinds of steroid hormones (aldosterone, cortisol, and “DOC” [11-deoxycorticosterone]). After introducing several simple mutations the protein interacted much more weakly with all of those steroids. In other words, a pre-existing ability was decreased.

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