Michael J. Behe A (R)evolutionary Biologist


DNA sequence. Generative AI
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Richard Lenski, “evolvability”, and tortuous Darwinian pathways

Several papers on the topic of “evolvability” have been published relatively recently by the laboratory of Richard Lenski. (1, 2) Most readers of this site will quickly recognize Lenski as the Michigan State microbiologist who has been growing cultures of E. coli for over twenty years in order to see how they would evolve, patiently transferring a portion of each culture to new media every day, until the aggregate experiment has now passed 50,000 generations. I’m a huge fan of Lenski et al’s work because, rather than telling Just-So stories, they have been doing the hard laboratory work that shows us what Darwinian evolution can and likely cannot do. The term “evolvability” has been used widely and rather loosely in Read More ›

petri dish in the lab
Petri dishes for medical research
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The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution: A reply to Jerry Coyne

At his blog, Why Evolution is True (http://tinyurl.com/2fjenlt), Jerry Coyne, professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Chicago, has been analyzing my recent paper, “Experimental Evolution, Loss-of-Function Mutations, and ‘The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution’” (http://www.lehigh.edu/~inbios/pdf/Behe/QRB_paper.pdf), which appears in the latest issue of the Quarterly Review of Biology. Although I usually don’t respond to blog posts I will this time, both because Coyne is an eminent scientist and because he does say at least one nice thing about the paper. First, the nice thing. About half-way through his comments Professor Coyne writes: My overall conclusion: Behe has provided a useful survey of mutations that cause adaptation in short-term lab experiments on microbes (note that at least one of these Read More ›

DNA, helix model medicine and network connection lines for technology concept on blue background, 3d illustration
DNA, helix model medicine and network connection lines for technology concept on blue background, 3d illustration
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“The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”: Break or blunt any functional coded element whose loss would yield a net fitness gain

In its most recent issue The Quarterly Review of Biology has published a review by myself of laboratory evolution experiments of microbes going back four decades. The paper (entitled “Experimental Evolution, Loss-of-Function Mutations, and ‘The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution’”) is available as a free pdf on my Lehigh University website (http://www.lehigh.edu/~inbios/pdf/Behe/QRB_paper.pdf). The chief question asked in the paper is the following: does evolution more often proceed by endowing an organism with a new function, by taking away an existing function, or by tweaking (modifying) a pre-existing function? Darwin himself realized that evolution did not always have to proceed by gain-of-function events. For example, in some of his writings he described male barnacles that had undergone gross simplification. For most Read More ›

Genetic Disorder DNA Molecule Structure
Colorful DNA molecule. Structure of the genetic code. Genetic Syndrome and Genetic Disorder, 3D illustration of science concept.
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Response to Carl Zimmer and Joseph Thornton, Part 1

The science writer Carl Zimmer posted an invited replyhttp://tinyurl.com/yhpm3t7 on his blog from Joseph Thornton of the University of Oregon to my recent comments about Thornton’s work. This is the first of several posts addressing it. References will appear in the last post. I must say, it never ceases to amaze me how otherwise-very-smart folks like Zimmer and Thornton fail to grasp pretty simple points when it comes to problems for Darwinian mechanisms. Let me start slowly with a petty complaint in Carl Zimmer’s intro to the post. Zimmer is annoyed that I think Thornton’s latest work is “great”, yet I thought his previous work published a few years ago was “piddling”. “Why the change of heart?”, wonders Zimmer. It’s really Read More ›

E.Coli Bacteria Cells
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New work by Richard Lenski

A new paper from Richard Lenski’s group has appeared in Nature http://tinyurl.com/ygtcflq and has garnered a fair amount of press attention (for example, herehttp://tinyurl.com/yh7nqht ). Some people asked me for my thoughts about it. The new paper continues the grand experiment that Lenski has been publishing about lo these many years — allowing a culture of the bacterium E. coli to continuously grow and evolve under his close observation. The only really new thing reported is a technical improvement — these days one can have the entire genome of E. coli “re-sequenced” (that is, determine the sequence of the entire DNA of the particular E. coli you’re working with) done for an affordable cost. (There are companies which will do it for a fee.) So Lenski and collaborators had the Read More ›

blue sunrise, view of earth from space
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A Challenge from the Edge of Evolution

My new book, The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism, presents evidence disproving random mutation as a major part of evolution and shows that life developed non-randomly from cells to animals. As you can imagine, this direct challenge to Darwinism is highly controversial.  Fortunately,The Edge of Evolution is more that just a critique of Darwin’s theory.  It develops a framework for intelligent design as a comprehensive scientific statement, defining the principles by which Darwinian evolution can be distinguished from design, and fits design theory together with the findings of cosmology, chemistry, and physics into an overarching theory of the universe.