Michael J. Behe A (R)evolutionary Biologist

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Viruses: An Intelligent Design Perspective

The COVID-19 virus is on a rampage in the world, killing thousands in the U.S. so far, shutting down whole countries’ economies, and possibly altering aspects of modern life for the future, after the virus has waned. What the complete impact will be is of course unknowable. In the meantime, though, questions arise about this and other, related sub-microscopic entities. Viruses seem so evil. What is their place in life? And like other aspects of nature, do they give evidence of intelligent design? Certainly, in a context of global anxiety, this is a subject that needs to be approached with sensitivity and humility. It isn’t the purpose of this article to adequately address great philosophical questions. That can wait for another occasion. But before such questions can even be

Approved by FDA Against COVID-19, Chloroquine Is Also Prominent in the Case for Intelligent Design

Yesterday, as a possible weapon against COVID-19, the Food and Drug Administration rushed out approval for an anti-malarial treatment. What does malaria, a tropical disease caused by a parasite, have to do with the viral infection rampaging across the globe? When an anxious public first learned about the chloroquine as a tool against the novel coronavirus, some of us with no experience of tropical medicine said to ourselves, “Wait, I’ve heard of that before.” Yes, chloroquine-resistant malarial parasites figure prominently in biochemist and ID proponent Michael Behe’s argument for sharp limits to what unguided Darwinian processes can do. He details that case in his book The Edge of Evolution. Now, on a fascinating and very timely episode of ID the Future, Professor Behe

Listen: Biochemist Michael Behe Puts Coronavirus in a Helpful Scientific Perspective

What to do during a full-country shutdown? Sit at home and stare at increasingly toxic Facebook and other social media, as I’m sorry to say I did for too long on Sunday? Fortunately there’s an alternative to blithe reassurances and doomsday handwringing: Michael Behe! On a new episode of ID the Future with host Andrew McDiarmid, the Lehigh University biochemist and intelligent design advocate puts coronavirus in an objective scientific perspective. I found that oddly comforting, and I think you will, too. He explains what a virus is, what makes this one special, how viruses originated (no one knows), what he meant in a post at Evolution News about a “storm” in the virosphere, and more. 8 Percent Virus? Meanwhile, as Andrew McDiarmid notes, evolutionary biologist Neil

Remembering Our Friend Jon Buell, Intelligent Design’s “Matchmaker”

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of our friend Jon Buell on March 14, 2020. Discovery Institute honors his memory and wishes for much comfort for his family, especially his wife Linda Buell. If others have been hailed as the “father of intelligent design” (Michael Behe) or the “godfather” (Phillip Johnson), then Jon Buell was the “matchmaker.” Without Jon, would the modern ID movement have got off the ground as it did with the 1984 publication of The Mystery of Life’s Origin? It’s hard to see how. He brought together the trio of scientists who wrote the book — Walter Bradley, Charles Thaxton, and Roger Olsen. They in turn profoundly influenced Stephen Meyer, Michael Denton, William Dembski, Michael Behe, Paul Nelson, and others who would

Designs in Miniature — Some Are the Most Wonderful of All

The smaller a design is, the harder it may be to detect. But miniature designs can inspire awe even more than large ones. In the Roaring 20s (the 20th century, not the present one), DeWitt Mott married Allegra Mitchell and discovered that she had an unusual collection: three shoeboxes full of miniature toys from Cracker Jacks boxes. Fascinated by the idea of miniature replicas of things, DeWitt started carving doll house furniture, and Mott’s Miniatures was born. The couple gathered miniatures in addition to the ones DeWitt carved. The collection grew to include tiny churches, miniature doll houses with furniture inside, and other wonders on the small scale, including microscopic chessboards with all the pieces, miniature tea sets, tiny libraries with tiny books, storefronts with

With a Hopeful Message About Life’s “X Factor,” Episode 5 of Secrets of the Cell Is Well Timed

Michael Behe is a biochemist, leading proponent of intelligent design, and a wise guide to understanding the wonders of life with its mysterious “purposeful arrangement of parts.” The new series from Discovery Institute, Secrets of the Cell with Michael Behe, concludes today with a last consideration of the “X Factor” that appears to lie behind the wonderful, irreducible complexity of biology. That “X Factor,” he explains, is an intelligence inconceivably beyond our own: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SuvQaDKFs80&feature=youtu.be Secrets distills the argument for intelligent design in five-to-eight minute episodes, five in all. I’m sure ID has never been presented more accessibly, in a way anyone can easily understand. Share Secrets of the Cell with your

Episode 4 of Secrets of the Cell — Broken Wolves and other Evolutionary Conundrums

On a new episode of Secrets of the Cell with Michael Behe, the famed biochemist and intelligent design proponent briefly examines several evolutionary icons. These are living species that are considered by Darwinists as slam-dunk evidence of unguided evolution’s creative power, but that turn out to be just the opposite: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=v9AxqLsKmMA&feature=youtu.be Dogs, for one, in their great variety descend from wolves. Atheist biologist Richard Dawkins and others have pointed to man’s best friend as confirmation that evolution creatively builds new species. Behe explains, though, that when the cell’s secrets are considered — biological information at the DNA level — we discover that dogs are broken wolves. Of course that doesn't make them any less

What Precipitated the Intelligent Design Movement?

Here are some thoughts prompted by a rather curious question posed to me in an email, namely, “What were the findings that most helped ID since the turn of the millennium?” Now, I say “curious” for two reasons: First, the modern ID movement really precedes the turn of the millennium, so to me this question misses its historical target. And second, the “findings” one might think to mention — e.g., modeling of biological systems, improvements in sequencing techniques, the development of cryo-electron microscopy — also fall short of the mark.  I’d prefer to ask: What developments set the stage for the Pajaro Dunes meeting, Phil Johnson’s path-breaking Darwin on Trial, and Mike Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box? I would say all of this stood on a platform of

Aquatic Bladderworts — Michael Behe’s “Irreducibly Complex” Mousetrap in Nature

In his book Darwin’s Black Box, Michael Behe offered the mousetrap as an example of a simple everyday device that is “irreducibly complex,” because it requires several components before it can catch any mice. Behe argued that there are many such machines in living cells which have no use, and therefore provide zero selective advantage, until all or many of their numerous components are in place.   Well, here is Behe’s mousetrap in nature! “Delicate” but Deadly In an appendix to my 1985 book Analysis of a Finite Element Method: PDE/PROTRAN, I offered as an example of irreducible complexity (though Behe would not coin that term until 11 years later), the aquatic bladderworts (Utricularia). They are described in Plants and Environment (R.F. Daubenmire, Wiley, 1947)

Josh Swamidass on Artificial Intelligence at the University of Washington

Josh Swamidass is the Washington University computational biologist and intelligent design critic who debated with biochemist Michael Behe last week at Texas A&M. Their exchange is now up on YouTube. Jonathan Witt reported on the contents here. Dr. Swamidass then headed to Seattle where he spoke last night at the University of Washington on “Human Identity and the Meaning of Artificial Intelligence: A Conversation with a Secular Humanist and a Scientist Christian.” It was good to see Josh in the flesh. The sponsor, Veritas Forum, is a Christian group that says it “is committed to courageous conversations. We place the historic Christian faith in dialogue with other beliefs and invite participants from all backgrounds to pursue Truth together.” A Forerunner of

Darwinism and Intelligent Design in Poland 

On January 29, 2020, I arrived in Warsaw, Poland, in the middle of a blizzard. Fortunately, most of the snow had cleared away by January 31, when I lectured at an event celebrating the release of a new Polish translation of my book, Icons of Evolution.  The event was organized by Fundacja En Arche (the En Arche Foundation, or roughly, the Origins Foundation). Although its critics call it a “creationist” organization, Fundacja En Arche is not about biblical creationism (whether young Earth or old Earth). Instead, it focuses on the scientific and philosophical issues of Darwinism and intelligent design. I told the staff that the foundation reminded me of Discovery Institute twenty years ago.  A major part of En Arche’s work so far has been translating into Polish books

In Episode 3 of Secrets of the Cell, Michael Behe Tests “The Power of Evolution”

When people invented gears is not certain, but examples survive in artifacts from ancient China and Greece. These indicate that the mechanism was known well over 2,000 years ago. Impressive! And yet as Michael Behe points out in a new episode of Secrets of the Cell, from Discovery Institute, bugs had been there and done that long before humans came on the scene: https://youtu.be/Iyrga53Cwc4 “Gears…in a bug? I thought humans invented gears,” says the always charming Lehigh University biochemist. Indeed, the planthopper bug has gears in its legs that permit it to jump what in human terms would be like vaulting the length of two football fields at one go. Evolutionary theory asks you to believe such a thing arose through chance mutations sifted by purposeless natural selection.

In the Beginning: How the Summer Seminars on Intelligent Design Got Their Start

Editor’s note: Dr. Gordon is a Center for Science & Culture Senior Fellow and Associate Professor of the History and Philosophy of Science, Houston Baptist University. I’ve had the privilege of being involved with the Summer Seminar on Intelligent Design in the Natural Sciences from its beginning in 2007. An all-expenses-paid program, the Seminar this year runs from July 10 to 18 in Seattle, with applications due by March 4. The road leading to my participation began with meeting Bill Dembski in Chicago. That was in 1990-91 at the start of my doctoral studies in philosophy of science/physics. We became very good friends and, over the course of many conversations with Bill and subsequent interactions with Paul Nelson and Steve Meyer, I was converted from a theistic

The Evolution of the Eye, Demystified

How did the eye evolve? Michael Behe in 2006 and Jonathan Wells in 2017 wrote about the irreducible complexity of the light-sensing cascade that makes vision possible. Yet Darwinists persist in asserting that this wondrous organ emerged, without guidance or direction, from a presumed ancestral eyespot.  This is an update on that important subject. I wish to emphasize the irreducible complexity of the visual cycle, on top of the sheer anatomical complexity of the human eye with its over two million working parts, second only to the human brain in complexity.   Function and Phototaxis Eyespots only perform a function when embedded in an interdependent system such as the one devoted to locomotion in the green algae Chlamydomonas. Phototaxis is a movement that occurs when a whole

RNA World Is Sterile — And the Mystery of Life’s Origin Remains

Charles Thaxton, Walter Bradley, and Roger Olsen have just released The Mystery of Life’s Origin: The Continuing Controversy, a greatly expanded and updated edition of the 1984 book whose first edition had a profound influence on the intelligent design movement. The new book includes a historical introduction by David Klinghoffer and new chapters contributed by James Tour, Guillermo Gonzalez, Stephen Meyer, Brian Miller, and Jonathan Wells.  The book has proved a fertile source of ideas, influencing Meyer, William Dembski, Michael Behe, Paul Nelson, and other leading ID proponents. Meanwhile, materialist hypotheses about the origin of life remain sterile. A case in point is the mythical RNA world. A world of lifeless molecules, interacting at random, going nowhere —

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