Michael J. Behe A (R)evolutionary Biologist

Intelligent Design

steps back
Asian businessman walking up on the stairs go to his room in the upstairs the building
Photo licensed via Adobe Stock

One Small Step Sideways, Two Huge Steps Back

Recently a new paper by Richard Lenski and colleagues (Meyer et al 2012) appeared in Science with, as usual, commentary in the New York Times. (Lenski’s lab must own a red phone with a direct line to The Gray Lady.) The gist of the paper is that a certain bacteriophage (a virus that infects bacteria) called “lambda” gained the ability to bind a different protein on the surface of its host, the bacterium E. coli, than the protein it usually binds. The virus has to bind to the cell’s surface as a prelude to invading it. The protein it normally binds is called LamB. Lenski’s lab, however, used a bacterial strain that had turned off the production of LamB in 99% of E. coli cells but, Read More ›


A Blind Man Carrying a Legless Man Can Safely Cross the Street

I never thought it would happen but, in my estimation, Richard Lenski has acquired a challenger for the title of “Best Experimental Evolutionary Scientist.” Lenski, of course, is the well-known fellow who has been growing E. coli in his lab at Michigan State for 50,000 generations in order to follow its evolutionary progress. His rival is Joseph Thornton of the University of Oregon who, by inferring the sequences of ancient proteins and then constructing (he calls it “resurrecting”) their genes in his lab, is able to characterize the properties of the ancestral proteins and discern how they may have evolved into more modern versions with different properties. I have written appreciatively about both Lenski and Thornton before, whose work indicates Read More ›

flotsam and jetsam
flotsam and jetsam
Photo licensed via Adobe Stock

“Irremediable Complexity”

An intriguing ‘hypothesis’ paper entitled “How a neutral evolutionary ratchet can build cellular complexity” (1), where the authors speculate about a possible solution to a possible problem, recently appeared in the journal IUBMB Life. It is an expanded version of a short essay called “Irremediable Complexity?” (2) published last year in Science. The authors of the manuscripts include the prominent evolutionary biologist W. Ford Doolittle. The gist of the paper is this. The authors think that over evolutionary time, neutral processes would tend to “complexify” the cell. They call that theoretical process “constructive neutral evolution” (CNE). In an amusing analogy they liken cells in this respect to human institutions: Organisms, like human institutions, will become ever more ”bureaucratic,” in the sense Read More ›

World Darwin Day representing the evolotuion theory illustration generative ai
Image licensed via Adobe Stock

Even more from Jerry Coyne

In my last post I reported that University of Chicago evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne, who had critiqued (http://tinyurl.com/2fjenlt) my recent Quarterly Review of Biology article (http://tinyurl.com/25c422s) concerning laboratory evolution studies of the last four decades and what they show us about evolution, had asked several other prominent scientists for comments (http://tinyurl.com/2cyetm7). I replied (http://tinyurl.com/4lq8sre) to those of experimental evolutionary biologist John Bull. In a subsequent post Coyne discussed (http://tinyurl.com/4tqoq7c) a recent paper (http://tinyurl.com/4shw456) by the group of fellow University of Chicago biologist Manyuan Long on gene duplication in fruitflies. After a bit of delay due to the holidays, I will comment on that here. Try as one might to keep Darwinists focused on the data, some can’t help reverting to Read More ›

3d rendering of Human cell or Embryonic stem cell microscope background.
Image licensed via Adobe Stock

More from Jerry Coyne

At his blog (http://tinyurl.com/2cyetm7) University of Chicago professor of evolutionary biology Jerry Coyne has commented on my reply (http://tinyurl.com/383zqm7) to his analysis ((http://tinyurl.com/2fjenlt) of my new review (http://tinyurl.com/25c422s) in the Quarterly Review of Biology. This time he has involved two other prominent scientists in the conversation. I’ll discuss the comments of one of them in this post and the other in a second post. The first one is University of Texas professor of molecular biology James J. Bull, who works on the laboratory evolution of bacterial viruses (phages). I reviewed a number of Bull’s fascinating papers in the recent QRB publication. Coyne solicited Prof. Bull’s comments and put them up on his blog (http://tinyurl.com/2cyetm7). Bull says several nice things about Read More ›

Genetically engineered chimeric antigen receptor immune cell with implanted mrna gene strand - 3d illustration
Image licensed via Adobe Stock

A malodorous argument for Darwinian evolution

University of California evolutionary biologist John Avise has penned a book, Inside the Human Genome: A Case for Non-Intelligent Design, and gotten it published by a top academic publishing house, Oxford University Press. Avise, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, has for decades been a leading researcher in evolutionary and ecological genetics. He has written hundreds of research articles and over a dozen books. Clearly he has an impressive scientific mind. Which makes it all the more astonishing that his new book shows all the intellectual savvy of a typical late-night college dormroom bull session. As his subtitle announces, Avise is anxious to show that, despite the claims of certain renegade biochemists, the molecular features of the human genome Read More ›

blue sunrise, view of earth from space
Photo licensed via Adobe Stock

Appearance on Voice of Reason – March 2, 2008

Dear Readers, California State University emeritus Professor Mark Perakh (author of Unintelligent Design) and I recently taped an episode of the program “Voice of Reason”,http://www.cn8.tv/channel/article.asp?lArticleID=5 195&lChannelID=603 with the venerable Philadelphia newsman Larry Kane. We discussed intelligent design, The Edge of Evolution, and other topics for thirty minutes. The show will air Sunday March 2nd at 9:30 p.m. on CN8, the Comcast Network.

ballpoint question
Ballpoint pen writing on table with numbers closeup
Photo licensed via Adobe Stock

Listen to me on Point of Inquiry

Dear Readers, Recently I was interviewed for the skeptic program Point of Inquiry. You can listen to the interview here. Michael J. Behe, a central figure in the Intelligent Design movement, is professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. He is the author of Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution and most recently The Edge of Evolution: Searching for the Limits of Darwinism. In this conversation with D.J. Grothe, Behe discusses his prominent role in the ID movement, and how he first got involved. He explores the differences between creationism and Intelligent Design theory, and details some of his experiences as a key witness for the defense in the Read More ›


Next Week: Responding to Ian Musgrave’s “Open Letter to Dr. Michael Behe”

Dear Readers, Usually I use this space to address reviews of The Edge of Evolution that have appeared in print in journals, newspapers, or magazines. The reason is that usually print media recruit leading figures in evolutionary biology to write a review, and so those reviews represent the thoughts of some of the best minds in the field. Examining their thoughts, then, can quickly give us a good understanding of whether there are ready answers to the challenges and arguments posed by The Edge. After all, if reviews by the likes of Richard Dawkins or Jerry Coyne fail to engage the arguments of the book, and instead rely mainly on bluster and non sequiturs, then that’s solid evidence that no good replies exist. 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.
Image licensed via Adobe Stock

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. First, that while I profess to believe in both common descent and intelligent design, he sees an internal contradiction — there cannot be, he thinks, common descent if there is intelligent design, and vice versa. The second point is that he thinks I contradict what I wrote in Darwin’s Black Box concerning the status of pseudogenes as evidence of common descent. I’ll Read More ›