A Mousetrap for Darwin

Michael J. Behe Answers His CriticsMichael J. Behe

Darwin’s Black Box thrust Michael Behe to the forefront of the intelligent design movement. The Lehigh University biochemist has haunted the dreams of Darwinists ever since. Each of his three books sparked a firestorm of criticism, in everything from the New York Times and the journal Science to the private blogs of professional atheists. Over the years, Behe has had a delightful time rebutting each attack, and now his responses are collected in a single volume entitled A Mousetrap for Darwin.

The book’s title alludes to Behe’s homey illustration for his idea of irreducible complexity. A mousetrap with a missing part doesn’t work just a little worse. It doesn’t work at all. The same goes for the bacterial flagellum pictured on the cover of the new collection. Ditto for an array of other ingenious molecular biological machines discovered in recent years. Can mindless evolutionary processes arrange biochemical parts into these complex functional wholes one small step at a time? Behe argues that a raft of new evidence — from the study of evolving microbes to the mutations in animals from dogs to polar bears — suggests that blind evolution cannot. Rather, Darwin’s mechanism works principally by breaking things for short term benefit. It doesn’t build anything fundamentally new.

What does? Intelligent design. According to Behe, one of the most powerful arguments that he is on the right track is the sheer vacuity of the attacks leveled against him, many offered by undeniably brilliant scientists. But are those criticisms really as empty as he thinks, or has Behe met his match?

Book Launch


Wow, what a book! Michael Behe’s A Mousetrap for Darwin is a compelling read for anyone following the Darwin vs. ID debate. It not only is a magnificent testimony to his own massive contributions in so many areas of ID over more than two decades since he first published Darwin’s Black Box, but also provides perhaps the most comprehensive and incisive critique of Neo-Darwinism currently in print. In the more than one hundred articles and posts in the book, Behe revisits key arguments for ID which he initially developed and that have since become foundational to the defense of ID, such as the argument from irreducible complexity and the argument from waiting times. The book represents a devastatingly brilliant unanswerable response to his Darwinian critics and to the whole Darwinian worldview. Behe brings out more forcibly than any other author I have recently read just how vacuous and biased are the criticisms of his work and of the ID position in general by so many mainstream academic defenders of Darwinism. And what is so telling about his many wonderfully crafted responses to his Darwinian critics is that it is Behe who is putting the facts before theory while his many detractors — Kenneth Miller, Jerry Coyne, Larry Moran, Richard Lenski, and others — are putting theory before the facts. In short, this volume shows that it is Behe rather than his detractors who is carefully following the evidence. Of all the fine essays in this volume, I think his responses to Lenski in Parts 4 and 7 are particularly outstanding and unanswerable. Lenski’s inability to undermine Behe’s critique gives the lie to the notion that Darwinism provides anything resembling a convincing account of the biological world.

Michael Denton, PhD, MD, former Senior Research Fellow in the Biochemistry Department at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, author of Evolution: A Theory in Crisis and Nature’s Destiny

Michael Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box, The Edge of Evolution, and Darwin Devolves clearly describe the problems and limits of Darwinism as well as what the mechanism of random mutation and natural selection actually does. Over the years Behe has received a mountain of criticism, all of which has been answered in detail by him in letters to the editors of various journals, newspapers, and blogs. Now, in A Mousetrap for Darwin, Behe treats his readers to his compelling and thorough responses to his critics. Anyone reading this book will become better informed of the powerful arguments for design in biology and better educated regarding the Design vs. Darwin debate. I greatly enjoyed Mousetrap and highly recommend it.

Russell W. Carlson, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center University of Georgia

 Ever since the release of Darwin’s Black Box in 1996, I have been impressed with Mike Behe’s ability to respond to his critics quickly, respectfully, and with clarity and patience. This collection of many of those responses over a twenty-four-year period is a gift to all who promote intelligent design, and indeed to anyone passionately interested in the science of biological origins and the contemporary debate over Darwinism and design. Both critics and champions of intelligent design will find much to ponder here. Behe repeatedly meets his critics head on and with no apologies. This collection is a treasure.

Raymond G. Bohlin, PhD, co-author of The Natural Limits to Biological Change

“The humorous Mosquito Bite Scratcher illustration in Michael Behe’s 1996 book Darwin’s Black Box opened my eyes to the irreducibility of biological systems. Ever since, I have followed Behe’s tireless defense of his position in numerous well-argued articles and responses. His style is respectful; he carefully studies the arguments of his critics and explains why they err. His mousetrap example, the bacterial flagellum motor and other irreducibly complex biological systems, the mounting laboratory evidence of the strict limits of evolution, and his devolution argument should drive the message home: the idea that life’s diversity emerged through the Darwinian evolutionary mechanism is a dead idea. This book is a welcome and valuable collection of these brilliantly argued articles.”

Matti Leisola, DSc, Professor Emeritus of Bioprocess Engineering, Aalto University, Finland

Over the years I have followed Michael Behe’s work in building an arsenal of arguments for intelligent design. And I have followed the desperate attempts of mainstream evolutionists to discredit that work. I’ve found that in their attacks, they have used fallacious logic and zombie science at every turn. A few of the critiques are superficially persuasive, but they hold up best if you don’t think too hard about the biochemical details of their evolutionary scenarios. If you fear to doubt Darwinism, read further at your own peril. Behe’s devastating rebuttals are here in spades. If, however, you are ready and willing to follow the evidence, take heart: Behe guides us into state-of-the-art biochemistry — and into the case for intelligent design — with elegance, clarity, and good grace. This collection is a delight.

Marcos Eberlin, PhD, member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences and winner of the prestigious Thomas Medal (2016)

Michael J. Behe

Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
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 three books, Darwin Devolves: The New Science About DNA that Challenges Evolution, 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.