Research & Analysis

Responses to Criticism of Michael Behe’s Darwin Devolves

Even before the release of Michael Behe’s Darwin Devolves, the scientific dialogue between its detractors and defenders has begun. Here we collect some of the most noteworthy criticisms and responses by Michael Behe and others. Responses to Lents, Swamidass, and Lenski “A biochemist’s crusade to overturn evolution misrepresents theory and ignores evidence” by Nathan H. Lents, S. Joshua Swamidass, and Richard Read More ›

Darwin’s Black Box

In Darwin’s Black Box, Michael Behe argues that evidence of evolution’s limits has been right under our noses, but its undoing is evident at such a small scale that we have only recently been able to see it. The field of biochemistry, begun when Watson and Crick discovered the double-helical shape of DNA, has unlocked the secrets of the cell. There, biochemists have unexpectedly discovered a world of Lilliputian complexity. As Behe engagingly demonstrates, using the examples of vision, bloodclotting, cellular transport, and more, the biochemical world comprises an arsenal of chemical machines, made up of finely calibrated, interdependent parts. For Darwinian evolution to be true, there must have been a series of mutations, each of which produced its own working machine, that led to the complexity we can now see. The more complex and interdependent each machine’s parts are shown to be, the harder it is to defend Darwin’s gradualistic paths. Behe surveys the professional science literature and shows that it is completely silent on the subject, stymied by the elegance of the foundation of life. Could it be that there is some greater force at work?

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A Précis of Darwin’s Doubt

Stephen C. Meyer’s book, Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design (HarperOne, 2013), is perhaps the most comprehensive critique of the neo-Darwinian paradigm ever written. He makes his case by examining the Cambrian explosion, where nearly all of the major animal phyla appeared abruptly in the fossil record, without evolutionary precursors. In the Read More ›

What Is the Science Behind Intelligent Design?

Intelligent design (ID) is a scientific theory that employs the methods commonly used by other historical sciences to conclude that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection. ID theorists argue that design can be inferred by studying the informational properties of natural objects Read More ›

Introduction and Responses to Criticism of Irreducible Complexity

Modern biology has discovered that cells are like miniaturized factories that function using micromolecular machines. In Darwin’s Black Box (1996), Lehigh University biochemist Michael Behe proposed that many of these molecular machines exhibit irreducible complexity and therefore could not have been produced by an undirected Darwinian process. Instead, they appear to be the product of intelligent design. Behe’s book initiated a firestorm of controversy both inside and outside of the scientific community, and the debate continues to rage. As the responses below demonstrate, Behe’s arguments have not been refuted. Indeed, the case for the irreducible complexity of the bacterial flagellum and other molecular machines has continued to grow.

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Photo by Cassi Josh on Unsplash

In Defense of the Irreducibility of the Blood Clotting Cascade

Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution I devoted a chapter to the mechanism of blood clotting, arguing that it is irreducibly complex and therefore a big problem for Darwinian evolution. Since my book came out, as far as I am aware there have been no papers published in the scientific literature giving a detailed scenario or experiments to show how natural selection could have built the system. However three scientists publishing outside science journals have attempted to respond. Read More ›
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Molecular Machines

This article presents an overview of the key ideas in biochemist Michael Behe's book Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. A more detailed discussion of these ideas can be found in the book itself. Those interested in the debate over intelligent design in biology should also check out Michael Behe's extensive responses to various critics. Read More ›