The groundbreaking, "seminal work" (Time) on intelligent design that dares to ask, was Darwin wrong?
In 1996, Darwin's Black Box helped to launch the intelligent design movement: the argument that nature exhibits evidence of design, beyond Darwinian randomness. It sparked a national debate on evolution, which continues to intensify across the country. From one end of the spectrum to the other, Darwin's Black Box has established itself as the key intelligent design text -- the one argument that must be addressed in order to determine whether Darwinian evolution is sufficient to explain life as we know it.
In a major new Afterword for this edition, Behe explains that the complexity discovered by microbiologists has dramatically increased since the book was first published. That complexity is a continuing challenge to Darwinism, and evolutionists have had no success at explaining it. Darwin's Black Box is more important today than ever.
In his controversial bestseller Darwin’s Black Box, biochemist Michael Behe challenged Darwin’s theory of evolution, arguing that science itself has proven that intelligent design is a better explanation for the origin of life. In Darwin Devolves, Behe advances his argument, presenting new research that offers a startling reconsideration of how Darwin’s mechanism works, weakening the theory’s validity even more.
A system of natural selection acting on random mutation, evolution can help make something look and act differently. But evolution never creates something organically. Behe contends that Darwinism actually works by a process of devolution—damaging cells in DNA in order to create something new at the lowest biological levels. This is important, he makes clear, because it shows the Darwinian process cannot explain the creation of life itself. “A process that so easily tears down sophisticated machinery is not one which will build complex, functional systems,” he writes.
In addition to disputing the methodology of Darwinism and how it conflicts with the concept of creation, Behe reveals that what makes Intelligent Design unique—and right—is that it acknowledges causation. Evolution proposes that organisms living today are descended with modification from organisms that lived in the distant past. But Intelligent Design goes a step further asking, what caused such astounding changes to take place? What is the reason or mechanism for evolution? For Behe, this is what makes Intelligent Design so important.
Now, in his long-awaited follow-up, Behe presents far more than a challenge to Darwinism: He presents the evidence of the genetics revolution -- the first direct evidence of nature's mutational pathways -- to radically redefine the debate about Darwinism.
How much of life does Darwin's theory explain? Most scientists believe it accounts for everything from the machinery of the cell to the history of life on earth. Darwin's ideas have been applied to law, culture, and politics.
But Darwin's theory has been proven only in one sense: There is little question that all species on earth descended from a common ancestor. Overwhelming anatomical, genetic, and fossil evidence exists for that claim. But the crucial question remains: How did it happen? Darwin's proposed mechanism -- random mutation and natural selection -- has been accepted largely as a matter of faith and deduction or, at best, circumstantial evidence. Only now, thanks to genetics, does science allow us to seek direct evidence. The genomes of many organisms have been sequenced, and the machinery of the cell has been analyzed in great detail. The evolutionary responses of microorganisms to antibiotics and humans to parasitic infections have been traced over tens of thousands of generations.
As a result, for the first time in history Darwin's theory can be rigorously evaluated. The results are shocking. Although it can explain marginal changes in evolutionary history, random mutation and natural selection explain very little of the basic machinery of life. The "edge" of evolution, a line that defines the border between random and nonrandom mutation, lies very far from where Darwin pointed. Behe argues convincingly that most of the mutations that have defined the history of life on earth have been nonrandom.
Although it will be controversial and stunning, this finding actually fits a general pattern discovered by other branches of science in recent decades: The universe as a whole was fine-tuned for life. From physics to cosmology to chemistry to biology, life on earth stands revealed as depending upon an endless series of unlikely events. The clear conclusion: The universe was designed for life.
The contributors to this volume use their wide-ranging expertise in the area of biological information to bring fresh insights into the many explanatory difficulties associated with biological information. These authors raise major challenges to the conventional scientific wisdom, which attempts to explain all biological information exclusively in terms of the standard mutation/selection paradigm.
Several clear themes emerged from these research papers: 1) Information is indispensable to our understanding of what life is; 2) Biological information is more than the material structures that embody it; 3) Conventional chemical and evolutionary mechanisms seem insufficient to fully explain the labyrinth of information that is life. By exploring new perspectives on biological information, this volume seeks to expand, encourage, and enrich research into the nature and origin of biological information.
Mathematician William Dembski, author of The Design Inference, first argues that new developments in the information sciences make intelligent design objectively and scientifically detectable--he identifies the signs of design. Next, philosopher of science, Stephen Meyer, and biochemist Michael Behe, author of Darwin's Black Box, argue that these signs are now clearly evident in both the architecture of the universe and the features of living systems. Other essays by the authors defend the scientific status of the theory of intelligent design and show how that theory supports traditional religious belief without necessarily "proving" the existence of God. In a concluding essay, Michael Behe responds to critics of his best selling book, Darwin's Black Box, thus bringing readers up-to-date on the status of the contemporary design argument in biology.