عصير كتاب: حد التطور لـ مايكل بيهي The Edge of Evolution By Michael Behe

Posted: يوليو 20, 2016 in الكتابات العامة, الإلحاد, التطور الدارويني, عصير الكتب

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

The Edge of Evolution

The Search for The Limits of Darwinism

By: Michael J. Behe

للتحميل: (PDF) (DOC)

edge

نبذة مُختصرة عن الكتاب:

كتاب آخر هام جداً للعالم المشهور جداً المُتخصِّص في مجال الكيمياء الحيوية: «مايكل بيهي».

كتاب «بيهي» الأول، والذي كان بعُنوان «صندوق داروين الأسود»، كان يتكلَّم عن فكرة «التَّعقيد غير القابل للاختزال»، وكان ينتقد بهذه الفكرة إمكانية أو قُدرة نظرية التَّطوُّر الدَّاروينية على أن تُقدِّم تفسيراً لنشأة الحياة، ولم يتعرَّض «بيهي» للمفهوم التَّقليدي لنظرية التَّطور الدَّاروينية، فيما يخُصّ تفسير التَّنوُّع الحاصل بين الكائنات الحيَّة.

في هذا الكتاب، الذي هو بعُنوان «حافَّة التَّطوُّر» أو «حدّ التَّطوُّر»، يُناقش «بيهي» قُدرة نظرية التَّطوُّر الدَّاروينية على تفسير التَّنوُّع بين الكائنات الحيَّة، والهدف من الكتاب هو بيان أن عُنصريّ النَّظرية: الطفرات العشوائية والانتقاء الطبيعي، غير قادران بمُفردهما على تفسير أشكال الحياة المُختلفة على الأرض!

لعل هذا الكتاب هو الأهم فيما يخُص نقد نظرية التَّطوُّر الدَّاروينية، ولا أريد أن أطيل الكلام كثيراً عن الكتاب، فهو ككتابه الأول مليء بالمعلومات العلمية والتفاصيل الكثيرة الصعبة والمُملَّة، ولكنَّ أهمّ ما في الكتاب هو تقريرات «بيهي» واستنتاجاته العلمية المبنية على ما قام بسرده من دراسات وأبحاث.

مع انتهائي من هذا الكتاب، بدأت أفهم تصوُّر «بيهي» لنظرية التَّطوُّر الدَّاروينية، وهذه لفتة هامَّة، نافعة فيما يخُصّ طريقة التَّعامل مع النظرية العلمية: بيهي يستخدم تعبير «التَّطوُّر الدَّارويني» للإشارة إلى تغيُّر ناتج عن عشوائية عمياء، ويقوم باستخدام كلمة «تطوُّر» مُفردة، بمعنى عام مقبول لدى الجميع، وهو الإيمان بأنَّ الكائنات الحيَّة تتغيَّر مع الوقت، وبينها وبين الكائنات الحيَّة الأخرى اختلافات.

الكتاب يُناقش حُدُود عمل التَّطوُّر “الدَّارويني” العشوائي، ويُبيِّن أنَّ العشوائية غير قادرة على إحداث أيّ تطوُّرات هامَّة، والمقصود بعبارة «تطوُّرات هامَّة» هو أنَّ مُستوى التَّعقيد يزيد في الكائن الحيّ، وهكذا يقوم باكتساب وظائف حيوية جديدة. وهكذا يبدأ «بيهي» بدراسة التَّطوُّر الدَّارويني (الطفرات العشوائية) في الكائنات الحيَّة وحيدة الخلية (قام بالتَّركيز على الملاريا وفيروس الإيدز)، وبيَّن أنَّ الطَّفرات العشوائية لن تؤدي إلى مزيد من التَّعقيد!

 أحبُّ التَّنويه مرَّة أخرى على أنَّ «بيهي» مؤمن بفكرة السَّلف العالمي المُشترك لكُلّ الكائنات الحيَّة التي عاشت على وجه الأرض، وأنَّه يؤمن بالفعل بالتَّطوُّر الدَّارويني، ولكنَّه يقول إنَّ مساحة عمل التَّطوُّر الدَّارويني محدودة جداً، وليست هي السَّبب في وجود الأجناس المُختلفة، وليست هي السَّبب في حدوث التَّعقيد واكتساب الكائنات وظائف حيوية جديدة، ويقول إنَّ كلّ هذا نتاج تصميم ذكي، وتصوُّره أقرب للرُّبوبية!

الكتاب مُمتاز جداً، مع التَّحفُّظ على بعض آراء «بيهي» الفلسفية العجيبة، وأنصح بدراسته بشكل جيِّد لكلّ من يُريد نقداً متيناً، وتصوُّراً راجحاً، لحقيقة وضع نظرية التَّطوُّر الدَّاروينية.

1 The Elements of Darwinism

· Life on earth developed over billions of years by utter chance, filtered through natural selection. So says Darwinism, the most influential idea of our time. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p1.]

· The three most important ideas to keep straight from the start are random mutation, natural selection, and common descent. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p1.]

· Common descent is what most people think of when they hear the word “evolution.” It is the contention that different kinds of modern creatures can trace their lineage back to a common ancestor. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p1.]

· Common descent tries to account only for the similarities between creatures. It says merely that certain shared features were there from the beginning—the ancestor had them. But all by itself, it doesn’t try to explain how either the features or the ancestor got there in the first place, or why descendants differ. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p2.]

· The pairing of random mutation and natural selection tries to account for the differences between creatures. It tries to answer the pivotal question, What could cause such staggering transformations? How could one kind of ancestral animal develop over time into creatures as different as, say, bats and whales? [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p2.]

· By itself, the idea of natural selection says just that the more fit organisms of a species will produce more surviving offspring than the less fit. So, if the total numbers of a species stayed the same, over time the progeny of the more fit would replace the progeny of the less fit. It’s hardly surprising that creatures that are somehow more fit (stronger, faster, hardier) would on average do better in nature than ones that were less fit (weaker, slower, more fragile). [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p2.]

· In Darwinian thinking, the only way a plant or animal becomes fitter than its relatives is by sustaining a serendipitous mutation. If the mutation makes the organism stronger, faster, or in some way hardier, then natural selection can take over from there and help make sure its offspring grow numerous. Yet until the random mutation appears, natural selection can only twiddle its thumbs. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p2, 3.]

· In the past hundred years science has advanced enormously; what do the results of modern science show? In brief, the evidence for common descent seems compelling. The results of modern DNA sequencing experiments, undreamed of by nineteenth-century scientists like Charles Darwin, show that some distantly related organisms share apparently arbitrary features of their genes that seem to have no explanation other than that they were inherited from a distant common ancestor. Second, there’s also great evidence that random mutation paired with natural selection can modify life in important ways. Third, however, there is strong evidence that random mutation is extremely limited. Now that we know the sequences of many genomes, now that we know how mutations occur, and how often, we can explore the possibilities and limits of random mutation with some degree of precision—for the first time since Darwin proposed his theory. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p3.]

· As a theory-of-everything, Darwinism is usually presented as a take-it-or-leave-it proposition. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p4.]

· In the real world, random mutation, natural selection, and common descent might all be completely true, and yet Darwinian processes still may not be an adequate explanation of life. In order to forge the many complex structures of life, a Darwinian process would have to take numerous coherent steps, a series of beneficial mutations that successively build on each other, leading to a complex outcome. In order to do so in the real world, rather than just in our imaginations, there must be a biological route to the structure that stands a reasonable chance of success in nature. In other words, variation, selection, and inheritance will only work if there is also a smooth evolutionary pathway leading from biological point A to biological point B. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p5.]

· This point is crucial: If there is not a smooth, gradually rising, easily found evolutionary pathway leading to a biological system within a reasonable time, Darwinian processes won’t work. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p7.]

· Darwin’s theory claims that random genetic accidents and natural selection working over eons will yield results that don’t look at all like the effects of chance. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p9.]

· Evolution from a common ancestor, via changes in DNA, is very well supported. It may or may not be random. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p12.]

· When scientists sequence a genome, they are unfurling rich evidence of evolution—Darwinian or otherwise—unavailable by any other method of inquiry. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p12.]

· Malaria offers some of the best examples of Darwinian evolution, but that evidence points both to what it can, and more important what it cannot, do. Similarly, changes in the human genome, in response to malaria, also point to the radical limits on the efficacy of random mutation. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p13.]

· I make every effort to keep technical details to a minimum, and some of them are confined to the appendices. But there is no way around the fact that this subject requires technical details. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p13.]

· Random mutation is a completely adequate explanation for some features of life, but not for others. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p14.]

2 Arms Race or Trench Warfare?

· How often does random mutation produce a “beneficial” change like sickle trait? By studying the DNA of many human populations, scientists have concluded that this particular mutation has arisen independently no more than a few times in the past ten thousand years—possibly only once.5 [Although some authors think the sickle gene arose independently more than once, Cavalli-Sforza argues for a single origin (Cavalli-Sforza, L. L., Menozzi, P., and Piazza, A. 1994. The history and geography of human genes. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.)] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p26.]

· It is crystal clear that the spread of the sickle gene is the result of Darwinian evolution—natural selection acting on random mutation. In fact, it’s so transparent that the example of the sickle gene is nearly always used to teach biology students about evolution. Even in the professional literature sickle cell disease is still called, along with other mutations related to malaria, “one of the best examples of natural selection acting on the human genome.”10 [Tishkoff, S. A., Varkonyi, R., Cahinhinan, N., Abbes, S., Argyropoulos, G., Destro-Bisol, G., Drousiotou, A., Dangerfield, B., Lefranc, G., Loiselet, J., Piro, A., Stoneking, M., Tagarelli, A., Tagarelli, G., Touma, E. H., Williams, S.M., and Clark, A. G. 2001. Haplotype diversity and linkage disequilibrium at human G6PD: recent origin of alleles that confer malarial resistance. Science 293:455–62.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p29.]

· Perhaps, as advocates of Darwinian evolution argue, we can jump directly from this pristine example to the conclusion that all of life—the complex machinery of the cell, the human mind, and everything in between—can be explained the same way. But can we? [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p29.]

3 The Mathematical Limits of Darwinism

· The development of drug resistance in malaria, like the development of the sickle cell gene and thalassemia in humans, is a crystal clear example of Darwinian evolution in action. We see it all right there—the selective pressure exerted on malaria by toxic drugs, the occasional mutations that make one bug more fit than its kin, the spreading of the mutation through the population. Yet malaria beautifully illustrates both the strengths and the shortcomings of the sort of blind search that Darwinian evolution demands. And with the help of mathematics, we can finally begin to achieve some precision about the limits of random mutation. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p51, 52.]

· What is the total number of creatures in the line leading to humans since it split from the line leading to modern chimps less than ten million years ago? If the average generation span of humanoids is rounded down, conservatively, to about ten years, then a generous estimate is that perhaps a trillion creatures have preceded us in the past ten million years.19 Although that’s a lot, it’s still much, much less than the number of malarial parasites it takes to develop chloroquine resistance. The ratio of humanoid creatures in the past ten million years to the number of parasites needed for chloroquine resistance is one to a hundred million. [Ten million years divided by one generation per ten years times a million creatures per generation.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p60.]

· On average, for humans to achieve a mutation like this by chance, we would need to wait a hundred million times ten million years. Since that is many times the age of the universe, it’s reasonable to conclude the following: No mutation that is of the same complexity as chloroquine resistance in malaria arose by Darwinian evolution in the line leading to humans in the past ten million years. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p61.]

· Workers at the University of Georgia have estimated that about a billion billion trillion (1030) bacterial cells are formed on the earth each and every year.23 (Bacteria are by far the most numerous type of organisms on earth.) If that number has been the same over the entire several-billion-year history of the world, then throughout the course of history there would have been slightly fewer than 1040 cells, a bit less than we’d expect to need to get a double CCC. The conclusion, then, is that the odds are slightly against even one double CCC showing up by Darwinian processes in the entire course of life on earth. [Whitman, W. B., Coleman, D. C., Wiebe, W. J. 1998. Prokaryotes: the unseen majority. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 95:6578–83.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p63.]

4 What Darwinism Can Do

· Writes Ernst Mayr: That writers on Darwin have nevertheless almost invariably spoken of the combination of these various theories as “Darwin’s theory” in the singular is in part Darwin’s own doing. He not only referred to the theory of evolution by common descent as “my theory,” but he also called the theory of evolution by natural selection “my theory,” as if common descent and natural selection were a single theory…. [Darwin] ascribed many phenomena, particularly those of geographic distribution, to natural selection when they were really the consequences of common descent.1 [Mayr, E. 1991. One long argument: Charles Darwin and the genesis of modern evolutionary thought. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, p. 36.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p64, 65.]

· Over the next few sections I’ll show some of the newest evidence from studies of DNA that convinces most scientists, including myself, that one leg of Darwin’s theory—common descent—is correct. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p65.]

· How often do mutations occur? Any one particular nucleotide (like, say, the one that will give the sickle mutation) is freshly substituted about once every hundred million births.7 Small insertion and deletion mutations pop up roughly at the same rate. Gene duplications also seem to occur at about the same frequency.8 So if the population size of a species is a hundred million, then on average each and every nucleotide is substituted in some youngster in each generation, and each gene is also duplicated in someone, somewhere. And so on. On the other hand, if the population size is only a hundred thousand, it would take a thousand generations for a duplicate of a particular gene or a particular nucleotide substitution to arise (on average)—because that’s how long it would take to reproduce a hundred million organisms. [7.Drake, J. W., Charlesworth, B., Charlesworth, D., and Crow, J. F. 1998. Rates of spontaneous mutation. Genetics 148:1667–86. 8.Lynch, M., Conery, J. S. 2000. The evolutionary fate and consequences of duplicate genes. Science 290:1151–55. However, other workers have estimated a much lower rate of gene duplication (Gao, L. Z., Innan, H. 2004. Very low gene duplication rate in the yeast genome. Science 306:1367–70).] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p68, 69.]

· A word of caution. Although substitutions, insertions, deletions, and duplications all happen roughly at the same rate, there is a critical distinction between breaking something old and building something new. It’s always easier and faster to blow up a bridge than to build one. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p69.]

· In the 1980s scientists compared data from modern humans and proposed the hypothesis of “Mitochondrial Eve”—that all modern humans are descended from a single woman who lived perhaps a hundred thousand years ago. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p69.]

· That strong evidence from the pseudogene points well beyond the ancestry of humans. Despite some remaining puzzles,11 there’s no reason to doubt that Darwin had this point right, that all creatures on earth are biological relatives. [Bapteste, E., Susko, E., Leigh, J., MacLeod, D., Charlebois, R. L., and Doolittle, W. F. 2005. Do orthologous gene phylogenies really support tree-thinking? BMC Evol. Biol. 5:33.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p72.]

· The bottom line is this. Common descent is true; yet the explanation of common descent—even the common descent of humans and chimps—although fascinating, is in a profound sense trivial. It says merely that commonalities were there from the start, present in a common ancestor. It does not even begin to explain where those commonalities came from, or how humans subsequently acquired remarkable differences. Something that is nonrandom must account for the common descent of life. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p72.]

· Charles Darwin deserves a lot of credit. Although it had been proposed before him, he championed the idea of common descent and gathered a lot of evidence to support it. Despite some puzzles, much evidence from sequencing projects and other work points very strongly to common ancestry. Darwin also proposed the concept of random variation/natural selection. Selection does explain a number of important details of life—including the development of sickle hemoglobin, drug and insecticide resistance, and cold tolerance in fish—where progress can come in tiny steps. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p83.]

· But, although Darwin hoped otherwise, random variation doesn’t explain the most basic features of biology. It doesn’t explain the elegant, sophisticated molecular machinery that undergirds life. To account for that—and to account for the root and thick branches of the tree of common descent—multiple coherent genetic mutations are needed. Now that we know what sorts of mutations can happen to DNA, and what random changes can produce, we can begin to do the math to find the edge of evolution with some precision. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p83.]

5 What Darwinism Can’t Do

· In Darwin’s era in the nineteenth century the cell seemed boringly simple. The eminent embryologist Ernst Haeckel called it a “simple little lump of albuminous combination of carbon”10—in other words, just some gray goo. As it grew up over the years science has learned that the cell is tremendously more complex than Haeckel thought. [Farley, J. 1977. The spontaneous generation controversy from Descartes to Oparin. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, p. 73.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p93.]

· An updated search of the science journals, where experts in the field publish their work, again shows no serious progress on a Darwinian explanation for the ultracomplex cilium.13 Despite the amazing advance of molecular biology as a whole, despite the sequencing of hundreds of entire genomes and other leaps in knowledge, despite the provocation of Darwin’s Black Box itself, in the more than ten years since I pointed it out the situation concerning missing Darwinian explanations for the evolution of the cilium is utterly unchanged.14 [13.But there is never a shortage of Darwinian conjecture. For an example, see Jekely, G., and Arendt, D. 2006. Evolution of intraflagellar transport from coated vesicles and autogenous origin of the eukaryotic cilium. Bioessays 28:191–98. Published in the “Hypotheses” section of the journal, the paper contains statements such as, “What was the initial advantage of membrane polarisation? One possibility is that the specialised membrane patch was advantageous for directional sensing,” and, “It is also possible that compartmentalisation was favoured because of the nature of the receptor-mediated signalling pathways.” In other words, the paper offers speculation. 14.I discuss the state of the science literature ten years after its original publication in the Afterword of the tenth-anniversary edition of Darwin’s Black Box.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p95.]

· The cilium is no fluke. The cell is full of structures whose complexity is substantially greater than we knew just ten years ago. (In Appendix C, I discuss intricacies of the bacterial flagellum and its construction, for readers who enjoy plenty of details.) The critical question is, of course, Can mutation of DNA explain this? Or rather, can random mutation explain it? Life descended from a common ancestor, so DNA did mutate—change from species to species. But what drove the crucial changes? [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p95.]

· Simply put, the more closely we examine the cell, the more elegant and sophisticated we discover it to be. Complex, functional structures such as the cilium and flagellum are just the beginning. They demand intricate construction machinery and control programs to build them. Without those support systems, the final structures wouldn’t be possible. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p100.]

· Control of construction projects and other activities in the cell is difficult for scientists to investigate, because “control” is not a physical object like a particular molecule that can be isolated in a test tube. It’s a matter of timing and arrangement. The upshot is that even now in the twenty-first century—more than fifty years after the double helical shape of DNA was discovered by Watson and Crick, and decades after the first X-ray crystal structures of proteins were elucidated—science is still discovering fundamental new mechanisms by which the operation of the cell is controlled. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p100.]

· Recently—some sixty-five years after George Beadle and Edward Tatum proposed the classic definition of a gene as a region of DNA that codes for an enzyme—an issue of the journal Nature ran a feature with the remarkable title “What Is a Gene?” The gist of the article was that the control systems that affect when, where, and how much of a particular protein is made are becoming so complex, and their distribution in the DNA so widespread, that the very concept of a “gene” as a discrete region of DNA is no longer adequate. Marvels the writer, “The picture these studies paint is one of mind-boggling complexity.”18 [Pearson, H. 2006. Genetics: what is a gene? Nature 441:398–401.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p100, 101.]

· The structural elegance of systems such as the cilium, the functional sophistication of the pathways that construct them, and the total lack of serious Darwinian explanations all point insistently to the same conclusion: They are far past the edge of evolution. Such coherent, complex, cellular systems did not arise by random mutation and natural selection. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p102.]

6 Benchmarks

· Writing of other matters in their book Speciation, evolutionary biologists Jerry Coyne and Allen Orr pinpoint the key principle: The goal of theory, however, is to determine not just whether a phenomenon is theoretically possible, but whether it is biologically reasonable—that is, whether it occurs with significant frequency under conditions that are likely to occur in nature.1 [Coyne, J. A., and Orr, H. A. 2004. Speciation. Sunderland, Mass.: Sinauer Associates, p. 136.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p103.]

· The criteria, spelled out in more detail over the rest of the chapter, are the following: First, steps. The more intermediate evolutionary steps that must be climbed to achieve some biological goal without reaping a net benefit, the more unlikely a Darwinian explanation. Second, coherence. A telltale signature of planning is the coherent ordering of steps toward a goal. Random mutation, on the other hand, is incoherent; that is, any given evolutionary step taken by a population of organisms is unlikely to be connected to its predecessor. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p104.]

· A few years ago a curious fellow decided to test the old saw that, given typewriters and enough time, an army of monkeys would eventually produce the works of Shakespeare. A computer with keyboard was placed in a cage containing six macaques in a British zoo and left for four weeks. The result? “The macaques—Elmo, Gum, Heather, Holly, Mistletoe and Rowan—produced just five pages of text between them, primarily filled with the letter S. There were greater signs of creativity towards the end, with the letters A, J, L and M making fleeting appearances, but they wrote nothing even close to a word of human language.”3 The five pages have been published under the ironic title “Notes towards the Complete Works of Shakespeare.” [Adam, D. Give six monkeys a computer, and what do you get? Certainly not the Bard. The Guardian. 5-9-2003.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p104, 105.]

· University of Rochester evolutionary biologist H. Allen Orr recently seconded John Maynard Smith’s reasoning: Given realistically low mutation rates, double mutants will be so rare that adaptation is essentially constrained to surveying—and substituting—one-mutational step neighbors. Thus if a double-mutant sequence is favorable but all single amino acid mutants are deleterious, adaptation will generally not proceed.5 [Orr, H. A. 2003. A minimum on the mean number of steps taken in adaptive walks. J. Theor. Biol. 220:241–47.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p106.]

· Random mutation is the perfect tool for the evolutionary job when steps are continuous and close together. When there are some broken stairs, with small gaps between steps, it’s a potential tool. (…) Yet, as with human athletes and missing stairs, there comes a point where even the most abundant population on earth cannot jump an evolutionary barrier. Random mutation is almost certainly useless, even for the largest populations, when a flight of stairs is missing between biological floors. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p108, 109.]

· Why is that so hard? Switching those two amino acids at the same time would be very difficult for the same reason that developing resistance to a cocktail of drugs is difficult for malaria—the odds against getting two needed steps at once are the multiple of the odds for each step happening on its own.

· What are those odds? Very low. The human genome is composed of over three billion nucleotides. Yet only a hundred million nucleotides seem to be critical, coding for proteins or necessary control features. The mutation rate in humans (and many other species) is around this same number; that is, approximately one in a hundred million nucleotides is changed in a baby compared to its parents (in other words, a total of about thirty changes per generation in the baby’s three-billion-nucleotide genome, one of which might be in coding or control regions).6 In order to get the sickle mutation, we can’t change just any nucleotide in human DNA; the change has to occur at exactly the right spot. So the probability that one of those mutations will be in the right place is one out of a hundred million. Put another way, only one out of every hundred million babies is born with a new mutation that gives it sickle hemoglobin. Over a hundred generations in a population of a million people, we would expect the mutation to occur once by chance. That’s within the range of what can be done by mutation/selection. [Drake, J. W., Charlesworth, B., Charlesworth, D., and Crow, J. F. 1998. Rates of spontaneous mutation. Genetics 148:1667–86.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p109, 110.]

· To get hemoglobin C-Harlem, in addition to the sickle mutation we have to get the other mutation in the beta chain, the one at position 73. The odds of getting the second mutation in exactly the right spot are again about one in a hundred million. So the odds of getting both mutations right, to give hemoglobin C-Harlem in one generation in an individual whose parents have normal hemoglobin, are about a hundred million times a hundred million (1016). On average, then, nature needs about that many babies in order to find just one that has the right double mutation. With a generation time of ten years and an average population size of a million people, on average it should take about a hundred billion years for that particular mutation to arise—more than the age of the universe. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p110.]

· The Darwinian magic works well only when intermediate steps are each better (“more fit”) than preceding steps, so that the mutant gene increases in number in the population as natural selection favors the offspring of people who have it. Yet its usefulness quickly declines when intermediate steps are worse than earlier steps, and it is pretty much worthless if several required intervening steps aren’t improvements. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p112.]

7 The Two-Binding-Sites Rule

· As former president of the National Academy of Sciences Bruce Alberts remarked: We can walk and we can talk because the chemistry that makes life possible is much more elaborate and sophisticated than anything we students had ever considered…. [I]nstead of a cell dominated by randomly colliding individual protein molecules, we now know that nearly every major process in a cell is carried out by assemblies of 10 or more protein molecules. And, as it carries out its biological functions, each of these protein assemblies interacts with several other large complexes of proteins. Indeed, the entire cell can be viewed as a factory that contains an elaborate network of interlocking assembly lines, each of which is composed of a set of large protein machines.1 [Alberts, B. 1998. The cell as a collection of protein machines: preparing the next generation of molecular biologists. Cell 92:291–94.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p124, 125.]

· As a recent issue of Nature put it: The cell’s macromolecular machines contain dozens or even hundreds of components. But unlike man made machines, which are built on assembly lines, these cellular machines assemble spontaneously from their protein and nucleic-acid components. It is as though cars could be manufactured by merely tumbling their parts onto the factory floor.2 [Woodson, S. A. 2005. Biophysics: assembly line inspection. Nature 438:566–67.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p126.]

· So one way to get a new binding site would be to change just five or six amino acids in a coherent patch in the right way.12 This very rough estimation fits nicely with studies that have been done on protein structure.13 Five or six amino acids may not sound like very much at first, since proteins are often made of hundreds of amino acids. But five or six amino acid substitutions means that reaching the goal requires five or six coherent mutational steps—just to get two proteins to bind to each other. As we saw in the last chapter, even one missing step makes the job much much tougher for Darwin than when steps are continuous. If multiple steps are missing, the job becomes exponentially more difficult. [12.As discussed in Chapter 7, there are different kinds of mutations—deletions, duplications, and so on. But point mutation represents the conceptually simplest, most straightforward route. This calculation uses consensus values for important variables. One could certainly imagine other scenarios for making a new protein-binding site, for example by first invoking gene duplication and then point mutation. But those are either unlikely to help much (Behe, M. J., and Snoke, D. W. 2004. Simulating evolution by gene duplication of protein features that require multiple amino acid residues. Protein Sci. 13:2651–64) or likely to involve special circumstances that amount to a Just-So story. All alternative scenarios would have to confront the fact that no new binding sites have turned up in the best-studied evolutionary cases of malaria and HIV, as described later in the text. 13.Even though protein-binding sites often involve a score of amino acids on each of the partners, experiments have shown that only a fraction of those are important for having the two proteins stick to each other. (For example, see Braden, B. C., and Poljak, R. J. 1995. Structural features of the reactions between antibodies and protein antigens. FASEB J. 9:9–16; Lo Conte, L., Chothia, C., and Janin, J. 1999. The atomic structure of protein-protein recognition sites. J. Mol. Biol. 285:2177–98; Ma, B., Elkayam, T., Wolfson, H., and Nussinov, R. 2003. Protein-protein interactions: structurally conserved residues distinguish between binding sites and exposed protein surfaces. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 100:5772–77.) In terms of the swimming pool analogy, the five or six residues represent bumps and magnets that are aligned very nicely; if enough are aligned, then it doesn’t matter so much if other features aren’t aligned, as long as they don’t actively block the surfaces from coming together.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p134.]

· In other words (keeping in mind the roughness of the calculation): Generating a single new cellular protein-protein binding site is of the same order of difficulty or worse than the development of chloroquine resistance in the malarial parasite. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p135.]

· Now suppose that, in order to acquire some new, useful property, not just one but two new protein-binding sites had to develop. A CCC requires, on average, 1020, a hundred billlion billion, organisms—more than the number of mammals that has ever existed on earth. So if other things were equal, the likelihood of getting two new binding sites would be what we called in Chapter 3 a “double CCC”—the square of a CCC, or one in ten to the fortieth power. Since that’s more cells than likely have ever existed on earth, such an event would not be expected to have happened by Darwinian processes in the history of the world. Admittedly, statistics are all about averages, so some freak event like this might happen—it’s not ruled out by force of logic. But it is not biologically reasonable to expect it, or less likely events that occurred in the common descent of life on earth. In short, complexes of just three or more different proteins are beyond the edge of evolution. They are lost in shape space. And the great majority of proteins in the cell work in complexes of six or more. Far beyond that edge. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p135.]

· In science as in other areas of life, it’s easy to fool yourself if you aren’t careful. A lot of ideas seem plausible at first blush, but when you check them against the facts they don’t work out. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p135.]

· Other than sickle hemoglobin (an exception we’ll discuss in the next chapter), has the war with malaria caused humanity to evolve any new cellular protein-protein interactions? No. A survey of all known human evolutionary responses to the parasite includes no novel protein interactions. Although it can’t be ruled out that some such thing has developed but escaped detection, we can be certain that its effects are (or were) weaker than those of the sickle mutation, thalassemia, and the other simple fractured genes, because they did not prevail over time. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p136.]

· Since widespread drug treatments first appeared about fifty years ago, more than 1020, a hundred billion billion, malarial cells have been born in infested regions. It thus appears that the likelihood of the development of a new, useful, specific protein-protein interaction is less than one in 1020. Since sickle hemoglobin, thalassemia, and other human genetic responses have appeared, probably another thousandfold P. falciparum, 1023, have infected humans, with no known protein-protein interactions, or any other effective response, having developed. So it seems that the odds of the development of a new, useful, specific, protein-protein interaction are less than one in 1023—worse than a CCC. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p136, 137.]

· But what about its ability to quickly evolve drug resistance and evade the immune system? Doesn’t that show that Darwinian evolution is very powerful? Isn’t that a sophisticated maneuver? No. It turns out that HIV employs the same modest tricks that malaria uses to evade drugs—mostly simple point mutations to decrease the binding of the poison to its pathogen target. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p139.]

· The bottom line: Despite huge population numbers and intense selective pressure, microbes as disparate as malaria and HIV yield similar, minor, evolutionary responses. Darwinists have loudly celebrated studies of finch beaks, showing modest changes in the shapes and sizes of beaks over time, as the finches’ food supplies changed. But here we have genetic studies over thousands upon thousands of generations, of trillions upon trillions of organisms, and little of biochemical significance to show for it. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p140.]

· The fact that malaria, with a billion fold more chances, gave a pattern very similar to the more modest studies on E. coli strongly suggests that that’s all Darwinism can do. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p142.]

· If the great majority of cellular protein-protein interactions are beyond the edge of evolution, it is reasonable to view the entire cell itself as a nonrandom, integrated whole—like a well-planned factory, as National Academy of Sciences president Bruce Alberts suggested. This conclusion isn’t a “God of the gaps” argument. Nonrandomness isn’t a rare property of just a handful of extra-complex features of the cell. Rather, it encompasses the cellular foundation of life as a whole. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p146. 147.]

8 Objections to The Edge

· Time has always figured prominently in Darwinian explanations. Although few changes can be noticed in our own age, Darwinists say, over vast stretches of geological time imperceptible modifications of life can add up to profound ones. It’s no wonder that we don’t see much coherent variation going on in the biology of our everyday world—evolutionary processes are so slow that a human lifetime is like a moment. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p152, 153.]

· Time is actually not the chief factor in evolution—population numbers are. In calculating how quickly a beneficial mutation might appear, evolutionary biologists multiply the mutation rate by the population size. Since for many kinds of organisms the mutation rate is pretty similar, the waiting time for the appearance of helpful mutations depends mostly on numbers of organisms: The bigger the population or the faster the reproduction cycle, the more quickly a particular mutation will show up. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p153.]

· HIV has run the gamut of all the possible substitution mutations, a gamut that would require billions of years for cells to experience. Yet all those mutations have changed the virus very little. Our experience with HIV gives good reason to think that Darwinism doesn’t do much—even with billions of years and all the cells in the world at its disposal. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p154, 155.]

· Incidentally, the results with HIV also shed light on the topic of the origin of life on earth. It has been speculated that life started out modestly, as viral-like strings of RNA, and then increased in complexity to yield cells. The extremely modest changes in HIV throw cold water on that idea. In 1020 copies, HIV developed nothing significantly new or complex. Extrapolating from what we know, such ambitious Darwinian early-earth scenarios appear to be ruled out. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p155.]

· A biochemistry textbook typically observes, “Although living organisms…are enormously diverse in their macroscopic properties, there is a remarkable similarity in their biochemistry that provides a unifying theme with which to study them.”9 [Voet, D., and Voet, J. G. 2004. Biochemistry. New York: J. Wiley & Sons, p.14.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p156.]

· The physical forces between proteins do not vary from organism to organism, nor does protein shape space depend on species. Since the criterion we are using to determine the edge of evolution is the development of specific protein-protein interactions, which is one of the most fundamental features of life, in that regard malaria is no different from any other organism. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p156.]

· Random mutation did not build either the complex cellular machinery of respiration or any other. Left to its own devices, mutation and selection produce the disjointed, limited responses we see for the case of modern antibiotics. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p156.]

· When you are building a fine-tuned, multicomponent cellular structure, the problem gets exponentially more severe at each step, as many specialized components are required. The bottom line is, it’s reasonable to think that building multiprotein complexes one protein at a time is also well beyond the edge of evolution. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p158.]

· Although Darwin’s is one theory of how unintelligent forces may mimic intent, it isn’t the only one. So if random mutation and natural selection can’t do the trick, maybe some other unintelligent process can. Although Darwin’s theory is far and away most biologists’ favored account for the appearance of design in life, a minority of biologists think it’s woefully inadequate and prefer other unintelligent explanations. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p158, 159.]

· In many ways Shapiro has a higher, more respectful view of the genome than do Darwinists. Over the years, some Darwinists have derided portions of DNA where sequences are repeated many times as “junk.” Shapiro disagrees: Despite its abundance, the repetitive component of the genome is often called “junk,” “selfish,” or “parasitic” DNA…. We feel it is timely to present an alternative “functionalist” point of view. The discovery of repetitive DNA presents a conceptual problem for traditional gene-based notions of hereditary information…. Weargue here that a more fruitful interpretation of sequence data may result from thinking about genomes as information storage systems with parallels to electronic information storage systems. From this informatics perspective, repetitive DNA is an essential component of genomes; it is required for formatting coding information so that it can be accurately expressed and for formatting DNA molecules for transmission to new generations of cells.11 [Shapiro, J. A., and Sternberg R. V. 2005. Why repetitive DNA is essential to genome function. Biological Reviews 80:227–50.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p160.]

· Shapiro thinks the genome is much more sophisticated than we had supposed; it’s like a computer that contains not only specific programs, but an entire operating system. Shapiro’s thinking makes random (although not “Darwinian”) evolution more plausible, because the randomness includes steps that are more likely to be helpful.12 [Some scientists such as Shapiro restrict the term “Darwinian” to mutations of small effect, and thus think of big events such as gene duplications or transpositions as “non-Darwinian.”] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p160.]

· ndeed, the work on malaria and AIDS demonstrates that all possible unintelligent processes in the cell—both ones we’ve discovered so far and ones we haven’t—at best have extremely limited benefit, since no such process was able to do much of anything. It’s critical to notice that no artificial limitations were placed on the kinds of mutations or processes the microorganisms could undergo in nature. Nothing—neither point mutation, deletion, insertion, gene duplication, transposition, genome duplication, self-organization, self-engineering, nor any other process as yet undiscovered—was of much use. Darwinism helped the parasites a little bit, so it takes the prize for the best of the unintelligent mechanisms. But any other putative non-Darwinian, unintelligent processes were undetectable. It’s reasonable to conclude, then, that all other unintelligent processes are even less effective than Darwinism. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p162.]

· Yet if it can do so little, why is random mutation / natural selection so highly regarded by biologists? Because the dominant theory requires it. There is ample precedent in the history of science for the overwhelming bulk of the scientific community strongly believing in imaginary entities postulated by a favored theory. For example, in the nineteenth century physicists knew that light behaved as a wave, but a wave in what? Ocean waves travel through water, sound waves through air; what medium do light waves travel through as they traverse space from the sun to the earth? The answer, announced with the utmost confidence by James Clerk Maxwell, the greatest physicist of the age, was the “aether” (that is, “ether”).17 [Maxwell, J. C. 1952. The scientific papers of James Clerk Maxwell. New York: Dover Publications; “Ether,” Encyclopaedia Brittanica, ninth edition, pp. 763–75.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p163.]

· In his article “Ether,” published in the Encyclopedia Brittanica in the 1870s for all the world to read, the eminent Maxwell simply voiced the shared certainty of the entire physics community: Light was a wave, a wave needed a medium, the medium was called ether. In the encyclopedia article Maxwell not only proclaimed the existence of the ether, he precisely calculated its density and coefficient of rigidity! But in 1887 Albert Michelson and Edward Morley conducted a now-classic experiment to discern the presence of the ether, and found absolutely nothing. No trace of the “essential” substance. Whether the physicists’ theories needed it or not, no ether could be detected. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p163.]

· Just as nineteenth-century physics presumed light to be carried by the ether, so modern Darwinian biology postulates random mutation and natural selection constructed the sophisticated, coherent machinery of the cell. Unfortunately, the inability to test the theory has hampered its critical appraisal and led to rampant speculation. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p163.]

· What caused DNA to change in nonrandom, helpful ways? One can envision several possibilities. The first is bare chance—earth was just spectacularly lucky. Although we have no right to expect all the many beneficial mutations that led to intelligent life here, they happened anyway, for no particular reason. Life on earth bought Powerball lottery ticket after lottery ticket, and all the tickets simply happened to be grand prize winners. The next possibility is that some unknown law or laws exist that made the cellular outcomes much more likely than we now have reason to suppose. If we eventually determine those laws, however, we’ll see that the particular machinery of life we have discovered was in a sense written into the laws. A third possibility is that, although mutation is indeed random, at many critical historical junctures the environment somehow favored certain explicit mutations that channeled separate molecular parts together into coherent systems. In this view the credit for the elegant machinery of the cell should go not so much to Darwin’s mechanism as to the outside world, the environment at large. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p165.]

· The first possibility—sheer chance—is deeply unsatisfying when invoked on such a massive scale. Science—and human rationality in general—strives to explain features of the world with reasons. Although serendipity certainly plays its part in nature, advancing sheer chance as an explanation for profoundly functional features of life strikes me as akin to abandoning reason altogether. The second and third possibilities both seem inadequate on other grounds. They both seem in a sense to be merely sweeping the problem of the complexity of life under the rug. The second possibility replaces the astounding complexity of life with some unknown law that itself must be ultracomplex. The third possibility simply projects the functional complexity of life onto the environment. But, even in theory, neither the second nor third possibilities actually reduce complexity to simplicity, as Darwin’s failed explanation once promised to do. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p165, 166.]

· Instead, I conclude that another possibility is more likely: The elegant, coherent, functional systems upon which life depends are the result of deliberate intelligent design. Now, I am keenly aware that in the past few years many people in the country have come to regard the phrase “intelligent design” as fighting words, because to them, the word “design” is synonymous with “creationism,” and thus opens the door to treating the Bible as some sort of scientific textbook (which would be silly). That is an unfortunate misimpression. The idea of intelligent design, although congenial to some religious views of the universe, is independent of them. For example, the possibility of intelligent design is quite compatible with common descent, which some religious people disdain. What’s more, although some religious thinkers envision active, continuing intervention in nature, intelligent design is quite compatible with the view that the universe operates by unbroken natural law, with the design of life perhaps packed into its initial set-up. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p166.]

9 The Cathedral and The Spandrels

· Were just the simpler, prokaryotic cells designed? Could the more complex eukaryotic cells have evolved from them over time by unintelligent processes? In other words, given the simpler, designed cells in the distant past as a starting point, is it biologically reasonable to think that random mutation and natural selection could reach the more complex cells? No. Eukaryotic cells contain a raft of complex functional systems that the simpler prokaryotes lack, systems that are enormously beyond Darwinian processes. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p171, 172.]

· evolutionary developmental biologists Marc Kirschner and John Gerhart exclaim in The Plausibility of Life, “enormous innovations attended the evolution of the first single-celled eukaryotes one and a half to two billion years ago.”1 [Kirschner, M., and Gerhart, J. 2005. The plausibility of life: resolving Darwin’s dilemma. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, p. 53.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p172.]

· So design extends beyond the simplest cells at least to more complex cells, which is the biological level of “kingdom.” Does it go further? Although prokaryotes are single-celled organisms, not all eukaryotes are. Eukaryotes include not only single-celled organisms such as yeast and malaria, but also multicellular organisms: plants, and animals from jellyfish to insects to humans. So does design stop at the eukaryotic cell, or does it extend to multicellular organisms? More pointedly, given a generic, designed, eukaryotic cell in the distant past, is it biologically reasonable to think that over time the rest of life developed from it entirely by unintelligent processes? [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p172.]

· Like a computer, whose overall shape is visible to the naked eye but whose basic workings take place in microscopic circuits, animals live or die depending on the workings of invisible molecular machines. So to locate the edge of evolution, we have to understand the molecular differences between levels of life. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p173.]

· When Darwin mused about how a bear might turn into a whale, or a light-sensitive spot into a full-fledged eye, he did so unhindered by knowledge of what would be needed for such transformations to occur. For a century after Darwin died, only inklings of the process arose as biologists investigated life. Reports of misshapen animals with missing or extra limbs or organs titillated scientific curiosity, but the beginnings of genuine understanding awaited the discovery of the molecular foundations of life. Once the molecular structure of DNA was unveiled in the 1950s, some of the necessary conceptual foundation was laid. The fog was gradually lifting; now science understood somewhat more clearly how molecules went about performing the necessary tasks of life. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p173, 174.]

· By crossbreeding a very large number of fruit flies in the 1970s, the Cal Tech geneticist Edward Lewis showed that the DNA in one region of one of Drosophila’s chromosomes contained a number of genes that appeared to regulate the development of different regions of the body of the fly. Curiously, the genes appeared to be arranged on the chromosome in the same order as the segments of the fly that they helped control, ranging from genes controlling development of head parts at the leftmost, genes for the thorax in the middle, and genes for the abdomen at the right. Mutations in these genes sometimes had bizarre effects, including the formation of flies with four wings instead of two, or flies that had legs emerging from their heads where antennae should have been. Such monstrous alterations, which caused different sections of the animal’s body to be mixed up, were dubbed “homeotic” mutations. The important biological point was that one or a few mutations could cause big mix-ups in the body plan of the animal. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p176, 177.]

· Cal Tech biologist Eric Davidson emphasizes what the task of building an animal demands: The most cursory consideration of the developmental process produces the realization that the program must have remarkable capacities, for development imposes extreme regulatory demands…Metaphors often have undesirable lives of their own, but a useful one here is to consider the regulatory demands of building a large and complex edifice, the way this is done by modern construction firms. All of the structural characters of the edifice, from its overall form to minute aspects that determine its local functionalities such as placement of wiring and windows, must be specified in the architect’s blueprints. The blueprints determine the activities of the construction crews from beginning to end.3 [Davidson, E. H. 2000. Genomic regulatory systems: development and evolution. San Diego: Academic Press, pp. 11–12.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p178.]

· With the discovery of master genetic regulatory programs for animal body modules, it seemed a viable path had opened up around Darwin’s tedious insistence that evolution must always be gradual. Instead of changing letter by letter, now monkeys could rearrange whole chapters at a time. Now random mutation and natural selection could work by leaps and bounds. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p182.]

· The recent exciting advances in understanding the genetic basis of animal embryology have helped spark a new field of inquiry dubbed “evolutionary developmental biology” or “evo-devo,” for short. Evo-devo looks both at how animals are built in each generation and at how they might have evolved over millennia. Proponents of evo-devo typically whistle gingerly past questions of how basic cellular machinery may have come about by unintelligent processes at the start. But, given a generic eukaryotic cell that has been endowed with what’s been styled a “tool kit” of regulatory genes, they imagine they can scout a path for mutation and selection to go from such humble creatures as flatworms, past insects and arachnids, up through fish, all the way to cats. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p182, 183.]

· François Jacob wrote, “When I started in biology in the 1950s, the idea was that the molecules from one organism were very different from the molecules from another organism. For instance, cows had cow molecules and goats had goat molecules and snakes had snake molecules, and it was because they were made of cow molecules that a cow was a cow.”18 As Jacob ultimately learned, however, that was completely wrong. [quoted in Hartl, 2005. Hartl tries to give this a positive spin. “Darwin could not have dreamed of such a spectacular confirmation of his theory of descent with modification [that is, similar molecules in different animals].” But Jacob was using Darwin’s theory to reason that cows should have cow molecules. If that had transpired, no Darwinist would have been surprised. The surprise to Darwinists was that their expectations based on Darwin’s theory were wrong, that cows in fact didn’t have special cow molecules. Hartl goes on: “For creationists, this must be a nightmare, for any sensible model of creationism would predict cows to have cow molecules, goats to have goat molecules, and snakes to have snake molecules.” But it was Jacob and other leading Darwinists themselves who confidently expected different molecules for different species.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p188, 189.]

· In the 1960s Ernst Mayr, an architect of the neo-Darwinian synthesis, confidently predicted on Darwinian grounds that “the search for homologous genes is quite futile,” of which Sean Carroll notes, “The view was entirely incorrect.”19 In retrospect, it is astounding to realize that the strong molecular similarity of life, which Darwinists now routinely (and incorrectly) appropriate as support for their entire theory, was not anticipated by them. They expected the opposite. [Carroll. 2005, pp. 71–72.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p189.]

· Mathematicians, too, were fooled. “Many theoreticians sought to explain how periodic patterns [such as fruit fly embryo segments] could be organized across large structures. While the maths and models are beautiful, none of this theory has been borne out by the discoveries of the last twenty years.” “The continuing mistake is being seduced into believing that simple rules that can generate patterns on a computer screen are the rules that generate patterns in biology.”20 [Ibid., pp. 123, 318.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p189.]

· Writes Carroll, “The most stunning discovery of Evo Devo [that similar genes shape dissimilar animals]…was entirely unanticipated.”21 And “biologists were long misled” to think that simple legs were quite different from complex legs. “But it is wrong.”22 [21.Ibid., p. 285. 22.Ibid., p. 173.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p189.]

· Kirschner and Gerhart are repeatedly surprised: They have a section entitled “The Surprising Conservation of Compartments.”23 And “It came as a surprise (if not a shock)” to find the same regulatory genes expressed in the heads of Drosophila and mammals. “Until that time, it was widely thought that the vertebrate head is entirely novel, the invention of our phylum.”24 According to Walter Gehring, the same goes for eyes. “This is an unexpected finding since the single lens eye of vertebrates was generally considered to have evolved independently of the compound eye of insects because these two eye types are morphologically completely different.”25 [23.Kirschner, M., and Gerhart, J. 2005, p. 195. 24.Ibid., p. 196. 25.Gehring. 1996.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p189, 190.]

· Time and again, by intentionally reasoning about animal life on Darwinian principles, the best minds in science have been misled. They justifiably expected randomness and simplicity, but discovered depths of elegance, order, and complexity. As National Academy of Sciences president Bruce Alberts exclaimed, “We can walk and we can talk because the chemistry that makes life possible is much more elaborate and sophisticated than anything we students had ever considered.”26 [Alberts, B. 1998. The cell as a collection of protein machines: preparing the next generation of molecular biologists. Cell 92:291–94.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p190.]

· Toward the end of their book Kirschner and Gerhart coyly ask: Can evolution be imagined without facilitated variation? What capacity to evolve would a hypothetical organism have if it did not have facilitated variation? If animals did not use and reuse conserved processes, they would, we think, have to evolve by way of total novelty—completely new components, processes, development, and functions for each new trait. Under these circumstances the demands for “creative mutation” would be extremely high, and the generation of variation might draw on everything in the phenotype and genotype.28 [Kirschner, M., and Gerhart,] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p190, 191.]

· As a computer scientist interested in evolutionary algorithms, University of Southampton lecturer Richard Watson comes at the topic from a different angle, but he arrives at the same conclusion as Kirschner and Gerhart. In Compositional Evolution, Watson lays it on the line: In computer science we recognize the algorithmic principle described by Darwin—the linear accumulation of small changes through random variation and selection—as hill climbing, more specifically random mutation hill climbing. However, we also recognize that hill climbing is the simplest possible form of optimization and is known to work well only on a limited class of problems [emphasis added to the last sentence].29 [Watson, R. A. 2006. Compositional evolution: the impact of sex, symbiosis, and modularity on the gradualist framework of evolution. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, p. 272.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p191.]

· Has evo-devo produced a new way for random mutation to explain basic features of animal life? No, exactly the opposite. It’s not hard to see why, more than twenty years after the first animal control proteins were sequenced, evolutionary biologists are still utterly unable to give a concrete account of how to explain the unintelligent evolution of animal forms. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p191, 192.]

· Similarly, although hard numbers are difficult for us to come by, in light of our knowledge of the design of spectacular molecular systems such as the cilium and our experience of nature (particularly our experience with the havoc wreaked by random mutation—even when it “helps”), we can confidently judge that the kind of coherent, multistep control system that Davidson’s observation indicated was demanded to build an animal body was purposely designed. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p192, 193.]

· But how deep does that design extend? There are many distinct animal forms, which biologists have long placed into hierarchical categories such as phyla, classes, and orders. We must remember that randomness does occur and can explain some aspects of all areas of life. So, based on developmental biology and our new knowledge of life’s molecules, can we draw a reasonable, tentative line between Darwin and design in animal evolution? Does design stop at, say, the level of phyla? Or classes? For example, given a generic animal in the distant past with twofold, bilateral symmetry, is it biologically reasonable to think that at that point the rest of the animal world could evolve by random mutation? Or not? Again, we have to keep in mind that few pertinent, quantitative experiments directly applicable to that question have been done. What’s more, further lab work will almost certainly uncover much greater complexity in animal development and other relevant facts, so our appraisal will have to be revised as more information comes in. Nonetheless, there are enough data already in hand to form a reasoned estimate. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p193.]

· As Sean Carroll remarks: The surprising message from Evo Devo is that all of the genes for building large, complex animal bodies long predated the appearance of those bodies in the Cambrian Explosion. The genetic potential was in place for at least 50 million years, and probably a fair bit longer, before large, complex forms emerged.30 Another surprise to Darwinists! To an intelligent design proponent such as myself, this is a tantalizing hint that parts were moving into place over geological time for the subsequent, purposeful, planned emergence of intelligent life. [Carrol] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p193, 194.]

· Of course, animals from different phyla share many features. For example, all animals are eukaryotes, and thus have cells with nuclei and a molecular skeleton. Nonetheless, recall the bicycle/motorcycle example I mentioned at the beginning of this chapter. Although the two-wheeled vehicles share some parts, it’s reasonable to view a motorcycle as a separate, integrated design. Following that reasoning, it seems likely that different phyla represent separate, integrated designs. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p198.]

· However, if we assume that the B cell regulatory network is typical of what is needed to specify a cell type, we can conclude that design is required for new cell types in general. That will move us further along. Vertebrate classes differ in the number of cell types they have. Although amphibians have about 150 cell types and birds about 200, mammals have about 250.37 So, again keeping in mind the limitations of the data, because different classes of vertebrates need different numbers of cell types, we can tentatively conclude that design extends past vertebrates in general and into the major classes of vertebrates—amphibians, reptiles, fish, birds, and mammals. [Valentine, J. W., Collins, A. G., and Meyer, C. P. 1994. Morphological complexity increase in metazoans. Paleobiology 20:131–42.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p199.]

· Does design extend even further into life, into the orders or even families of vertebrate classes? To such creatures as bats, whales, and giraffes? Because “all of the structural characters of the edifice, from its overall form to minute aspects that determine its local functionalities…must be specified in the architect’s blueprints,”38 I would guess the answer is almost certainly yes. But at this point our reliable molecular data run out, so a reasonably firm answer will have to await further research. Given the pace of modern science, we shouldn’t have to wait too long. [Davidson, E. H., pp. 11–12.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p199.]

· Combining the reasoning from the past several sections, then, we can conclude that animal design probably extends into life at least as far as vertebrate classes, maybe deeper, and that random mutation likely explains differences at least up to the species level, perhaps somewhat beyond. Somewhere between the level of vertebrate species and class lies the organismal edge of Darwinian evolution. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p201.]

10 All The World’s a Stage

· In the most spectacularly wrong consensus in the history of science, in the words of two historians, “At the end of the nineteenth century there was a general feeling that, with Maxwell’s and Newton’s equations firmly established, everything else would be merely a matter of detail, a question of dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s of science.”1 As Yogi Berra observed, it’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future. Soon Einstein proposed his theory of relativity; quantum mechanics swept through physics; the atom was shown to be divisible—into protons, neutrons, and much more. Like the cell, which was also thought to be simple, the universe became more complex the more it was studied. [White, M., and Gribbin, J. R. 2002. Stephen Hawking: a life in science, 2nd ed. Washington, D.C.: Joseph Henry Press, p. 261.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p206.]

· Consider this oft-quoted passage from the physicist Paul Davies: The numerical values that nature has assigned to the fundamental constants, such as the charge on the electron, the mass of the proton, and the Newtonian gravitational constant, may be mysterious, but they are crucially relevant to the structure of the universe that we perceive. As more and more physical systems, from nuclei to galaxies, have become better understood, scientists have begun to realize that many characteristics of these systems are remarkably sensitive to the precise values of the fundamental constants. Had nature opted for a slightly different set of numbers, the world would be a very different place. Probably we would not be here to see it. More intriguing still, certain structures, such as solar-type stars, depend for their characteristic features on wildly improbable numerical accidents that combine together fundamental constants from distinct branches of physics. And when one goes on to study cosmology—the overall structure and evolution of the universe—incredulity mounts. Recent discoveries about the primeval cosmos oblige us to accept that the expanding universe has been set up in its motion with a cooperation of astonishing precision.3 [Davies, P. C. W. 1982. The accidental universe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. vii.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p207.]

· Similarly, the Cambridge University physicist Stephen Hawking remarks: The laws of science, as we know them at present, contain many fundamental numbers, like the size of the electric charge of the electron and the ratio of the masses of the proton and electron…. The remarkable fact is that the values of these numbers seem to have been very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life. For example, if the electric charge of the electron had been only slightly different, stars either would have been unable to burn hydrogen and helium, or else they would not have exploded [which allows elements necessary for life to be scattered]…. It seems clear that there are relatively few ranges of values for the numbers that would allow the development of any form of intelligent life.4 [Hawking, S. W. 1998. A brief history of time, tenth anniversary ed. New York: Bantam Books, pp. 129–30.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p207, 208.]

· So what are we to make of the flabbergasting fact that the laws of the universe seem set up for our benefit, that “the universe in some sense must have known that we were coming”?5 There are really just two logical responses to anthropic features: 1) We are phenomenally lucky, or 2) our universe was intentionally designed by an intelligent agent. [Dyson, F. J. 1979. Disturbing the universe. New York: Harper & Row, p. 250.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p208.]

· If one admits the possibility of a being who can fine-tune general laws, then there can be no principled objection to ascribing other fine-tuned features of nature to purposeful design. In its 1999 booklet Science and Creationism, the National Academy of Sciences (or at least a committee writing in its name) penned the following lines: Many religious persons, including many scientists, hold that God created the universe and the various processes driving physical and biological evolution and that these processes then resulted in the creation of galaxies, our solar system, and life on Earth. This belief, which sometimes is termed “theistic evolution,” is not in disagreement with scientific explanations of evolution. Indeed, it reflects the remarkable and inspiring character of the physical universe revealed by cosmology, paleontology, molecular biology, and many other scientific disciplines [emphasis added].8 [National Academy of Sciences. 1999. Science and creationism: a view from the National Academy of Sciences, 2nd ed. Washington, D. C.: National Academy Press, p. 7.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p209.]

· The bottom line is that the “fine-tuning” of our universe for life is not at all just a matter of the basic laws and constants of physics. Fine-tuning reaches deeply into ostensibly small details of the history of our solar system and planet, and includes unique, dynamic events. Without attention to such small details, mere fine-tuning of general physical laws would be futile. The strong nuclear force might be perfect, the charge on the electron just right, but if the end result of the undirected playing out of general laws were a lifeless asteroid where the earth should have been, why bother? [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p213.]

· Similarly, there currently is no plausible lawlike model for the origin of life. In his exploration of the question of the origin of life in The Fifth Miracle, the physicist Paul Davies argues that something completely different is needed: When I set out to write this book I was convinced that science was close to wrapping up the mystery of life’s origin…. Having spent a year or two researching the field I am now of the opinion that there remains a huge gulf in our understanding. To be sure, we have a good idea of the where and the when of life’s origin, but we are a very long way from comprehending the how. This gulf in understanding is not merely ignorance about certain technical details, it is a major conceptual lacuna…. My personal belief, for what it is worth, is that a fully satisfactory theory of the origin of life demands some radically new ideas.11 [Davies, P. C. W. 1999. The fifth miracle: The search for the origin and meaning of life. New York: Simon & Schuster, p. 17.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p215.]

· I suggest that the origin of life is best viewed not as lawlike, but as one more of the long, long chain of anthropic “coincidences” very, very finely tuned to yield life. In this view the origin of life was a unique event, like the origin of the moon, and was purposely arranged. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p215.]

· The Nobel laureate Francis Crick once remarked, “An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going.”12 Investigation of those very many, unique, anthropic, fine-tuned conditions needed to start life could keep scientists busy for many years. [Crick, F. 1981. Life itself: its origin and nature. New York: Simon and Schuster, p. 88.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p216.]

· Similarly, although we have compelling evidence that the universe was designed for life, we have no scientific evidence for the design of the details of most inorganic matter. Our nascent world might have benefited from a planned collision in order to prepare it for intelligent life, but there’s no reason to think that all—or even many—astronomical collisions in the universe are planned. The very great majority of the universe might proceed on its merry way without any particular relevance to life on earth, even if a prime goal of the universe was to produce intelligent life on earth. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p220.]

· The Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom explains the multiple-universe idea this way: [The multiverse hypothesis, or “ensemble” hypothesis] states that the universe we observe is only a small part of the totality of physical existence. This totality itself need not be fine-tuned. If it is sufficiently big and variegated, so that it was likely to contain as a proper part the sort of fine-tuned universe we observe, then an observation selection effect can be invoked to explain why we see a fine-tuned universe. The usual form of the ensemble hypothesis is that our universe is but one in a vast ensemble of actually existing universes, the totality of which we can call “the multiverse.”14 [Bostrom, N. 2002. Anthropic bias: observation selection effects in science and philosophy. New York: Routledge, p.12.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p220, 221.]

· Notice that the multiverse scenario doesn’t rescue Darwinism. Random mutation in a single universe would still be terribly unlikely as a cause for life. Incoherence and multiple steps would still plague any merely Darwinian scenario in any one universe. In the ensemble hypothesis, the extremely long odds against life are overcome only by brute numbers of universes, not by random mutation and natural selection. Still, although it doesn’t help Darwinism, the multiverse scenario would undercut design. If it were true, life wouldn’t be due to either Darwin or design. Seen from the proper perspective, it would be one big accident. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p222.]

· Needless to say, the multiverse is speculative.15 Some physicists have proposed mathematical models that they think might indicate something like a multiverse, but the models are pretty iffy. And some multiverse models themselves require much fine-tuning to make sure that, if real, they would generate universes with the right properties.16 Nonetheless, let’s assume two of the strongest possible general versions of the multiverse scenario and consider some of their serious shortcomings. The two versions: 1) a finite number of random17 universes in a multiverse; and 2) an infinite number. [15.Brumfiel, G. 2006. Our universe: outrageous fortune. Nature 439:10–12; Carroll, S. M. 2006. Is our universe natural? Nature 440:1132–36. 16.Collins, R. 2002. The argument from design and the many-worlds hypothesis. In Philosophy of religion: a reader and guide, W. L. Craig, ed. New Brunswick, N. J.: Rutgers University Press. 17.It’s entirely possible a designer might set up a multiverse in order to generate one or more life-containing universes. But of course that would not be random; it would be intentional. In this section I’m considering what to expect just from a random collection of unintended universes.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p222.]

· In his scholarly book Anthropic Bias philosopher Nick Bostrom explains: Consider a random phenomenon, for example Hawking radiation. When black holes evaporate, they do so in a random manner such that for any given physical object there is a finite (although, typically, astronomically small) probability that it will be emitted by any given black hole in a given time interval. Such things as boots, computers, or ecosystems have some finite probability of popping out from a black hole. The same holds true, of course, for human bodies, or human brains in particular states. Assuming that mental states supervene on brain states, there is thus a finite probability that a black hole will produce a brain in a state of making any given observation. Some of the observations made by such brains will be illusory, and some will be veridical. For example, some brains produced by black holes will have the illusory of [sic] experience of reading a measurement device that does not exist. …It isn’t true that we couldn’t have observed a universe that wasn’t fine-tuned for life. For even “uninhabitable” universes can contain the odd, spontaneously materialized “freak observer,” and if they are big enough or if there are sufficiently many such universes, then it is indeed highly likely that they contain infinitely many freak observers making all possible human observations. It is even logically consistent with all our evidence that we are such freak observers.20 [Bostrom, N. 2002. Anthropic bias: observation selection effects in science and philosophy. New York: Routledge, pp. 52–53,55.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p224, 225.]

· In a nutshell: In an infinite multiverse, probabilities don’t matter. Any event that isn’t strictly impossible will occur an infinite number of times. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p225.]

· Humans have the extraordinary ability to reason. But in order to take even the first step in reasoning, one must apprehend that reality exists and have confidence that what one perceives with one’s senses is generally a reliable reflection of reality. Reality is not something that can somehow be independently verified without begging the paralyzing question. Once reality is doubted, there is no way back. No person—Darwinist, design proponent, or other—who wants to make a rational argument can seriously entertain an idea that pulls the rug out from under reason. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p226.]

· One classic notion that undercuts reality is solipsism, which in its pure form holds that nothing exists outside the solipsist’s mind—everything else, including other apparent minds, is an illusion, a product of the thinker’s own mind. Some other ideas aren’t exactly solipsism, but still entail the conclusion that we can know nothing except what’s going on in our own minds. A famous example from the history of philosophy is René Descartes’s question, How do you know your thoughts aren’t being controlled by a demon? A modern version of the same issue might be termed the Matrix problem: How do you know you’re not really just a brain in a vat, hooked up by scientists to wires that feed you a wholly false perception of reality? The short answer is that you know directly that reality exists. And you must have confidence that your senses are generally reliable. Without those twin, bedrock premises, thought itself is stymied. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p226, 227.]

· Infinite multiverse scenarios are no different from brain-in-a-vat scenarios. If they were true, you would have no reason to trust your reasoning. So anyone who wants to do any kind of productive thinking must summarily reject the infinite multiverse scenario for intelligent life and assume that what we sense generally reflects the reality we know exists. And what we sense, as elaborated through modern science’s instruments and our reasoning, is that we live in a universe fine-tuned for intelligent life. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p227.]

· Two leading ideas compete to explain fine-tuning in nature: purposeful design or a multiverse. Yet life looks far richer than we have a right to expect on a finite random multiverse scenario, and on an infinite multiverse scenario we have no ability to expect—or even think about—anything. There’s every reason to trust our basic human insight that we live in a purposefully designed world. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p227.]

· Many people are impatient with that question. Since the great majority of the population of the United States and the world believes in God (as a pretty conventional Roman Catholic, so do I), “designer” is often seen as a not-too-subtle code word for God, both by those who like the implications and by those who don’t. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p227, 228.]

· In summarizing the design hypothesis, philosopher Nick Bostrom notes that: The “agent” doing the designing need not be a theistic God, although that is of course one archetypal version of the design hypothesis…. We can take “purposeful designer” in a very broad sense to refer to any being, principle or mechanism external to our universe responsible for selecting its properties, or responsible for making it in some sense probable that our universe should be fine-tuned for intelligent life.23 [Bostrom, N. 2002. Anthropic bias: observation selection effects in science and philosophy. New York: Routledge, pp. 11–12. Bostrom takes designer in a very broad sense—in fact, too broad. I believe his inclusion of the words “principle or mechanism” in the second sentence is a category mistake on Bostrom’s part. A design hypothesis implies intentionality, choice, and other characteristics that cannot be attributed to a “principle or mechanism.”] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p228.]

· The Plausibility of Life Marc Kirschner and John Gerhart hopefully quote a passage from an old article on evolution in the 1909 Catholic Encyclopedia: “God is the Creator of heaven and earth. If God produced the universe by a single creative act of His will, then its natural development by laws implanted in it by the Creator is to the greater glory of His Divine power and wisdom.”25 This line of thinking is known as “Theistic Evolution.” But its followers are kidding themselves if they think it is compatible with Darwinism. [Quoted in Kirschner, M., and Gerhart, J. 2005. The plausibility of life: great leaps of evolution. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. p. 265.] [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p229.]

· Those who worry about “interference” should relax. The purposeful design of life to any degree is easily compatible with the idea that, after its initiation, the universe unfolded exclusively by the intended playing out of natural laws. The purposeful design of life is also fully compatible with the idea of universal common descent, one important facet of Darwin’s theory. What the purposeful design of life is not compatible with, however, is Darwin’s proposed mechanism of evolution—random variation and natural selection—which sought to explain the development of life explicitly without recourse to guidance or planning by anyone or anything at any time. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p232.]

· Is the conclusion that the universe was designed—and that the design extends deeply into life—science, philosophy, religion, or what? In a sense it hardly matters. By far the most important question is not what category we place it in, but whether a conclusion is true. A true philosophical or religious conclusion is no less true than a true scientific one. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p232.]

· Darwin and design hold opposite, firm expectations of what we should find when we examine a truly astronomical—a hundred billion billion—number of organisms. Up until recently, the magnitude of the problem precluded a definitive test. But now the results are in. Darwinism’s most basic prediction is falsified. [Michael J. Behe: The Edge of Evolution (The Search for The Limits of Darwinism), Free Press 2007, p235.]

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