Michael J. Behe

Michael J.

American Biochemist, Author and Intelligent Design Advocate, Professor Of Biochemistry at Lehigh University and Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture

Author Quotes

Evolution no longer looks like a random process to me; it looks like a set-up job. My sense is that we'll discover the means to detect the design scientifically.

In order to say that some function is understood, every relevant step in the process must be elucidated.

It is the astonishing complexity of subcellular organic structures that has forced the question. How could all this have evolved?

Many students learn from their text books how to view the world through the evolutionary lens. However, they do not learn how Darwinian evolution might have produced any of the remarkably intricate biological systems that those texts describe.

Random mutations much more easily debilitate genes than improve them, and that this is true even of the helpful mutations. Let me emphasize, our experience with malaria?s effects on humans (arguably our most highly studied genetic system) shows that most helpful mutations degrade genes. What?s more, as a group the mutations are incoherent, meaning that they are not adding up to some new system. They are just small changes - mostly degradative - in pre-existing, unrelated genes. The take-home lesson is that this is certainly not the kind of process we would expect to build the astonishingly elegant machinery of the cell. If random mutation plus selective pressure substantially trashes the human genome, why should we think that it would be a constructive force in the long term? There is no reason to think so.

That was a real drag. I think he really went way over what he as a judge is entitled to say.

The designing that is currently going on in the biochemistry laboratories throughout the world is analogous to the designing that proceeded the blood clotting system, and the work that was done to cause the first cilium.

The reluctance of science to embrace the conclusion of intelligent design that it's long, hard labors have made manifest has no justifiable foundation. Now it is the turn of the fundamental science of life, modern biochemistry to disturb. The resulting realization that life was designed by an intelligence is a shock to us in the twentieth century. Other centuries had their shocks. Humanity has endured as the centre of the heavens moved from the earth to beyond the sun, as the history of life expanded to encompass long dead reptiles, as the eternal universe proved mortal. We will endure the opening of Darwin's black box.

There is no publication in the scientific literature - in prestigious journals, specialty journals, or books - that describes how molecular evolution of any real, complex biochemical system either did occur or even might have occurred.

What we know, we learn from personal experience, or we accept from authorities we believe to be reliable, but much of what we think we know is not based on either personal experience or authority but has been absorbed somehow.

Evolutionary biologists have recognized that a number of factors might have affected the development of life; common descent, natural selection, migration, population size, founder effects, genetic drift, gene flow, linkage, meiotic drive, transposition and more. The fact that some biochemical systems may have been designed by an intelligent agent does not mean that any of the other factors are not operative, common or important.

In private many scientists admit that science has no explanation for the beginning of life... Darwin never imagined the exquisitely profound complexity that exists even at the most basic levels of life.

It is the shape of a folded protein and the precise positioning of the different kinds of amino acid groups that allow a protein to work.

Many systems in the cell show signs of purposeful intelligent design. What science has discovered in the cell in the past 50 years is poorly explained by a gradual theory such as Darwin's.

Real arms races are run by highly intelligent, bespectacled engineers in glass offices thoughtfully designing shiny weapons on modern computers. But there's no thinking in the mud and cold of nature's trenches. At best, weapons thrown together amidst the explosions and confusion of smoky battlefields are tiny variations on old ones, held together by chewing gum. If they don't work, then something else is thrown at the enemy, including the kitchen sink - there's nothing "progressive" about that. At its usual worst, trench warfare is fought by attrition. If the enemy can be stopped or slowed by burning your own bridges and bombing your own radio towers and oil refineries, then away they go. Darwinian trench warfare does not lead to progress - it leads back to the Stone Age.

The "simplest" self-sufficient, replicating cell has the capacity to produce thousands of different proteins and other molecules at different times and under variable conditions.

The fact is that no one ever puts real chemical names on any of these mythical letters in the A-B-CD story... because when you put real names on the chemicals, then you have to come up with a real chemical reaction that could make them. No one has done that.

The result of [the] cumulative efforts to investigate the cell?to investigate life at the molecular level?is a loud, clear, piercing cry of ?design!? The result is so unambiguous and so significant that it must be ranked as one of the greatest achievements in the history of science. The discovery rivals those of Newton and Einstein, Lavoisier and Schr”dinger, Pasteur, and Darwin. The observation of the intelligent design of life is as momentous as the observation that the earth goes around the sun.

There is rule that only purely physical, material causes may be invoked in true science that teachers of science wish to pass on to the younger professional generation.

When is it reasonable to conclude, in the absence of first-hand knowledge or eye witness accounts that something has been designed?

Evolutionary biologists make no attempt to test evolutionary scenarios at the molecular level by experiment or calculation. Evolutionary biology is stuck in the fifties with... imagination running wild.

In short, highly sophisticated molecular machines control every cellular process. Thus the details of life are finely calibrated, and the machinery of life enormously complex.

It is time to put the debate squarely in the open, and to disregard public relations problems. The time for debate is now because at last we have reached the bottom of biology... and we have discovered a complex world that radically changes the grounds on which Darwinian debates must be contested.

Might there be an as yet undiscovered natural process that would explain biochemical complexity? We can say that if there is such a process, no one has a clue how it would work. Further it would go against all human experience, like postulating that a natural process might explain computers. In the face of the massive evidence we do have for biochemical design, ignoring that evidence in the name of a phantom process would be (ridiculous). We can conclude that at least, cilia, blood clotting and the immune system were designed by an intelligent agent.

Richard Dawkins can simplify to his heart's content, because he wants to convince his readers that Darwinian evolution is "a breeze". In order to understand the barriers to evolution, however, we need to bite the bullet of complexity.

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American Biochemist, Author and Intelligent Design Advocate, Professor Of Biochemistry at Lehigh University and Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture