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The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism [Hardcover]

By Michael Behe (Author)
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Item description for The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism by Michael Behe...

When Michael J. Behe's first book, Darwin's Black Box, was published in 1996, it launched the intelligent design movement. Critics howled, yet hundreds of thousands of readers -- and a growing number of scientists -- were intrigued by Behe's claim that Darwinism could not explain the complex machinery of the cell. Now, in his long-awaited follow-up, Behe presents far more than a challenge to Darwinism: He presents the evidence of the genetics revolution -- the first direct evidence of nature's mutational pathways -- to radically redefine the debate about Darwinism. How much of life does Darwin's theory explain? Most scientists believe it accounts for everything from the machinery of the cell to the history of life on earth. Darwin's ideas have been applied to law, culture, and politics. But Darwin's theory has been proven only in one sense: There is little question that all species on earth descended from a common ancestor. Overwhelming anatomical, genetic, and fossil evidence exists for that claim. But the crucial question remains: How did it happen? Darwin's proposed mechanism -- random mutation and natural selection -- has been accepted largely as a matter of faith and deduction or, at best, circumstantial evidence. Only now, thanks to genetics, does science allow us to seek direct evidence. The genomes of many organisms have been sequenced, and the machinery of the cell has been analyzed in great detail. The evolutionary responses of microorganisms to antibiotics and humans to parasitic infections have been traced over tens of thousands of generations. As a result, for the first time in history Darwin's theory can be rigorously evaluated. The results are shocking. Although it can explain marginal changes in evolutionary history, random mutation and natural selection explain very little of the basic machinery of life. The "edge" of evolution, a line that defines the border between random and nonrandom mutation, lies very far from where Darwin pointed. Behe argues convincingly that most of the mutations that have defined the history of life on earth have been nonrandom. Although it will be controversial and stunning, this finding actually fits a general pattern discovered by other branches of science in recent decades: The universe as a whole was fine-tuned for life. From physics to cosmology to chemistry to biology, life on earth stands revealed as depending upon an endless series of unlikely events. The clear conclusion: The univers

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Free Press
Pages   336
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.1" Width: 6.1" Height: 1.2"
Weight:   1 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jun 5, 2007
Publisher   Simon & Schuster
ISBN  0743296206  
ISBN13  9780743296205  

Availability  0 units.

More About Michael Behe

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Michael J. Behe is a Professor of Biological Science at Lehigh University, where he has worked since 1985. From 1978 to 1982 he did postdoctoral work on DNA structure at the National Institutes of Health. From 1982 to 1985 he was Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Queens College in New York City. He has authored more than forty technical papers, but he is best known as the author of "Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution." He lives near Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with his wife and nine children.

Michael J. Behe currently resides in Bethlehem, in the state of Pennsylvania. Michael J. Behe was born in 1952.

Michael J. Behe has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Proceedings of the Wethersfield Institute

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Engineering > Bioengineering > Biochemistry
2Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Professional Science > Biological Sciences > Biochemistry
3Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Professional Science > Evolution > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > Science & Religion
5Books > Subjects > Science > Biological Sciences > Biochemistry
6Books > Subjects > Science > Evolution > General
7Books > Subjects > Science > General

Christian Product Categories
Books > Christian Living > Practical Life > Science, Faith & Evolution

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism?

Accessible  Nov 30, 2009
Michael Behe has a way of making difficult concepts easily understood even by non-biology majors. He makes a solid but very interesting argument addressing the difficulty of Darwinian evolution to account for all (or even a small fraction) of the changes necessary to move from simple to complex life. This is not a religious argument in any way. His hope is that his colleagues will end their insistence on what has become a very unlikely scenario for explaining the complexity of life in order to pursue more fruitful theories.
Even aside from the evolutionary implications, the book is a fascinating read for it's very accessible discussion of how and why proteins assemble to make more complex structures, and why certain diseases like malaria are so difficult to eradicate through evolution or otherwise.
Evolution  Nov 2, 2009
Who knew evolution was on such shaky ground? Why are these clearly expressed and logical ideas not mentioned during the teaching of evolution in class rooms? A great book for those interested in the truth wherever it leads. A great follow up to Darwin's Black Box.
Absolutely outstanding.  Oct 19, 2009
This is a must read for all dyed-in-the-wool Darwinians, of which I am one. After reading this book, I can honestly say that the dye is beginning to fade. Both Behe and I agree with "common descent," but both of us disagree that random mutation can explain all we see in evolution. My background is a biology/chemistry major with an advanced degree. My favorite author has always been Stephen Jay Gould, but Michael Behe raises some very thought-provoking questions.
Excellent read  Oct 5, 2009
This is a well balanced scientific look at the evidence surrounding evolution. While not dismissing evolution completely Michael takes a refreshing look at the limits of evolution and presents a compelling summary of his findings.
Edge of Evolution  Sep 27, 2009
Behe, one of the flagships of the Intelligent Design movement, has now written two books on the topic, including Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. "The Edge of Evolution" is a very intriguing book. I am not a molecular biologist, so I can't vouch for the scientific accuracy of what Behe says, but I can say that I found his arguments reasonable, perspicuous, and coherent.

Overall, the book is written in a conversational tone, and Behe does a very good job of examining and explaining the aspects of biochemistry necessary for developing and elucidating his thesis, which I believe is something like the following: evolutionary theory is convincing and compelling to an overwhelming degree in terms of common descent and natural selection; however, current research (according to Behe) shows that, though one can accept that random mutation does account for some change and complexity, it is possible that one may not be able to accept that random mutation accounts for *all* of the complexity we observe in nature, because, as Behe reiterates throughout the book, there simply hasn't been enough time for random mutation, on its own, to do that job (according to Behe).

Whether or not he is accurate in his thesis is something I am unable to confirm scientifically. He closes out the book with a short discussion on the anthropic principle, which, though it doesn't hurt his thesis, isn't wholly germane either. It is a very interesting topic, to say the least, and the chapter may prove helpful for some who have not come into contact with that idea before reading this book.

All in all, I recommend this book for several reasons. It is a great discussion of hemoglobin, malaria, the mutation and biochemical effects of disease, and, of course, a theoretical discussion of evolution. Even for those opposed to any form of ID, I recommend this book, because it is certainly a question which evolutionary biologists must answer: how can random mutation account for all the complexity we observe in nature? Some think evolutionary biologists (Gould, Coyne, Mayr, etc.) have answered this, and perhaps they have. But Behe's newest book here will, I think, bring more tolerable discussion to a sometimes polemical debate, especially since Behe neither discounts evolutionary theory, nor posits creationism, or any kind of God. He simply questions the power of random mutation in light of current research.


1. One might think he denies evolution. He certainly does not deny evolution. He grants that evolution happens and has happened since the emergence of life itself. There is copious evidence of common descent, natural selection, and random mutation, and Behe recognizes this all along.

2. One might think that, because he is arguing *against* evolution, he is a creationist or some fundamentalist religious fanatic. Though he is a Catholic, he does not posit some form of creationism or any other theory to "replace" evolution, which, truth be told, is not his goal. Instead, he simply shows, as philosopher Thomas Nagel does in The View From Nowhere, that, to show that a theory is mistaken or perhaps misconceived is enough to discount certain aspects of a theory, even when one does not have an alternative theory to replace it. Nagel tells us what Behe does: a theory which can be shown to have elements which are inconsistent with certain aspects of other evidence or other philosophical notions which seem to contradict it, is a theory which, perhaps, should be cautiously accepted, if it is accepted at all. I am not saying evolution should not be accepted; I think it certainly should be to a great degree. But as Nagel and Behe explain, one can differentiate between aspects of a theory which are convincing and ones that are not: in other words, evolution and its three tenets are not an all-or-nothing campaign. Behe concludes that common descent and natural selection are convincing to a great degree, while random mutation *might* account for a smaller part of evolutionary development and would therefore be less compelling in the overall scheme of evolutionary theory, *if* this was indeed true.

3. One might think he is trying to replace evolution with "God" or a similar concept. He does not posit God or anything like God to "replace" random mutation or to "help" random mutation. He simply questions its formative power in light of his findings.

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