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The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism Paperback – June 17, 2008


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The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism + Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution + Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Reprint edition (June 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743296222
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743296229
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (147 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #264,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With his first book, Darwin's Black Box, Behe, a professor of biology at Lehigh University, helped define the controversial intelligent design movement with his concept of "irreducible complexity." Now he attempts to extend his analysis and define what evolution is capable of doing and what is beyond its scope. Behe strongly asserts, to the likely chagrin of young earth creationists, that the earth is billions of years old and that the concept of common descent is correct. But beginning with a look at malaria and the sickle cell response in humans, Behe argues that genetic mutation results in only clumsy solutions to selective pressures. He goes on to conclude that the statistical possibility of certain evolutionary changes taking place is virtually nil. Although Behe writes with passion and clarity, his calculations of probability ignore biologists' rejection of the premise that evolution has been working toward producing any particular end product. Furthermore, he repeatedly refers to the shortcomings of "Darwin's theory-the power of natural selection coupled to random mutation," but current biological theory encompasses far more than this simplistic view. Most important, Behe reaches the controversial conclusion that the workings of an intelligent designer is the only reasonable alternative to evolution, even without affirmative evidence in its favor.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"With this book, Michael Behe shows that he is truly an independent thinker of the first order. He carefully examines the data of evolution, along the way making an argument for universal common descent that will make him no friends among young-earth creationists, and draws in new facts, especially the data on malaria, that have not been part of the public debate at all up to now. This book will take the intelligent design debate into new territory and represents a unique contribution to the longstanding question of philosophy: Can observation of the physical world guide our thinking about religious questions?"
-- Professor David Snoke, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Pittsburgh

"In The Edge of Evolution Michael Behe carefully assesses the evidence of what Darwin's mechanism of random mutation and selection can achieve in well documented cases, and shows that even in those cases that maximize its power as a creative force it has only been able to generate very trivial examples of evolutionary change. Could such an apparently impotent and mindless force really have built the sophisticated molecular devices found throughout nature? The answer, he insists, is no. The only common-sense explanation is intelligent design."
-- Michael Denton, M.D., Ph.D., author of Nature's Destiny

"In crystal-clear prose Behe systematically shreds the central dogma of atheistic science, the doctrine of the random universe. This book, like the natural phenomena it so elegantly describes, shows the unmistakable signs of a very deep intelligence at work."
-- JEffrey M. Schwartz, M.D., Research Psychiatrist, UCLA, and author of The Mind & The Brain

"Until the past decade and the genomics revolution, Darwin's theory rested on indirect evidence and reasonable speculation. Now, however, we have begun to scratch the surface of direct evidence, of which this book offers the best possible treatment. Though many critics won't want to admit it, The Edge of Evolution is very balanced, careful, ¬and devastating. A tremendously important book."
-- Dr. Philip Skell, Evan Pugh Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus, at Pennsylvania State University, and member of the National Academy of Sciences

"With this book, Michael Behe shows that he is truly an independent thinker of the first order. In a day when the media present all issues in the football metaphor as two teams fighting, the intelligent design debate is presented simplistically as authors who are lapdogs for young-earth creationists versus evolutionists who are lapdogs for atheists. Michael Behe is no lapdog. He carefully examines the data of evolution, along the way making an argument for universal common descent that will make him no friends among young-earth creationists, and draws in new facts, especially the data on malaria, that have not been part of the public debate at all up to now. This book will take the intelligent design debate into new territory and represents a unique contribution on the longstanding question of philosophy: can observation of the physical world guide our thinking about religious questions?"
- Professor David Snoke, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Pittsburgh

"Until the past decade and the genomics revolution, Darwin's theory rested on indirect evidence and reasonable speculation. Now, however, we have begun to scratch the surface of direct evidence, of which this book offers the best possible treatment. Though many critics won't want to admit it, The Edge of Evolution is very balanced, careful, and devastating. A tremendously important book."
-- Dr. Philip Skell, Evan Pugh Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus, at Pennsylvania State University, and member of the National Academy of Sciences

More About the Author

I am Professor of Biological Sciences at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. I received my Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Pennsylvania in 1978. My current research involves delineation of design and natural selection in protein structures. In addition to teaching and research I work as a senior fellow with the Discovery Institute's Center for Science & Culture.

In addition to publishing over 35 articles in refereed biochemical journals, I have also written editorial features in Boston Review, American Spectator, and The New York Times. My book, Darwin's Black Box, discusses the implications for neo-Darwinism of what I call "irreducibly complex" biochemical systems and has sold over 250,000 copies. The book was internationally reviewed in over one hundred publications and recently named by National Review and World magazine as one of the 100 most important books of the 20th century.

I have presented and debated my work at major universities throughout North America and England.

Customer Reviews

Read his books and decide for yourself.
Paul M. Dubuc
Therefore, judging the scientific accuracy of all of Behe's writing is beyond my capabilities.
Dr. Robert L. Nordlie
I found this section to be somewhat trite and superficial.
Stephen Pletko

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By D. G. Frank on August 9, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Behe's sequel to Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution is very different from its predecessor, which deservedly created a firestorm in the scientific debate concerning origins, and will persist as a landmark in the demise of NeoDarwinian evolution. If you haven't read it, you should do so before you read this important sequel. "Darwin's Black Box" is very readable and accessible to the lay reader. I've used it in tandem with SJ Gould's Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin to educate bright high-schoolers on the nature of science and scientific progress, and the debate on origins.

In "Darwin's Black Box," Behe makes the compelling case that NeoDarwinian mechanisms are incapable of producing the remarkably complex biological functions and systems we observe, because multiple simultaneous mutations/developments would be required in order to produce systems that could function and then be naturally selected for, while the NeoDarwinian paradigm is limited to progress in gradual, incremental steps. Behe illustrates his case by clearly describing in fascinating detail several irreducibly complex biological systems, most famously the bacterial flagellum.

So, having demonstrated that the NeoDarwinian model is incapable of producing irreducibly complex systems (macro-evolution), Behe addresses the next question: What CAN it do? This is where Behe's biochemistry expertise really shines.
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235 of 302 people found the following review helpful By David Marshall on June 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Just as a massive star bends light, so emotion warps thought when we approach the question of origins. An eminent professor who takes the wrong position on this subject can lose tenure. A less eminent researcher may lose his job. Depite his forty-some peer-reviewed articles and a tenured faculty position, and the careful, measured tone in which he writes, Michael Behe will be called an "ID-iot," his honesty disputed, and anyone who agrees with him dismissed as an ignorant, red-neck hick who can barely muster the cognitive powers of a good high school student.

In such an environment (and if you doubt my appraisal, read some of the reviews below), it takes conscious intent to ignore manipulative appeals to the "argument from sociology" and attend to substance.

For the record, Behe is not an "ID-iot." He is a sharp and thoughtful biologist who doesn't think evolution can work on its own. In this book he argues for common descent, but argues that naturalistic evolution is limitted. He thinks the mechanisms suggested for powering the massive creativity and innovation in nature could not come from mutations alone.

His primary tool for advancing this argument is the evolution of the malaria bug, and of human immune defenses against it, over the past several thousand years. Behe shows that while microbes can and do evolve resistances to medicine, they generally do so by breaking down in some way, as does the human body. Touching briefly on the evolution of e coli and HIV, then on other critters, he makes the case that bugs that evolve rapidly, and through huge communities, demonstrate the limits to naturalistic evolution.
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132 of 175 people found the following review helpful By The Professor on July 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
After reading the many negative reviews of this book, I decided to read the book from cover to cover. I conclude that the negative reviews do not reflect the total contents of the book. Much of the material in this book is a review of the literature, which almost none of the critics found fault with. One can quibble with Behe's statistics, most of which he relied on those computed by others, but I have concluded that his main point is valid. I and others would find it very helpful if those who disagree with Behe's results to do their own calculations or refer us to the relevant literature. I have done similar calculations, only with mammals, and have concluded that combining mutational probability and the number of mammal life forms that have existed historically paints a far worse picture than Behe documents for bacteria. The number of uncorrected mutations compared with the number of mammals does not provide much hope that Darwinian mechanisms alone could provide the raw material to evolve mammals from their theoretical common ancestor. There are far to few mammals and far too few uncorrected mutations, most all of which, as has been well documented, are detrimental or, worse yet, near neutral. Many if not most mammals have historically, and today, existed in relatively small numbers. Ecologists have estimated how many Pandas, bears, big cats, and other mammals have ever existed, and the numbers are tiny compared to bacteria. The most successful mammals are the rodents and even their number is tiny compared to bacteria. I also found that many of the critical reviews of this book were just plain wrong. One of many examples is the claim that Behe "quickly" dismissed "the Red Queen hypothesis as a 'silly statement' ....Read more ›
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