What are the Limits of Darwinism?

In the fall, world renowned biochemist Dr. Michael Behe came to Toronto to deliver a series of lectures. I had the privilege of organizing the events at the University of Toronto. A standing room only crowd of over 400 packed into the lecture hall, with a number of people being turned away.

Dr. Michael Behe is the author of Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, which The Washington Times described as “A persuasive book.” He has written, in addition to numerous peer-reviewed journal articles, editorial features in the Boston Review, American Spectator, and The New York Times.

Here is a summary of his research in his own words:

I am interested in the evolution of complex biochemical systems. Many molecular systems in the cell require multiple components in order to function. I have dubbed such systems “irreducibly complex” (Behe 1996b, 2001). Irreducibly complex systems appear to me to be very difficult to explain within a traditional gradualistic Darwinian framework, because the function of the system only appears when the system is essentially complete. (An illustration of the concept of irreducible complexity is the mousetrap pictured on this page, which needs all its parts to work.) Despite much general progress by science in the past half century in understanding how complex biochemical systems work, little progress has been made in explaining how such systems arise in a Darwinian fashion. I have proposed that a better explanation is that such systems were deliberately designed by an intelligent agent (Behe 1996b, 2001). The proposal of intelligent design has proven to be extremely controversial, both in the scientific community (for example, see Brumfiel, G. 2005. Nature 434:1062‑1065) and in the general news media (Behe 1996a, 1999, 2005). My current work involves: 1) educating various groups to overcome mistaken ideas of what exactly intelligent design entails, so that they can make informed judgments on whether they think it is a plausible hypothesis; and 2) trying to establish a reasoned way to determine a rough dividing line between design and non-design in biochemical systems.


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