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The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism

Michael J. Behe

Free Press (hardback, 320 pages), 2007

Item# B124
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When Michael J. Behe's first book, Darwin's Black Box, was published in 1996, it was instrumental in launching 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. Behe points out that Darwin's theory is a mixture of several unrelated, entirely separate ideas including: random mutation, natural selection, and common descent. The evidence for each must be carefully examined.

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 non-random 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 non-random.

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 universe was designed for life.

Reviews
"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. 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?"

-- Dr. David Snoke, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Pittsburgh

Table of Contents
1 The Elements of Darwinism
2 Arms Race or Trench Warfare?
3 The Mathematical Limits of Darwinism
4 What Darwinism Can Do
5 What Darwinism Can't Do
6 Benchmarks
7 The Two-Binding-Sites Rule
8 Objections to the Edge
9 The Cathedral and the Spandrels
10 All the World's a Stage

Appendix A - I, Nanobot
Appendix B - Malaria Drug Resistance
Appendix C - Assembling the Bacterial Flagellum
Appendix D - The Cardsharp
Note
Acknowledgments
Index

About the Author
Michael J. Behe is a Professor of Biological Science at Lehigh University, where he has worked since 1985. From 1978 to 1982 he did post-doctoral 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 is best known as the author of Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution.? He lives near Bethlehem, PA, with his wife and nine children.


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