Michael J. Behe launched the intelligent design movement with his first book, Darwin's Black Box, by demonstrating that Darwinism could not account for the complexity of biochemistry. Now he takes a giant leap forward. In The Edge of Evolution, Behe uses astounding new findings from the genetics revolution to show that Darwinism is nowhere near as powerful as most people believe. Genetic analysis of malaria, E. coli, and the HIV virus over tens of thousands of generations, not to mention analysis of the entire history of the genetic struggle between them and "us" (humans), make it possible for the first time to determine the precise rates, and likelihood, of random mutations of varying kinds. We now know, as never before, what Darwinism can and cannot accomplish. The answers turn conventional science on its head and are certain to be hotly debated by millions. After The Edge of Evolution, life in the universe will never look the same.
©2007 Michael J. Behe; (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.
"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, Pennsylvania State University, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences)
the narration is excellent. my only very minor complaint is that he adopts somewhat demeaning voices when other authors are quoted. maybe it was just me. =)
I haven't read/heard the book yet so I have no real right to throw in 2 cents. having confessed that:
1. I've never seen so many reviews considered unhelpful. Why is this? Are people "voting" on whether they believe in the book's thesis or not? Jared Diamond's excellent book is also on sale and there's a similar pattern, as if people are voting whether or not all races have the same intelligence.
2. Darwinism, natural selection and "survival of the fittest" is only a small facet of evolution but the one we understand best and easiest. People who attack evolution because it's only partly explained are unfair -- OBVIOUSLY we need more and better explanations for how evolution has progressed so fast, so diversely and (probably) efficiently. Lacking this theory, knowledge or model in no way should denigrate what we have figured out so far.
3. I love science and learning how nature works. I can't fathom how such extreme complexity, such islands of anti-entropy, such beings as have "souls" could come about by any amount of random chance, no matter how many monkeys, typewriters and time. But I'm only human...
4. Pretty sure that science isn't capable of ruling out Intelligent Design. Could a scientist possibly design an experiment or collect data or observances that could rule it in? (Science and Religion have never been opposed, they ask and answer different questions from different directions. They are skew. It's downright silly to ask Science to weigh-in on a Religious question and vice versa but it's amazing how it seems to stir emotions and opinions)
5. Epi-genetics is the hot topic in the last several years and looking like the next good step in understanding the progression of evolution beyond chance mutations. Vaguely: RNA and protein production and the resulting phenotype is controlled by how DNA is exposed or "unrolled" and every organism (indeed, every cell nucleus) has literally several feet of unused and largely un-understood DNA. The fairly famous recent experiment (if I recall correctly) on this showed that if you overfed mouse fathers, their offspring were more likely fat and diabetic-like. How is a message or disease-state like this passed to progeny thru a single sperm? Nothing to do with the DNA code changes.
So, I look forward a lot to listening to the book and hope that its science is up to date.
Despite the book's extravagant conclusions, I thoroughly recommend it for the following reasons:
1. It presents a very provocative counter argument to established scientific thinking. For this reason alone my attention was held from start to finish.
2. Behe clarifies his views concerning evolution. Surprisingly, Behe presents a convincing argument FOR common decent. He also raises several tough questions concerning his own view of intelligent design.
3. Behe does a good job of teaching some basic biology.
However, Behe's discussion of probabilities was muddled, and he uses this discussion to "leap" toward an intelligent creator. In other words, he raises some interesting questions concerning mutation probabilities and goes straight toward intelligent design.
Nonetheless, if you are interested in the topic of evolution, I highly recommend this book.
THIS IS FICTION! Count the number of times this author uses the "Assume" to support his theory. Count the number of times he uses the word "should" when predicting an outcome instead of saying the outcome 'will" occur.
This author sites very little accepted science to make his point.He throws around a lot of names and draws non-existent connections from that person's work to support his theory.
I liked the essay on the battle between humans and malaria; a very detailed account with many references. Unfortunately for most readers I don???t believe that is why they read the book. Nor do I believe that the average lay person could have followed this detailed, arcane presentation and drawn any conclusions about the edge of evolution. What this part of the book felt like was a debate between the author and himself. The average reader was not going to put up much of an argument at this level of doctorate presentation. Generally at this point I found three problems with the presentation. Behe seems to almost completely disregard environmental conditions with regard to mutation and natural selection. He only mentions environmental conditions when they fit his argument, and at one point even downplays the significance of environmental impact on evolution. In the end he associates environmental occurrences with intelligent tweaking of the design of the Universe.
I also found the author playing fast and loose with the mathematics he used particularly with regard to probability. There were several instances where based on the cases presented he multiplied odds when he should have added them. The difference changes the argument completely. I must admit that his examples were so convoluted and overly complex for this type of book, that I had a very difficult time sorting them out and that required re-listening to them several times before reaching a conclusion, but in the case of some mutation that he considered mutually exclusive, it appeared from what he said that they were not, and in fact he contradicts himself later on to agree that they were not mutually exclusive, but doesn???t revisit his mathematics.
Lastly I believe the author and many others who have problems with evolution look at evolution from the wrong end. This is very obvious from his examples of comparing evolution to building buildings and mouse traps. That couldn???t be more inappropriate. For evolutionists in the beginning, there was no blue print. What evolved was what evolved. Had it evolved differently, we humans might not be here. To look at cilia and say it couldn???t possibly have evolved because of the complex proteins, bonds and interactions involved in its operation is fine, but cilia didn???t start as cilia. It ended as cilia. It took millions of years to get to where it got.
I believe Behe lost his argument when he moved away from biology and into chemistry and physics in a more general sense. I do have more knowledge in these areas and conclusions drawn in these areas degenerate into the same argument presented time and time again; that is the Universe is too complex to have happened by chance. He simple states at this point that because some physical constants are so precise and are required to be so, they must have been designed. When he presents his other universes argument, he cites two examples to show that a finite number of other universes or an infinite number of universes were not possible for evolution to work. The very obvious other choice would have been a finite number of universes over an infinite time period. He conveniently omitted that option.
Behe repeatedly states that scientists have not proven anything that refutes his claims and therefore he is right. I don???t think he made this case at all. Moreover the details of the Universe continue to be unraveled every day by scientists and engineers with highly inquisitive minds.
Auto Repair shop owner. I love Yoga, and playing my Fender Stratocaster. I Walk my dogs twice a day.
The silly theories people promulgate in trying to deny the existence of God. Behe isn' to be missed in having at them.
Behe says, evolution must move forward and can't retreat. So put a blind, deaf, cowboy in the dusty planes of Texas and don't tell him what he has to do. If he makes it to the top of the Willis (Sears) Tower in Chicago he might, maybe might get his sight back and then have to find his next evolutionary step up.
What I don’t get about modern science is how rabid and narrow minded it has become. Along comes someone like Behe that lays out some thoughtful architecture of how there may be limits random evolution and he is persecuted as if he is witch from Salem in 1692. To all of you Darwinists, Science is an every evolving discipline. If you haven’t noticed, textbooks and understanding of the sciences have been revised many times over. This is a very excellent book exposes a lot of holes in the current dogma of evolutionary thought. Behe is making people think, discuss, and re-think what they were spoon fed in college. I highly recommend this book.
Depending on your taste and your style this book may or may not be for you. When the author, Behe, gets into the real minute details of biological functions, he kind of lost me from time to time (and I'm a student of science), but then when he picked it up a little bit and talk about our environment and the larger creatures that inhabit it, that made it much more interesting.
I liked this book. Reader was perfect. I have a technical background, and what I didn't hear (but usually do in such a book) was some howler of a mispronunciation or complete mis-understanding of text ending up with wrong emphasis. The book is persuasive, though it has a bit of a blind spot: yes, it is impossible to see that a particularly complex design happened by chance, but I'm didn't hear any calculation of how SOME design that solved the problem was possible by random mutation. But, still, looking below the gross anatomy level to the biochemical level makes it hard to see how there was enough time to come up with the complexity that we see in the world.
This book makes a distinction between evolution and common descent. It firmly agrees with the 2nd, but also with evolution, but with limits.
I'd recommend both this book and "The Language of God" for those who are willing to dig deep into a science book. I find doing so a worshipful experience, and all the more so if the writer is a believer.
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