Your audiobook is waiting…

The Edge of Evolution

The Search for the Limits of Darwinism
Narrated by: Patrick Lawlor
Length: 10 hrs and 55 mins
4 out of 5 stars (268 ratings)

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

In a tour de force of science and logic, the best-selling author of Darwin's Black Box combines genetics, laboratory results, and mathematics to prove, once and for all, that the universe and life on Earth are designed.

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.

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    157
  • 4 Stars
    58
  • 3 Stars
    22
  • 2 Stars
    18
  • 1 Stars
    13

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    95
  • 4 Stars
    47
  • 3 Stars
    19
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    2

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    108
  • 4 Stars
    36
  • 3 Stars
    11
  • 2 Stars
    7
  • 1 Stars
    4
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Roger
  • Idaho Falls, ID, United States
  • 05-02-16

Darwinian is tested by logic and statistics

Darwinism is often presented as THE explanation for life on our planet. But there is little evidence to support this. We can all agree with Mendel that the offspring will inherit attributes from their ancestry. It is much more difficult to demonstrate that one species is the ancestor of another species. And this does not consider the fact that our planet began as a sterile place. So, there is no original life to modify.

I liked the discussion of the malaria bug. Since it reproduces so rapidly, many generations can be studied to see what changes are taking place in the bug. The fact that genetic material that no longer provides protection is removed from available DNA was not expected by me. I tend to hang on to my tools even if I haven't used them for a while.

I recommend this book highly.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Malaria Anyone?

Be a Better Scientist. Put the Facts of Malaria in your Trove of Knowledge

This is a serious attempt to explore the limits of Darwinian Evolution. The Neo-Darwinian view is that organisms evolve by means of an accumulation of small gradual changes in the genetic code. Michael Behe’s view is that the limits of such changes in the DNA are far below the limit of the boundary between different kinds of organisms. To prove his point he uses the example of the rapidly reproducing malaria bacteria as his real-world test case. Because of malaria’s rapid reproduction and wide-spread dispersion it has undergone many times the number of reproductive generations, in just the past few centuries, than all the mammals on the earth in all the time of supposed evolutionary history. These many generations have afforded malaria the equivalent chances for random evolutionary change that should have allowed it to reach the limit of Darwinian evolution. The fact that malaria has not managed to kill all of mankind shows that the limits for macro-evolution are very low. In all its millions of generations malaria still has not conquered the cold temperature problem. It can only reproduce when the temperature is above 50 degrees. This is why it is almost unknown in North America and yet is so prevalent in Africa.

Behe explains why bacteria can easily develop immunity to drugs, such as chloral quinine. In many cases such drug resistance can be accomplished by a single point mutation of the DNA strand. Two such point mutations, in fortuitous locations, are less common but do occur. A triple set of advantageously placed DNA point mutations is quite rare and represents what Behe believes to be the limit of Darwinian evolution, “the edge of evolution,” if you will.

Behe’s argument is an important one for all interested parties to reach a real-world understanding of what evolution, through the accumulation of small gradual changes through random mutation and natural selection, can and cannot do. His argument must be answered by Neo-Darwinists, Common Descent adherents, Intelligent Design proponents, and even Scientific Creationists alike. Behe comes to the conclusion Darwinian evolution does not explain the evidence uncovered by modern micro-biology; Intelligent Design does.

Behe briefly touches on Common Descent but only long enough to state his bias in favor of it but does not deal with the alternate explanations that his conclusions for an Intelligent Designer certainly raise in the mind of the reader. The explanation for similarities between the genetic codes of different organisms can be explained by realizing that all organisms had a common Designer. One advantage of using similar genetics for different organisms is that this allows us to learn about the workings of DNA without resorting to the moral quandary of experimenting on human beings. This is to be expected when the Creator is a moral being.

This book is useful for Scientific Creationists because it forces us to grapple with the fact that mutations do happen, and they do have an effect. It is useful for our case since these accumulations of small genetic changes through mutation and natural selection can be proven to have a very limited scope. Organisms can experience micro-evolution through such processes but the macro-evolution of one kind of organism evolving into another kind of organism is beyond the realm of possibility, as is evidenced by the limits of change in the malaria bacteria over the course of millions of generations of such mutation. Malaria is still malaria.

This book is well narrated. The style employed by Patrick Lawlor is very clear. His diction is nearly flawless. This is very difficult material to listen to. Have your rewind button set to make it easy to go back and review.

15 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Intensive, Well Documented

This was my first listening experience about information of the genetic code. At first I thought it would be too overwhelming, but Professor Michael J. Behe, Ph.D. makes it sound so easy. If you know what I mean by that.

The complexity of cellular machinery is an spectacular almost sci-fi thing to grasp. But the eloquence of Behe allow even myself to understand the complexity of his theory. Which it makes much sense unless you don't want to accept it. Irreducible Complexity in it essence is a common intuition. When you hear it from the perspective of the author it makes you grasped even more profoundly intuitive.

Just imagining every single theoretical image about the biomechanical engineering and its specific function in this cellular world its overwhelmingly exquisite.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

This should be "Evolution 101"

This is what should be talked about first in foremost in discussing evolution--numbers and evidence! ...the edge of evolution makes a previously foggy topic clear. Why hasn't this work been done before in such a concise way? I'm grateful for this eye opening book. I strongly recommend this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Listen to it, not to comments about it!

No topic is more prone to straw man arguments than arguments against Intelligent Design. Every time the subject of Intelligent Design comes up in my presence many react as if ID proponents were arguing for a 6,000 year old world. When I ask those holding such views what they've read from the ID community itself invariably it comes up that all they read was works from anti-ID thinkers about ID. The truth is that most who are anti-ID work on the assumption that NOTHING is more improbably then the existence of God and hence of design. Thus, even he most bizarre and/or improbable scientific speculation is more believable to them then the possibility of design and upon this basis they criticize Behe. This book however is NOT about God, it is about understanding the origin of the complexity of our physical world from a genuinely scientific perspective. Specifically, in this book Behe agrees with common decent and also with some variation that results from random changes and natural selection. However, the "Edge" he seeks to define in this book is between what Darwinism can explain and what it can't. If you want to know what ID is about and are not content to read straw man arguments against ID then this book is for you. I think the Edge of Evolution is even better than Behe's earlier work Darwin's Black Box because it is written years later taking into account important scientific discoveries in molecular biology and with the arguments of those who criticized Darwin's Black Box in mind.

29 of 46 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • David
  • Foxboro, MA, United States
  • 04-14-12

Scientific expose of a theory.

What did you love best about The Edge of Evolution?

Behe is a scientist I can read that exemplifies science at it's best; inquisitive, unafraid to question convention and exhaustive in his research.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Edge of Evolution?

Discussion of irreducible complexity.

Which scene was your favorite?

All competed for inclusion as 'favorites'. However, his answers to critics were particularly insightful.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No, too much data to absorb. It's not a story. It's a text book.

12 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Another excellent book by Behe

This is not a book about the political struggle between atheists (who pretend the Philosophy of Science somehow trumps the Philosophy of Religion) and religionists (who pretend the reverse).


This is a book about how recent research calls into question the idea that random mutations and natural selection alone can explain complex life.


Behe is an expert in the field of Biology, not some novice with a religious axe to grind, and his arguments are well reasoned and clearly presented. He gives credit to parts of evolutionary thought where due, but he exposes the gaping holes where intellectual honesty demands, and that is one reason why he is mercilessly attacked.

If you believe the Theory of Evolution must be accepted without question because everyone who is skeptical is a fool with no valid arguments, then you should get this book. You will learn that there are skeptical experts with very good reasons for being skeptical.


If you doubt that there any fools on the side of Evolution, just try posting a reasonable, but slightly skeptical, question on popular Evolution websites (like Panda's Thumb). You will be instantly insulted by numerous people, and it's quite possible your question will be deleted.

38 of 67 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Doug
  • St. Louis MO, USA
  • 09-26-09

Brilliant and provocative

Negative reviews elsewhere, by names little and big (e.g. Dawkins), are full of name calling, appeals to authority (authorities who dismiss Behe's argument a priori), irrelevancies, and anger, but nothing that addresses the substance of his case. Behe provides detailed examples and arguments supporting natural selection and common descent. His sole challenge to the reigning dogma is the sufficiency of RANDOM variation to explain the complexity of life as we have come to know it through modern biochemistry and genetics. The howls of Dawkins et al betray a faith in life as a random accident challenged at the foundation.

34 of 64 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kl
  • 04-27-19

Outstanding Content! Narrator Dramatizations Lame...

A wonderful, and powerful follow-up to Behe's previous book, "Darwin's Black Box." Excellent content and informative technical treatment of the subject.

However, the narrator's voice dramatizations when quoting references were VERY distracting and off putting, perhaps even to the point of sounding sophomoric. Whether directed or not, these "creative liberties" make the presentation sound unprofessional against the academic subject matter of the book.

As unfortunate as these narrative quirks are, the audiobook is still well worth the price and time involved to devote to its consumption.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating

This is a fascinating and in depth explanation of the complexity of life, and why the theory of random, undirected mutation is simply not an adequate causative agent to drive evolution. Not only is there no scientific evidence to support the theory at the molecular level, but a look into the complex sophistication of irriducibly complex nano machines within a single cell drives home the point that one simply can't gaze upon complex design without knowing there must be designer.
I've often argued that should one be walking through a forest and stumble upon a perfectly formed wooden bowl or even a simple, square wooden table with four perfectly even wooden legs, one would NEVER gaze in wonder at how all of the available resources of wood and natural errosive forces of wind, water and sand could, given enough time and random atmospheric events, have formed them. The design alone tells us that someone designed the bowl and the table even though each is composed simply of wood and designed with the simplest of shapes; a hollowed half sphere and a square with four columnar legs. Each are remarkably simple, but undeniably designed.
How much more so then, when we gaze into the intricacies of a single cell at the molecular level. As a young college student, I first accepted the theory of evolution as fact, but the more I studied genetics and cellular biology, the more implausible that theory became in my mind. Now, 30 years later, advancements in technology and research simply confirm every doubt I had back then.