Biology and Philosophy

, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 683–707 | Cite as

Reply to My Critics: A Response to Reviews of Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution

  • Michael J. Behe


In Darwin's Black Box: The BiochemicalChallenge to Evolution I argued thatpurposeful intelligent design, rather thanDarwinian natural selection, better explainssome aspects of the complexity that modernscience has discovered at the molecularfoundation of life. In the five years since itspublication the book has been widely discussedand has received considerable criticism. Here Irespond to what I deem to be the mostfundamental objections. In the first part ofthe article I address empirical criticismsbased on experimental studies alleging eitherthat biochemical systems I discussed are notirreducibly complex or that similar systemshave been demonstrated to be able to evolve byDarwinian processes. In the remainder of thearticle I address methodological concerns,including whether a claim of intelligent designis falsifiable and whether intelligent designis a permissible scientific conclusion.

Darwinism evolution falsifiability intelligent design irreducible complexity natural selection 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Behe, M.J.: 1996, Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York.Google Scholar
  2. Behe, M.J., Dembski, W.A. and Meyer, S.: 2000, Science and Evidence for Design in the Universe, Ignatius Press, San Francisco.Google Scholar
  3. Bugge, T.H., Flick, M.J., Daugherty, C.C. and Degen, J.L.: 1995, ‘Plasminogen Deficiency Causes Severe Thrombosis but Is Compatible With Development and Reproduction’, Genes and Development 9, 794–807.Google Scholar
  4. Bugge, T.H., Kombrinck, K.W., Flick, M.J., Daugherty, C.C., Danton, M.J. and Degen, J.L.: 1996a, ‘Loss of Fibrinogen Rescues Mice from the Pleiotropic Effects of Plasminogen Deficiency’, Cell 87, 709–715.Google Scholar
  5. Bugge, T.H., Xiao, Q., Kombrinck, K.W., Flick, M.J., Holmback, K., Danton, M.J., Colbert, M.C., Witte, D.P., Fujikawa, K., Davie, E.W. and Degen, J.L.: 1996b, ‘Fatal Embryonic Bleeding Events in Mice Lacking Tissue Factor, the Cell-Associated Initiator of Blood Coagulation’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A. 93, 6258–6263.Google Scholar
  6. Cairns-Smith, A.G.: 1985, Seven Clues to the Origin of Life: a Scientific Detective Story, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  7. Cavalier-Smith, T.: 1997, ‘The Blind Biochemist’, Trends in Ecology and Evolution 12, 162–163.Google Scholar
  8. Coyne, J.A.: 1996, ‘God in the Details’, Nature 383, 227–228.Google Scholar
  9. Craig, W.L. and Smith, Q.: 1993, Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology, Clarendon Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  10. Dawkins, R.: 1986, The Blind Watchmaker, Norton, New York.Google Scholar
  11. Davies, P.C.W.: 1999, The Fifth Miracle: The Search for the Origin and Meaning of Life, Simon and Schuster, New York.Google Scholar
  12. Dembski, W.A.: 1998, The Design Inference: Eliminating Chance Through Small Probabilities, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  13. Denton, M.J.: 1998, Nature's Destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, Free Press, New York.Google Scholar
  14. Doolittle, R.: 1997, ‘A Delicate Balance’ Boston Review Feb/March, 28–29.Google Scholar
  15. Dorit, R.: 1997, ‘Molecular Evolution and Scientific Inquiry, Misperceived’, American Scientist 85, 474–475.Google Scholar
  16. Flietstra, R.: 1998, ‘A Response to Michael Behe’, Books & Culture Sept/Oct, 37.Google Scholar
  17. Futuyma, D.J.: 1997, ‘Miracles and Molecules’, Boston Review Feb/March, 29–30.Google Scholar
  18. Guth, A.H.: 1997, The Inflationary Universe: the Quest for a New Theory of Cosmic Origins, Addison-Wesley Publishing, Reading, Mass.Google Scholar
  19. Halkier, T.: 1992, Mechanisms in Blood Coagulation Fibrinolysis and the Complement System, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  20. Hall, B.G.: 1982, ‘Evolution on a Petri Dish: The Evolved ß-galactosidase System as a Model for Studying Acquisitive Evolution in the Laboratory’, in M.K. Hecht, B. Wallace and G.T. Prance (eds), Evolutionary Biology, Plenum Press, New York, pp. 85–150.Google Scholar
  21. Hall, B.G.: 1999, ‘Experimental Evolution of Ebg Enzyme Provides Clues about the Evolution of Catalysis and to Evolutionary Potential’, FEMS Microbiology Letters 174, 1–8.Google Scholar
  22. Maddox, J.: 1989, ‘Down With the Big Bang’, Nature 340, 425.Google Scholar
  23. Miller, K.R.: 1999, Finding Darwin's God: a Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution, Cliff Street Books, New York.Google Scholar
  24. National Academy of Sciences: 1999, Science and Creationism: a View from the National Academy of Sciences, 2nd ed, National Academy Press, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  25. Oakes, E.T.: 2001, ‘Edward T. Oakes and His critics: An Exchange’, First Things April, 5–13.Google Scholar
  26. Orr, H.A.: 1996–1997, ‘Darwin V. Intelligent Design (Again)’, Boston Review Dec/Jan, 28–31.Google Scholar
  27. Pennock, R.: 1999, Tower of Babel: The Evidence Against the New Creationism, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  28. Pomiankowski, A.: 1996, ‘The God of the Tiny Gaps’, New Scientist Sept. 14, 44–45.Google Scholar
  29. Quill, H.: 1966, John Harrison. The Man Who Found Longitude, John Baker Publishers, London.Google Scholar
  30. Ratzsch, D.: 2001, ‘Nature, Design, and Science: The Status of Design in Natural Science’, in D.E. Shaner (ed.), SUNY Series in Philosophy and Biology, State University of New York Press, Albany, New York.Google Scholar
  31. Ruse, M.: 1997, ‘Enough Speculation’, Boston Review Feb/March, 31.Google Scholar
  32. Ruse, M.: 1998, ‘Answering the creationists: Where they go wrong and what they're afraid of’, Free Inquiry 18, 2.Google Scholar
  33. Shapiro, J.A.: 1996, ‘In the Details ... What?’, National Review Sept. 16, 62–65.Google Scholar
  34. Shapiro, R.: 1999, Planetary Dreams: the Quest to Discover Life Beyond Earth, J. Wiley, New York.Google Scholar
  35. Suh, T.T., Holmback, K., Jensen, N.J., Daugherty, C.C., Small, K., Simon, D.I., Potter, S. and Degen, J.L.: 1995, ‘Resolution of Spontaneous Bleeding Events but Failure of Pregnancy in Fibrinogen-deficient Mice’, Genes and Development 9, 2020–2033.Google Scholar
  36. Sun, W.Y., Witte, D.P., Degen, J.L., Colbert, M.C., Burkart, M.C., Holmback, K., Xiao, Q., Bugge, T.H. and Degen, S.J.: 1998, ‘Prothrombin Deficiency Results in Embryonic and Neonatal Lethality in Mice’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A. 95, 7597–7602.Google Scholar
  37. Ward, P.D. and Brownlee, D.: 2000, Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe, Copernicus, New York.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael J. Behe
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesLehigh UniversityBethlehemUSA

Personalised recommendations