The Talk.Origins Archive

Irreducible Complexity and Michael Behe

Other Links:

Molecular Machines: Experimental Support for the Design Inference
Michael Behe presents a briefer version of the argument from design that appears in his book.
Behe's Empty Box
This web page contains many links to web pages supporting or criticizing Behe's work.
American Scientist Review of Black Box
In this American Scientist magazine book review, Yale biologist Robert Dorit identifies six fallacies that plague Behe's book.
Darwin v. Intelligent Design (Again)
Biologist H. Allen Orr scathingly critiques Behe's book.
Boston Review: Articles on Evolution
A number of articles and reviews written by people with several opinions of Behe's book appear here.

In 1996, the Free Press published a book by Lehigh University biochemist Michael Behe called Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. The book's central thesis is that many biological systems are "irreducibly complex" at the molecular level. Behe gives the following definition of irreducible complexity:

By irreducibly complex I mean a single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning. An irreducibly complex system cannot be produced directly (that is, by continuously improving the initial function, which continues to work by the same mechanism) by slight, successive modifications of a precursor system, because any precursor to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional. An irreducibly complex biological system, if there is such a thing, would be a powerful challenge to Darwinian evolution. (p. 39)
Although the argument from irreducible complexity is essentially a rehash of the famously flawed watchmaker argument advanced by William Paley at the start of the 19th century, Behe's book has attracted a great deal of attention from creationists and non-creationists alike. The articles collected here address the claims made by Behe in his book.
Darwin's Black Box: Irreducible Complexity or Irreproducible Irreducibility?
Keith Robison reviews Michael Behe's book Darwin's Black Box, which claims that many biological systems are "irreducibly complex" -- that in order to evolve, multiple parts would have to arise simultaneously. But is it true?
Publish or Perish: Some Published Works on Biochemical Evolution
This list of papers has been collected in response to Michael Behe's claim that the scientific literature is virtually silent on the topic of molecular evolution.

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