Michael J. Behe ( /ˈbiːhiː/ bee-hee; born 1952) is an American biochemist, author, and advocate of the pseudoscientific principle of intelligent design (ID). He serves as professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and as a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture. Behe is best known as an advocate for the validity of the argument for irreducible complexity (IC), which claims that some biochemical structures are too complex to be explained by known evolutionary mechanisms and are therefore probably the result of intelligent design. Behe has testified in several court cases related to intelligent design, including the court case Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District where his views were cited in the ruling that intelligent design is not science and is religious in nature.
- The strong appearance of design [in nature] allows a disarmingly simple argument: if it looks, walks and quacks like a duck, then, absent compelling evidence to the contrary, we have warrant to conclude it's a duck. Design should not be overlooked simply because it's so obvious.
- "Design for Living", New York Times, 7 February 2005.
- Under my definition, a scientific theory is a proposed explanation which focuses or points to physical, observable data and logical inferences. There are many things throughout the history of science which we now think to be incorrect which nonetheless would fit that — which would fit that definition. Yes, astrology is in fact one.
- testimony in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, trial transcript: day 11 (18 October 2005).
Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution (1996)
- ... I have no reason to doubt that the universe is the billions of years old that physicists say it is. Further, I find the idea of common descent (that all organisms share a common ancestor) fairly convincing, and have no reason to doubt it. ... I think that evolutionary biologists have contributed enormously to our understanding of the world. Although Darwin's mechanism - natural selection working on variation - might explain many things, however, I do not believe it explains molecular life.
- page 5
- As the number of unexplained, irreducibly complex biological systems increases, our confidence that Darwin’s criterion of failure has been met skyrockets toward the maximum that science allows.
- p. 39-40.
- If a theory claims to be able to explain some phenomenon, but does not generate even an attempt at an explanation, then it should be banished.
- p. 186
- The result of [the] cumulative efforts to investigate the cell—to investigate life at the molecular level—is a loud, clear, piercing cry of ‘design!’ The result is so unambiguous and so significant that it must be ranked as one of the greatest achievements in the history of science. The discovery rivals those of Newton and Einstein, Lavoisier and Schrödinger, Pasteur, and Darwin. The observation of the intelligent design of life is as momentous as the observation that the earth goes around the sun.
- p. 232-233.
- If you search the scientific literature on evolution, and if you focus your search on the question of how molecular machines—the basis of life—developed, you find an eerie and complete silence. The complexity of life’s foundation has paralyzed science’s attempt to account for it; molecular machines raise an as-yet-impenetrable barrier to Darwinism’s universal reach.
- p. (1996).
- Many people, including many important and well-respected scientists, just don’t want there to be anything beyond nature. They don’t want a supernatural being to affect nature.
- p. (1996).
- In private many scientists admit that science has no explanation for the beginning of life. . . . Darwin never imagined the exquisitely profound complexity that exists even at the most basic levels of life.
- Molecular evolution is not based on scientific authority. . . . There are assertions that such evolution occurred, but absolutely none are supported by pertinent experiments or calculations. Since no one knows molecular evolution by direct experience, and since there is no authority on which to base claims of knowledge, it can truly be said that . . . the assertion of Darwinian molecular evolution is merely bluster.
About Michael Behe
- Professor Behe admitted that his broadened definition of science, which encompasses ID [Intelligent Design], would also embrace astrology.
- Judge John E. Jones III, Opinion in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, 20 December 2005, p. 68.
- Scientists in peer-reviewed publications have refuted Professor Behe's predication about the alleged irreducible complexity of the blood-clotting cascade.
- Judge John E. Jones III, Opinion in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, 20 December 2005, p. 77.
- In Darwin's Black Box , Professor Behe wrote that not only were there no natural explanations for the immune system at the time, but that natural explanations were impossible regarding its origin. However, Dr. Miller presented peer-reviewed studies refuting Professor Behe's claim that the immune system was irreducibly complex. … In fact, on cross-examination, Professor Behe was questioned concerning his 1996 claim that science would never find an evolutionary explanation for the immune system. He was presented with fifty-eight peer-reviewed publications, nine books, and several immunology textbook chapters about the evolution of the immune system; however, he simply insisted that this was still not sufficient evidence of evolution, and that it was not "good enough."
- Judge John E. Jones III, Opinion in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, 20 December 2005, p. 78.
- Professor Behe's claim for irreducible complexity has been refuted in peer-reviewed research papers and has been rejected by the scientific community at large.
- Judge John E. Jones III, Opinion in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, 20 December 2005, p. 79.
- Professor Behe remarkably and unmistakably claims that the plausibility of the argument for ID [Intelligent Design] depends upon the extent to which one believes in the existence of God. As no evidence in the record indicates that any other scientific proposition's validity rests on belief in God, nor is the Court aware of any such scientific propositions, Professor Behe's assertion constitutes substantial evidence that in his view, as is commensurate with other prominent ID leaders, ID is a religious and not a scientific proposition.
- Judge John E. Jones III, Opinion in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, 20 December 2005, p. 28.