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Michael Behe and His Critics

Michael Behe

Looking forward to the release of Darwin Devolves, I noticed that computational biologist Joshua Swamidass at Washington University claims that Michael Behe avoids engaging critics. What?! Swamidass lodges the same charge against Douglas Axe. This is so plainly false it just about made my jaw fall open:

My concerns about Behe and Axe are more substantial than the wording of a phrase here or there. Having seen a preprint of his book, I’m very concerned about Behe’s unwillingness to engage with critics. I am doubly concerned about Axe’s unwillingness.

Swamidass, writing at Peaceful Science, subsequently added a note of correction, partly taking it back.

Both have selectively engaged at times with scientists in the past. The concern here is in the response to requests to engage and clarify over the last several years.

Biologist Ann Gauger notes in response to Swamidass, “To accuse [Behe and Axe] of making an end run around the scientific establishment is disingenuous. They have already faced the scientific establishment.” Whether the subject is Behe or Axe’s work, there is plenty to argue about, but that is inarguable.

In the case of Dr. Axe, you can see his contributions to Evolution News here, and they are replete with replies to critics, about as recent as you could wish. In Dr. Behe’s case, his contributions to Evolution News are archived here, and you’ll see that what he’s doing is not posting cat videos or pictures of his meals, à la evolutionist Jerry Coyne who has so far carped about Behe’s book title, but instead offering highly substantive analyses, critiques, and replies to other scientists.

On irreducible complexity and on his immediately prior book, The Edge of Evolution, replies to critics by Behe and others are, respectively, archived here and here. His record of interplay with critics and other scientists is also maintained at Uncommon Descent.

Darwin Devolves: The New Science About DNA That Challenges Evolution is out in February but a great preorder deal with valuable perks is available here, including a 41-part online course with Dr. Behe. If the past is any guide, where the critics are substantive rather than snarky or patronizing, we’re in for a good debate.

Photo: Michael Behe in Revolutionary: Michael Behe and the Mystery of Molecular Machines, via Discovery Institute.

David Klinghoffer

Senior Fellow and Editor, Evolution News
David Klinghoffer is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute and the editor of Evolution News & Science Today, the daily voice of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, reporting on intelligent design, evolution, and the intersection of science and culture. Klinghoffer is also the author of six books, a former senior editor and literary editor at National Review magazine, and has written for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Commentary, and other publications. Born in Santa Monica, California, he graduated from Brown University in 1987 with an A.B. magna cum laude in comparative literature and religious studies. David lives near Seattle, Washington, with his wife and children.



Ann GaugerbiologycriticsDarwin DevolvesDNAevolutionintelligent designJerry CoyneJoshua SwamidassMichael BehePeaceful Sciencescientific establishmentThe Edge of EvolutionUncommon DescentWashington University