J. Behe, Ph.D.
Department of Biological Sciences
Iacocca Hall, Room D-221
111 Research Drive
Bethlehem, PA 18015
I am interested in the evolution of complex biochemical systems.
Many molecular systems in the cell require multiple components
in order to function. I have dubbed such systems "irreducibly
complex." (Behe 1996b, 2001) Irreducibly complex systems
appear to me to be very difficult to explain within a traditional
gradualistic Darwinian framework, because the function of the
system only appears when the system is essentially complete.
(An illustration of the concept of irreducible complexity is
the mousetrap pictured on this page, which needs all its parts
to work.) Despite much general progress by science in the past
half century in understanding how complex biochemical systems
work, little progress has been made in explaining how such
systems arise in a Darwinian fashion. I have proposed that
a better explanation is that such systems were deliberately
designed by an intelligent agent. (Behe 1996b, 2001) The proposal
of intelligent design has proven to be extremely controversial,
both in the scientific community (for example, see Brumfiel,
G. 2005. Nature434:1062‑1065) and in the
general news media. (Behe 1996a, 1999, 2005) My current work
involves: 1) educating various groups to overcome mistaken
ideas of what exactly intelligent design entails, so that they
can make informed judgments on whether they think it is a plausible
hypothesis; and 2) trying to establish a reasoned way to determine
a rough dividing line between design and non-design in biochemical
My ideas about irreducible complexity and intelligent
design are entirely my own. They certainly are not
in any sense endorsed by either Lehigh University in
general or the Department of Biological Sciences in
particular. In fact, most of my colleagues in the Department
strongly disagree with them.
Behe, M.J. 2010. Experimental Evolution, Loss-of-Function Mutations, and ‘The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution.’ Quarterly Review of Biology 85, 419-445.
Behe M. J. 2007. The Edge of Evolution: the search for the limits of Darwinism. Free Press, New York.
Behe, M.J. 2005. Design for Living. New York Times, February
7, p. A21.
Behe M.J., Snoke D.W. 2004. Simulating evolution by gene duplication
of protein features that require multiple amino acid residues. Protein
Behe, M.J. 2004. "Irreducible Complexity: Obstacle to Darwinian
Evolution." In Debating Design: from Darwin to DNA,
Ruse, M. and Dembski, W.A., eds., Cambridge University Press, pp.
Behe, M.J. 2003. "Design in the Details: The Origin of
Biomolecular Machines." In Darwinism, Design & Public
Education, Campbell, J.A. and Meyer, S.C. eds., Michigan State
University Press, pp. 287-302.
Behe, M.J. 2003. "The Modern Intelligent Design Hypothesis:
Breaking Rules." In God and Design: The Teleological Argument and Modern Science ,
Neil Manson, ed., Routledge, pp. 277-291.
Behe, M.J. 2002. The challenge of irreducible complexity. Natural
History 111, 74.
Behe, M.J. 2001. Reply to My Critics: A Response to Reviews of
Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Biology
and Philosophy16, 685-709.
Behe, M.J. 2000. Self-Organization and Irreducibly Complex
Systems: A Reply to Shanks and Joplin. Philosophy of Science 67,
Behe, M.J. 1999. Teach Evolution—And Ask Hard Questions. New
York Times, August 13, p. A21.
Behe, M.J. 1996a. Darwin Under the Microscope, New York Times,
October 29, p. A25.
Behe, M.J. 1996b. Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical
Challenge to Evolution, The Free Press, New York.