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Richard Dawkins famously asserted that "Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist." Prior to Darwin, all an atheist could do was to repeat with Hume that in an infinite amount of time anything is possible, including the complex design we see in nature. The Edge of Evolution makes it much more difficult for an atheist to find fulfillment in Darwin.
Michael Behe's new book begins by distinguishing three issues that are commonly subsumed under the banner of "Darwinism." One is common descent. A second is natural selection. And the third is random mutation. Behe argues that though there is very strong evidence for common descent, and though natural selection certainly has an important place in the biological explanation of organic diversity, random mutations by themselves cannot explain the molecular foundation of life on earth. It is hard to think of a group in the current controversy over evolution that will not be angered by something Behe writes. This is good; no one can legitimately dismiss The Edge of Evolution as propaganda.
The subtitle of Behe's book is "The Search for the Limits of Darwinism." Again, Behe's conclusion is not that evolution by means of natural selection is a myth, but only that its domain is limited. Of course, almost everyone will grant that "micro-evolution" occurs. Yes, moths gain or lose spots, and finches evolve new and improved beaks. But macro-evolution—turning a mouse into a whale—Never! Or so many creationists say.
Behe disagrees: "Evolution from a common ancestor, via changes in the DNA, is very well supported." After summing up the argument from the genetic similarity of all life, Behe writes that "It's hard to imagine how there could be stronger evidence for common ancestry of chimps and humans." And again, "Let's acknowledge that genetics has yielded yet more terrific (and totally unanticipated) evidence of common descent." Finally (though many more examples could be cited), "The purposeful design of ...