To my surprise and delight I found Behe mentioning Engines of Creation by K. Eric Drexler four times in the opening few paragraphs of Appendix A of The Edge of Evolution titled I, Nanobot. Behe appears to have been as impressed by Engines as I was 20 years ago. Engines was what made me realize cells aren’t just sort of like robotic machines but rather they are quite literally robotic machines – the same kind of robotic machines that we envision ourselves creating in the not too distant future. The following quote is from the notes on page 301 of The Edge of Evolution:
3. The terms “robot” and “machine” applied to the cell are not meant as analogies – they are meant quite literally. That cells and the systems they contain are robotic machinery is widely recognized in the scientific community. For example, Tanford and Reynolds dub proteins “Nature’s Robots” (Tanford, C., and Reynolds, J. A. 2001 Nature’s robots: a history of proteins. Oxford: Oxford University Press) and the term “molecular machines” is routinely used to describe protein complexes. For example, see the December 2003 BioEssays Special Issue on Molecular Machines, containing such articles as “The spliceosome: the most complex macromolecular machine in the cell?” and “Perpetuating the double helix: molecular machines at eukaryotic DNA replication origins.”
Understanding the limits of technology within our current understanding of the laws of physics (without resort to supernatural powers) is critical to the design debate insofar as making reasonable inferences as to what can be created by well characterized material means and what cannot be created by those means. As far as I can determine there is nothing at all about life as we know it that requires a supernatural designer. Behe appears to be of the same persuasion. This is what makes me so frustrated at the chance & necessity pundits’ conflation of ID with religion. It’s a conflation born of ignorance and/or dishonesty.
Engines of Creation (Anchor Books 1986, Oxford University Press 1990, Fourth Estate 1996) is available to read for free in hypertext format here so there’s little excuse for not reading it. The phenomenal growth and integration of hypertext and the world wide web into human endeavour were predictions made in Engines, by the way. Nearly half the book (chapters 4 through 10) are devoted to exploring the limits of the technologically possible. I’d be quite surprised if Bill Dembski hasn’t read it and now I know that Behe has too. A 2007 update to Engines is available as a free ebook here. I’ve recommended Engines to Uncommon Descent readers at least a dozen times in the past. Now it’s a dozen plus one and a reference from Mike Behe to its import. Please read it.