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In 1996, Darwin's Black Box helped to launch the intelligent design movement: the argument that nature exhibits evidence of design, beyond Darwinian randomness. It sparked a national debate on evolution, which continues to intensify across the country. From one end of the spectrum to the other, Darwin's Black Box has established itself as the key intelligent design text -- In 1996, Darwin's Black Box helped to launch the intelligent design movement: the argument that nature exhibits evidence of design, beyond Darwinian randomness. It sparked a national debate on evolution, which continues to intensify across the country. From one end of the spectrum to the other, Darwin's Black Box has established itself as the key intelligent design text -- the one argument that must be addressed in order to determine whether Darwinian evolution is sufficient to explain life as we know it. In a major new Afterword for this edition, Behe explains that the complexity discovered by microbiologists has dramatically increased since the book was first published. That complexity is a continuing challenge to Darwinism, and evolutionists have had no success at explaining it. Darwin's Black Box is more important today than ever.


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In 1996, Darwin's Black Box helped to launch the intelligent design movement: the argument that nature exhibits evidence of design, beyond Darwinian randomness. It sparked a national debate on evolution, which continues to intensify across the country. From one end of the spectrum to the other, Darwin's Black Box has established itself as the key intelligent design text -- In 1996, Darwin's Black Box helped to launch the intelligent design movement: the argument that nature exhibits evidence of design, beyond Darwinian randomness. It sparked a national debate on evolution, which continues to intensify across the country. From one end of the spectrum to the other, Darwin's Black Box has established itself as the key intelligent design text -- the one argument that must be addressed in order to determine whether Darwinian evolution is sufficient to explain life as we know it. In a major new Afterword for this edition, Behe explains that the complexity discovered by microbiologists has dramatically increased since the book was first published. That complexity is a continuing challenge to Darwinism, and evolutionists have had no success at explaining it. Darwin's Black Box is more important today than ever.

30 review for Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution

  1. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Andrew

    I have noticed that all the reviews of this book that are negative or refer to it as well debunked and (every scientist already knows this is crap). Not one can give a specific simple example of how behe can be challenged. simply stated they have no such answer. They can't. Because Behe is right. no matter whether you believe in creationism or design or evolution or what ever your stance, there simply is no well articulated answer to his argument. when someone points one out. not with some footn I have noticed that all the reviews of this book that are negative or refer to it as well debunked and (every scientist already knows this is crap). Not one can give a specific simple example of how behe can be challenged. simply stated they have no such answer. They can't. Because Behe is right. no matter whether you believe in creationism or design or evolution or what ever your stance, there simply is no well articulated answer to his argument. when someone points one out. not with some footnote, but a real explanation for how complexity of this order of magnitude can arise by darwinian mechanisms then ,...hooray but i havent seen it anywhere in any review or any analysis by some great scientist such as dawkins, wilson, dennet or any other. Because they simply dont have a rebuttal that makes sense in the darwinian mechanism. maybe there is some other mechanism that can be at work. I dont claim to be a creationist but scientists ought to look at their shortcomings with some guts, instead of just poo pooing what they've read. come on give us a real response that can really challenge what Behe has come up with. be brave. where are you???

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rohan

    As an evolutionary biologist I feel obligated to review this book. Behe really does give a valuable critique of evolutionary theory by giving canonical examples of systems that he believes cannot evolve. Behe's thesis is weak in the sense that he doesn't discredit evolution, he simply thinks there are cases that evolution cannot handle at the level of cellular systems (A strong version would argue that evolution is impossible or not true). What makes the book valuable is that it shines a light on As an evolutionary biologist I feel obligated to review this book. Behe really does give a valuable critique of evolutionary theory by giving canonical examples of systems that he believes cannot evolve. Behe's thesis is weak in the sense that he doesn't discredit evolution, he simply thinks there are cases that evolution cannot handle at the level of cellular systems (A strong version would argue that evolution is impossible or not true). What makes the book valuable is that it shines a light on a real scientific problem: the evolution of complex biochemical systems. Researchers are just beginning to tackle this problem because it is finally becoming tractable, with the development with fancy genomic/proteomic technologies that hope to fully examine the interactions occurring between genes and molecules in the cell. Are some biochemical systems irreducibly complex? I doubt it. The state of the art in a 100 years (probably less) should conquer Behe's objections. The main problem I have with Behe is how he attacks the scientific literature for not attacking the problems he poses, when they have been intractable up until now. It is impossible to give a step-by-step explanation for the evolution of a system, when all the intermediates have long been gone. Evolutionary biologists try to infer this information by comparing genetic sequence, research which Behe quickly papers over by saying that a third of papers published in JME (Journal of Molecular Evolution) simply compare gene and protein sequences. As a biochemist, Behe completely ignores the overwhelming evidence for evolution from genetics. When the problem of how protein sequence codes for protein function is one of the great unsolved mysteries in modern science, looking for evolutionary evidence in modern biochemistry is barking up the wrong tree. We simply don't know how changes in gene sequence over evolutionary time affects how proteins function in their systems context. Behe jumps to design when the groundwork he needs to argue coherently for design (or for evolution) in his examples simply does not exist. Now that this groundwork is finally being done, Behe's particular argument for design can be settled the old fashioned way--through hard scientific work--in the coming century. Behe is guilty of a cardinal scientific sin: jumping to conclusions without having real empirical data to back up his claim. NOTE: one of the problems with evolutionary biology is that all living things share the genetic code, meaning that arguing what existed before the LUCA (last universal common ancestor) is pure speculation. Behe might believe that the LUCA (and its genetic code) was designed, and everything else evolved from it. The problem is that there is no hard evidence for how it all happened, just educated guesses. This is where Behe's criticism is best, but it is also where it is the most meaningless. For a interesting hypothesis (which is probably wrong in many respects) on the evolution of the genetic code, check out this paper: "On the origin of the translation system and the genetic code in the RNA world by means of natural selection, exaptation, and subfunctionalization." Wolf YI, Koonin EV. Biol Direct. 2007 May 31;2:14.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kessia Reyne

    Here's why I liked this book: When I was a student of human biology and genetics, I noticed that my professors were always talking about the body anthropomorphically. "The cell, knowing it's low on sodium, picks it up from the blood stream." Okay, two problems with this explanation. One, cells don't "know" things because cells don't have minds and they are not rational. Second problem, nobody liked to go into detail about _exactly_ how the cell takes in the sodium. I guess maybe they didn't have Here's why I liked this book: When I was a student of human biology and genetics, I noticed that my professors were always talking about the body anthropomorphically. "The cell, knowing it's low on sodium, picks it up from the blood stream." Okay, two problems with this explanation. One, cells don't "know" things because cells don't have minds and they are not rational. Second problem, nobody liked to go into detail about _exactly_ how the cell takes in the sodium. I guess maybe they didn't have time to talk about that, but I sort of started to like chemistry a little more than biology because there was less vague talk like this. THEN I read Darwin's Black Box. The basic argument of the book is that if you look at life at the level of biochemistry you'll find an irreducible complexity that defies the theory of naturalistic evolution. Great idea, Behe. But here's what I realized: Biochemistry was really the answer to all my unanswered questions in biology. How does the cell take in sodium? Well, it's a chemical process with proteins abounding and enzymes on the scene and all of that. And why were my professors always using verbs like "sensing," "seeing," "wanting," and "knowing" when talking about the body? It's because they don't actually KNOW why these processes work the way they do. That's what biochemistry taught me, and I learned it in this book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Pattie

    This is an amazing, scientific explanation of the intricacies of design revealed in the microscopic world that scream, "This is no accident!" Darwin would be the first to repent after reading this. Just the chapter on blood clotting alone is worth getting the book-an excellent springboard for faith sharing. This is an amazing, scientific explanation of the intricacies of design revealed in the microscopic world that scream, "This is no accident!" Darwin would be the first to repent after reading this. Just the chapter on blood clotting alone is worth getting the book-an excellent springboard for faith sharing.

  5. 4 out of 5

    John

    Michael Behe is a perfect example of Science gone wrong. He demonstrates that science has come so far in the past several decades that we now have more questions, and fewer answers, than ever before. Rather than inspiring him to seek out the hard-to-find answers, he seems content, indeed determined, to invoke a higher being as the answer to the difficult questions of science. The logic of his arguements is frustrating, to say the least, because it can't be argued. What ever he thinks he knows a Michael Behe is a perfect example of Science gone wrong. He demonstrates that science has come so far in the past several decades that we now have more questions, and fewer answers, than ever before. Rather than inspiring him to seek out the hard-to-find answers, he seems content, indeed determined, to invoke a higher being as the answer to the difficult questions of science. The logic of his arguements is frustrating, to say the least, because it can't be argued. What ever he thinks he knows about biochemistry prevents him from even considering other potencial explanations. He holds stubbornly to science and the scientific method, yet the heart of his arguements are based on analogies to man-made machines, watches and mousetraps, that have almost nothing in common with real live organisms. Not content to compare apple to oranges, he compares apples to gameboys, then argues that no one would doubt the existence of gameboy engineers. How does one respond to this? Add to this a stubborn faith in a Creator God and the arguement completely exits the realm of science. Mr. Behe's book is a painstaking read, not only for it's lackluster prose and bad science, but most especially for it's arrogance and for the blinders that so obviously obstruct his vision of reality. Here's a clue, Michael: Natural systems portray the illusion of design because only those organisms, only those biochemical systems, only those MOLECULES that conform to the laws of the universe are able to survive, to exist. What is, is because it can be. All else parishes in the struggle for survival, the struggle for resources, the struggle for reproduction. We are here because we obey natures laws, because we have been shaped, tweaked, winnowed by those laws. "Irriducible complexity" is another name for "we don't know the details (yet)." And perhaps we'll never know. But what I do know is that Intelligent Design is an unfortunate product of intelligent people mixing up there causes and effects. Mr. Behe has been thoroughly discredited by science. It's just unfortunate that there are enough laymen with enough blind faith to keep his ideas circulating through the collective consciousness. Read this book for an exercise in patience, an exercise in cheek biting, or if you're really in to masochism.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Charles

    Shirley Tilghman referred to this work in her 2005 George Romanes lecture at Oxford University. She didn't however grapple with its specific and compelling arguments for the impotence of natural selection in accounting for the astounding 'irreducible' complexity of many biological systems. What is astonishing is the sheer number and scale of examples which render attainment by a snail-like, step by step Dawkins/Darwin approach beyond sober acceptance. The wealth of examples like the coagulation Shirley Tilghman referred to this work in her 2005 George Romanes lecture at Oxford University. She didn't however grapple with its specific and compelling arguments for the impotence of natural selection in accounting for the astounding 'irreducible' complexity of many biological systems. What is astonishing is the sheer number and scale of examples which render attainment by a snail-like, step by step Dawkins/Darwin approach beyond sober acceptance. The wealth of examples like the coagulation system, where a small error means sudden death, and a precarious system operates with positive feedback - makes the gradual trial and error selection look increasingly like the Queen in Lewis Carrol. The argument is in essence simple - answers Darwin's and Dawkins' own challenge for falsifying his theory perfectly, and involves no religious presuppositions. To brush it away with vague claims about dual function, tinkering and double genes was uncharacteristically weak minded of Tilghman and sadly all too characteristic of supporters of the materialistic fideism that neo-Darwinism has become. When will Western intellectual life revive from the stupor into which it has been bewitched by gradualism - and by it shorn of its vigour and glory?

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bud Hewlett

    This along with Darwin On Trial are two of the foundational books in the intelligent design movement. Somewhat heavy. This along with Darwin On Trial are two of the foundational books in the intelligent design movement. Somewhat heavy.

  8. 5 out of 5

    James Boling

    I can't claim to be well-versed in biochemistry, so I cannot really comment on the validity of Behe's claims in favor of intelligent design. I was simply floored, however, with the descriptions of the biochemical function of the body. A great example is his use of an analogy with the self-sufficient spaceship as a way to describe cell functions. Simply amazing. I can't claim to be well-versed in biochemistry, so I cannot really comment on the validity of Behe's claims in favor of intelligent design. I was simply floored, however, with the descriptions of the biochemical function of the body. A great example is his use of an analogy with the self-sufficient spaceship as a way to describe cell functions. Simply amazing.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ammon

    This is a must read for any serious student of the evolution/intelligent-design debate. It lays out a clear, respectful and scientific argument against certain aspects of modern evolutionary theory. It does give clear credit to evolutionary thinking for the many contributions its proponents have made, but points out areas in biochemistry where an evolutionary approach is completely untenable. Behe also summarizes the history of the scientific debate on the question of origins, and concludes with This is a must read for any serious student of the evolution/intelligent-design debate. It lays out a clear, respectful and scientific argument against certain aspects of modern evolutionary theory. It does give clear credit to evolutionary thinking for the many contributions its proponents have made, but points out areas in biochemistry where an evolutionary approach is completely untenable. Behe also summarizes the history of the scientific debate on the question of origins, and concludes with several chapters on the philosophical implications of his work. Although the content is highly technical, it is still amazingly accessible and readable. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in the subject.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Cliff

    The best scientific challenge to evolution I have ever read. Deep. Had to read many passages several times, but well worth it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Murphster Bruno

    This biochemist challenges the simplicity of evolutionary theory by showing that the invention of the modern microscope in the 1850's debunks the basis of Darwinism. The author "dumbs down" the biochemical process for readers like myself and even gives a warning when the explanations are going to get really complicated, which the reader may choose to not read and still feel like he/she understands the basics (which is what I had to do!). A good read that shows how miraculous the human body is. I This biochemist challenges the simplicity of evolutionary theory by showing that the invention of the modern microscope in the 1850's debunks the basis of Darwinism. The author "dumbs down" the biochemical process for readers like myself and even gives a warning when the explanations are going to get really complicated, which the reader may choose to not read and still feel like he/she understands the basics (which is what I had to do!). A good read that shows how miraculous the human body is. I also really like that Behe argues only from a factual stance and steers clearly away from religion/creationism. As well, he does say that he agrees with evolutionary theory to a slight extent so it's not like he is trying to upset the die hard evolutionists. He is simply stating facts.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    I had the pleasure of eviscerating this book for a philosophy of science seminar in graduate school. It was suggested that I work up a publishable paper aiming at a more worthy target. My point, which some will think unfair, is that in addition to the author's presumably willful ignorance about the mechanisms of natural selection (he teaches biochemistry at a reputable university), there is a philosophical problem with his approach, viz. that invoking intentional explanations (in terms of reason I had the pleasure of eviscerating this book for a philosophy of science seminar in graduate school. It was suggested that I work up a publishable paper aiming at a more worthy target. My point, which some will think unfair, is that in addition to the author's presumably willful ignorance about the mechanisms of natural selection (he teaches biochemistry at a reputable university), there is a philosophical problem with his approach, viz. that invoking intentional explanations (in terms of reasons and goals, as is proper in psychology and as would apply to a designer) to answer physical questions (in terms of causes and effects in light of existing conditions) is a category error. You can't get there from here. Usually the argument against intelligent design is that it pretends to solve a mystery by invoking a much bigger and troublesome one, and of course he has to face that problem, too. Well, I could write a long essay on this, since I obviously did so at one time!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Anyone reading this book with an open mind (not Dawkins followers) will have no option but to seriously question the evolution Hypothesis, it is not a theory yet as there is not a shred of evidence to support it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    Apparently very technical, but is pseudoscience using the old argument that some biochemical systems irreducibly complex. Tries to baffle with tech bullshit. Read these reviews: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... Standard Disclaimer Look at what shelves this book is on. If it is 'did-not-finish' then I tried it & didn't like it. No, I do not have to finish a book to give it a star rating or a review. If you don't like that, tough. Have a nice day. If the Apparently very technical, but is pseudoscience using the old argument that some biochemical systems irreducibly complex. Tries to baffle with tech bullshit. Read these reviews: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... Standard Disclaimer Look at what shelves this book is on. If it is 'did-not-finish' then I tried it & didn't like it. No, I do not have to finish a book to give it a star rating or a review. If you don't like that, tough. Have a nice day. If the book is on my 'do-not-read' shelf then it was shoved under my nose or something about it made me think I might want to read it. I did some research & found that it was crap. I'll post why I think so & might even rate it with 1 star if it is really bad. If you disagree & want to discuss in the comments, you need to prove that it isn't with solid evidence. That means peer reviewed science, not anecdotes, opinions, or sites that are biased. Read the Debunking Handbook which is available for free here & follow its guidelines for providing proof. I'm willing to look at good evidence. I've been wrong before. Comments that don't adhere to the above will be deleted. We're not going to change our minds if you just want to troll. If you repeatedly troll, your comment will be flagged & support will spank you. I may block you, too.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    This is a great resource for the creationist. It's written by a scientist who has used some of the intricate biochemical processes to refute evolution. Some of it gets a bit technical, but overall, it's pretty easy to understand. This is a great resource for the creationist. It's written by a scientist who has used some of the intricate biochemical processes to refute evolution. Some of it gets a bit technical, but overall, it's pretty easy to understand.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mark Cooper

    [Book] (It's not the Devil that's in the details) Irreducible Complexity--Things are too complicated to have simply evolved. Very readable scientific book that shows the great short comings of Darwinism. [Book] (It's not the Devil that's in the details) Irreducible Complexity--Things are too complicated to have simply evolved. Very readable scientific book that shows the great short comings of Darwinism.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    This book is a must read if you are interested in the concepts of natural selection, mutations and evolution. Behe presents the incredible complexity involved in a mutation occuring and the mutation being beneficial to the particular animal.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Doc Ronny Allard

    This is Great! It shows how Evolution (as we learn it) cannot happen because of symbiotic relations!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sal Portillo

    I read this several years ago while in college. Easier to understand if you have at least a little science background. He brings up some very interesting challenges to some aspects of evolution.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    I think the ignorance with which this book was written is summed up with the first sentence under the intelligent design section on page 187, "The impotence of Darwinian theory in accounting for the molecular basis of life is evident not only from the analyses of this book, but also from the complete absence in the professional scientific literature of any detailed models by which complex biochemical systems could have been produced..." Darwin was a brilliant man who contributed immensely to our I think the ignorance with which this book was written is summed up with the first sentence under the intelligent design section on page 187, "The impotence of Darwinian theory in accounting for the molecular basis of life is evident not only from the analyses of this book, but also from the complete absence in the professional scientific literature of any detailed models by which complex biochemical systems could have been produced..." Darwin was a brilliant man who contributed immensely to our understanding of the natural world, yet he doesn't ever claim to know everything. He had no concept of genetics or mutation, so he can't be attacked on this basis. Also, there is in fact professional scientific literature on these subjects. Here is a essay I wrote while studying evolution that explains why I think the argument of this book is a weak argument: The book, Darwin’s Black Box, by Michael J. Behe, Ph.D. and Professor of Biochemistry at Lehigh University, describes and defends one of the concepts challenging Darwinian evolution. This concept is irreducible complexity, and he thoroughly discusses this concept in detail to uphold a common belief in the religious sector called intelligent design (ID). To begin his chapter on ID, Behe states, “The impotence of Darwinian theory in accounting for the molecular basis of life is evident not only from the analyses in this book, but also from the complete absence in the professional scientific literature of any detailed models by which complex biochemical systems could have been produced…” (Behe, p. 187). Behe’s statement was confident, but it was false. Earlier in his book, Behe discusses the bacterial flagellum as a rotary propeller machine, that when any one component of that machine is removed, it is disabled and useless, and it could not have arisen through gradual evolutionary steps. He terms this concept as irreducible complexity (Behe, p. 39). The various parts of the flagellum could not be pieced together gradually over time because, apart from the flagellum in whole, there is no function for natural selection to act on and, therefore, would not remain in existence long enough to develop into a functional flagellum (McMaster, 2007). Either the structure came fully together simultaneously, or it wouldn’t exist at all. Behe states, “Because the bacterial flagellum is necessarily composed of at least three parts—a paddle, a rotor, and a motor—it is irreducibly complex.” (Behe, p. 72). He goes on to mention that it would take mammoth hurdles to explain it through gradual evolution, and no scientist has ever published a model that can account for it (Behe, p. 72). The flagellum therefore had to have been constructed by an intelligent designer. The mousetrap is a popular analogy of his. If any one part of the mousetrap is removed, then it is not a functional mousetrap (Behe, pp 42-43). Fortunately, evolutionary research proved capable of performing these “mammoth hurdles.” David DeRoseir, Ph.D. and Professor of Biology at University of Chicago, researches structures utilizing electron microscopy. He had studied a component of Yersinia pestis (the bacterial causative agent of the bubonic plague) that appears to be a flagellum with a few missing components (McMaster, 2007). However, even though parts are “missing,” the structure still has function. This component of Y. pestis forms a needle-like, sharp protruding object that injects into host cells and causes the pain and damage associated with the disease. He gave testimony to having studied this structure during the federal case of Kitzmiller v. Dover School District as a rebuttal to Behe’s explanation of irreducible complexity (McMaster, 2007). Since then, more research has been performed in that area. One such study, of which DeRosier was editor, discusses how the needle structure of bacterium such as Yersinia, Pseudomonas, and Shigella corresponds to the innermost structure of the flagellum when discussing its stability (Fujii et al., 2012). In refutation to irreducible complexity, Darwinian evolution is not purposeful. What might have held one function can evolve into a completely different function as other components are added via mutation and, thence, other modes of evolution. This is called secondary adaption (Herron and Freeman, 2014). In terms of Behe’s mousetrap with parts removed, it may not function as a mousetrap, but it can and does make an aesthetically displeasing, yet fully functional, tie clip (McMaster, 2007). Behe’s statement about no scientific research existing that provides evidence on how complex biological systems evolved is false. Evidence of possible ways in which complex biological systems evolved through the process of Darwinian evolution does exist. Irreducible complexity of biological machines like that of the flagellum is a misconception. References Cited: Behe MJ. (1996). Darwin’s black box: The biochemical challenge to evolution. New York, NY: The Free Press. p 42-43, 69-73, 187. Fugii T, Cheung M, Blanco A, Kato T, Blocker AJ, Namba K. (2012). Structure of a type III secretion needle at 7-Å resolution provides insights into its assembly and signaling mechanisms. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States of America 109(12): 4461-4466. Herron JC, Freeman S. (2014). Evolutionary analysis. 5th edition. Glenview, IL: Pearson Education. p 91-92, 97-104. McMaster, Joseph. Intelligent Design on Trial. Video documentary. NOVA and Vulcan Productions, Inc. in association with The Big Table Film Company. 2007. Arlington, VA: PBS, 2007. Online at .

  21. 5 out of 5

    Saski

    This postscript would normally follow my review but I am putting it at the top to avoid any situations where readers say 'this reviewer is an idiot!' and thus not finish the review and see this postscript. I wanted to read Behe's work without any background so I waited until I finished before Googling for the fallout I was sure must have followed the publication of this work (just based on my own bias if nothing else). I must say that as prepared as I was for some noisy rejoinder I did not expect This postscript would normally follow my review but I am putting it at the top to avoid any situations where readers say 'this reviewer is an idiot!' and thus not finish the review and see this postscript. I wanted to read Behe's work without any background so I waited until I finished before Googling for the fallout I was sure must have followed the publication of this work (just based on my own bias if nothing else). I must say that as prepared as I was for some noisy rejoinder I did not expect the thorough trouncing he received. I almost feel sorry for the guy. I was pleased to see that the problems I found with Behe's arguments, despite my lack of post-high school biology, was similar to the experts. __ When I was pretty young my father and I had an argument. I had asked him about the smallest of things. "Molecules." He proceeded to draw a water molecule, which looked a bit like Mickey Mouse. "What are those?" pointing to three circles labeled with letters, numbers in subscript, in my father's precise writing. "Atoms. Molecules are made of atoms." "What are atoms made of?" I squinted closely at the diagram trying to see if tinier script could lead me to tinier objects. "Nothing. Atoms are the smallest things in the world." "But they must be made of something. Everything is made of something. What are atoms made of?" "Nothing. Nothing is smaller than atoms." A few years later we went to the the Museum of Science and Industry. "Come, there's something I want to show you. Look." Above our heads was a huge three-D model of a water molecule, the three atoms connected by giant Tinker Toy rods. "Now look here." Another model, the same but with the individual atoms cut open. Inside were two little balls and spinning around them an even tinier ball. "Ohhh! What are they?" "Neutrons, protons, and, outside here, electrons. That's what atoms are made." "Wow! And what are they made of?" My father had learned and changed his standard answer. "No one knows yet. The microscopes aren't powerful enough yet. Maybe you'll discover what they are made of." That word 'yet' is so important. It means we are not finished learning, discovering, inventing; that there is always something new waiting to be found. As I read about the history of discoveries, it always amazed me that just before each major break through, some authority decided that everything about a particular subject was already known, and therefore there was no need to look further. "No, Galileo, we already know the sun revolves around the earth. There is no need to look in your telescope because there is nothing to find." That's what this book reminds me of, the authorities saying stop, we have discovered all there is. There is nothing smaller, faster, more reducible here. Go away and look somewhere else for the answer you seek. 'Yet' is the word I have scribbled over and over in the margins of this book. "The scientific literature has no answers to the question of the origin of the immune system." – Yet... "...when you put real names on the chemicals, then you have to come up with a real chemical reaction that could make them. No one has done that." – Yet... "...prebiotic synthesis experiments have yielded none of the intermediates in the biosynthesis of AMP." – Yet. "No one has a clue how the AMP pathway developed." – YET. "...no one has explained the origin of the complex biochemical systems I discussed." – YET! I could go on and on. Behe has decided that biochemists have already discovered everything there is to know about life, that we cannot move past what he calls 'irreducible complexities', and thus biochemistry cannot explain the origins of life. We must resort to a 'higher power'. I believe we will invent a more powerful microscope. I believe that someday we will understand far more than we do today. And the answer we discover might very well be an intelligent designer. But it might not.

  22. 4 out of 5

    David Wells

    I read this as a counter point book to my books on evolution. In this book, the author, Michael Behe, presents an idea that he calls irreducible complexity. In a nut shell, a biological system is irreducibly complex if you are unable to take a piece of it away and have it still function in the same way. Evolution operates through gradual changes; so, an irreducibly complex system cannot be brought about by evolution, because that would require a drastic change, where all parts of the system come I read this as a counter point book to my books on evolution. In this book, the author, Michael Behe, presents an idea that he calls irreducible complexity. In a nut shell, a biological system is irreducibly complex if you are unable to take a piece of it away and have it still function in the same way. Evolution operates through gradual changes; so, an irreducibly complex system cannot be brought about by evolution, because that would require a drastic change, where all parts of the system come into existence at the same time. This leads to the idea that since we cannot see a way for evolution to do this, there must have been an intelligent designer who created the system. Behe demonstrates his idea through an analog, the spring loaded mouse trap. This is composed of a hammer, spring, catch, holding bar, and a platform; take away any of these pieces and the mouse trap will no loner work. So, it is impossible for there to be a gradual build-up of this mousetrap in an evolutionary way. Behe, then goes into list several examples of biological systems that he thinks are irreducibly complex, this includes: cilium (little hairs of a single celled organism that help it swim), the bacterial flagellum (some bacteria have a whip like tail that gives them locomotion), the immune system, the blood clotting cascade (the chemical reactions your body uses to clot its blood), etc. A problem with all of this is it depends on an argument from ignorance. Just because you don't know how it was done, does not mean an intelligence did it. As Frances Bacon once said, "the subtlety of nature is greater many times over than the subtlety of argument." What Behe does not seem to realize, is there are ways to gradually improve systems to the point that they are irreducibly complex. There can be, for example, "scaffolding" in place with a less efficient system that supports the new system and then is evolved away because it wastes resources to keep both the scaffolding and the more efficient, but irreducibly complex system in place. Another point that is lost on Behe, is the current function might not have been needed before each of the pieces were assembled. It has been shown, for example with the bacterial flagellum, that each piece of it are already in use in the bacteria doing other jobs. In later chapters, Behe takes notes from creationists, and decides to quote mine biologists. He tries to paint the picture that evolution is falling out of favor with the scientists. This only works if you don't look up the quotes and trust his research. He even goes as far to pick up one of their books, claiming that not a word of evolution is mentioned in it (judging from the index). I was reading an article by the author of this textbook and he was baffled on how Behe got it all wrong. He pointed out, his book expected the audience to already know evolution and his book was not even about that topic; but he did find some chapters in his book that mention evolution. This is an even bigger disappointment for me as it shoots his credibility to hell. I have listened too much to the biological community to believe evolution, something they claim is fundamental to the science, is falling out of favor. In closing, this has not swayed me to believe in Intelligent Design over the theory of evolution; it is an old and interesting idea that depends on the god of the gaps. That and he really could have left out the BS about biologists not supporting evolution.

  23. 4 out of 5

    King Haddock

    As a person always desiring to be knowledgeable on controversial issues, I obviously have found the evolution/creation debate particularly necessary to research. After all, the implications of such conclusions are enormous. Literature supporting either side, however, quickly disenchants me. An evolutionist's paper lauds the same examples over and over and over in rather vague terms and use circuitous arguments to say "we can see natural selection through this which happens because of naural sele As a person always desiring to be knowledgeable on controversial issues, I obviously have found the evolution/creation debate particularly necessary to research. After all, the implications of such conclusions are enormous. Literature supporting either side, however, quickly disenchants me. An evolutionist's paper lauds the same examples over and over and over in rather vague terms and use circuitous arguments to say "we can see natural selection through this which happens because of naural selection." Someone arguing for creationism might ignore scientific fact or AGAIN just focus on a few repetitive examples. Both side manipulate statistics and facts, and I leave rather peeved at a lack of unbiased sources. This subject is too emotionally important to ever find an unbiased source. I understand that. However, something LESS biased and LESS extreme would be completely welcome. Is there someone out there to merely describe the facts and let readers to personal conclusions? Michael Behe's book has an agenda to promote intelligent design - nevertheless, instead of arguing through vague abstractions, attention to only half the details, or purely emotional venting, he uses concrete scientific examples to demonstrate his point. His thesis is extremely simple - that irredusibly complex systems cannot result from Darwinian evolution - and is often repeated to the point of bricks falling on my head, but it is firmly backed up. I will not say to what degree I agree or disagree with his arguments. But the manner in which he, though arguing for intelligent design, still focused on LOGOS was highly refreshing. Rather than taking a defensive argument saying, "Evolution is stupid," he stated much more on the offensive, "Evolution can never explain this." He argues science with science, and tries to separate that from religion. Thank you! I would highly recommend this book to any reader desiring information about evolution/intelligent design, and even recommend it to those who think they have it all "figured out".

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brian Hodges

    This is the book that was supposed to bring Intelligent Design into the scientific mainstream. A close look at its reviews show a bunch of really LOW scores from scientific types (who think any mention of ID is automatically grounds for the "bad scientist of the year" award) and really HIGH scores from creationist types (who are pretty much happy with any book that helps solidfy their point of view). I rate this one somewhere in the middle. As a Christian who also sees the strength in the theory This is the book that was supposed to bring Intelligent Design into the scientific mainstream. A close look at its reviews show a bunch of really LOW scores from scientific types (who think any mention of ID is automatically grounds for the "bad scientist of the year" award) and really HIGH scores from creationist types (who are pretty much happy with any book that helps solidfy their point of view). I rate this one somewhere in the middle. As a Christian who also sees the strength in the theory of evolution (check out my reviews of "The Selfish Gene" and "How the Mind Works"), I read this book with a healthy dose of skepticism coupled with a willingness to go along with the author's ideas if they sounded reasonable and scientific. As far as I'm concerned Michael Behe didn't blow me away... nor did he fail miserably. Behe uses the field of Biochemistry to make his case for Intelligent Design. It is here, in the world of the very very small sub-cellular systems, where Behe says the mechanics of natural selection fail to explain the complexity of life on this planet. Coining the phrase "Irreducibly Complex" Behe tries to make the case that certain biochemical systems (like blood clotting, immune systems and bacterial flagellum) could not have evolved gradually. If they had, Behe claims, the intermediary systems would have been a detriment to the organism and natural selection would have eliminated it. There has been a LOT of criticism of Behe's "Irreducibly Complex" cornerstone. Scientists have shown organisms that DO have precursors to the systems Behe claimed were irreducibly complex. The individual parts simply evolved for DIFFERENT tasks than what they eventually ended up doing (parts for the flagellum in earlier organisms were used as a kind of "stinger" for example). But for all the bluster, I do think there is some merit to Behe's ideas. SOME. Because, sure while an earlier organism had a stinger and a later organism had a flagellum, there DOES seem to be an anamoly in explaining how they TRANSITIONED from one to the other without hurting the organism in the interim. At the very least, even if it doesn't indicate Design, it does beg a lot of other questions in the category of "how the hell?" In the end though, Behe falls dreadfully short of making the case for Intelligent Design as a legitmate science. He puts forward no clear ideas for how one would actually TEST the hypothesis (kind of a necessary aspect for scientific research). His whole argument is based on inductive reasoning. Which makes interesting thoughts to ponder from a purely HEURISTIC point of view but he's perhaps a bit premature in presenting this as an actual science. In the end I was really disappointed that he spent more time complaining about the lack of progress made in the area of biochemical evolution, yet didn't actually offer any ideas for what scientists SHOULD be doing to find the answers. And he certainly didn't present any ideas on how one might go about researching, much less proving, a proper theory of Intelligent Design. As far as the actual book goes, Behe fluctuates constantly between silly and oversimplified (almost patronizing) analogies and hardcore scientific explanations that were incredibly hard to follow. This latter aspect wasn't necessarily his fault. He is, after all, dealing with a realm of science that is REALLY freaking complex (the description of a blood clotting cacade alone is enough to make you go cross-eyed). And unlike his nemesis Richard Dawkins, Behe lacks the lucid gift of prose that might make those complex issues easier to grasp and follow. In the end, the book wasn't great. Though it wasn't horrible either. And it certainly did nothing to put Intelligent Design on any level to compete with Darwinism. But for an open-minded scientist Behe's book SHOULD at least provide some points to think about outside that proverbial black box.

  25. 4 out of 5

    MegaSolipsist

    Michael J Behe did very little research for this book, which basically amounts to one large argument from incredulity. He claimed he had this book peer-reviewed, which was a lie and something he had to admit in court. Michael Atchison has stated that he did not review the book at all, but spent 10 minutes on the phone receiving a brief overview of the book which he then endorsed without ever seeing the text. http://www.leaderu.com/real/ri9902/at... Shapiro has said that he reviewed the book, and wh Michael J Behe did very little research for this book, which basically amounts to one large argument from incredulity. He claimed he had this book peer-reviewed, which was a lie and something he had to admit in court. Michael Atchison has stated that he did not review the book at all, but spent 10 minutes on the phone receiving a brief overview of the book which he then endorsed without ever seeing the text. http://www.leaderu.com/real/ri9902/at... Shapiro has said that he reviewed the book, and while he agreed with some of its analysis of origin-of-life research, he thought its conclusions are false, though the best explanation of the argument from design that was available. Had the book been submitted to a peer-reviewed journal and this comment had appeared, the review provided by Shapiro would have forced the conclusions regarding intelligent design to be changed or removed. http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/... K. John Morrow criticized the book as appalling and unsupported, which contributed to the original publisher turning down the book for publication. http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2... Russell Doolittle, upon whom Behe based much of his discussion of blood clotting, described it as misrepresenting many important points and disingenuous,[21] which also contributed to the original publisher turning down the book for publication. Behe was forced to concede that "there are no peer reviewed articles by anyone advocating for intelligent design supported by pertinent experiments or calculations which provide detailed rigorous accounts of how intelligent design of any biological system occurred" and that his definition of 'theory' as applied to intelligent design was so loose that astrology would also qualify. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dover... http://www.newscientist.com/article/d... "Professor Behe has applied the concept of irreducible complexity to only a few select systems: (1) the bacterial flagellum; (2) the blood-clotting cascade; and (3) the immune system. Contrary to Professor Behe’s assertions with respect to these few biochemical systems among the myriad existing in nature, however, Dr. Miller presented evidence, based upon peer-reviewed studies, that they are not, in fact, irreducibly complex." http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Kitzmil... "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." http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Kitzmil... He claims the bacterial flagella is irreducibly complex and could not have evolved, yet to my knowledge by now all but one of the component parts have been explained evolutionarily. A number of the examples Behe uses had already been explained evolutionarily up to six decades earlier by Nobel prize winner Hermann Joseph Muller. Behe uses the God of the Gaps argument by claiming anything science doesn't understand must be the work of god. The problem with this is that Behe didn't even find any gaps in the first place. A largely irrelevant side note; when Behe's 19 year old son turned away from Catholicism and became an atheist, Behe had him confined to the basement for long periods of time and wouldn't let his sinlings talk to him. TL;DR Michael J Behe not only produced a poorly researched and argued book, but he was dishonest while doing so. Behe has no credibility as a scientist and is a generally unpleasant human being.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    If you believe in intelligent design, this is your book. If you're a believer is evolution, this is not your book. If you want to eat shit, this is your book. If you believe in intelligent design, this is your book. If you're a believer is evolution, this is not your book. If you want to eat shit, this is your book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    An attempt for I.D. Unfortunately, for Behe, the book falls way short of his goals.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Scot Parker

    A remarkable example of cherry-picking, irrationality, fallacious reasoning, and unscientific garbage.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Shea Mastison

    Behe's "seminal" work purporting to have discovered a biochemical flaw in evolutionary theory is more of a cultural phenomenon than scientific discovery. A customary glance toward Behe's citations brings up several people who would be considered fringe scientists, or perhaps even pseudo-scientists; yet Behe quotes these people as though they were well respected in their various fields. Assigning scientific credibility to people who believe in 9/11 conspiracy theories and homeopathic medicine is Behe's "seminal" work purporting to have discovered a biochemical flaw in evolutionary theory is more of a cultural phenomenon than scientific discovery. A customary glance toward Behe's citations brings up several people who would be considered fringe scientists, or perhaps even pseudo-scientists; yet Behe quotes these people as though they were well respected in their various fields. Assigning scientific credibility to people who believe in 9/11 conspiracy theories and homeopathic medicine is irresponsible. Behe also quotes several AIDS denialists, and cancer conspiracists to bolster his claim; showing that these "scientists" don't accept the evolutionary theory. Further, Behe dishonestly quotes the credible scientists--occasionally going so far as to interrupt sentences with periods that were not in the original statement. These kinds of tactics should heavily damage Behe's central argument before you become familiar with his claims. Next, he makes several claims about a lack of scientific literature covering evolutionary explanations for biochemical observations. This easily is proven false, just by examining the academic record itself. For anyone curious about a more in depth analysis of all the papers Behe willingly ignored, I would recommend Keith Robison's review. Behe damages his credibility early in the book, and continues all through out by fudging the evidence, omitting facts, and making almost embarrassing leaps of logic. But perhaps most damning of all, is the fact that Behe has never attempted to have his criticism of descent with modification published in any scientific journal; nor has he attempted to have his ideas about irreducible complexity or intelligent design published. I'll end this review with a (properly) punctuated quote of my own, and a final thought: "Publish or perish" is a proverb that academicians take seriously. If you do not publish your work for the rest of the community to evaluate, then you have no business in academia..." --Michael Behe We can only regret that Mr. Behe has not more promptly followed his own advice.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Patrickmalka

    I feel it is important to understand both sides of the argument. This side gets an A for effort. There's nothing wrong with the biochemistry here but what shocks me is the incredible leap taken to explain its origins. The problem here is a lack of understanding of evolutionary theory and a refusal to accept it for very unscientific reasons. In other words, a refusal to really look at both sides. Since this is a scientific argument, let's ignore for a moment the religious implications and just fo I feel it is important to understand both sides of the argument. This side gets an A for effort. There's nothing wrong with the biochemistry here but what shocks me is the incredible leap taken to explain its origins. The problem here is a lack of understanding of evolutionary theory and a refusal to accept it for very unscientific reasons. In other words, a refusal to really look at both sides. Since this is a scientific argument, let's ignore for a moment the religious implications and just focus on the fact that the biggest claim made here is really that evolutionary biology has not yet found evidence of every intermediate biochemical structure and system leading up to the present form. Rather than ask why and continue the research, we dismiss the theory of evolution all together? That's ridiculous and I don't even really think that's what this book is saying but there is an eagerness to make that what this book is saying. This book ends up saying that evolution as a system exists but only after the complex building blocks were laid out by a designer (not even necessarily the Judeo-Christian-Muslim God so we don't need to make this into creationism). I do think this book needs to be read and given a chance if only to criticize the content for its lack of understanding of the idea it claims to disprove and its frustrating lack of curiosity at what explanations may arise with future research in the field of biochemistry. Oh and if you found this to be a difficult read in any way, I wouldn't go quoting its arguments as fact without having properly understood them and for that matter, properly understanding what evolutionary theory is. Admittedly that may seem like a dig at some past comments, trust me when I say that it isn't, it's advice.

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