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The groundbreaking, "seminal work" (Time) on intelligent design that dares to ask, was Darwin wrong?


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.

Topics: Evolution, Creationism, Christianity, Genetics, Design, and Essays

Published: Free Press on Apr 4, 2001
ISBN: 9780743214858
List price: $12.99
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One of the best books I've ever read! It's astonishing to see how science and new discoveries have shaped our new understanding about everything! read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This book has ruffled not just a few feathers! It is worth a thorough reading for careful consideration.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
What a joy is was for me to be reading Appendix A and the explanations of various cellular functions and structures. Endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi bodies, chemical cascades - it has been so long since I even thought about them and it was like discovering old friends. Behe does a wonderful job of handling his descriptions of cellular structures and activities. He goes into a lot (although not exhaustive) detail in order to impress upon the reader just how complex these things are. The explanations are helpfully set off by symbols, so that the reader can skim, if they are content to just take in that yes, these are VERY complicated. Behe's love for the topic shines through and when he is on these topics he writes with clarity and affable charm. A raspberry to his publisher for the notes, however. As is far too commmon, if one wants to look up notes, the chapter is identified on the page only by name, but in the notes only by number. The reader has to keep flipping back to the beginning of the chapter for the number. Either include the number in the running title or the title in the notes!! How hard is that? Off the soap box. I'm not a biochemist, so I will take Behe's word for it that the origin of these microstructures and biochemical processes is poorly understood. He goes to a great deal of trouble to establish this. He's right that it is a challenge to Darwinism - will they be able to include explanations in the current theory, will Darwinism be retained for multicellular animals but require an extension (like Einstein's extension of Newton), or will it be replaced by a new unified theory? I don't know. I am not convinced that Behe has proven his hypothesis though. I think that he should have taken a lesson from the Darwin/Dawkins discussion of the evolution of the eye. True, that explanation does not cover the biochemical and microbiological aspects, but it does answer the question on the level that it was posed. The anatomy of the eye was once considered to be irreducibly complex and clearly it is not. Whether or not one believes in Darwinism, it remains that eyes more primitive than ours work just fine for their owners. I think that it is early days to assume that no-one will ever be able to explain his "black box" without a designer. It is not clear to me what Behe means to say about Darwinism. He starts off on the wrong foot with me in the preface by saying that "for over a century" most scientists have accepted evolution by natural selection, when in fact Darwin's ideas have stood up to extremely harsh scientific criticism, and around 1900 were pretty much considered to be dead. This is one of the things that gives me confidence in the theory. Large sections of the book, especially Chapter 10 & 11 leave me rather baffled as to their point. I couldn't say by the end whether Behe opposes Darwinism or grants it limited acceptance. Behe takes strong exception to Richard Dickerson's somewhat lighthearted remarks on science, and I really cannot understand why. Perhaps Behe should explain his view of science. I am quite puzzled as to what Behe means to say about Intelligent Design, he hems and haws. Would he consider both a personal god and experimenters from another planet to qualify equally as possible designers? In both cases, one closes the issue of the origin of life on earth only to open the even more problematic case of the origin of the designer. I'm willing to accept it as a hypothesis, although I freely admit I think it's unlikely. Behe is quite right when he says that it needs to be developed and researched rigorously if it is to be taken seriously, but I can't square that with his assertion that it is already proven. He fudges on the issue of examining the Designer(s) "under the microscope", claiming that we can't put our ancestors under the microscopes. Ah, but we do, both directly (examining fossils and bones) and indirectly (comparing biochemistry). He can insist all he likes that design is the only sensible solution, but that's not proof. Science has discarded lots of hypotheses that once seemed sensible. Proving that Darwinism doesn't work at this level does not, in and of itself, prove that Intelligent Design is correct. It needs to stand by its own positive evidence. I have embarked on a program of reading books on the creation/evolution controversies; this is number 3. (I already read a lot on evolution, including all of Dawkins' books.) This is definitely superior to Phillip Johnson's Darwin on Trial. Readers may be interested to know that Lee Strobel's The Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward God includes an interview with Behe. Kenneth R. Miller, a fellow biochemist, undertakes a very spirited criticism of Behe in his Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution. I also recommend Tower of Babel: The Evidence against the New Creationism by Robert T. Pennock, which contains some criticism of this book, and Mark Perakh's somewhat vituperous Unintelligent Design, especially as a guide to other sources, including websites, discussing Behe's work.read more
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One of the best books I've ever read! It's astonishing to see how science and new discoveries have shaped our new understanding about everything!
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This book has ruffled not just a few feathers! It is worth a thorough reading for careful consideration.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
What a joy is was for me to be reading Appendix A and the explanations of various cellular functions and structures. Endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi bodies, chemical cascades - it has been so long since I even thought about them and it was like discovering old friends. Behe does a wonderful job of handling his descriptions of cellular structures and activities. He goes into a lot (although not exhaustive) detail in order to impress upon the reader just how complex these things are. The explanations are helpfully set off by symbols, so that the reader can skim, if they are content to just take in that yes, these are VERY complicated. Behe's love for the topic shines through and when he is on these topics he writes with clarity and affable charm. A raspberry to his publisher for the notes, however. As is far too commmon, if one wants to look up notes, the chapter is identified on the page only by name, but in the notes only by number. The reader has to keep flipping back to the beginning of the chapter for the number. Either include the number in the running title or the title in the notes!! How hard is that? Off the soap box. I'm not a biochemist, so I will take Behe's word for it that the origin of these microstructures and biochemical processes is poorly understood. He goes to a great deal of trouble to establish this. He's right that it is a challenge to Darwinism - will they be able to include explanations in the current theory, will Darwinism be retained for multicellular animals but require an extension (like Einstein's extension of Newton), or will it be replaced by a new unified theory? I don't know. I am not convinced that Behe has proven his hypothesis though. I think that he should have taken a lesson from the Darwin/Dawkins discussion of the evolution of the eye. True, that explanation does not cover the biochemical and microbiological aspects, but it does answer the question on the level that it was posed. The anatomy of the eye was once considered to be irreducibly complex and clearly it is not. Whether or not one believes in Darwinism, it remains that eyes more primitive than ours work just fine for their owners. I think that it is early days to assume that no-one will ever be able to explain his "black box" without a designer. It is not clear to me what Behe means to say about Darwinism. He starts off on the wrong foot with me in the preface by saying that "for over a century" most scientists have accepted evolution by natural selection, when in fact Darwin's ideas have stood up to extremely harsh scientific criticism, and around 1900 were pretty much considered to be dead. This is one of the things that gives me confidence in the theory. Large sections of the book, especially Chapter 10 & 11 leave me rather baffled as to their point. I couldn't say by the end whether Behe opposes Darwinism or grants it limited acceptance. Behe takes strong exception to Richard Dickerson's somewhat lighthearted remarks on science, and I really cannot understand why. Perhaps Behe should explain his view of science. I am quite puzzled as to what Behe means to say about Intelligent Design, he hems and haws. Would he consider both a personal god and experimenters from another planet to qualify equally as possible designers? In both cases, one closes the issue of the origin of life on earth only to open the even more problematic case of the origin of the designer. I'm willing to accept it as a hypothesis, although I freely admit I think it's unlikely. Behe is quite right when he says that it needs to be developed and researched rigorously if it is to be taken seriously, but I can't square that with his assertion that it is already proven. He fudges on the issue of examining the Designer(s) "under the microscope", claiming that we can't put our ancestors under the microscopes. Ah, but we do, both directly (examining fossils and bones) and indirectly (comparing biochemistry). He can insist all he likes that design is the only sensible solution, but that's not proof. Science has discarded lots of hypotheses that once seemed sensible. Proving that Darwinism doesn't work at this level does not, in and of itself, prove that Intelligent Design is correct. It needs to stand by its own positive evidence. I have embarked on a program of reading books on the creation/evolution controversies; this is number 3. (I already read a lot on evolution, including all of Dawkins' books.) This is definitely superior to Phillip Johnson's Darwin on Trial. Readers may be interested to know that Lee Strobel's The Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward God includes an interview with Behe. Kenneth R. Miller, a fellow biochemist, undertakes a very spirited criticism of Behe in his Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution. I also recommend Tower of Babel: The Evidence against the New Creationism by Robert T. Pennock, which contains some criticism of this book, and Mark Perakh's somewhat vituperous Unintelligent Design, especially as a guide to other sources, including websites, discussing Behe's work.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
An able argument in favor of intelligent design. Although the subject matter is biochemistry (and I didn't do that well in that class), Behe makes a profound case in a very absorbing and readable fashion. The thesis is that living cells contain very complex, "irreducibly complex" chemical systems, that work in ways that do not seem to allow any reasonable pathway for a Darwin-style, step-by-step evolution. Behe beats that drum until the reader does not want to hear any more, but the reason is that he is trying to build an unassailable fortress of arguments against those who, he knows, will attack any hint of intelligent design talk in the hallowed halls of science.
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Plausible argumentation, and easy to read for a non-scientist. I would wish he would update the book as this is from the 90's.
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Though Behe does not approach the issue of evolution from a perspective of faith, he comes to the conclusion that evolution could not possibly have brought about such biochemical marvels as the bacterial flagellum and blood clotting. In Darwin's day, they thought the cell was practically a blob of goo. The more we learn, the more impossible it is for evolutionists to show how their hypothesis could have brought such intricate design about. Defections from the evolutionary camp, among secular scientists, are quite interesting to read into.
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