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Darwin’s Black Box

The Biochemical Challenge to EvolutionMichael J. Behe

In Darwin’s Black Box, Michael Behe argues that evidence of evolution’s limits has been right under our noses, but its undoing is evident at such a small scale that we have only recently been able to see it. The field of biochemistry, begun when Watson and Crick discovered the double-helical shape of DNA, has unlocked the secrets of the cell. There, biochemists have unexpectedly discovered a world of Lilliputian complexity. As Behe engagingly demonstrates, using the examples of vision, bloodclotting, cellular transport, and more, the biochemical world comprises an arsenal of chemical machines, made up of finely calibrated, interdependent parts. For Darwinian evolution to be true, there must have been a series of mutations, each of which produced its own working machine, that led to the complexity we can now see. The more complex and interdependent each machine’s parts are shown to be, the harder it is to defend Darwin’s gradualistic paths. Behe surveys the professional science literature and shows that it is completely silent on the subject, stymied by the elegance of the foundation of life. Could it be that there is some greater force at work?

Behe believes in the scientific method and does not look to religious dogma for answers to these questions. But he argues persuasively that biochemical machines must have been “designed” — either by God, or by some other higher intelligence. For decades science has been frustrated, trying to reconcile the astonishing discoveries of modern biochemistry to a nineteenth-century theory that cannot accommodate them. With the publication of Darwin’s Black Box, it is time for scientists to allow themselves to consider exciting new possibilities, and for the rest of us to watch closely.

For this edition, Behe has written a major new Afterword tracing the state of the debate in the decade since it began. It is his first major new statement on the subject and will be welcomed by the thousands who wish to continue this intense debate.

Media

Plaudits

Naming Darwin’s Black Box to the National Review’s list of the 100 most important nonfiction works of the twentieth century, George Gilder wrote that it “overthrows Darwin at the end of the twentieth century in the same way that quantum theory overthrew Newton at the beginning.” Discussing the book in The New Yorker in May 2005, H. Allen Orr said of Behe, “he is the most prominent of the small circle of scientists working on intelligent design, and his arguments are by far the best known.” From one end of the spectrum to the other, Darwin’s Black Box has established itself as the key text in the Intelligent Design movement — the one argument that must be addressed in order to determine whether Darwinian evolution is sufficient to explain life as we know it, or not.

Darwin’s Black Box helped to launch the Intelligent Design movement: the argument that nature exhibits evidence of design, beyond Darwinian randomness. Today, with the movement stronger than ever, Michael J. Behe updates the book with an important new Afterword on the state of the debate.

Time

A persuasive book. It will speak to the layman and perhaps even to professional evolutionists as well, if they are able to suspend for a little while their own judgment about origins, the ultimate black box.

The Washington Times

An argument of great originality, elegance, and intellectual power. . . . No one can propose to defend Darwin without meeting the challenges set out in this superbly written and compelling book.

David Berlinski, author of A Tour of the Calculus

Overthrows Darwin at the end of the twentieth century in the same way that quantum theory overthrew Newton at the beginning.

George Gilder in National Review

[Behe] is the most prominent of the small circle of scientists working on intelligent design, and his arguments are by far the best known.

H. Allen Orr in The New Yorker

When examined with the powerful tools of modern biology, but not with its modern prejudices, life on a biochemical level can be a product, Behe says, only of intelligent design. Coming from a practicing biologist. . . this proposition is close to heretical.

The New York Times Book Review

Michael J. Behe

Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Michael J. Behe is Professor of Biological Sciences at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. He received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Pennsylvania in 1978. Behe's current research involves delineation of design and natural selection in protein structures. In his career he has authored over 40 technical papers and three books, Darwin Devolves: The New Science About DNA that Challenges Evolution, Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, and The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism, which argue that living system at the molecular level are best explained as being the result of deliberate intelligent design.