Darwin's Black Box

Book Review

This is a book review of the book Darwin's Black Box by Michael J. Behe, PhD. Dr. Behe is a professor of Biochemistry at Lehigh University.

I consider this book to be the single most honest book ever written by an evolutionist concerning the difficulties faced in proving evolution to be true. It illustrates the extreme and irreducible complexity of biological processes and structures that most evolutionists falsely pass off as simple. Dr. Behe describes in relative detail the very complex structures and processes such as a flagellum used by a micro organism for propulsion in water or the process of blood clotting. He then shows how the structure or process could not possibly gradually evolve a few molecules at a time but must occur completely intact.

The reading in places gets complex enough that many people may have trouble following it but Dr Behe has written his book so that you know when you are getting into such a section and can read past it, if necessary. I strongly encourage you to not let these complexities discourage you from reading the book. Instead, such extremely complex details should serve as evidence of how incredibly complex the "simple" things dismissed by evolutionists are and how much trouble they present for evolutionists. The more lost you get, the more unlikely it is for such a structure or process to accidently happen.

Throughout the book, Dr. Behe comes to creationist conclusions but remains an ardent evolutionist in spite of the overwhelming evidence against what he admittedly wants to believe. Below, I wish to include some of his conclusions as examples of the troubles faced by evolutionists in dealing with the truth about biochemistry.

In Chapter 4, Dr. Behe discusses the very complex details of the cascade required for blood to clot and not kill the human organism. This involves a variety of complex controls built into the process to prevent the death of the organism. On page 96, Dr. Behe states,"The bottom line is that clusters of proteins have to be inserted all at once into the cascade. This can be done only by postulating a 'hopeful monster' who luckily gets all of the proteins at once, or by the guidance of an intelligent agent." Here, he is clearly showing that extreme luck or intelligent design is required for the cascade to accidentally occur because of the described complexity of the process. At the end of the chapter on page 97, Dr. Behe surmises,"The fact is, no one on earth has the vaguest idea how the coagulation cascade came to be." (Both sets of italics are his.)

From an evolutionist perspective, this is very true and a definite problem. From a creationist perspective, this is false and presents no problem at all. We know that a very intelligent being called God, used His advanced knowledge of molecular engineering and molecular construction to create the process intact.

In Chapter 5, Dr. Behe explains the complexity of a cell getting protein to the lysosome which acts like a garbage disposal unit. On pages 112 and 113, he states,"In Chapter 2 I noted that one couldn't take specialized parts of other complex systems (such as the spring from a grandfather clock) and use them directly as specialized pars of a second irreducible system (like a mouse trap) unless the parts were first extensively modified. Analogous parts playing other roles in other systems cannot relieve the irreducible complexity of a new system; the focus simply shifts from 'making' the components to 'modifying' them. In either case, there is no new function unless an intelligent agent guides the setup."

In Chapter 8 where Dr. Behe is discussing gene sequences, he states on page 176,"But the root question remains unanswered: What has caused complex systems to form? No one has ever explained, scientific fashion how mutation and natural selection could build the complex, intricate structures discussed in this book." On page 177, he adds,"Attempts to explain the evolution of highly specified, irreducibly complex systems - either mouse traps or cilia or blood clotting - by a gradualistic route have so far been incoherent, as we have seen in previous chapters. No scientific journal will publish patently incoherent papers, so no studies asking detailed questions of molecular evolution are to be found. Calvin and Hobbes stories can sometimes be spun by ignoring critical details, as Russell Doolittle did when imagining the evolution of blood clotting, but even such superficial attempts are rare. In fact, evolutionary explanations even of systems that do not appear to be irreducibly complex, such as specific metabolic pathways, are missing from the literature. The reason for this appears to be similar to the reason for the failure to explain the origin of life: a choking complexity strangles all such attempts."

Chapter 9 is titled "Intelligent Design" and starts on page 187 as follows: "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, as shown in Chapter 8. In the face of the enormous complexity that modern biochemistry has uncovered in the cell, the scientific community is paralyzed. No one at Harvard University, no one at the National Institutes of Health, no member of the National Academy of Sciences, no Nobel prize winner - no one at all can give a detailed account of how the cilium, or vision, or blood clotting, or any complex biochemical process might have developed in a Darwinian fashion. But we are here. Plants and animals are here. The complex systems are here. All these things got here somehow: if not in a Darwinian fashion, then how?"

"Clearly, if something was not put together gradually, then it must have been put together quickly or even suddenly."

Later in the same chapter on page 193 under a section titled "Detection of Design", Dr. Behe states,"There is an elephant in the roomful of scientists who are trying to explain the development of life. The elephant is labeled 'intelligent design.' To a person who does not feel obliged to restrict his search to unintelligent causes, the straightforward conclusion is that many biochemical systems were designed. They were designed not by the laws of nature, not by chance and necessity; rather, they were planned. The designer knew what the systems would look like when they were completed, then took steps to bring the systems about. Life on earth at its most fundamental level, in its most critical components, is the product of intelligent activity."

"The conclusion of intelligent design flows naturally from the data itself - not from sacred books or sectarian beliefs." I would like to point out that "sacred books" which provide evidence of the existence of a being who is capable of performing molecular construction of a living organism should be considered as part of your data.

A little further down on page 193, Dr. Behe continues,"What is 'design'? Design is simply the purposeful arrangement of parts. With such a broad definition we can see that anything might have been designed." I wish to add, including life.

At the end of Chapter 11 on page 252, Dr. Behe writes,"The simplicity that was once expected to be the foundation of life has proven to be a phantom; instead, systems of horrendous, irreducible complexity inhabit the cell. The resulting realization that life was designed by an intelligence is a shock to us in the twentieth century who have gotten used to thinking of life as the result of simple natural laws."

First, I wish to applaud Dr. Behe for his professional honesty about what the data say concerning evolution. Second, I wish that more evolutionary scientists could be even a fraction as honest instead of throwing their perpetual fit of denial about the truth.

Third, with all due respect, I wish Dr. Behe could be as honest and open minded to himself about the POSSIBILITY of the existence of a being who is capable of using very advanced molecular engineering and molecular construction of living organisms to farm life on Earth. I wish that Dr. Behe and other evolutionary scientists would stop feeling "obliged to restrict his search to unintelligent causes" and give serious consideration to an intelligent cause for the design of these processes and structures the way scientists are supposed to be objective about such things.

Again, I state that, if such a being does exist and we are required to live by His laws, then I want to know about it before I find myself standing before Him in His court facing my eternal destiny and the being judged for the crimes I committed against His laws. It does not seem rational or professional to want to pretend such a being does not exist simply because I don't want to live by His laws when He really does exist. That is every bit as irrational as the Texas militia who convinced themselves that they didn't have to abide by Federal laws only to find themselves in prison.

I consider this book to be an excellent read for people who want to know the truth. Yet, it only begins to scratch the surface of the extreme complexity of biology. I will attempt to expand on this more in a later page. The book also has a good appendix which provides even more information about certain biological processes and structures.

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