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on July 13, 2003
This is an excellent book. And it does not have to be a home run in order to make its point. I think the point was well made.
A recent review by Magellan tries to point out some chinks in the book. Here are my responses to his chinks.
I read your review of Michael Behe's book and I must make a few comments to your comments
1.The 'scientific' is not always so scientific. I am a physician and I remember in medical school one of our great professors telling us how much of science needs to be carefully read for it is often full of misrepresentation. One can gaze through the literature and find 'proof' of positions that contradict each other. So Dr Behe did not misrepresent the scientific process.
There are many 'facts' passed down from 'great authorities' that are taken as fact by their 'young turks.' One fact that has been passed down over the years was the thought that the 'brain' cannot recover. There was an Italian scientist who passed this down in the early 20th century and I went to a conference in Italy on Brain Injury at Turin in May 2001 where this was discussed. It made all your young turks squirm in their seats to see such 'bias' passed on as fact.
2. No the argument is not new but just because one side performed poorly in the past does not alter what will be found out as the ultimate truth.Even if Behe does not hit a home run that does not change that he has planted seeds of doubt in a theory quite riddled in circuitous thought-I know therefore I will prove.
2a Dr Behe is not being a philosopher, he is being a scientist.(Perhaps it is others who have this backwards.)
3. I don't think anyone knows what will ultimately be proven about evolution but doubt has been placed. Enough doubt that perhaps the evolutionists may actually have to prove it is not true and that just may not be possible. I used to accept evolution at face value because it was an accepted teaching in every science class I took. Dr Behe's book does bring up a great point about the impossibility of, not the evolution of existing living creatures, but of how life was created in the first place. Do you not cringe at what is passed in the newspaper by scientists on how the human is so similar to the ape by looking at the DNA? The fact that they are 99.999% similar still does not make them the same. An apple is an apple and orange is an orange. Unless something is 100% similar it is not the same and never will be. That such things are sent by the scientific community to the public points to non-scientific circuitous thought.
5. The Bible is the Bible. We are talking about a scientific theory.
6.Being a physician and seeing managed care, perhaps you might be safer if you went to see that Sumerian physician.
7.It is not a book proving God's existence. It is a book that is questioning a theory that is often not open to question by scientists and perhaps it should be.
8. Dr Behe is not a 'Christian Scientist' he is a Biochemist who happens to be a Catholic. I don't think such a contadiction has never happened before. In fact did not questioning of false information once start with a discerning scientist by the name of Galileo who also happened to be a Catholic and is buried in a beautiful crypt in a Catholic church in Florence Italy.
9. This is my close. Doubt is not evil even if it challenges our most closely kept concepts. This will not be the only hard and fast theory that will be rocked with doubt. Let us see what happens....
Anyone and everyone from either side should read this book and make sure that what they argue is not coming from belief but from true true science which is often very hard to do especially in such a field fraught with personal beliefs...
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on June 24, 2003
I'm not going to use a bunch of scientific and philosophical mumbo jumbo to impress my readers that I'm qualified to disagree (or agree) with Behe. Behe's valid argument is beautifully simple. It boils down to this: Which came first? The heart or the blood which the heart pumps? Without blood, there is no reason for the heart to have evolved into existence. But without the heart, how could blood have "evolved" into existence. Further, the heart needs the brain in order to function. Which came first, the heart or the brain? Without the brain the heart could not function. But without the heart pumping blood to the brain, the brain would have never had a chance to "evolve" into existence. These organs need oxygen. So which came first? The heart, the brain or the lungs? There are so many other organs and systems that I can go on and on with this. OK. Behe's point is that no matter how "complex" or "simple" the organism is that we are talking about, ALL living organisms are composed of PARTS. Furthermore, these parts are DEPENDENT ON EACH OTHER FOR EACH OTHER'S EXISTENCE. Even the very simplist living organism is composed of multiple parts which had to be PUT TOGETHER INSTANEOUSLY in order to have the living organism. The theory of evolution has been an attempt to explain the existence of living organisms on earth by natural means. But using shrewd common sense and honest science, we know and understand that living organisms are a "design" which had to be INSTANTANEOUSLY put together in order to exist at all. It is therefore no surprise that science supports the fact that human beings suddenly appeared on earth. "Irreducible complexity" is simply a convention for this simple and common sense point.
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on June 18, 2003
Michael Behe' Darwin's Black Box is part of a list of recent books that have been causing great damage in evolutionary theory, not to mention the damage that have been caused by evolutionists themselves in the darwinan battles on topics such as gradualism v. saltationism, arboreal v. cursorial or out of Africa v. multi-regional.
Other books in that list are the ones from William Dembski (v.g. The Design Inference, No Free Lunch), Jonathan Wells (Icons of Evolution), Werner Gitt (In the Begining was Information) and Lee Spetner (Not by Chance), Michael Denton (Evolution, a Theory in Crisis) and Richard Milton (Shattering the Myths of Darwinism). To this we might add authors such as the Hugh Ross, three Morris, Gish, Ham, Sarfati, etc.
Michael Behe studies molecular machines (cilium and flagellum) and concludes for the existence of irreducible complexity that is a sign of intelligent design. He goes on to show that this evidence is generally denied on the basis of naturalistic assumptions, both metaphysical and methodological, and not on the basis of the weight of empirical evidence in itself.
Will Darwinian rethoric save darwinism from its present crises? No it won't, because, as even Richard Dawkins would admit, "designoids" are everywhere and they surpass in complexity everything that the human inteligence (including that of all the Nobel Prize winning scientists together) can produce. Appearence of design is overwhelming in nature and evolutionist's just-so stories, algorithms, and computational simulations just can't account for them. Evidence of design just won't go away.
Complex specified information and irreducible complexity, generally recognized as signs of intelligence, are an integral part of nature. You cannot really understand all the features of nature without postulating an intelligence. As you cannot understand the existence, character and functioning of a Ferrari without considering the work and influence of Enzo Ferrari.
As a purely materalistic account of Shakespear, based on monkeys and typewriters, could not account for the literary meaning and purpose of Hamlet, so a purely materialistic account of nature cannot understand some of its most important features, functions and purposes, much less account for the personal, moral and ethical conscience of human beings, as well as for their intelligence, creativity and desire to know and understand the world.
Will intelligent design theorists offer a satisfactory alternative to darwinism? I doubt, because there are many other things that need explaining for which intelligent design simply has no answer, or is not bold enough to suggest one.
The only plausible alternative view to darwinism that really works both scientifically, historically, anthopologically, morally and theologically is biblical creationism, based on a model of special creation, fall, curse, global flood, Babel, dispersion and rapid speciation, etc. Just like the Bible says. Will this view ever be acceptded? I doubt (even considering its powerful arguments). That is because this view contains an element that is totally scandalous to the rational humanistic mind: the need for an unconditional trust in God's Word, as being the begining of all true wisdom and knowledge.
By definition, a sinful mind will alawys engage in God-avoidance and God-evasion. In dealing with operational science, it doesn't really matter much whether you accept God's word or not, because you are dealing with observation. But in origins science, when one is dealing to a great extent with facts that only God could have observed, (no man has ever seen particles to people evolution!) believing or not believing in Gods word makes all the difference.
Apart from Biblical creationism, what we will get is an endless debate between evolutionism and intelligent design on topics such as bad and good design, the generation of information, the fossil record, the origins of man, ultimately inconclusive.
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on June 4, 2003
If this was just a book on molecular biology it would be a well-written book. I learned some things from it, and Behe knows the subject better than I do (my background is more in neurobiology), and he writes well and interestingly, when he sticks to that subject.
However, the book has so many other problems that it's difficult to know where to start, but I'll try. As others have already pointed out Behe's lack of expertise in evolution and even some errors in biochemistry, I'll stick to other things.
The first problem is his argument from design. There are actually several problems with this.
1. First, Behe misrepresents the scientists' attitude. They are not, as Behe writes, hiding in fear that the massive evidence for design will get out and embarrass them someday. Unlike religion, science is more a field of up-and-coming young turks rather than vested, old interests, and if there were something there, every young buck would be climbing on the bandwagon and twitting his seniors with it. Trust me on this, having been a hopeful young turk once myself.
2. The second thing is that Behe obviously sees himself as the path-breaking bringer of this message to a fearful scientific community which is conspiring to keep it a secret. Hardly. In fact, religion has never recovered from the triple blow that evoution, historical geology, and cosmology have dealt it--since all three sciences conflict with the Bible's view of things.
Also, if Behe were as good a philosoper as he is a biochemist, he'd know this argument isn't new. If fact, it goes back about 800 years to Thomistic philosophy, or the "teleological argument." Here it is: "The world exhibits order. Where there is order there must be an orderer, hence, God." If one subtitutes "designer" for "orderer" you have Behe's argument. Not a big deal, but nevertheless, Behe was hardly the first to notice this.
3. But the biggest problem is the idea of "irreducible complexity" being an argument for intelligent design. As another perceptive reviewer here noted, something that is ridiculously complex is hardly evidence of intelligent design, such as the extremely complicated and Rube Goldberg-like blood-clotting mechanism Behe discusses. This revewer points out that as inventions, the AK-47 and the Uzi are examples of very simple, but elegant mechanical designs which are still among the best.
Therefore, a similarly elegant-in-its-simplicity blood-clotting mechanism would be better evidence for "intelligent design." The blood-clotting mechanism is so Byzantine that it seems more likely a product of the typical evolutionary process of many false starts and dead ends, with old mechanisms that weren't totally obsolete being preserved, and new developments just being added on as needed. Evolution is conservative, after all--again, not a quality associated with Godlike, intelligent design.
4. Which brings up another problem. Creationists complain that evolution seems capricious and random. Well, it is in many ways, which is why the blood-clotting mechanism is the way it is--needlessly complex--again, hardly evidence of intelligent design. But you can't have it both ways.
5. The Bible may be a great book, but it contains nothing special in the way of scientific knowlege that wouldn't have been known by illiterate sheep herders thousands of years ago, which is what the Hebrews were initially, from the foothills of the Zagros Mountains in southwestern Iran, from where they migrated south to the ancient Cities of the Plain about 4000 years ago. Obviously there's been a lot of progress since, in everything from medicine and biology to chemistry to physics and cosmology. If there was one statement in the Bible that seemed like it might be from a more advanced being in terms of the knowlege, you'd have something, but there isn't. It's all very low-level stuff, as you might expect.
6. Which leads to another similar issue. If you were going to a doctor, would you want a Sumerian one from 4000 years ago, or a modern, scientifically advanced physician? The same goes for something like a horse-drawn chariot vs. a modern car. Which would you prefer? What I'm saying here is that it seems hypocritical for Christians and Creationists especially to be willing to accept all of science and technology's many advances and then to complain when one area, evolution, conflicts with their beliefs. I'd be more impressed if they rejected everything from science and lived very primitively. At least they'd be consistent in their beliefs, rather than taking such a sour grapes attitude toward one science that they don't like, when they're perfectly willing to accept the many benefits from all the others.
7. Creationists obviously like this book as it seems to propose a scientific basis for believing in God. As we've seen, Behe failed in that attempt. However, there was no need for Behe, anyway. Einstein believed in God. And Behe's reputation is so much less than Einstein's that I see no need for Behe at all. If one needs an authority who was a believer, you can't do better than Einstein. So why not just believe because of Einstein and be done with it?
8. My final problem with Behe is that, although I don't know his beliefs personally, it seems pretty obvious that he's a Christian scientist. No problem with that, as long as one keeps one's science separate from one's religion. Otherwise there's the temptation to filter and distort the scientific facts in order to support one's own preconceived view of reality, which is exactly what happened in Darwin's Black Box.
9. Finally, I'd like to close this discussion with something from one of Paul Tillich's books. (Yes neurobiologists occasionally read Tillich. At least this one does). Tillich was one of the most brilliant theologians and philosophers of the 20th century. His little book, The Dynamics of Faith (which is only about 140 pages) is packed with much of the best that Tillich's subtle and profound mind had to offer. The chapter, "The Truth of Faith," is probably the greatest essay on the attempt to reconcile faith with reason, and how an intelligent man can be religious ever written, a subject which goes back at least to St. Augustine's The City of God over 1500 years ago.
Tillich understood implicitly that faith that needs or attempts to justify itself isn't true faith. Tillich understood that science and faith are inherently different and can't be reconciled. In that sense, Tillich is smarter than Behe, who does faith an injustice by trying, however ingeniously (more like disingenuously), to put it on a rational or scientific basis.
Tillich's other important idea in this chapter was that faith can become a transformative and even transcendent force in people's lives. As another reviewer of the book put it so perceptively, "Faith is creative precisely because we act even though we cannot be entirely sure of the outcome. This is the Faith that creates science and art, and produces miracles in everyday life. When that Faith is attached to life's ultimate concern, it becomes sacred and holy."
Anyway, just a few comments on a book that has sparked much unnecessary controversy, since there's nothing especially controversial about it. But I give Behe 3 stars (which is being generous) for overall writing well and for providing some diverting although ultimately fallacious arguments for the existence of God.
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on June 2, 2003
Some months ago, I wrote a previous review of Behe's book. The review was long and technical because of the molecular biology involved, and so probably very few people actually read it. So I thought I'd take a dfferent tack with this one, discussing the philosophical aspects of Behe's idea, which are easier to present.
However, there's some technical philosophy here, too, so I apologize in advance for that--but at least it's easier than the molecular biology.
Behe's basic idea comes down to asserting that molecular biology is "irreducibly complex," and that this is evidence of Divine design and intervention. The question is, is this argument valid? If you're already a believer, then Behe is just preaching to the choir, and there's no need to convince anybody. If one is not, then the argument has some interest. So the question remains, is it valid? So let's take a look at that.
This argument, although interesting, isn't new, and in fact is quite old, going back 800 years or so to Thomistic philosophy. Actually, there are two such related arguments, but Behe's idea is really a variation of one of them. The first is the "teleological argument," which can be summarized as follows, "The world exhibits order. Where there is order, there must be an orderer--hence God." If one substitutes the word "order" with "designer," then you have Behe's argument in a nutshell, and you don't need to read all the technical molecular biology to understand it all. It's basically quite simple.
For completeness' sake, I'll mention a second classical argument that has some relevance here: the cosmological argument. "Neither the world nor any part of itself can be the cause of itself. Hence, there must be a cause not identical with the world, or God." But Behe's idea is really more a variation on the teleological argument, because if one grants that molecular biology is irreducibly complex, it's understood that it can't be the cause of itself, and that God is involved. So the cosmological argument is also implicit in Behe's idea.
Behe's idea is interesting in that it attempts to put this argument for the existence of God on more of a scientific, rather than a philosophical basis. Behe's wish to do that is understandable, since religion has never really recovered from the blow that the three areas of science, Darwinian evolution, historical geology, and cosmology, have dealt it, and so it's interesting to see if science can somehow come to its aid finally.
However, there are problems with that. The first problem is that what counts as irreducibly complex is very subjective. For example, I am a neurobiologist by training, and although molecular biology is indeed complicated and impressive, having studied both areas, I can tell you that molecular biology is not very complex compared to the brain. In fact, it's practical simple. There have been 1000-page books written on very small brain areas (having had to read some of them), and the human brain is composed of more than 14,000 major and minor brain centers and pathways. So although molecular biology is no doubt an impressive and interesting area on its own, it still can't hold a candle to the brain, and I know of no neurobiologists who think that the brain is evidence that God exists.
Hence, Behe's argument is really a relative, subjective one in terms of the complexity criterion, which lands him on sort of a slippery slope--which isn't where he wants to be.
The second problem with Behe's idea is that even if we grant that molecular biology has come to the aid of religion here, the three other sciences of evolution, geology, and cosmology all conflict with the Bible's version of things. The theory of evolution, the historical geology of the earth's past, and the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe all conflict with the Bible's story. So if we just tally the votes here, it's still 3 to 1, with molecular biology the only science throwing its weight on the side of religion.
Well, this is already a long review too, just like my molecular biology one. So I will stop here and just say I hope you enjoyed my review on the philosophical aspects of Behe's book.
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on May 1, 2003
It is truly remarkable that the ardent evolutionists often seem to try to categorize those who don't believe in spontaneous
generation (from inorganic material yet) as being non-scientists or non-scientific. This mindset can easily be demonstrated by simply reading some of the one star reviews given for this book and others that are raising some big red flags over what evolutionists are trying to pass of as "scientific".
What fuels evolution is not the "facts" but rather the idea that all things must come about as the result of natural (therefore
non-supernatural) causes. This idea precludes the existence of
any metaphysical creator who willed things into being using
supernatural methods. Therefore, evolution must be true, not because the "facts" support it, but because it is arguably the only seemingly plausible method for explaining the existence of life apart from a designer. This is why an intelligent, well
educated adult will freely admit that a space shuttle is too complex to ever make itself or be produced by random processes (let alone without any starting raw materials for construction), not even if given billions of years; yet they will turn right around and say that a living human body is in fact the result of purely random processes governed by time and chance (as if chance is some kind of governing force rather than a powerless concept). If everything requires a natural cause, then naturalistic evolution or something like it must be true.
What Behe does in this book (and others have argued) is to aptly demonstrate that the idea of irreducible complexity poses a huge problem for the theory of naturalistic evolution (all one star reviewers aside who like to talk about how "unscientific" Behe is yet can't counter his arguments). Although evolutionists always like to throw the term "creationist" at people with all of the baggage that goes along with religion, this book has nothing to do with espousing religious doctrine other than implying that an intelligent designer/creator of some sort is the source of life on earth and not random chance and processes . Behe simply and forcefully argues that organisms have complex components that require interdependency and simultaneous existence for them to function. Without this complex interdependency, the organism will not function as observed. There is a point of irreducible complexity at which all components must be in place for the organism to function. There is no way apart from some form of intelligent design that a number of very complex components (by the way, components many times more complex than the space shuttle) would or could ever all develop simultaneously in order for the organism to funtion.
Certain components could possibly be removed for the organism to function, but at some point nothing more can be reduced for the
organism to function. You can take a wiper blade off of a car, you can remove a headlight, you can remove the windows, you can take off the hood and trunk, you can do all of this and more and the car will still be able to perform its primary function; it will still be able to move under it's own power and be under your control, and it will still get you from A to B. However, if you remove the transmission, the pistons, connecting rods, lifters, camshaft, crankshaft, spark plugs, electrical system, fuel pump, axles, tire rims, etc, if any of these components are not there, the car will cease to function. All of these components must be in place or the car will not work. If the car evolved without intelligent design or input, all of these required complex components would have to have come into existence at the same time by purely random chance otherwise the car wouldn't work. Now, compared to the complexity of even the simplest living organisms (which are more complex than the space shuttle), the components of an automobile are incredibly simple. There is no way that even given billions of years that the multitude of incredibly complex components would ever or could ever simultaneoulsy come into existence without intelligence in order to create a funtional whole. Since
evolutionists still want to cling to their naturalistic mindset,
they just wont't budge. To them man is the be all and end all,
and that's all. The belief that all of these complex components would or could come into simultaneuous self existence takes a great deal more faith than believing that an intelligent designer was the source.
Take the time to read Behe's book and the works of other learned men. Many scientists don't believe that naturalistic evolution is supported by the given "evidence" (yes, there really are scientists who don't believe in evolutionary spontaneous generation). Many recent discoveries such as studies on DNA are showing design at every level and are challenging evolutionary
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on April 27, 2003
This book as really an eye-opener for me and I was very impressed with the ideas that are expressed inside. It is well written and the concepts are understandable for the person not particularly knowledgeable about the science discussed.
In "Darwin's Black Box", Dr. Behe challenges evolution theory from the molecular level. Life is (at least our physical self) essentially a comprised of a set of chemical reactions and biomolecular "machines" that fulfill different functions. The development of these machines would require an evolution of the basic chemicals that form them. In other words, basic chemical groups must "evolve" to form amino acids. Then the different animo acids must be properly strung together in a chain to form different proteins. The proteins--sometimes 10,000+ long--must be properly strung together to form a cell, etc. Since life processes is all about biochemistry, one can see how important a critique of evolution is at the molecular level. If the chemicals do not evolve in the first place, then there would be no life to evolve at all.
Dr. Behe likens the Darwin era understanding of the cell-thought of as a blob of protoplasm--to a "Black Box." A black box is a device or process of which the internal workings are mysterious and unknown. Today we have opened up Darwin's black box, and his blob of protoplasm is now known to be enormously complex and filled with biochemical machines. And evolutionary theory must be re-assessed in light of modern science, not the precepts of 150 years ago. To Behe, when this assessment is made, darwinian evolution is seriously called into question.
Behe's central premise is that many biochemical machines are what he calls "Irreducibly Complex" (IC), and that darwinian evolution cannot construct them. IC structures are ones that have a number of "well matched" parts, all of which are essential for the working of the structure. If one tries to "reduce" the system by removing a part, then the machine or process fails to function and hence, the name "Irreducible Complexity."
According to Dr. Behe, this is a grave challenge to darwinian evolution because the evolutionary process is a gradual step-by-step process, selecting the fittest organisms along the way. It cannot produce an irreducibly complex system because they require all of the parts to function in the first place. Before all of the parts can evolve, one would have a non-functioning system-dead weight. There is nothing for natural selection to select-certainly not dead mass that doesn't contribute to the survival value of the organism. Given that evolution cannot develop irreducibly complex structures, and IC structures exist, they did not evolve.
Behe argues his point by citing 6 different examples (which are by no means exhaustive) of IC machines like the bacterial flagellum, blood clotting, and the immune system-all of which cannot evolve. He ends the discussion by arguing that like all machines which are designed by purposeful intelligence-so are the biochemical ones.
Behe's book is utterly remarkable and fascinating. Anyone who is interested in the broad field of human origins should read this book and familiarize yourself with the arguments. The biochemical challenge to evolution is not going away.
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on April 13, 2003
Michael Behe has effectively given a logical opposition to evolution - one that makes more sense than evolution, when thought fully out. He is not a creationist, which helps in that he focuses simply on the science, rather than focusing on what God has told us, whether readers believe in Him or not. He does not know the answer, but he can logically disprove evolution as being a viable source for life. His arguments are thought out and backed up scientifically, and his position as a biochemist makes the validity of his assertions even more apparent, even if they didn't essentially prove themselves. His writing is clear and precise, while not too scientific. He includes many scientific discussions, but gives a few basic points to narrow it down that laypeople not worded in the scientific jargon may understand as well. While definately written by an educated man, it is not written for solely educated people. Educated and non-educated (in terms of high level science) will get much from this book. It is an impressive opposition to a theory that few in the scientific community have dared to counter.
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on April 12, 2003
It used to be that scientists mocked the "God of the gaps" response from theologians to unanswered questions. A brief glance at the reviews here will highlight a strange twist: theologians mocking scientists for their "science of the gaps" response to unanswered questions. For it seems that when faced with the kind of basic and logical flaws to their naturalistic worldviews, the response is to postulate wild theories, so devoid of probability as to be more unlikely than "miracles", or simply shrug and say "science wil tell us someday". Ironically both are faith-based responses from atheists towards a "man of faith" asking logical questions of science.
This is an excellent book, whatever your own faith may be telling you to believe. In it Behe examines problems inherent to the Darwinistic worldview, namely that without wild leaps of faith, irreducible complexity plagues the naturalistic pre-concieved conclusions that life simply evolved from lesser life in some fashion culminating so far in life as we know it today.
Forget that the fossil record shows less diversity today than in the past, forget that the fossil record clearly shows that complex creatures simply sprung into being (Cambein explosion) - forgive the spelling - without any evidence whatsoever of the failed or lesser life forms they all supposedly came from, forget that outside of natural selection showing the change from one already complex creature to similar complex creature all the rest is pure speculation, and forget that science has no answers at all to the problem of irreducible complexity without using faith and theory based on nothing more than a worldview that is so narrow it precludes any explanations that do not fit into the belief system.
Yes, simply leave logic at the door, substitute an open search for truth with a fanatical and religious belief in nothing, and you may remain comfortable in your naturalistic worldview.
However, if you are a free-thinker, you will love the challenges posed here. The book is a bit dry for the first half, but quickly heats up and is quite an enjoyable read. Overall, well done.
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on March 23, 2003
In reviewing "Darwin's Black Box" my desire is to be fair to Michael Behe. Writing any type of book is a difficult and admirable endeavor. So on this point he should at least be applauded for his efforts. However, the methods Behe uses to argue his hypothesis of "Intelligent Design" are deeply troubling on a scientific and philosophical basis.
Within the first few pages Behe begins a subtle ad hominem attack on Charles Darwin and other supporters of evolutionary theory by firing daintily snide remarks at them. He juxtaposes their names and their work with words like "small", "failure", and "orthodoxy". And when he refers to Richard Dawkins, professor of zoology of Oxford University, he calls him "the best modern POPULARIZER of Darwinism around" and says his books "are accessible to the interested LAYMAN and very ENTERTAINING to boot." Behe also says "Dawkins writes with passion because he BELIEVES Darwinism to be true." (My capitalization of words, not Behe's) Now, if I were to find only one of these sentences in a book, I would think that the author had not phrased his sentence as well as he could have. But since this type of sentence appear throughout "Darwin's Black Box" the only conclusion I can make is that Behe is immature. Is this a suitable style of writing for a scientist and a college professor to use?
Later on when Behe writes on the biochemical "complexity" of the eye, cilium, flagellum, etc., his writing descends into a dry bombardment of facts and poor explanations, as though he were deliberately attempting to make the material "complex" and difficult for the reader to comprehend. He even offsets the material, and practically invites the reader to skip it entirely. When reading it, I quickly realized that this was Behe's intention, to overstate and exaggerate the "complexity" of the evidence in order to further his case for "irreducible complexity". This is manipulative of Behe to say the least.
Behe's logic also fails. He argues points and provides examples that when looked at more clearly end up working against him, not for him. In the first chapter he comments how Darwin in the 19th century was constrained in his ability to see the complexity of the cell because of the limits of microscope technology, this is "Darwin's Black Box". But Behe later uses other 19th century scientists in an attempt to counter Darwin's "descent with modification" as it applies to "irreducible complexity". Well, if Darwin could not see inside the "Black Box" neither could his contemporaries. So why use Darwin and others like him to debate a 20th century issue like "irreducibly complexity" to begin with?
Another example of Behe's puerileness is when he refers to the famous 19th war-of-words between Thomas Huxley and bishop Samuel Wilberforce. (Behe uses this example along with others like the Scopes Monkey Trial in order to portray scientists as biased and condescending to creationists, a "War Between Science and Theology" he calls it). Bishop Samuel Wilberforce asked of Huxley, "is it through his grandmother or his grandfather that Huxley claims his descent from a monkey?" Huxley basically responded by saying that he would rather be descended from a simian than a man of poor reason and ill-manners. Now, Behe uses this example to paint evolutionists as biased, but Behe fails here because he uses mockery all through "Darwin's Black Box". Behe even misses (or misplaces) the point of Huxley's comment. Huxley was sarcastic with Wilberforce because he had turned a scientific debate on evolution into a personal attack. So we see that Behe is not only immature in his writing, he is also hypocritical.
What is most shocking however, is that Behe omits several important scientific facts from his arguments for "Irreducible Complexity". For example, no where in the entire book does he even mention the Hox Gene Complex, one of the most significant discoveries biochemistry has ever made. Clearly he left it out because it works against him. He also omits from the discussion on the "Irreducibly Complex" cell that mitochondrial DNA is closely related to a specific bacterial DNA. And this is more evidence against "Irreducible Complexity". He doesn't even mention "exaptations" in evolution which provide an argument against the "unchangeable function" of an "irreducibly complex system". Either he left these vital points out because he is unaware of them or he is being sneaky.
From page one Behe has trouble deciding what type of book "Darwin's Black Box" should be. He argues his "Intelligent Design" hypothesis scientifically, philosophically, religiously, historically, and finally politically. In the last chapter, he even descends into a cosmological and astronomical discussion to support his claims. But Michael Behe is a biochemist. Why doesn't he stick to what he knows best instead of flying all over the map. This format makes for a confusing Everything-But-The Kitchen-Sink discussion. And yet he still sticks to his claim that "Intelligent Design" is based on science. "Darwin's Black Box" is already a thin book, but if Behe were to cut out all the extraneous unscientific evidence for "intelligent design" I can certainly see how it might collapse in upon itself, perhaps becoming a religious pamphlet.
"Darwin's Black Box" is an intellectually disappointing book. But, of course, it was never intended to be science. Real science requires evidence, experimentation, and effort. Behe's evidence for "intelligent design" boils down to just two phrases, "just because" and "because I say so". However, he does structure it all in a misleading and a manipulative package, enough so to take advantage of those who are gullible and ignorant on the subject. Behe's obvious and underlying intent was to convert not to educate. But Behe forgot the most important part for his "irreducibly complex" mouse trap... the cheese.
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