Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Darwin's Black Box: Biochemical Challenge to Evolution” as Want to Read:
Darwin's Black Box: Biochemical Challenge to Evolution
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Darwin's Black Box: Biochemical Challenge to Evolution

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  2,297 ratings  ·  209 reviews
Virtually all serious scientists accept the truth of Darwin's theory of evolution. While the fight for its acceptance has been a long and difficult one, after a century of struggle among the cognoscenti the battle is over. Biologists are now confident that their remaining questions, such as how life on Earth began, or how the Cambrian explosion could have produced so many ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 3rd 1998 by Simon & Schuster (first published August 1st 1996)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Darwin's Black Box, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Darwin's Black Box

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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
Stephen Andrew
Aug 01, 2008 Stephen Andrew rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested
Recommended to Stephen by: found it myself
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 ...more
Jul 04, 2007 John rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: dim, stubborn Creationists
Shelves: non-fiction
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 ...more
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 ...more
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
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 ...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
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.
Jun 13, 2010 Emily rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Emily by: SF Book Club
This is a biochemical refutation of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. It's fascinating. Behe gets a little technical at parts in order to show the "irreducible complexity" of most organisms at the biochemical level, but you don't have to remember specifics so it's not too overwhelming. I loved his understandable analogies. The author is Roman Catholic, but believes in common ancestry of species, etc. He is not overly religious in the book, but makes a great case for intelligent ...more
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.
Bud Hewlett
This along with Darwin On Trial are two of the foundational book in the intelligent design movement. Somewhat heavy.
Behe makes the tired case that the complexity of the microbiological system is evidence against evolutionary theory. He does this by presenting overwhelming complex microbiological systems. In one detailed case study after another, he trots out the standard fare, the flagellum of microorganisms, the bombardier beetle, the human eye. He holds the complexity of these systems to be irreducibly complex. That is, to remove one element of the system is to remove one element from these complex systems ...more
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.
Shapiro has said that he reviewed the book, and wh
Murphster Bruno
Oct 22, 2008 Murphster Bruno rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the marvels of the human body
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 ...more
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 ...more
This was a good read, from a biochemist who is also a captivating writer. This book is worth reading for anyone who is interested in one or more of the following topics: the philosophy of science, darwinism, science vs. religion, intelligent design theory, or philosophical theology.
Jan 06, 2010 Mike rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone of intelligence
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.
The best scientific challenge to evolution I have ever read. Deep. Had to read many passages several times, but well worth it.
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 ...more
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 ...more
I came upon this book by chance, and picked it up from the library. Let me start by saying I have never read a book about evolution, have never really cared either way about it. Recently I have thought that many religious people assert that Darwin's theory of Evolution does not negate a creator, and leave the argument at that. Most of those people are like me and have no knowledge of natural science enough to form an argument on their terms. The main thesis of this book is that modern biochemist ...more
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
Brian Loftus
I'm no professional scientist but I do remember enough from basic college level biology to be able to follow along with Behe's arguments. I am a Christian and before reading this book really had no strong opinion on the creation vs evolution debate.
I think many of the reviews here misunderstand much of what he is saying in the book. I actually got my B.A. in Religious studies and one of my biggest beefs with the way people study was that they were all reductionists. Jumping on one idea and usin
This rating is not reflective of my agreement/disagreement with the argument for Intelligent Design.

A well laid out argument for Intelligent Design. As good an argument as there can be. Behe does a good job of separating his argument from the traditional arguments of the worlds monotheistic faiths.

Unfortunately, it becomes a regressive argument. To paraphrase, Abiogenesis is 'irreducibly complex' therefor the only answer is a Creator who, by nature of his creations, must be exponentially more
I don't have the background to properly comment on the science, but it was mostly clearly presented. The solutions to the irreducible complexity issue haven't quite sat right with me, but they're neither as illogical or damning as Behe thinks they are. Behe does do a good job presenting his arguments both against Darwin and for intelligent design on the basis of science and not religion or philosophy.

Behe presents a strong case, but he makes a couple fundamental errors. First, simply because som
Michael Behe does an effective job of explaining the argument he's trying to make, some of the examples that support his argument and, most importantly, the limitations of the scope of what the argument attempts to address. This argument, as anyone who recognizes Behe's name will probably be aware, is that evolutionary theory is insufficient to explain the origins of life and, further, that some of the biochemical systems we depend on for our existence bear hallmarks of having been designed. In ...more
Michael J. Behe's Darwin's Black Box is meticulously crafted to produce "a loud, clear, piercing cry of 'design!' ". An evolutionist under the guise of an intelligent design proponent, Behe cleverly weaves together all of ID's arguments along with its fallacies, careful to include contradictions within pages of each other, and oftentimes, within the same paragraph. Behe's scientific examples are described well, and are accentuated with inaccurate, misleading analogies, designed to be obvious to ...more
Oct 06, 2007 Charles rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Serious lay readers
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 ...more
DARWIN'S BLACK BOX is a devastating attack on traditional Darwinian evolution from a biochemical perspective, a challenge that scientists have still been unable to address during the fifteen years since the book was first published (although Darwinian evolutionists, despite their general disdain for matters of "faith," have complete faith that the solutions will be forthcoming). In places, it's way too technical for me to follow, but the general argument comes through loud and clear. It's well-w ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Darwin on Trial
  • Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth? Why Much of What We Teach About Evolution Is Wrong
  • Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design
  • Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science and Theology
  • Evolution: A Theory In Crisis
  • The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery
  • The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions
  • The Creator and the Cosmos: How the Greatest Scientific Discoveries of the Century Reveal God
  • Redeeming Science: A God-Centered Approach
  • Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics
  • In Six Days: Why Fifty Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation
  • The Lie: Evolution
  • Defense of the Faith
  • Refuting Evolution: A Handbook for Students, Parents, and Teachers Countering the Latest Arguments for Evolution
  • The Soul of Science
  • Reasonable Faith
Michael J. Behe is Professor of Biological Sciences at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. 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 addition to publishing over 35 articles in refereed biochemical journals, he has also written editorial features in Boston R
More about Michael J. Behe...
The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism Science and Evidence for Design in the Universe Experimental Evolution: Loss-of-Function Mutations, and "the First Rule of Adaptive Evolution" Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science and Theology Darwinism Under The Microscope: How recent scientific evidence points to divine design

Share This Book

“In the abstract, it might be tempting to imagine that irreducible complexity simply requires multiple simultaneous mutations - that evolution might be far chancier than we thought, but still possible. Such an appeal to brute luck can never be refuted... Luck is metaphysical speculation; scientific explanations invoke causes.” 16 likes
“The conclusion of intelligent design flows naturally from the data itself—not from sacred books or sectarian beliefs. Inferring that biochemical systems were designed by an intelligent agent is a humdrum process that requires no new principles of logic or science. It comes simply from the hard work that biochemistry has done over the past forty years, combined with consideration of the way in which we reach conclusions of design every day.” 12 likes
More quotes…