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

Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  2,860 Ratings  ·  241 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
Paperback, 307 pages
Published March 20th 1998 by Free Press (first published August 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)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Stephen Andrew
Aug 01, 2008 Stephen Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Dec 09, 2008 Rohan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kessia Reyne
May 24, 2009 Kessia Reyne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school
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
Sep 21, 2008 Pattie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Bud Hewlett
Feb 15, 2009 Bud Hewlett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This along with Darwin On Trial are two of the foundational books in the intelligent design movement. Somewhat heavy.
James Boling
Jul 21, 2007 James Boling rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, nonfiction
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.
Jun 05, 2007 John rated it did not like it  ·  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
Dec 07, 2009 Ammon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 08, 2010 Cliff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best scientific challenge to evolution I have ever read. Deep. Had to read many passages several times, but well worth it.
Oct 06, 2007 Charles rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Murphster Bruno
Oct 22, 2008 Murphster Bruno rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Jan 06, 2010 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  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.
Aug 30, 2007 Heather rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: science geeks
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a great resource for the creationist. It's written by a scientist who has used some of the intricate biochemical processes to refute evolution. Some of it gets a bit technical, but overall, it's pretty easy to understand.
Mark Cooper
Jan 31, 2008 Mark Cooper rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mark-2007
[Book] (It's not the Devil that's in the details) Irreducible Complexity--Things are too complicated to have simply evolved. Very readable scientific book that shows the great short comings of Darwinism.
Jun 17, 2009 Gary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
This book is a must read if you are interested in the concepts of natural selection, mutations and evolution.

Behe presents the incredible complexity involved in a mutation occuring and the mutation being beneficial to the particular animal.

Sal Portillo
Mar 15, 2008 Sal Portillo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this several years ago while in college. Easier to understand if you have at least a little science background. He brings up some very interesting challenges to some aspects of evolution.
Doc Ronny Allard
Jan 25, 2008 Doc Ronny Allard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any Biology student
This is Great! It shows how Evolution (as we learn it) cannot happen because of symbiotic relations!
Apparently very technical, but is pseudoscience using the old argument that some biochemical systems irreducibly complex. Tries to baffle with tech bullshit. Read these reviews:
Mar 19, 2009 Robert rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
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
Oct 19, 2014 Ruth rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 25, 2012 David Wells rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: creationist
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
King Haddock
Sep 12, 2010 King Haddock rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, nonfiction
As a person always desiring to be knowledgeable on controversial issues, I obviously have found the evolution/creation debate particularly necessary to research. After all, the implications of such conclusions are enormous. Literature supporting either side, however, quickly disenchants me. An evolutionist's paper lauds the same examples over and over and over in rather vague terms and use circuitous arguments to say "we can see natural selection through this which happens because of naural sele ...more
May 24, 2012 Mary rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Oct 31, 2013 MegaSolipsist rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 16, 2010 Brad rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Shea Mastison
Feb 20, 2013 Shea Mastison rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 27, 2012 Patrickmalka rated it did not like it
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
Oct 24, 2010 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 25, 2008 Kristine rated it did not like it
Shelves: borrowed, freethought
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 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 Theology
  • Evolution: A Theory In Crisis
  • The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery
  • The Creator and the Cosmos: How the Greatest Scientific Discoveries of the Century Reveal God
  • The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions
  • Redeeming Science: A God-Centered Approach
  • In Six Days: Why Fifty Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation
  • Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Baker Reference Library)
  • The Soul of Science
  • Refuting Evolution: A Handbook for Students, Parents, and Teachers Countering the Latest Arguments for Evolution
  • God and Stephen Hawking: Whose Design Is It Anyway?
  • Defense of the Faith
  • The Lie: Evolution
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...

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.” 37 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.” 27 likes
More quotes…