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Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  3,543 ratings  ·  310 reviews
In 1996, Darwin's Black Box helped to launch the intelligent design movement: the argument that nature exhibits evidence of design, beyond Darwinian randomness. It sparked a national debate on evolution, which continues to intensify across the country. From one end of the spectrum to the other, Darwin's Black Box has established itself as the key intelligent design text -- ...more
Paperback, 10th Anniversary edition, 329 pages
Published March 13th 2006 by Free Press (first published August 1996)
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Paul Dubuc If you have a good grasp of high school biology, you will be able to follow Behe's ideas. It's not oversimplified or misleading. Behe has also publish…moreIf you have a good grasp of high school biology, you will be able to follow Behe's ideas. It's not oversimplified or misleading. Behe has also published two follow on books, "The Edge of Evolution" and "Darwin Devolves", well worth reading. See for yourself.(less)

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Stephen Andrew
Aug 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Jun 05, 2007 rated it did not like it
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
Oct 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Bud Hewlett
Feb 15, 2009 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. ...more
James Boling
Jul 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, nonfiction, own
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. ...more
Dec 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was amazing
The best scientific challenge to evolution I have ever read. Deep. Had to read many passages several times, but well worth it.
Murphster Bruno
Oct 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 19, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
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:

Standard Disclaimer
Look at what shelves this book is on. If it is 'did-not-finish' then I tried it & didn't like it. No, I do not have to finish a book to give it a star rating or a review. If you don't like that, tough. Have a nice day.

If the
Aug 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Mark Cooper
Jan 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Jun 17, 2009 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.

Doc Ronny Allard
Jan 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Any Biology student
This is Great! It shows how Evolution (as we learn it) cannot happen because of symbiotic relations!
Sal Portillo
Mar 15, 2008 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.
May 24, 2012 rated it did not like 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
Oct 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
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 rated it did not like it
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 rated it it was amazing
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
Brian Hodges
May 08, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: science, non-fiction
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 rated it did not like it
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
Apr 08, 2015 rated it did not like it
If you believe in intelligent design, this is your book.
If you're a believer is evolution, this is not your book.
If you want to eat shit, this is your book.
An attempt for I.D. Unfortunately, for Behe, the book falls way short of his goals.
Scot Parker
May 26, 2020 rated it did not like it
A remarkable example of cherry-picking, irrationality, fallacious reasoning, and unscientific garbage.
Shea Mastison
Feb 20, 2013 rated it did not like it
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 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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

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“I'm in a weird place because the book is about to come out. So I'm basically just walking around like a raw nerve and I'm not sure that I...
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“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.” 45 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.” 30 likes
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