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Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolutionby Michael J. Behe
Synopses & 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 new species in such a short time, will be found to have Darwinian answers. They, like most of the rest of us, accept Darwin's theory to be true.
But should we? What would happen if we found something that radically challenged the now-accepted wisdom? In Darwin's Black Box, Michael Behe argues that evidence of evolution's limits has been right under our noses: but it is so small that we have only recently been able to see it. The field of biochemistry, begun when Watson and Crick discovered the double-helical shape of DNA, has unlocked the secrets of the cell. There, biochemists have unexpectedly discovered a world of Lilliputian complexity. As Belie engagingly demonstrates, using the examples of vision, bloodclotting, cellular transport, and more, the biochemical world comprises an arsenal of chemical machines, made up of finely calibrated, interdependent parts. For Darwinian evolution to be true, there must have been a series of mutations, each of which produced its own working machine, that led to the complexity we can now see. The more complex and interdependent each machine's parts are shown to be, the harder it is to envision Darwin's gradualistic paths, Behe surveys the professional science literature and shows that it is completely silent on the subject, stymied by the elegance of the foundation oflife. Could it be that there is some greater force at work?
Michael Behe is not a creationist. He believes in the scientific method, and he does not look to religious dogma for answers to these questions. But he argues persuasively that biochemical machines must have been designed, either by God, or by some other higher intelligence. For decades science has been frustrated, trying to reconcile the astonishing discoveries of modern biochemistry to a nineteenth-century theory that cannot accommodate them. With the publication of Darwin's Black Box, it is time for scientists to allow themselves to consider exciting new possibilities, and for the rest of us to watch closely.
andlt;Iandgt;Darwinand#8217;s Black Boxandlt;/Iandgt; helped to launch the Intelligent Design movement: the argument that nature exhibits evidence of design, beyond Darwinian randomness. Today, with the movement stronger than ever, Michael J. Behe updates the book with an important new Afterword on the state of the debate.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;Iandgt;and#8212;Timeandlt;/Iandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Naming andlt;Iandgt;Darwinand#8217;s Black Boxandlt;/Iandgt; to the National Reviewand#8217;s list of the 100 most important nonfiction works of the twentieth century, George Gilder wrote that it and#8220;overthrows Darwin at the end of the twentieth century in the same way that quantum theory overthrew Newton at the beginning.and#8221; Discussing the book in andlt;Iandgt;The New Yorkerandlt;/Iandgt; in May 2005, H. Allen Orr said of Behe, and#8220;he is the most prominent of the small circle of scientists working on intelligent design, and his arguments are by far the best known.and#8221; From one end of the spectrum to the other, andlt;Iandgt;Darwinand#8217;s Black Boxandlt;/Iandgt; has established itself as the key text in the Intelligent Design movementand#8212;the one argument that must be addressed in order to determine whether Darwinian evolution is sufficient to explain life as we know it, or not.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt; For this edition, Behe has written a major new Afterword tracing the state of the debate in the decade since it began. It is his first major new statement on the subject and will be welcomed by the thousands who wish to continue this intense debate.
From within the highest ranks of the scientific community comes a startling new theory of creation that not only contradicts Darwinian orthodoxy but opens the door to theological arguments biologists have dismissed and ridiculed for more than a century.
About the Author
andlt;bandgt;Michael J. Beheandlt;/bandgt; is a Professor of Biological Science at Lehigh University, where he has worked since 1985. From 1978 to 1982 he did postdoctoral work on DNA structure at the National Institutes of Health. From 1982 to 1985 he was Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Queens College in New York City. He has authored more than forty technical papers, but he is best known as the author of andlt;Iandgt;Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution.andlt;/iandgt; He lives near Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with his wife and nine children.
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