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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Review: Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution

Darwin's Black Box derives its title from it's author's postulation that the cell is a "black box." That is to say, it's an area of study which was once thought of my most scientists to be a simple matter, but upon further inspection, it was actually very complex. Written in 1996, Michael J. Behe uses this book to illustrate his theory of Irreducible Complexity. This theory states that there are systems, such as the cell, that are so complex that to take away even one small component of it would result in the system not working at all. Therefore, it couldn't have developed gradually, because an incomplete, not "fully evolved" system wouldn't have worked at all. The book begins with an introduction to the idea of what a black box is, before proceeding into a highly detailed lesson on cellular mechanics. The book ends with an examination of how Darwinism and Intelligent Design are treated in the wider scientific community, among other things.

I'm in two minds about Darwin's Black Box by Michael J. Behe. On the one hand, it provides a stunning critique of Darwinian evolutionary theory in an informative and precise manner. On the other hand, roughly half of the book is devoted to a painstakingly detailed explanation about just what's going on in our cells. I understand that the main point of all of this exposition was to get across the idea that cells are super complicated, but man, does it drag on!

However, once you get past all of the scientific minutiae and technical jargon, Behe presents a well-argued case for Irreducible Complexity and Intelligent Design. For those of you with reservations about Behe's stance, don't be so quick to confused Intelligent Design for straight up Creationism. They are very different. (I myself, being a creationist, welcome any and all arguments in favor of Intelligent Design, an admittedly similar theory which has its merits and is compatible, if not synonymous, with Creationism.) Behe expertly weaves together these various ideas of science and philosophy.

The third section of the book was particularly interesting to me, in that is examined the philosophy and ideology which drives the anti-supernatural mindset held by many scientists today. Behe addresses the subject eloquently and respectfully, not resorting to snide comments or insults, as many of his opposite numbers have been shown to do to in their own books. He methodically tackles the issues with Darwinism and why the scientific community is the way it is when it comes to the evolution debate.

Of course, there are many vocal Darwinists who would take issue at this, as many have. A quick Wikipedia search shows that Darwin's Black Box has received more than its fair share of negative criticism from prominent Darwinists, with all the jabs typically leveled at such works being listed there, to the point that the page even brings up the fact that Behe (apparently) admitted while under oath at a trial that his book wasn't sufficiently peer reviewed. Going on a tangent here, but I didn't realize that scientific law was determined by judical fiat (the trial concluded that Intelligent Design was the same as Creationism, and therefore "unscientific," a typical misinformation tactic used by Darwinists). My point here is that if a book gets this much hate, it's probably saying something worth looking into. Ditto for a book getting a lot of praise, but that's another story.

All in all, I enjoyed this book for the information it provided, the formulation of some scientific stuff in ways that I could understand,  a fascinating look at the philosophical and ideological forces at work today, and in general a great primer for intelligent design theory. I highly recommend it to anyone who's into science, or wants to learn more about intelligent design theory. Be warned, however, it is, like I said, super complicated, so keep that it mind.

RATING: 8.5/10

Image courtesy of wikipedia.org