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Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution Paperback – March 13, 2006

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Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution + Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design + Darwin's Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 2nd edition (March 13, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743290313
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743290319
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"A persuasive book. It will speak to the layman and perhaps even to professional evolutionists as well, if they are able to suspend for a little while their own judgment about origins, the ultimate black box." -- The Washington Times

"An argument of great originality, elegance, and intellectual power. . . . No one can propose to defend Darwin without meeting the challenges set out in this superbly written and compelling book." -- David Berlinski, author of A Tour of the Calculus

"Overthrows Darwin at the end of the twentieth century in the same way that quantum theory overthrew Newton at the beginning." -- George Gilder in National Review

"[Behe] is the most prominent of the small circle of scientists working on intelligent design, and his arguments are by far the best known." -- H. Allen Orr in The New Yorker

"When examined with the powerful tools of modern biology, but not with its modern prejudices, life on a biochemical level can be a product, Behe says, only of intelligent design. Coming from a practicing biologist. . . this proposition is close to heretical." -- The New York Times Book Review

About the Author

Michael J. Behe 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 Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. He lives near Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with his wife and nine children.

Customer Reviews

Second, Behe fails to demonstrate that natural selection could not have created his "irreducibly complex" systems.
Robbie T.
Irreducible complexity is a failed negative argument against evolutionary theory, not a positive argument in favor of Intelligent Design.
Frank W. Smith
Mr. Behe is constantly telling us how the scientific evidence points to an intelligent designer but never offers his own testable proof.
E. King

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Ferro on March 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
Judging by the emotive responses, there are few people able to view this topic objectively or dispassionately.

This book is an interesting journey through microbiology that was unimaginable only a few short decades ago. Behe's arguments are easy to understand. He has already made his point by the end of chapter two: the rest of the book is almost overkill. Evolutionists claim that "most of his arguments have been debunked" but I have seen little evidence of this.
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35 of 45 people found the following review helpful By S. Cooney on May 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
I picked this book up several years ago after reading an essay entitled "The Deniable Darwin" by David Berlinski. I thought the book was excellent and recommend it to those seeking to explore the "Evolution vs. Intelligent Design" debate.

Consider those who claim to have debunked this book carefully. The so-called "debunking" of the irreduceable complexity of the bacterial flagellum and the blood-clotting cascade are out there online for anyone who knows how to use a search engine. Check it out. Behe has responded online to his critics as well. Judge for yourself who fares better.

Many of Behe's critics here point to the Dover school board decision as settling the issue once and for all. But science doesn't work that way. Yesterday's heretic is today's hero.

Behe's argument that irreduceable complexity at the cellular level can't be explained by Darwinist principles is a powerful one. He's the barbarian at the gate. Don't take my word for it - listen to the shrill tone of the critics here. They take this book personally - I mean they really hate it. When they defend their theory by personally attacking its critic as they've done here, one has to wonder "What's up"?

What's fascinating is that the critics of Behe's book dismiss him and all of his supporters as religious fanatics. They snort and say "It's not science"... Again, judge for yourselves. This book is what it says it is, a challenge to evolution. So far, they haven't really answered it, although they say they have.

So-called microevolution is not disputed by anyone. Macroevolution is another matter entirely. There is no theory (except for Gould's punctuated equilibrium) that adequately addresses the fossil record.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Anthony H. on July 19, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a deathblow to Darwin's theory of evolution. Period. In my review I will not discuss writing style, which I personally find highly irrelevant, I will only state why I think this book refutes the generally accepted theory of evolution, (i.e. that all organisms evolved in a step-by-step fashion from a single primitive organism by means of random genetic mutation and the purifying process of natural selection).

In Part 1 Behe sets up his book by stating that when Darwin first proposed his theory, it wasn't really possible to confirm it because very little was known about living organisms and they were therefore "black boxes". He then affirms that now this is not the case because we have techniques and technologies of revealing the smallest building blocks of organisms and therefore we can finally begin to draw reliable conclusions about whether the theory of evolution (TOE) is valid. I agree with this portion of the book, but this portion of the book is not really part of his argument, he is merely saying that it wasn't really possible to study the life and come to any sort of meaningful conclusion regarding the TOE before the advent of powerful microscopes that can peer down to the deepest levels of biological structure.

Part II of the book is the real substance of his argument, and in these five chapters he presents undisputed scientific facts that in my opinion destroy evolution totally and will force us to abandon Darwin's ideas completely. So what does he say? There are five chapters, each dealing with a separate aspect of living organisms and then he discusses why each of these systems presents a serious challenge to the TOE in its own right. These five systems are the 1. bacterial flagellum (and cilium), 2. the blood clotting system, 3.
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17 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Steven H. Propp TOP 100 REVIEWER on May 8, 2013
Format: Paperback
Behe wrote in the Preface to this 1996 book, "Darwin was ignorant of the reason for variation within a species... It was once expected that the basis of life would be exceedingly simple. That expectation has been smashed... the elegance and complexity of biological systems at the molecular level have paralyzed science's attempt to account for the origin of specific, complex biomolecular systems..." (Pg. x) He clarifies, "I have no reason to doubt that the universe is ... billions of years old ... I find the idea of common descent ... fairly convincing, and have no particular reason to doubt it... Although Darwin's mechanism ... might explain many things... I do not believe it explains molecular life." (Pg. 5-6) [NOTE: page numbers refer to the 307-page hardcover editon.]

He notes, "Darwin convinced many of his readers that an evolutionary pathway leads from the simplest light-sensitive spot to the sophistaced camera-eye of man. But the question of how vision began remained unanswered... he did not even try to explain where his starting point---the relatively simple light-sensitive spot---came from." (Pg. 18) He states, "Each of the anatomical steps and structures that Darwin thought were so simple actually involves staggeringly complicated biochemical processes... Anatomy is... irrelevant to the question of whether evolution could take place on the molecular level. So is the fossil record... Until recently, evolutionary biologists could be unconcerned with the molecular details of life because so little was known about them. Now the black box of the cell has been opened, and the infinitesimal world that stands revealed must be explained." (Pg. 22)

He asks, "What type of biological system could not be formed by 'numerous, successive, slight modifications'? ...
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