Thursday, August 24, 2006

Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution


Author: Michael J. Behe, Professor of Biological Sciences - Lehigh University

This book is amazing. It easily ranks along with Uncommon Dissent and Darwin on Trial to make the top three books I've read so far. In fact, I might put it in the top two.

Behe's book is straightforward and profound; he presents five very specific examples of biochemical irreducible complexity within cellular structures and concludes that Darwinian gradualism is incapable of creating such structures.

Those five structures/systems are:

1.) Cilia/Flagella

2.) Blood Clotting

3.) Delivery of molecules from one cell compartment to another, particularly to lysosomes

4.) Immune Systems, particularly the work of antibodies

5.) The creation of nucleotides, particularly the form of adenine known as AMP

The first four are irreducibly complex, the fifth is not necessarily so but the statistics of its gradual evolution are beyond reasonable measure and the process involves unreasonable assumptions.

You'll have to read the book to see the processes involved in these examples and to see why they are irreducibly complex. Behe's conclusions are very clear and he explains his evidence and reasoning thoroughly. He also takes much effort to explain what irreducible complexity is and what it is not.

With these examples, it becomes abundantly clear that Darwinian gradualism can not account for the evolution of cells, prokaryotes or eukaryotes. There has to be another explanation and the evidence all points toward design of some kind. The designer can remain anonymous; design can be inferred without knowing the identity of who or what did the designing.

As if this wasn't enough, Behe goes on to give a thorough account of Intelligent Design theory in greater detail. This book almost becomes an introductory text into ID as a whole.

The meat of Behe's argument goes like this: Now that science has looked inside the cell in detail and seen all the minute machinery that makes it up, this is now the level on which life must be explained. It does not do to explain the progression of structures on the level of gross anatomy, like a progression of eyes or limbs, these explanations mean nothing unless they include biochemical explanations and examples of how such strutures actually evolved. Saying that one form of eye evolved into another would be like saying that one form of computer evolved into another. It is an argument of irrelevance unless you can explain how the processor, RAM, video card, sound card, network card, power supply, case, motherboard, lights, etc... all evolved together. Such an account must involve specifics! Just saying that the pieces evolved by some fantastical story without any specific and thorough steps of exact change with exact selective pressures, exact reasons for increased fitness, etc... is worthless.

With that established, Behe gives four specific examples of systems that are irreducibly complex. He then goes to show that no explanations have been given for these or any other biochemical strutures in evolutionist literature. There are a few "just so" stories but a complete lack of specific evolutionary steps and examples. Darwinism can not explain these things, but it must if it is a valid theory of life's origin and diversity.

Behe's challenge has been met only with ad hominem attacks (big surprise) and distortions of his original arguments. He includes an afterword in this edition that explains the response his book has generated and his response to that response. It is a simple scenario; biochemistry has raised the bar of life's explanation and Darwinism can not foot the bill. There is strong and specific evidence for design in nature and Darwinists are completely unable to refute it.

After reading this book, the reader will understand Intelligent Design quite well. Not only that, but the reader will be surprised to see that Darwinists have not, and can not, explain away the evidence that ID presents. It is a shame that the arguments of this book are suppressed and waved over by the scientific community. It's about time that science pursued facts without being chained to a presumptive framework that rules certain things, like ID, out of court without evidence or explanation.

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