All entries for Saturday 16 October 2004

October 16, 2004

Darwin's Black Box

Title:
Rating:
5 out of 5 stars

I have just finished reading this book for the second time, so I though I would give my thoughts on this book as a biochemistry student.

I will assume that readers of this review are familiar with the concept of evolution.

In the book Michael Behe argues based on analogies with some mechanical systems (the mousetrap) that there are “Irreducibly complex” systems within organisms that demand an intelegent designer.

The “irreducible complexity” argument relies on there being biological systems that completely fail when one component is removed. A mechanical example of this given by Behe is a mouse trap (p42 fig 2–2) which will not function at all if one component is removed. Behe then describes various biochemical systems and pathways such as the vision event in rods in the eye, blood clotting, the cilia, the bacterial flagellum and intracellular transport (ask me if you need these explaining to you). He shows that each of these systems is nonfunctional if components are removed and in some cases are actually detrimental and dangerous to the organism in question when incomplete (e.g. unregulated blood clotting). The “irreducible complexity” of these systems argues for an “intelligent designer” that can place these systems in place complete. Behe also defends the “intelegent designer” concept from the argument that states that some organisms appear to have features that (according to those suggesting this) are not perfectly designed so (supposedly) refuting intelligent design.

The book is friendly and accessible to both laymen and scientists, each deriving his own from the book. The layman will become more educated about biochemical systems, and the scientist will find extensions of the argument into his own area of interest.

In conclusion: this book should be read, and read carefully. It will do you no good to casually read this and/or to vent your spleen on it because it challenges evolution. Read it carefully, analyzing the points made and you will find a well reasoned argument. It may or may not convince you, but no doubt you will better off for reading this book carefully, since carefully study of issues always improves your mind.

Notes.

I suggest that you treat reading this book like you would a science textbook or paper, read it carefully, going back over sections and making notes. This is no light book so the more effort spent on reading and understanding it the more usefulness you will derive from it.


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