Darwin's Black Box The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution By: Michael J. Behe ساهم في الإعداد



Download 480.52 Kb.
Page1/2
Date conversion08.07.2018
Size480.52 Kb.
  1   2


Darwin's Black Box

The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution

By: Michael J. Behe

ساهم في الإعداد: الأستاذ مُصطفى نصر قديح



نبذة مُختصرة عن الكتاب:

مِن أشهر الكُتُب الأجنبية التي رُوِّج لها أنَّها مُتخصِّصة في نقد نظرية التَّطوُّر الدَّاروينية، للمؤلِّف الأمريكي المشهور جداً، المُتخصِّص في مجال الكيمياء الحيوية، الدكتور «مايكل بيهي». والكتاب بعُنوان: «صندوق داروين الأسود» مُتوفِّر بفضل الله عز وجل باللُّغة العربية، عن طريق «دار الكاتب»، والتَّرجمة من إصدارات «مركز براهين».

طبعاً الشيخ «عبد الله الشهري» حفظه الله قدَّم للكتاب في التَّرجمة العربية، والأخ الفاضل «أحمد يحيى» بيَّن في مُقدِّمة أخرى سبب اختيار هذا الكتاب ضمن الأعمال التي ترجمتها المركز، ولي عتاب عليهم، وسوف أذكره بعد قليل.

الكتاب ينتصر لنظرية «التَّصميم الذَّكي» (ID)، والكتاب ينتقد نظرية التَّطوُّر في باب مُحدَّد جداً جداً، ولعلّ هذا الباب المُحدَّد لم يتناوله «داروين» نفسه لأنَّه لم يكن معلوماً في أيَّامه، ولكنَّ المفهوم التَّطوُّري الحديث يشمل هذا الباب بكُلّ تأكيد. وهذه نُقطة أريد لفت الأنظار إليها لعلَّها تُفيد فيما بعد عند نقد النَّظرية، وعند تناول الآراء المُختلفة للعلماء حولها.

«داروين» في كتابه «أصل الأنواع» لم يتناول في نظريته أيّ تفاصيل على مُستوى الخلية ووظائفها ومُكوِّناتها، ولكنَّه بدأ في التَّفكير في نظريته من خلال النَّظر في الكائنات الحيَّة ككُلّ. «مايكل بيهي» في كتابه هذا، يقول إنَّ كل ما هو ظاهر في الكائن الحيّ ككُلّ، بادئ في الأساس من الخلية الحيَّة الأولى! وأنَّ كلّ تغيير يطرأ على الكائن الحيّ سببه في الأصل تغيير حَدَثَ على مُستوى الخلية الحيَّة.

«داروين» لم ينظر للأُمُور هكذا، ولم يتكلَّم عن أيّ تفاصيل مُتعلِّقة بالخلية لتفسير التَّغيير والتَّفاوت والتَّباين الملحوظ بين الكائنات الحيَّة المُختلفة، هذا لأنَّ الخلية بالنِّسبة له كانت بمثابة «الصندوق الأسود» (عُنوان كتاب «بيهي»)، أي أنَّ الخلية ومُحتوياتها وخصائصها كانت مجهولة تماماً بالنِّسبة لـ «داروين»، ولذلك تعامل فقط على مُستوى الكائن الحيّ الكامل.

العِتاب الذي أشرتُ إليه مُسبقاً هو عَدَم تَّنبيه أو تَّعليق «مركز براهين» على منهج «بيهي» وتصوُّره لنظرية التَّطوُّر، فإنَّ «بيهي» له تصوُّر عجيب جداً لنظرية التَّطوُّر، مع نقده له، وهذا التَّصوُّر قد يُسبِّب بلبلة لبعض النَّاس، في كونه تصوُّر صحيح أم خاطئ؟! وإليكم المزيد من البيان لأهمية هذا الأمر في تصوُّري على الأقل!

هُناك أكثر من مُستوى للتَّعامُل مع نظرية التَّطوُّر، وقد أشار «بيهي» في بداية كتابه هذا إلى المفهوم الذي يتناوله فيما يخُص تعبير «التَّطوُّر evolution»، وهو يستخدمه بمعنى أشمل وأوسع من مُجرَّد تفسير نشأة الأجناس المُختلفة للكائنات الحيَّة (المعنى الذي استخدمه «داروين» في كتابه أصل الأنواع)، وإنَّما استخدم تعبير التَّطوُّر كآلية لتفسير كلّ شيء يخُصّ الكائنات الحيَّة في إطار مادِّي طبيعي بحت، بما فيها تفسير نشأة الحياة من البداية! وهذا هو المجال الذي ينتقده «بيهي»، فقط لا غير!

كتاب «بيهي» لا يُعتبر نقداً لنظرية التَّطوُّر بمفهومه التَّقليدي، وإنَّما يُعتبر نقداً لجزئية مُتخصِّصة جداً مُتعلِّقة بموضوع نشأة الحياة على الأرض (origin of life)، فإنَّنا نجد أنَّ «بيهي» في كتابه هذا يعترف بإيمانه بفكرة السَّلف المُشترك، وهذه الفكرة أصلٌ أصيلٌ لنظرية التَّطوُّر التَّقليدية، بل إنَّها من الأفكار الأساسية التي بسببها ننتقد النَّظرية – كمُسلمين – في الأساس! فكيف لا يتمّ التَّنبيه مِن قِبَل المركز على أنَّ «بيهي» يؤمن بصحَّة هذه الفكرة؟!

حتى لا أطيل كثيراً في هذا الموضوع، أريد توضيح أنَّ «بيهي» في كتابه هذا لا يعترض إلَّا على نُقطة واحدة دقيقة للغاية، ألَا وهي قُدرة نظرية التَّطوُّر على تفسير وُجُود الأنظمة الحيوية المُعقَّدة في الخلية، ولبيان عجز التَّطوُّر عن تقديم تفسير أو شرح لكيفية وُجُود هذه الأنظمة (عن طريق العشوائية والتَّدريج)، فإنَّه يُقدِّم فكرته المشهورة جداً المعروفة بعُنوان: التَّعقيد غير القابل للاختزال أو للتَّبسيط أو للتَّدرُّج.

من خلال قراءة – أحسبها دقيقة – لكتاب «بيهي» هذا، أرى أنَّ تصوُّره لنظرية التَّطوُّر ليس رفضاً تامَّاً محضاً، فإنَّه يقبل فكرة السَّلف المُشترك، ويدَّعي أنَّ الأدلة تُشير إليها، ولكنَّه ينتقد فكرة أنَّ الطَّفرات العشوائية والانتخاب الطَّبيعي فقط بمفردهما قادران على تفسير وُجُود الخلية بأنظمتها الحيوية المُعقَّدة. وهو في كتابه هذا يقول إنَّ مُصمِّماً ذكيًّا هو الذي قام بتصميم الخلية بما فيها من أنظمة حيوية مُعقَّدة، ثمَّ وضعها على نظام «الطيَّار الآلي»، فنتج عن هذا كلّ ما نراه حولنا من كائنات حيَّة مُختلفة. وهل هذا إلَّا نظرة مُعدلَّة لنظرية التَّطوُّر الدَّارويني؟! أقرب في نظري لما نُسمِّيه بالتَّطوُّر الإلهي، مع الأخذ في الاعتبار أنَّ الإلهية في الموضوع عند «بيهي» هو أنَّ المُصمِّم هو الذي وضع في الخلية كلّ ما يجعلها قادرة على التَّطوُّر بالطَّريقة التي يصفها «داروين»!

في النِّهاية أقول إنَّنا كرافضين لنظرية التَّطوُّر الدَّاروينية، لا نستطيع استخدام موقف «بيهي» في هذا الكتاب لنقد النَّظرية بشكلٍ كاملٍ وشاملٍ، وإنَّما موقفه أقرب لنقد الإلحاد بشكل عام، وإثبات وُجُود خالق حكيم مسئول عن نشأة الحياة على الأرض. ونقده للنَّظرية في إطار سَحْب آثارها على ما هو أبعد من مُجرَّد تفسير نشأة الأجناس المُختلفة، وهذا بيِّنٌ ظاهر في بداية كتابه، فإنَّ «بيهي» يعترض بوُضُوح على قُدرة النَّظرية على تفسير كلّ شيء، حتى نشأة الحياة، فيما يُسمَّى بـ «التَّطوُّر الكيميائي»، ويُبيِّن هذا عن طريق التَّعقيد غير القابل للاختزال.

رفض «بيهي» لكون نظرية التَّطوُّر قادرة على تفسير وُجُود الأنظمة الحيوية المُعقَّدة في الخلية لا يعني بالضَّرورة أنَّه يرفض الفكرة العامَّة للتَّطوُّر الموجودة في أذهان الناس، والتي من ضمنها فكرة السَّلف المُشترك، وأستطيع أن أقول أن تصوُّر «بيهي» لفكرة التَّطوُّر بالتأكيد مُختلفة عن فكرة «ريتشارد دوكينز» عنها، ولكنَّها لا تختلف كثيراً، فهُناك أوجه شبه كثيرة وكبيرة، والفارق الرئيسي بين ما يعتقده «بيهي»، وما يعتقده «دوكينز»، هو اعتقاد «بيهي» بأنَّ البداية كانت عن طريق مُصمِّم ذكي، أمَّا بقية القصَّة التَّطوُّرية، فلا أعتقد أنَّهما سيختلفان كثيراً عليها!

مع كلّ ما سبق – ومع أسفي على الإطالة – يجب التَّنبيه الشَّديد على أنَّ الكتاب نافع جداً، وهو مُنقسم إلى ثلاثة أقسام، القسم الثاني يحتوي على معلومات علمية دسمة جداً، ولكنَّ مُجرَّد قراءة القسمين الأول والثاني، وما تستطيع فهمه من القسم الثاني، سيُثمر - بإذن الله عز وجل - النَّفع الكثير!

وعتابي الأخير للمركز بسبب أنَّهم قاموا بترجمة الطَّبعة الأولى للكتاب، وليس الطَّبعة المُخصَّصة بمُناسبة مُرور عشرة أعوام على نشر الكتاب، والتي لا تختلف كثيراً عن الطَّبعة الأولى إلَّا بوجود فصلين إضافيين، أهمُّهما الذي يحتوي على ردود «بيهي» على الذين انتقدوا حُجَّة التَّعقيد غير القابل للاختزال!

الكتاب مُمتاز جداً، ومُمتع جداً، وبغضّ النَّظر عن موقف «بيهي» العجيب من نظرية التَّطوُّر ككُلّ، إلَّا أنَّه يُقدِّم حُجَّة بالغة في صالح المؤمنين، ونقداً لاذعاً للمادِّية والإلحاد، كذلك يُقدِّم تعليقات رائعة مُختصَّة بطبيعة العلم، والتَّناقضات المزعومة بين العلم والدِّين.



Preface

  • Yet understanding how something works is not the same as understanding how it came to be. For example, the motions of the planets in the solar system can be predicted with tremendous accuracy; however, the origin of the solar system (the question of how the sun, planets, and their moons formed in the first place) is still controversial.1 Science may eventually solve the riddle. Still, the point remains that understanding the origin of something is different from understanding its day-to-day workings. [Cameron, A. G. W. (1988) «Origin of the Solar System,» Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 26, 441-472.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p ix.]

  • Since the mid-1950s biochemistry has painstakingly elucidated the workings of life at the molecular level. Darwin was ignorant of the reason for variation within a species (one of the requirements of his theory), but biochemistry has identified the molecular basis for it. Nineteenth-century science could not even guess at the mechanism of vision, immunity, or movement, but modern biochemistry has identified the molecules that allow those and other functions. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p x]

  • Evolution is a flexible word.2 It can be used by one person to mean something as simple as change over time, or by another person to mean the descent of all life forms from a common ancestor, leaving the mechanism of change unspecified. In its full-throated, biological sense, however, evolution means a process whereby life arose from nonliving matter and subsequently developed entirely by natural means. That is the sense that Darwin gave to the word, and the meaning that it holds in the scientific community. And that is the sense in which I use the word evolution throughout this book. [Johnson, P E. (1991) Darwin on Trial, Regnery Gateway, Washington, DC, chap. 5; Mayr, E. (1991) One Long Argument, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, pp. 35-39.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p x, xi]

  • So, as a writer who wants people to read my work, I face a dilemma: people hate to read details, yet the story of the impact of biochemistry on evolutionary theory rests solely in the details. Therefore, I have to write the kind of book people don't like to read in order to persuade them of the ideas that push me to write. Nonetheless, complexity must be experienced to be appreciated. So, gentle reader, I beg your patience; there are going to be a lot of details in this book. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p xii.]

  • The book is divided into three parts. Part I gives some background and shows why evolution must now be argued at the molecular level—the domain of the science of biochemistry. This portion is largely free from technical details, although some do creep in during a discussion of the eye. Part II contains the «example chapters» where most of the complexity is found. Part III is a nontechnical discussion of the implications of biochemistry's discoveries. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p xii.]

Part I: The Box is Opened

Chapter 1: Lilliputian Biology

  • Biochemistry is the study of the very basis of life: the molecules that make up cells and tissues, that catalyze the chemical reactions of digestion, photosynthesis, immunity, and more.1 [By biochemistry I mean to include all sciences that investigate life at the molecular level, even if the science is done in a department with another name, such as molecular biology, genetics, or embryology.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p3.]

  • Like many great ideas, Darwin's is elegantly simple. He observed that there is variation in all species: some members are bigger, some smaller, some faster, some lighter in color, and so forth. He reasoned that since limited food supplies could not support all organisms that are born, the ones whose chance variation gave them an advantage in the struggle for life would tend to survive and reproduce, outcompeting the less favored ones. If the variation were inherited, then the characteristics of the species would change over time; over great periods, great changes might occur. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p3, 4.]

  • For more than a century most scientists have thought that virtually all of life, or at least all of its most interesting features, resulted from natural selection working on random variation. Darwin's idea has been used to explain finch beaks and horse hoofs, moth coloration and insect slaves, and the distribution of life around the globe and through the ages. The theory has even been stretched by some scientists to interpret human behavior: why desperate people commit suicide, why teenagers have babies out of wedlock, why some groups do better on intelligence tests than other groups, and why religious missionaries forgo marriage and children. There is nothing—no organ or idea, no sense or thought—that has not been the subject of evolutionary rumination. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p4.]

  • Almost a century and a half after Darwin proposed his theory, evolutionary biology has had much success in accounting for patterns of life we see around us. To many, its triumph seems complete. But the real work of life does not happen at the level of the whole animal or organ; the most important parts of living things are too small to be seen. Life is lived in the details, and it is molecules that handle life's details. Darwin's idea might explain horse hoofs, but can it explain life's foundation? [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p4.]

  • The cumulative results show with piercing clarity that life is based on machines—machines made of molecules! Molecular machines haul cargo from one place in the cell to another along «highways» made of other molecules, while still others act as cables, ropes, and pulleys to hold the cell in shape. Machines turn cellular switches on and off, sometimes killing the cell or causing it to grow. Solar-powered machines capture the energy of photons and store it in chemicals. Electrical machines allow current to flow through nerves. Manufacturing machines build other molecular machines, as well as themselves. Cells swim using machines, copy themselves with machinery, ingest food with machinery. In short, highly sophisticated molecular machines control every cellular process. Thus the details of life are finely calibrated, and the machinery of life enormously complex. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p4, 5.]

  • But as I will note later, if you search the scientific literature on evolution, and if you focus your search on the question of how molecular machines— the basis of life—developed, you find an eerie and complete silence. The complexity of life's foundation has paralyzed science's attempt to account for it; molecular machines raise an as-yet-impenetrable barrier to Darwinism's universal reach. To find out why, in this book I will examine several fascinating molecular machines, then ask whether they can ever be explained by random mutation/natural selection. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p5.]

  • As commonly understood, creationism involves belief in an earth formed only about ten thousand years ago, an interpretation of the Bible that is still very popular. For the record, I have no reason to doubt that the universe is the billions of years old that physicists say it is. Further, I find the idea of common descent (that all organisms share a common ancestor) fairly convincing, and have no particular reason to doubt it. I greatly respect the work of my colleagues who study the development and behavior of organisms within an evolutionary framework, and I think that evolutionary biologists have contributed enormously to our understanding of the world. Although Darwin's mechanism—natural selection working on variation—might explain many things, however, I do not believe it explains molecular life. I also do not think it surprising that the new science of the very small might change the way we view the less small. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p5, 6.]

  • Black box is a whimsical term for a device that does something, but whose inner workings are mysterious—sometimes because the workings can't be seen, and sometimes because they just aren't comprehensible. Computers are a good example of a black box. Most of us use these marvelous machines without the vaguest idea of how they work, processing words or plotting graphs or playing games in contented ignorance of what is going on underneath the outer case. Even if we were to remove the cover, though, few of us could make heads or tails of the jumble of pieces inside. There is no simple, observable connection between the parts of the computer and the things that it does. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p6.]

  • It was not until the seventeenth century that an Englishman, William Harvey, introduced the theory that blood flows continuously in one direction, making a complete circuit and returning to the heart. Harvey calculated that if the heart pumps out just two ounces of blood per beat, at 72 beats per minute, in one hour it would have pumped 540 pounds of blood—triple the weight of a man! Since making that much blood in so short a time is clearly impossible, the blood had to be reused. Harvey's logical reasoning (aided by the still-new Arabic numerals, which made calculating easy) in support of an unobservable activity was unprecedented; it set the stage for modern biological thought. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p8.]

  • The discovery of an unanticipated Lilliputian world had begun, overturning settled notions of what living things are. Charles Singer, the historian of science, noted that «the infinite complexity of living things thus revealed was as philosophically disturbing as the ordered majesty of the astronomical world which Galileo had unveiled to the previous generation, though it took far longer for its implications to sink into men's minds.» In other words, sometimes the new boxes demand that we revise all of our theories. In such cases, great unwillingness can arise. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p9.]

  • The cell theory of life was finally put forward in the early nineteenth century by Matthias Schleiden and Theodor Schwann. Schleiden worked primarily with plant tissue; he argued for the central importance of a dark spot—the nucleus—within all cells. Schwann concentrated on animal tissue, in which it was harder to see cells. Nonetheless he discerned that animals were similar to plants in their cellular structure. Schwann concluded that cells or the secretions of cells compose the entire bodies of animals and plants, and that in some way the cells are individual units with a life of their own. He wrote that «the question as to the fundamental power of organized bodies resolves itself into that of individual cells.» As Schleiden added, «Thus the primary question is, what is the origin of this peculiar little organism, the cell?» [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p9.]

  • Schleiden and Schwann worked in the early to middle 1800s—the time of Darwin's travels and the writing of The Origin of Species. To Darwin, then, as to every other scientist of the time, the cell was a black box. Nonetheless he was able to make sense of much biology above the level of the cell. The idea that life evolves was not original with Darwin, but he argued it by far the most systematically, and the theory of how evolution works—by natural selection working on variation—was his own. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p9.]

  • The word evolution has been invoked to explain tiny changes in organisms as well as huge changes. These are often given separate names: Roughly speaking, microevolution describes changes that can be made in one or a few small jumps, whereas macroevolution describes changes that appear to require large jumps. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p14]

  • On a small scale, Darwin's theory has triumphed; it is now about as controversial as an athlete's assertion that he or she could jump over a four-foot ditch. But it is at the level of macroevolution—of large jumps—that the theory evokes skepticism. Many people have followed Darwin in proposing that huge changes can be broken down into plausible, small steps over great periods of time. Persuasive evidence to support that position, however, has not been forthcoming. Nonetheless, like a neighbor's story about vanishing buttes, it has been difficult to evaluate whether the elusive and ill-defined small steps could exist... until now. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p15.]

  • Charles Darwin knew about the eye, too. In The Origin of Species Darwin dealt with many objections to his theory of evolution by natural selection. He discussed the problem of the eye in a section of the book appropriately entitled «Organs of Extreme Perfection and Complication.» In Darwin's thinking, evolution could not build a complex organ in one step or a few steps; radical innovations such as the eye would require generations of organisms to slowly accumulate beneficial changes in a gradual process. He realized that if in one generation an organ as complex as the eye suddenly appeared, it would be tantamount to a miracle. Unfortunately, gradual development of the human eye appeared to be impossible, since its many sophisticated features seemed to be interdependent. Somehow, for evolution to be believable, Darwin had to convince the public that complex organs could be formed in a step-by-step process. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p16.]

  • Using reasoning like this, Darwin convinced many of his readers that an evolutionary pathway leads from the simplest light-sensitive spot to the sophisticated camera-eye of man. But the question of how vision began remained unanswered. Darwin persuaded much of the world that a modern eye evolved gradually from a simpler structure, but he did not even try to explain where his starting point—the relatively simple light-sensitive spot—came from. On the contrary, Darwin dismissed the question of the eye's ultimate origin: «How a nerve comes to be sensitive to light hardly concerns us more than how life itself originated.»4 [Darwin, C. (1872) Origin of Species, 6th ed. (1988), New York University Press, New York, p. 151.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p18.]

  • Now that the black box of vision has been opened, it is no longer enough for an evolutionary explanation of that power to consider only the anatomical structures of whole eyes, as Darwin did in the nineteenth century (and as popularizers of evolution continue to do today). Each of the anatomical steps and structures that Darwin thought were so simple actually involves staggeringly complicated biochemical processes that cannot be papered over with rhetoric. Darwin's metaphorical hops from butte to butte are now revealed in many cases to be huge leaps between carefully tailored machines—distances that would require a helicopter to cross in one trip.
    [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p22.]

  • The key to persuading people was the portrayal of the cells as «simple.» One of the chief advocates of the theory of spontaneous generation during the middle of the nineteenth century was Ernst Haeckel, a great admirer of Darwin and an eager popularizer of Darwin's theory. From the limited view of cells that microscopes provided, Haeckel believed that a cell was a «simple little lump of albuminous combination of carbon,»7 not much different from a piece of microscopic Jell-O. So it seemed to Haeckel that such simple life, with no internal organs, could be produced easily from inanimate material. Now, of course, we know better. [Farley, J. (1979) The Spontaneous Generation Controversy from Descartes to Oparin, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, p. 73.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p24.]

  • Darwin is to our understanding of the origin of vision as Haeckel is to our understanding of the origin of life. In both cases brilliant nineteenth-century scientists tried to explain Lilliputian biology that was hidden from them, and both did so by assuming that the inside of the black box must be simple. Time has proven them wrong. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p24.]

  • Inevitably, evolutionary theory began to mean different things to different disciplines; a coherent view of Darwinian evolution was being lost. In the middle of the century, however, leaders of the fields organized a series of interdisciplinary meetings to combine their views into a coherent theory of evolution based on Darwinian principles. The result has been called the «evolutionary synthesis,» and the theory called neo-Darwinism. Neo-Darwinism is the basis of modern evolutionary thought. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p24.]

  • One branch of science was not invited to the meetings, and for good reason: it did not yet exist. The beginnings of modem biochemistry came only after neo-Darwinism had been officially launched. Thus, just as biology had to be reinterpreted after the complexity of microscopic life was discovered, neo-Darwinism must be reconsidered in light of advances in biochemistry. The scientific disciplines that were part of the evolutionary synthesis are all nonmolecular. Yet for the Darwinian theory of evolution to be true, it has to account for the molecular structure of life. It is the purpose of this book to show that it does not. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p24, 25.]

Chapter 2: Nuts and Bolts

  • Lynn Margulis is Distinguished University Professor of Biology at the University of Massachusetts. Lynn Margulis is highly respected for her widely accepted theory that mitochondria, the energy source of plant and animal cells, were once independent bacterial cells. And Lynn Margulis says that history will ultimately judge neo-Darwinism as «a minor twentieth-century religious sect within the sprawling religious persuasion of Anglo-Saxon biology.» [Mann, C. (1991) «Lynn Margulis: Science's Unruly Earth Mother,» Science, 252, 378-381.] At one of her many public talks she asks the molecular biologists in the audience to name a single, unambiguous example of the formation of a new species by the accumulation of mutations. Her challenge goes unmet. Proponents of the standard theory, she says, «wallow in their zoological, capitalistic, competitive, cost-benefit interpretation of Darwin—having mistaken him. . . . Neo-Darwinism, which insists on (the slow accrual of mutations), is in a complete funk.» [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p26.]

  • Paleontologist Niles Eldredge describes the problem: No wonder paleontologists shied away from evolution for so long. It never seems to happen. Assiduous collecting up cliff faces yields zigzags, minor oscillations, and the very occasional slight accumulation of change—over millions of years, at a rate too slow to account for all the prodigious change that has occurred in evolutionary history. When we do see the introduction of evolutionary novelty, it usually shows up with a bang, and often with no firm evidence that the fossils did not evolve elsewhere! Evolution cannot forever be going on somewhere else. Yet that's how the fossil record has struck many a forlorn paleontologist looking to learn something about evolution. [Eldredge, N. (1995) Reinventing Darwin, Wiley, New York, p. 95.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p27.]

  • Gould has been at the forefront of the discussion of another fascinating phenomenon: the «Cambrian explosion.» Careful searches show only a smattering of fossils of multicellular creatures in rocks older than about 600 million years. Yet in rocks just a little bit younger is seen a profusion of fossilized animals, with a host of widely differing body plans. Recently the estimated time over which the explosion took place has been revised downward from 50 million years to 10 million years—a blink of the eye in geological terms. The shorter time estimate has forced headline writers to grope for new superlatives, a favorite being the «biological Big Bang.» Gould has argued that the rapid rate of appearance of new life forms demands a mechanism other than natural selection for its explanation.4 [Beardsley, T. «Weird Wonders: Was the Cambrian Explosion a Big Bang or a Whimper?» Scientific American, June 1992, pp. 30-31.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p27, 28.]

  • Ironically, we have come full circle from Darwin's day. When Darwin first proposed his theory a big difficulty was the estimated age of the earth. Nineteenth-century physicists thought the earth was only about a hundred million years old, yet Darwin thought natural selection would require much more time to produce life. At first he was proven right; the earth is now known to be much older. With the discovery of the biological Big Bang, however, the window of time for life to go from simple to complex has shrunk to much less than nineteenth-century estimates of the earth's age. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p28.]

  • The English biologists Mae-Wan Ho and Peter Saunders complain as follows: It is now approximately half a century since the neo-Darwinian synthesis was formulated. A great deal of research has been carried on within the paradigm it defines. Yet the successes of the theory are limited to the minutiae of evolution, such as the adaptive change in coloration of moths; while it has remarkably little to say on the questions which interest us most, such as how there came to be moths in the first place. [Ho, M. W., and Saunders, P.T. (1979) «Beyond Neo-Darwinism—An Epigenetic Approach to Evolution,» Journal of Theoretical Biology 78, 589.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p28.]

  • University of Georgia geneticist John McDonald notes a conundrum:The results of the last 20 years of research on the genetic basis of adaptation has led us to a great Darwinian paradox. Those [genes] that are obviously variable within natural populations do not seem to lie at the basis of many major adaptive changes, while those [genes] that seemingly do constitute the foundation of many, if not most, major adaptive changes apparently are not variable within natural populations. [McDonald, J. F. (1983) «The Molecular Basis of Adaptation,» Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 14, 93.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p28.]

  • Australian evolutionary geneticist George Miklos puzzles over the usefulness of Darwinism: What then does this all-encompassing theory of evolution predict? Given a handful of postulates, such as random mutations, and selection coefficients, it will predict changes in [gene] frequencies over time. Is this what a grand theory of evolution ought to be about? [Miklos, G. L. G (1993) «Emergence of Organizational Complexities During Metazoan Evolution: Perspectives from Molecular Biology, Paleontology and Neo-Darwinism,» Memoirs of the Association of Australasian Paleontologists, 15, 28.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p28.]

  • Jerry Coyne, of the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago, arrives at an unanticipated verdict: We conclude—unexpectedly—that there is little evidence for the neo-Darwinian view: its theoretical foundations and the experimental evidence supporting it are weak. [Orr, H. A., and Coyne, J. A. (1992) «The Genetics of Adaptation: A Reassessment,» American Naturalist, 140, 726.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p29.]

  • And University of California geneticist John Endler ponders how beneficial mutations arise: Although much is known about mutation, it is still largely a «black box» relative to evolution. Novel biochemical functions seem to be rare in evolution, and the basis for their origin is virtually unknown. [Endler, J. A., and McLellan, T. (1988) «The Process of Evolution: Toward a Newer Synthesis,» Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, 19, 397.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p29.]

  • Mathematicians over the years have complained that Darwinism's numbers just do not add up. Information theorist Hubert Yockey argues that the information needed to begin life could not have developed by chance; he suggests that life be considered a given, like matter or energy. [Yockey, H. (1992) Information Theory and Molecular Biology, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England, chap. 9.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p29.]

  • In 1966 leading mathematicians and evolutionary biologists held a symposium at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia because the organizer, Martin Kaplan, had overheard «a rather weird discussion between four mathematicians ... on mathematical doubts concerning the Darwinian theory of evolution.»11 At the symposium one side was unhappy, and the other was uncomprehending. A mathematician who claimed that there was insufficient time for the number of mutations apparently needed to make an eye was told by the biologists that his figures must be wrong. The mathematicians, though, were not persuaded that the fault was theirs. As one said: There is a considerable gap in the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution, and we believe this gap to be of such a nature that it cannot be bridged with the current conception of biology.12 [11. Kaplan, M. (1967) «Welcome to Participants» in Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution, ed. P. S. Moorhead and M. M. Kaplan, Wistar Institute Press, Philadelphia, p. vii. 12. Sch􀃘tzenberger, M. P. (1967) «Algorithms and the Neo-Darwinian Theory of Evolution» in Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution, ed. P S. Moorhead and M. M. Kaplan, Wistar Institute Press, Philadelphia, p. 75.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p29.]

  • Stuart Kauffman of the Santa Fe Institute is a leading proponent of «complexity theory.» Simply put, it proposes that many features of living systems are the result of self-organization—the tendency of complex systems to arrange themselves in patterns—and not natural selection: Darwin and evolution stand astride us, whatever the muttering of creation scientists. But is the view right? Better, is it adequate? I believe it is not. It is not that Darwin is wrong, but that he got hold of only part of the truth.13 [Kauffman, S. (1993) The Origins of Order, Oxford University Press, Oxford, England, p. xiii.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p29.]

  • In 1871 one of Darwin's critics, St. George Mivart, listed his objections to the theory, many of which are surprisingly similar to those raised by modern critics. "What is to be brought forward (against Darwinism) may be summed up as follows: That «Natural Selection» is incompetent to account for the incipient stages of useful structures. That it does not harmonize with the co-existence of closely similar structures of diverse origin. That there are grounds for thinking that specific differences may be developed suddenly instead of gradually. That the opinion that species have definite though very different limits to their variability is still tenable. That certain fossil transitional forms are absent, which might have been expected to be present. ... That there are many remarkable phenomena in organic forms upon which «Natural Selection» throws no light whatever." [Mivart, St. G. (1871) On the Genesis of Species, Macmillan and Co., London, p. 21.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p30.]

  • Before going further we should note the obvious: if a poll were taken of all the scientists in the world, the great majority would say they believed Darwinism to be true. But scientists, like everybody else, base most of their opinions on the word of other people. Of the great majority who accept Darwinism, most (though not all) do so based on authority. Also, and unfortunately, too often criticisms have been dismissed by the scientific community for fear of giving ammunition to creationists. It is ironic that in the name of protecting science, trenchant scientific criticism of natural selection has been brushed aside. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p30.]

  • The bombardier beetle is an insect of unassuming appearance, measuring about one half-inch in length. When it is threatened by another bug, however, the beetle has a special method of defending itself, squirting a boiling-hot solution at the enemy out of an aperture in its hind section.16 The heated liquid scalds its target, which then usually makes other plans for dinner. How is this trick done? [Aneshansley, D. J., Eisner, Т., Widom, J. M., and Widom, B. (1969) «Biochemistry at 100°C: Explosive Secretory Discharge of Bombardier Beetles,» Science, 165, 61; Crowson, R. A, (1981) The Biology of the Coleoptera, Academic Press, New York, chap. 15.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p31.]

  • The bombardier beetle is a favorite of creationists. (A storybook for children, Bomby, the Bombardier Beetle by Hazel May Rue, has been published by the Institute for Creation Research.) They twit evolutionists with the beetle's remarkable defensive system, inviting them to explain how it could have evolved gradually. Richard Dawkins, professor of zoology at Oxford University, has taken up their challenge. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p33.]

  • In The Blind Watchmaker Dawkins turns his attention briefly to the bombardier beetle. First he cites a passage from The Neck of the Giraffe, a book by science writer Francis Hitching, that describes the bombardier beetle's defensive system, as part of an argument against Darwinism: [The bombardier beetle] squirts a lethal mixture of hydroquinone and hydrogen peroxide into the face of its enemy. These two chemicals, when mixed together; literally explode. So in order to store them inside its body, the bombardier beetle has evolved a chemical inhibitor to make them harmless. At the moment the beetle squirts the liquid out of its tail, an anti-inhibitor is added to make the mixture explosive once again. The chain of events that could have led to the evolution of such a complex, coordinated and subtle process is beyond biological explanation on a simple step-by-step basis. The slightest alteration in the chemical balance would result immediately in a race of exploded beetles.17 [Hitching, F. (1982) The Neck of the Giraffe, Pan, London, p. 68.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p33.]

  • Replies Dawkins: A biochemist colleague has kindly provided me with a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, and enough hydroquinone for 50 bombardier beetles. I am about to mix the two together. According to [Hitching], they will explode in my face. Here goes.... Well, I'm still here. I poured the hydrogen peroxide into the hydroquinone, and absolutely nothing happened. It didn't even get warm.... The statement that «these two chemicals, when mixed together; literally explode,» is, quite simply, false, although it is regularly repeated throughout the creationist literature. If you are curious about the bombardier beetle, by the way, what actually happens is as follows. It is true that it squirts a scaldingly hot mixture of hydrogen peroxide and hydroquinone at enemies. But hydrogen peroxide and hydroquinone don't react violently together unless a catalyst is added. This is what the bombardier beetle does. As for the evolutionary precursors of the system, both hydrogen peroxide and various kinds of quinones are used for other purposes in body chemistry. The bombardier beetle's ancestors simply pressed into different service chemicals that already happened to be around. That's how evolution works.18 [Dawkins, R. (1985) The Blind Watchmaker, W. W. Norton, London, pp. 86-87.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p33, 34.]

  • Dawkins's explanation for the evolution of the system rests on the fact that the system's elements «happened to be around.» Thus evolution might be possible. But Dawkins has not explained how hydrogen peroxide and quinones came to be secreted together at very high concentration into one compartment that is connected through a sphinctered tube to a second compartment that contains enzymes necessary for the rapid reaction of the chemicals. The key question is this: How could complex biochemical systems be gradually produced? The problem with the above «debate» is that both sides are talking past each other. One side gets its facts wrong; the other side merely corrects the facts. But the burden of the Darwinians is to answer two questions: First, what exactly are the stages of beetle evolution, in all their complex glory? Second, given these stages, how does Darwinism get us from one to the next? [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p33, 34.]

  • To point out the problem with his argument, however, let's use what we know of the beetle's anatomy to build the best possible case for the evolution of the bombardier bee-tle. First, we should note that the function of the bombardier beetle's defensive apparatus is to repel attackers. The components of the system are (1) hydrogen peroxide and hydroquinone, which are produced by the secretory lobes; (2) the enzyme catalysts, which are made by the ectodermal glands; (3) the collecting vesicle; (4) the sphincter muscle; (5) the explosion chamber; and (6) the outlet duct. Not all of these components, though, are necessary for the function of the system. Hydroquinone itself is noxious to predators. A large number of beetle species synthesize quinones that are not even secreted, but which «taste bad.» Initially a number of individual beetles are chewed up and spit out, but a predator learns to avoid their noxious counterparts in the future, and thus the species as a whole benefits from this defense. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p34, 35.]

  • Although we seem to have a continuously changing system, the components that control its operation are not known. For example, the collection vesicle is a complex, multicelled structure. What does it contain? Why does it have its particular shape? Saying that «the beetle would benefit from concentrating the hydroquinone in a holding space» is like saying «society benefits from concentrating power in a centralized government»: In both cases the manner of concentrating and the holding vessel are unexplained, and the benefits of either would depend sharply on the details. The collecting vesicle, the sphincter muscle, the explosion chamber, and the exit port are all complex structures in their own right, with many unidentified components. Furthermore, the actual processes responsible for the development of the explosive capability are unknown: What causes a collection vesicle to develop, hydrogen peroxide to be excreted, or a sphincter muscle to wrap around? [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p36.]

  • All we can conclude at this point is that Darwinian evolution might have occured. If we could analyze the structural details of the beetle down to the last protein and enzyme, and if we could account for all these details with a Darwinian explanation, then we could agree with Dawkins. For now, though, we cannot tell whether the step-by-step accretions of our hypothetical evolutionary stream are single-mutation «hops» or helicopter rides between distant buttes. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p36.]

  • Hitching had stated in The Neck of the Giraffe that: it is quite evident that if the slightest thing goes wrong en route—if the cornea is fuzzy, or the pupil fails to dilate, or the lens becomes opaque, or the focusing goes wrong—then a recognizable image is not formed. The eye either functions as a whole or not at all. So how did it come to evolve by slow, steady, infinitesimally small Darwinian improvements? Is it really plausible that thousands upon thousands of lucky chance mutations happened coincidentally so that the lens and the retina, which cannot work without each other, evolved in synchrony? What survival value can there be in an eye that doesn't see?21 [Hitching, pp. 66-67.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p36, 37.]

  • Dawkins, grateful that Hitching again leads with his chin, doesn't miss the opportunity: Consider the statement that «if the slightest thing goes wrong ... [if] the focusing goes wrong ... a recognizable image is not formed.» The odds cannot be far from 50/50 that you are reading these words through glass lenses. Take them off and look around. Would you agree that «a recognizable image is not formed»? . .. (Hitching) also states, as though it were obvious, that the lens and the retina cannot work without each other. On what authority? Someone close to me has had a cataract operation in both eyes. She has no lenses in her eyes at all. Without glasses she couldn't even begin to play lawn tennis or aim a rifle. But she assures me that you are far better off with a lensless eye than with no eye at all. You can tell if you are about to walk into a wall or another person. If you were a wild creature, you could certainly use your lensless eye to detect the looming shape of a predator, and the direction from which it was approaching.22 [Dawkins, pp. 80-81.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p37.]

  • Remember that the «light-sensitive spot» that Dawkins takes as his starting point requires a cascade of factors, including 11-cis-retinal and rhodopsin, to function. Dawkins doesn't mention them. And where did the «little cup» come from? A ball of cells—from which the cup must be made—will tend to be rounded unless held in the correct shape by molecular supports. In fact, there are dozens of complex proteins involved in maintaining cell shape, and dozens more that control extracellular structure; in their absence, cells take on the shape of so many soap bubbles. Do these structures represent single-step mutations? Dawkins did not tell us how the apparently simple «cup» shape came to be. And although he reassures us that any «translucent material» would be an improvement (recall that Haeckel mistakenly thought it would be easy to produce cells since they were certainly just «simple lumps»), we are not told how difficult it is to produce a «simple lens.» In short, Dawkins's explanation is only addressed to the level of what is called gross anatomy. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p38.]

  • Darwin knew that his theory of gradual evolution by natural selection carried a heavy burden: If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.24 [Darwin, C. (1872) Origin of Species, 6th ed. (1988), New York University Press, New York, p. 154.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p39.]

  • Well, for starters, a system that is irreducibly complex. By irreducibly complex I mean a single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning. An irreducibly complex system cannot be produced directly (that is, by continuously improving the initial function, which continues to work by the same mechanism) by slight, successive modifications of a precursor system, because any precursor to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional. An irreducibly complex biological system, if there is such a thing, would be a powerful challenge to Darwinian evolution. Since natural selection can only choose systems that are already working, then if a biological system cannot be produced gradually it would have to arise as an integrated unit, in one fell swoop, for natural selection to have anything to act on. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p39.]

  • Richard Dawkins explains the problem well: Evolution is very possibly not, in actual fact, always gradual. But it must be gradual when it is being used to explain the coming into existence of complicated, apparently designed objects, like eyes. For if it is not gradual in these cases, it ceases to have any explanatory power at all. Without gradualness in these cases, we are back to miracle, which is simply a synonym for the total absence of explanation.25 [Dawkins, R. (1995) River Out of Eden, Basic Books, New York, p. 83.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p40.]

  • In biochemistry, a mutation is a change in DNA. To be inherited, the change must occur in the DNA of a reproductive cell. The simplest mutation occurs when a single nucleotide (nucleotides are the «building blocks» of DNA) in a creature's DNA is switched to a different nucleotide. Alternatively, a single nucleotide can be added or left out when the DNA is copied during cell division. Sometimes, though, a whole region of DNA—thousands or millions of nucleotides—is accidentally deleted or duplicated. That counts as a single mutation, too, because it happens at one time, as a single event. Generally a single mutation can, at best, make only a small change in a creature—even if the change impresses us as a big one. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p40.]

  • Thus, to go back to the bombardier beetle and the human eye, the question is whether the numerous anatomical changes can be accounted for by many small mutations. The frustrating answer is that we can't tell. Both the bombardier beetle's defensive apparatus and the vertebrate eye contain so many molecular components (on the order of tens of thousands of different types of molecules) that listing them— and speculating on the mutations that might have produced them—is currently impossible. Too many of the nuts and bolts (and screws, motor parts, handlebars, and so on) are unaccounted for. For us to debate whether Darwinian evolution could produce such large structures is like nineteenth century scientists debating whether cells could arise spontaneously. Such debates are fruitless because not all the components are known. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p41.]

  • The first step in determining irreducible complexity is to specify both the function of the system and all system components. An irreducibly complex object will be composed of several parts, all of which contribute to the function. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p42.]

  • The second step in determining if a system is irreducibly complex is to ask if all the components are required for the function. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p42.]

  • But a motorcycle depends on a source of fuel, and a bicycle has nothing that can be slightly modified to become a gasoline tank. And what part of the bicycle could be duplicated to begin building a motor? Even if a lucky accident brought a lawnmower engine from a neighboring factory into the bicycle factory, the motor would have to be mounted on the bike and be connected in the right way to the drive chain. How could this be done step-by-step from bicycle parts? A factory that made bicycles simply could not produce a motorcycle by natural selection acting on variation—by «numerous, successive, slight modifications»—and in fact there is no example in history of a complex change in a product occurring in this manner. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p44.]

  • My previous list of factors that render a mousetrap irreducibly complex was actually much too generous, because almost any device with the five components of a standard mousetrap will nonetheless fail to function. If the base were made out of paper, for example, the trap would fall apart. If the hammer were too heavy, it would break the spring. If the spring were too loose, it would not move the hammer. If the holding bar were too short, it would not reach the catch. If the catch were too large, it would not release at the proper time. A simple list of components of a mousetrap is necessary, but not sufficient, to make a functioning mousetrap. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p45.]

  • In order to be a candidate for natural selection a system must have minimal function: the ability to accomplish a task in physically realistic circumstances. A mousetrap made of unsuitable materials would not meet the criterion of minimal function, but even complex machines that do what they are supposed to do may not be of much use. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p45.]

Part II: Examining the Contents of the Box

Chapter 3: Row, Row, Row Your Boat

  • As strange as it may seem, modern biochemistry has shown that the cell is operated by machines—literally, molecular machines. Like their man-made counterparts (such as mousetraps, bicycles, and space shuttles), molecular machines range from the simple to the enormously complex: mechanical, force-generating machines, like those in muscles; electronic machines, like those in nerves; and solar-powered machines, like those of photosynthesis. Of course, molecular machines are made primarily of proteins, not metal and plastic. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p51.]

  • Proteins are made by chemically hooking together amino acids into a chain. A protein chain typically has anywhere from about fifty to about one thousand amino acid links. Each position in the chain is occupied by one of twenty different amino acids. In this they are like words, which can come in various lengths but are made up from a set of just 26 letters. As a matter of fact, biochemists often refer to each amino acid by a single-letter abbreviation—G for glycine, S for serine, H for histidine, and so forth. Each different kind of amino acid has a different shape and different chemical properties. For example, W is large but A is small, R carries a positive charge but E carries a negative charge, S prefers to be dissolved in water but I prefers oil, and so on. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p52.]

  • In the past two decades, however, only two articles even attempted to suggest a model for the evolution of the cilium that takes into account real mechanical considerations. Worse, the two papers disagree with each other even about the general route such an evolution might take. Neither paper discusses crucial quantitative details, or possible problems that would quickly cause a mechanical device such as a cilium or a mousetrap to be useless. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p68.]

  • The first paper, authored by T. Cavalier-Smith, appeared in 1978 in a journal called BioSystems.3 The paper does not try to present a realistic, quantitative model for even one step in the development of a cilium in a cell line originally lacking that structure. Instead it paints a picture of what the author imagines must have been significant events along the way to a cilium. [Cavalier-Smith, T. (1978) «The Evolutionary Origin and Phylogeny of Microtubules, Mitotic Spindles, and Eukaryote Flagella,» BioSystems, 10, 93-114.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p68.]

  • The second paper, authored nine years later by a Hungarian scientist named Eörs Szathmary and also appearing in BioSystems, is similar in many ways to the first paper.4 Szathmary is an advocate of the idea, championed by Lynn Margulis, that cilia resulted when a type of swimming bacterium called a «spirochete» accidentally attached itself to a eukaryotic cell.5 The idea faces the considerable difficulty that spirochetes move by a mechanism (described later) that is totally different from that for cilia. The proposal that one evolved into the other is like a proposal that my daughter's toy fish could be changed, step by Darwinian step, into a Mississippi steamboat. [4. Szathmary, E. (1987) «Early Evolution of Microtubules and Undulipodia,» BioSystems, 20, 115-131. 5. Bermudes, D., Margulis, L., and Tzertinis, G. (1986) «Prokaryotic Origin of Undulipodia,» Annals of the New York Academy of Science, 503, 187-197.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p68, 69.]

  • The amount of scientific research that has been and is being done on the cilium—and the great increase over the past few decades in our understanding of how the cilium works—lead many people to assume that even if they themselves don't know how the cilium evolved, somebody must know. But a search of the professional literature proves them wrong. Nobody knows. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p69.]

  • Some bacteria boast a marvelous swimming device, the flagellum, which has no counterpart in more complex cells.8 In 1973 it was discovered that some bacteria swim by rotating their flagella. So the bacterial flagellum acts as a rotary propeller—in contrast to the cilium, which acts more like an oar. [A good general introduction to flagella can be found in Voet and Voet, pp. 1259-1260. Greater detail about the flagellar motor can be found in the following: Schuster, S. C., and Khan, S. (1994) «The Bacterial Flagellar Motor,» Annual Review of Biophysics and Biomolecular Structure, 23, 509-539; Caplan, S. R., and Kara-lvanov, M. (1993) «The Bacterial Flagellar Motor,» International Review of Cytology, 147, 97-164.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p70.]

  • The general professional literature on the bacterial flagellum is about as rich as the literature on the cilium, with thousands of papers published on the subject over the years. That isn't surprising; the flagellum is a fascinating biophysical system, and flagellated bacteria are medically important. Yet here again, the evolutionary literature is totally missing. Even though we are told that all biology must be seen through the lens of evolution, no scientist has ever published a model to account for the gradual evolution of this extraordinary molecular machine. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p72.]

  • In summary, as biochemists have begun to examine apparently simple structures like cilia and flagella, they have discovered staggering complexity, with dozens or even hundreds of precisely tailored parts. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p73.]

  • As the number of required parts increases, the difficulty of gradually putting the system together skyrockets, and the likelihood of indirect scenarios plummets. Darwin looks more and more forlorn. New research on the roles of the auxiliary proteins cannot simplify the irreducibly complex system. The intransigence of the problem cannot be alleviated; it will only get worse. Darwinian theory has given no explanation for the cilium or flagellum. The overwhelming complexity of the swimming systems push us to think it may never give an explanation. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p73.]

  • As the number of systems that are resistant to gradualist explanation mounts, the need for a new kind of explanation grows more apparent. Cilia and flagella are far from the only problems for Darwinism. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p73.]

Chapter 4: Rube Goldberg in The Blood

  • Blood clot formation seems so familiar to us that most people don't give it much thought. Biochemical investigation, however, has shown that blood clotting is a very complex, intricately woven system consisting of a score of interdependent protein parts. The absence of, or significant defects in, any one of a number of the components causes the system to fail: blood does not clot at the proper time or at the proper place. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p78.]

  • Blood clotting is on autopilot, and blood clotting requires extreme precision. When a pressurized blood circulation system is punctured, a clot must form quickly or the animal will bleed to death. If blood congeals at the wrong time or place, though, then the clot may block circulation as it does in heart attacks and strokes. Furthermore, a clot has to stop bleeding all along the length of the cut, sealing it completely. Yet blood clotting must be confined to the cut or the entire blood system of the animal might solidify, killing it. Consequently, the clotting of blood must be tightly controlled so that the clot forms only when and where it is required. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p78, 79.]

  • The function of the blood clotting system is to form a solid barrier at the right time and place that is able to stop blood flow out of an injured vessel. The components of the system (beyond the fork in the pathway) are fibrinogen, prothrombin, Stuart factor, and proaccelerin. Just as none of the parts of the Foghorn system is used for anything except controlling the fall of the telephone pole, so none of the cascade proteins are used for anything except controlling the formation of a blood clot. Yet in the absence of any one of the components, blood does not clot, and the system fails. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p86.]

  • The king of Siam once asked his wise men for a proverb that would be appropriate for any occasion. They suggested «This, too, shall pass.» Well, in biochemistry an equally appropriate saying for all occasions is «Things are more complicated than they seem.» [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p89.]

  • Remember, a mousetrap spring might in some way resemble a clock spring, and a crowbar might resemble a mousetrap hammer, but the similarities say nothing about how a mousetrap is produced. In order to claim that a system developed gradually by a Darwinian mechanism a person must show that the function of the system could «have been formed by numerous successive, slight modifications.» [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p90.]

  • In this section I'll reproduce an attempt at an evolutionary explanation of blood clotting offered by Rusell Doolittle. What he has done is to hypothesize a series of steps in which clotting proteins appear one after another. Yet, as I will show in the next section, the explanation is seriously inadequate because no reasons are given for the appearance of the proteins, no attempt is made to calculate the probability of the proteins' appearance, and no attempt is made to estimate the new proteins' properties. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p90, 91.]

  • To illustrate the problem, let's do our own quick calculation. Consider that animals with blood-clotting cascades have roughly 10,000 genes, each of which is divided into an average of three pieces. This gives a total of about 30,000 gene pieces. TPA has four different types of domains.7 By «variously shuffling,» the odds of getting those four domains together 8 is 30,000 to the fourth power, which is approximately one-tenth to the eighteenth power.9 Now, if the Irish Sweepstakes had odds of winning of one-tenth to the eighteenth power, and if a million people played the lottery each year, it would take an average of about a thousand billion years before anyone (not just a particular person) won the lottery. A thousand billion years is roughly a hundred times the current estimate of the age of the universe. Doolittle's casual language («spring forth,» etc.) conceals enormous difficulties. The same problem of ultra-slim odds would trouble the appearance of prothrombin («the result of a ... protease gene duplication and ... shuffling»), fibrinogen («a bastard protein derived from .. .»), plasminogen, proaccelerin, and each of the several proposed rearrangements of prothrombin. Doolittle apparently needs to shuffle and deal himself a number of perfect bridge hands to win the game. Unfortunately, the universe doesn't have time to wait. [7. TPA has a total of five domains. Two domains, however, are of the same type. 8. The odds are not decreased if the domains are hooked together at different times—with domains 1 and 2 coming together in one event, then later on domain 3 joining them, and so on. Think of the odds of picking four black balls from a barrel containing black balls and white balls. If you take out four at once, or take two at the first grab and one apiece on the next two grabs, the odds of ending up with four black balls are the same. 9. This calculation is exceedingly generous. It only assumes that the four types of domains would have to be in the correct linear order. In order to work, however, the combination would have to be located in an active area of the genome, the correct signals for splicing together the parts would have to be in place, the amino acid sequences of the four domains would have to be compatible with each other, and other considerations would affect the outcome. These further considerations only make the event much more improbable.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p93, 94.]

  • Since two proteins—the proenzyme and its activator—are both required for one step in the pathway, then the odds of getting both the proteins together are roughly the square of the odds of getting one protein. We calculated the odds of getting TPA alone to be one-tenth to the eighteenth power; the odds of getting TPA and its activator together would be about one-tenth to the thirty-sixth power! That is a horrendously large number. Such an event would not be expected to happen even if the universe's ten-billion year life were compressed into a single second and relived every second for ten billion years. But the situation is actually much worse: if a protein appeared in one step10 with nothing to do, then mutation and natural selection would tend to eliminate it. Since it is doing nothing critical, its loss would not be detrimental, and production of the gene and protein would cost energy that other animals aren't spending. So producing the useless protein would, at least to some marginal degree, be detrimental. Darwin's mechanism of natural selection would actually hinder the formation of irreducibly complex systems such as the clotting cascade. [10. It is good to keep in mind that a «step» could well be thousands of generations. A mutation must start in a single animal and then spread through the population. In order to do that, the descendants of the mutant animal must displace the descendants of all other animals.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p96.]

  • The discussion is meant simply to illustrate the enormous difficulty (indeed, the apparent impossibility) of a problem that has resisted the determined efforts of a top-notch scientist for four decades. Blood coagulation is a paradigm of the staggering complexity that underlies even apparently simple bodily processes. Faced with such complexity beneath even simple phenomena, Darwinian theory falls silent. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p97.]

Chapter 5: From Here to There

  • Ernst Haeckel thought that a cell was a «homogeneous globule of protoplasm.» He was wrong; scientists have shown that cells are complex structures. In particular, eukaryotic cells (which include the cells of all organisms except bacteria) have many different compartments in which different tasks are performed. Just like a house has a kitchen, laundry room, bedroom, and bathroom, a cell has specialized areas partitioned off for discrete tasks. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p101, 102.]

  • The fictional space probe is so complicated it hasn't been invented yet, even in a crude way. The authentic cellular system is already in place, and every second of every day, this process happens uncounted billions of time in your body. Science is stranger than fiction. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p108.]

  • Because gated transport requires a minimum of three separate components to function, it is irreducibly complex. And for this reason the putative gradual, Darwinian evolution of gated transport in the cell faces massive problems. If proteins contained no signal for transport, they would not be recognized. If there were no receptor to recognize a signal or no channel to pass through, again transport would not take place. And if the channel were open for all proteins, then the enclosed compartment would not be any different from the rest of the cell. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p109.]

  • Because vesicular transport requires several more componens than gated transport, it cannot develop gradually from gated transport. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p110.]

  • Irreducibly complex systems like mousetraps, Rube Goldberg machines, and the intracellular transport system cannot evolve in a Darwinian fashion. You can't start with a platform, catch a few mice, add a spring, catch a few more mice, add a hammer, catch a few more mice, and so on: The whole system has to be put together at once or the mice get away. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p110, 111.]

  • Logging on to a computer database of the professional literature in the biomedical sciences allows you to do a quick search for key words in the titles of literally hundreds of thousands of papers. A search to see what titles have both evolution and vesicle in them comes up completely empty. Slogging through the literature the old-fashioned way turns up a few scattered papers that speculate on how gated transport between compartments of a eukaryotic cell might have developed.4 But all the papers assume that the transport systems came from preexisting bacterial transport systems that already had all the components that modern cells have. This does us no good. Although the speculations may have something to do with how transport systems could be duplicated, they have nothing to do with how the initial systems got there. At some point this complex machine had to come into existence, and it could not have done so in step-by-step fashion. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p114, 115.]

  • Vesicular transport is a mind-boggling process, no less complex than the completely automated delivery of vaccine from a storage area to a clinic a thousand miles away. Defects in vesicular transport can have the same deadly consequences as the failure to deliver a needed vaccine to a disease-racked city. An analysis shows that vesicular transport is irreducibly complex, and so its development staunchly resists gradualistic explanations, as Darwinian evolution would have it. A search of the professional biochemical literature and textbooks shows that no one has ever proposed a detailed route by which such a system could have come to be. In the face of the enormous complexity of vesicular transport, Darwinian theory is mute. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p115, 116.]

Chapter 6: A Dangerous World

  • Terrorism and war threaten us, but they happen infrequently. On a day-to-day basis more people are assaulted by muggers and mayhem in their neighborhood than by exotic groups or foreign countries. The streetwise city dweller will have bars on his window, use an intercom or peephole to see who is at the door, and carry a can of pepper spray when it's time to walk the dog. In lands where such modern conveniences are unknown, stone or wooden walls can be built around the hut to keep out intruders (both two- and four-footed), and a spear is kept by the bed in case the wall is breached. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p118.]

  • A cell hopefully trying to evolve such a system in gradual Darwinian steps would be in a quandary. What should it do first? Secreting a little bit of antibody into the great outdoors is a waste of resources if there's no way to tell if it's doing any good. Ditto for making a membrane-bound antibody. And why make a messenger protein first if there is nobody to give it a message, and nobody to receive the message if it did get one? We are led inexorably to the conclusion that even this greatly simplified clonal selection could not have come about in gradual steps. Even at this simplified level, then, all three ingredients had to evolve simultaneously. Each of these three items—the fixed antibody, the messenger protein, and the loose antibodies—had to be produced by a separate historical event, perhaps by a coordinated series of mutations changing preexisting proteins that were doing other chores into the components of the antibody system. Darwin's small steps have become a series of wildly unlikely leaps. Yet our analysis overlooked many complexities: How does the cell switch from putting the extra oily piece on the membrane to not putting it on? The message system then is fantastically more complicated than our simplified version. Ingestion of the protein, chopping it up, presenting it to the outside on an MHC protein, specific recognition of the МНС/fragment by a helper T cell, secretion of interleukin, binding of interleukin to the В cell, sending the signal that interleukin has bound into the nucleus— the prospect of devising a step-by-step pathway for the origin of the system is enough to make strong men blanch. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p125, 126.]

  • Antibodies are like toy darts: they harm no one. Like a «Condemned» sign posted on an old house or an orange «X» painted on a tree to be removed, antibodies are only signals to other systems to destroy the marked object. It is surprising to think that after the body has gone to all the trouble to develop a complex system to generate antibody diversity, and after it has laboriously picked a few cells by the roundabout process of clonal selection, it is still virtually helpless against the onslaught of invaders. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p131, 132.]

  • Like the blood-clotting pathway, the complement pathway is a cascade. Inevitably, in both cases one encounters the same problems trying to imagine their gradual production. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p135.]

  • The proper functioning of the immune system is a prerequisite for health. Major illnesses such as cancer and AIDS have either their cause or their cure, or both, in the vagaries of the system. Because of its impact on public health, the immune system is a subject of intense interest. Thousands of research laboratories around the world work on various aspects of the immune system. Their efforts have already saved many lives and promise to save many more in the future. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p136.]

  • Although great strides have been made in understanding how the immune system works, we remain ignorant of how it came to be. None of the questions raised in this chapter has been answered by any of the thousands of scientists in the field; few have even asked the questions. A search of the immunological literature shows ongoing work in comparative immunology (the study of immune systems from various species). But that work, valuable though it is, does not address in molecular detail the question of how immune systems originated. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p136.]

  • We can look high or we can look low, in books or in journals, but the result is the same. The scientific literature has no answers to the question of the origin of the immune system. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p138.]

  • In this chapter I have looked at three features of the immune system—clonal selection, antibody diversity, and the complement system—and demonstrated that each individually poses massive challenges to a putative step-by-step evolution. But showing that the parts can't be built step by step only tells part of the story, because the parts interact with each other. Just as a car without steering, or a battery, or a carburetor isn't going to do you much good, an animal that has a clonal selection system won't get much benefit out of it if there is no way to generate antibody diversity. A large repertoire of antibodies won't do much good if there is no system to kill invaders. A system to kill invaders won't do much good if there's no way to identify them. At each step we are stopped not only by local system problems, but also by requirements of the integrated system. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p138.]

  • Diversity, recognition, destruction, toleration—all these and more interact with each other. Whichever way we turn, a gradualistic account of the immune system is blocked by multiple interwoven requirements. As scientists we yearn to understand how this magnificent mechanism came to be, but the complexity of the system dooms all Darwinian explanations to frustration. Sisyphus himself would pity us. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p139.]

Chapter 7: Road Kill

  • A few textbooks mention this problem. The typical explanation is economically expressed by Thomas Creighton: How might the biochemical complexity of metabolic pathways have evolved? In the case of the biosynthetic pathways that produce the building blocks of amino acids, nucleotides, sugars, and so forth, it is likely that these building blocks were originally present in the primordial soup and were used directly. As organisms increased in number, however, these constituents would have become scarce. Any organism that could produce one of them from some unused component of the primordial soup, using a newly evolved enzyme, would have had a selective advantage. Once the availability of that component became limiting, there would have been selection for any organism that could produce it from some other component of the primordial soup. According to this scenario, the enzymes of metabolic pathways would have evolved in a sequence opposite to the one they have in the modern pathway. [Creighton, T. (1993) Proteins: Structure and Molecular Properties, W. H. Freeman and Co., New York, p. 131.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p151.]



  • The ABCD story is an old idea that has been passed on unreflectively. It was first proposed in 1945 by N. H. Horowitz in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Horowitz sees the problem: Since natural selection cannot preserve nonfunctional characters, the most obvious implication of the facts would seem to be that a stepwise evolution of biosyntheses, by the selection of a single gene mutation at a time, is impossible. [Horowitz, N. H. (1945) «On the Evolution of Biochemical Syntheses,» Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 31, 153-157.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p154.]

  • Nowhere does he or any other researcher attach names of real chemicals to the mythical letters. Origin-of-life workers have never demonstrated that the intermediates in the synthesis of AMP either would have or even could have existed in a prebiotic soup, let alone sophisticated enzymes for interconverting the intermediates. There is no evidence that the letters exist anywhere outside of de Duve's mind. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p155.]

  • Another restless scientist is Stuart Kauffman of the Santa Fe Institute. The complexity of the metabolism of living organisms makes him doubt that a step-by-step approach would work: In order to function at all, a metabolism must minimally be a connected series of catalyzed transformations leading from food to needed products. Conversely, however, without the connected web to maintain the flow of energy and products, how could there have been a living entity to evolve connected metabolic pathways? [Kauffman, S. (1993) The Origins of Order, Oxford University Press, New York, p. 344.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p155.]

  • Kauffman discusses his ideas in a chapter entitled «The Origin of a Connected Metabolism,» but if you read the chapter from start to finish you will not find the name of a single chemical—no AMP, no aspartic acid, no nothing. In fact, if you scan the entire subject index of the book, you will not find a chemical name there either. John Maynard Smith, Kauffman's old mentor, has accused him of practicing «fact-free science.»16 That is a harsh accusation, but the complete lack of chemical details in his book appears to justify the criticism. [Smith, J. M. (1995) «Life at the Edge of Chaos?» New York Review, March 2, pp. 28-30.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p156.]

  • Kauffman and de Duve identify a real problem for gradualistic evolution. The solutions they propose, however, are merely variations on Horowitz's old idea. Instead of ABCD, they simply propose ABCD times one hundred. Worse, as the number of imaginary letters increases, the tendency is to get further and further away from real chemistry and to get trapped in the mental world of mathematics. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p156.]

  • The story of King Midas teaches some obvious lessons: don't be greedy, love is worth more than money, and so forth. But there is another, less obvious lesson about the importance of regulation. It is no enough to have a machine or process (magical or otherwise) that does something; you have to be able to turn it on or off as needed. If the king had wished for the golden touch and the ability to switch it on or off when he wanted, he could have transmuted a few rocks into gold nuggets but not zap his daughter. He could turn the plates to gold, but not the food. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p156.]

  • When the regulation of metabolism fails, the result is illness or death. An example is diabetes; the uptake of sugar into cells is slowed, even though sugar molecules that manage to get into cells are otherwise metabolized normally. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p159.]

  • The regulation of AMP biosynthesis is a good example of the intricate mechanisms needed to keep the supply of biomolecules at the right level: not too much, not too little, and in the right ratio with related molecules. The problem for Darwinian gradualism is that cells would have no reason to develop regulatory mechanisms before the appearance of a new catalyst. But the appearance of a new, unregulated pathway, far from being a boon, would look like a genetic disease to the organism. This goes in spades for fragile ancient cells, putatively developing step by step, that would have little room for error. Cells would be crushed between the Scylla of unavailability and the Charybdis of regulation. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p159.]

  • No one has a clue how the AMP pathway developed. Although a few researchers have observed that the pathway itself presents a severe challenge to gradualism, no one has written about the obstacle posed by the need to regulate a cell's metabolic pathway immediately at its inception. Small wonder—no one wants to write about road kill. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p159.]

  • The detail was necessary so that the reader could understand exactly what the problems are. Because I spent a lot of time on those systems I didn't have time to get on to other biochemical systems, but this does not imply that they are not also problems for Darwinism. Other examples of irreducible complexity abound, including aspects of DNA replication, electron transport, telomere synthesis, photosynthesis, transcription regulation, and more. The reader is encouraged to borrow a biochemistry textbook from the library and see how many problems for gradualism he or she can spot. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p160.]

  • In this chapter I wanted to show that it is not only irreducibly complex systems that are a problem for Darwinism. Even systems that at first glance appear amenable to a gradualistic approach turn out to be major headaches on closer inspection—or when the experimental results roll in—with no reason to expect they will be solved within a Darwinian framework. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p160.]

  • If there is a detailed Darwinian explanation for the production of AMP out there, no one knows what it is. Hard-nosed chemists have begun to drown their frustrations in mathematics. AMP is not the only metabolic dilemma for Darwin. The biosynthesis of the larger amino acids, lipids, vitamins, heme, and more run into the same problems, and there are difficulties beyond metabolism. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin's Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p161.]

  1   2


The database is protected by copyright ©dentisty.org 2016
send message

    Main page