Darwin's Black Box
Michael Behe is a professor of Bio-Chemistry at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. His book, Darwin's Black Box, is rejected by almost all of the evolutionary science community. Now, I am not a scientist, but the book is an excellent introduction to the field of intelligent design, especially because Behe introduces the concept<!--more-- of irreducible complexity. While no experiment has been able to disprove this idea, it has been dismissed by many scientists as being a religious idea. In fact, Behe has become something of a pariah in the evolutionary science community. Then again, his findings seem to be a real problem for the theory of evolution as far as macro-evolution or molecules-to-man evolution is concerned.
However, this is a book review, not a science debate. I think Behe can hold his own if people will listen to what he has to say and not dismiss it out of hand because it does not fit their particular world view. As a book, Darwin's Black Box is well written and accessible, even to the Discovery Channel level scientist. I do not, by the way, mean the scientists on the Discovery Channel, but those whose scientific education has extended no further. That being said, it is not lacking in scientific information. There are sections that deal in a very complex way with the molecular machinery that is the study of bio-chemistry. Behe puts forward a rather convincing argument based on a study of the molecular machines that are his field of study. His discussion of the irreducible complexity of the eye, for example, is detailed and backed up by an obvious knowledge of the way in which the eye works in its various forms.
The only problem that Behe's book faces is the problem of perception. As a result of his questioning evolutionary theory, not evolutionary law, and the ramifications of this questioning, the book is dismissed. It has not been refuted, simply rejected. This is important. To confirm which university Behe teaches at, I checked Wikipedia. The article on Behe is more concerned with dismissing his ideas than giving any information.
However, even the quotations from leading opponents do not actually deal with the science. If I may quote Richard Dawkins, "He's a straightforward creationist. What he has done is to take a standard argument which dates back to the 19th century, the argument of irreducible complexity, the argument that there are certain organs, certain systems in which all the bits have to be there together or the whole system won't work...like the eye. Darwin answered (this)…point by point, piece by piece. But maybe he shouldn't have bothered. Maybe what he should have said is…maybe you're too thick to think of a reason why the eye could have come about by gradual steps, but perhaps you should go away and think a bit harder." Hmm. No real science there, but definitely a real hostility. While Wikipedia states that his work has been debunked (a choice of term that reveals authorial bias), there are only general statements and Behe's own responses are given no real credence.
My advice is this, which is the same that I would give to anyone. Consider it all for yourself. Behe's book is not for someone who does not want to look at science too closely, nor is it an attempt to court the public by using assumptions. Behe breaks it all down, piece by piece and protein by protein. Overall, it's an excellent read.
I would apologise for my somewhat combative tone, but I grow tired of people (on any side of this or any other argument) who dismiss an opposing viewpoint as stupid without any consideration of the issues at hand. While this view is not popular, it is probably important to note that the athiests cannot legitimately dismiss intelligent design out of hand simply because it is believed by theists. Then, it would only be valid to dismiss naturalistic evolution out of hand because it is believed by atheists. Somehow, I doubt that little idea is not popular.
Review by: Ryan
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis is a book that has been read and loved by many. While Lewis may lack the apologetic depth of authors like Ravi Zacharias and William Lane Craig, he has a unique ability to make difficult arguments comprehensible and applicable. The book is essentially a transcript of a series of radio lectures that Lewis did and it contains a series of chapters that outline the basic tenets of the Christian faith. Lewis mounts a formidable defence of the logic of Christianity and makes simple what Christians believe. An example of this is his explanation of free will.
'If a thing is free to be good it is also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata - of creature that worked like machines - would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they must be free.' (Mere Christianity, 52)
As you can see, Lewis is a master of taking difficult concepts and making them easy to hold to. There are many such passages in the book as this one. Perhaps what makes this book so attractive to so many is the warmth of Lewis that comes through in it. Here we have the story teller of The Chronicles of Narnia entwined with the Oxford don and Cambridge professor. Both erudite and endearing, Lewis walks his reader through the foundational doctrines of Christianity with a wit and clarity that makes Christianity beautiful in a way that many, more scholarly, authors cannot.
Review by: Ryan
Can Man Live Without God?
Beginning with the major principles of Western atheistic thought, Dr. Zacharias focuses on clearly establishing why this thought system cannot answer the most important of life's questions. In doing so, Dr. Zacharias uses the philosopher's own ideas to show the weaknesses of atheism.
With a special focus on Friedrich Nietszche, the atheistic world view is systematically dismantled and shown to be untenable. It is at that point that Dr. Zacharias puts forward the answer to atheism in Christianity, showing how the answers are to be found in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Not for those who seek easy answers, Can Man Live Without God is necessary reading for any who seek answers to life's critical questions.
Review by: Ryan
The Case for a Creator
Well, it's that time again. I want to give some thoughts on another of the books on my shelf.
The one I've chosen this time is The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel. Strobel, a former journalist and editor at the Chicago Tribune, structures his book in a way that is easy to follow. Rather than trying to piece evidences together himself, he, instead, interviews leading experts in various fields of science regarding the scientific evidence that would establish a strong case for creation by God as not just a viable possibility, but the likely explanation for the origin of life.
He interviews scientists and philosophers, including Michael Behe, Stephen Meyer, J.P. Moreland and William Lane Craig. Each chapter is an interview with a different expert, giving a good overview of each field and the considerations it raises.
If you are looking for an exhaustive study in a single area, then this is not the book for you. However, it serves as an excellent introduction to the science of creation and forms an excellent rebuttal to those who assume that any theory beyond evolution can have no possible scientific credence. As well, each chapter ends with a bibliography of further works on each specific field that will examine the science in much greater detail. All in all, Strobel's style is accessible, without watering down the information that he is presenting.
This is an excellent resource and one I would recommend for those who believe and those who do not. In the end, after all, it is all about the science and that is precisely what you will find in this text.
Review by: Ryan