Intelligent Design Exists: A Summary of the General Argument in “Darwin’s Black Box”
Everyone knows the story of how life began as a simple cell that formed by chance and gradually evolved into more complex organisms (aka “Macroevolution*”). Everyone also knows the story of how God created life and all the diverse species from nothing. Which of these is true, or closer to the truth? Many people might say the evolution story, because that is what they were taught in high school. Others will tell you the Creationist view is correct because it is in the Bible. For scientists, hypothesizing the origin of life on earth means observing organisms and determining if they could have evolved gradually.
This is exactly what biochemist Michael J. Behe has done, and what he discovered is so important that he wrote a book about it. He called his book Darwin’s Black Box and shocked millions of readers with his startling discovery: there is overwhelming evidence for intelligent design! Even though Behe uses concrete examples and devastating arguments to back up his theory, many critics have viewed his book with skepticism because it goes against what has been taught as truth for over a century. But if we really give Darwin’s Black Box an unbiased look, it will show us that in refusing to accept intelligent design, we are refusing to accept the truth.
The first question that may arise is why Darwin’s Black Box? Why not get straight to the point and call the book Hey World! There’s More Evidence for Intelligent Design!? Behe chose this title for a very specific reason. The key to understanding this reason is to know what a “black box” is. In the first chapter of his book, Behe defines a black box as “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.”
He gives a computer as an example of a black box. Most people can use a computer, but do they really know how a computer works? If you removed the outside shell of your computer, would you be able to label all the parts inside and explain the function of each? The answer to both questions is probably no. Therefore, your computer is a “black box” to you: you know what it is and what it does, but you don’t really know how it works. Its innermost workings are a complete mystery. Now, we can see why Behe chose to title his book Darwin’s Black Box.
In the time of Charles Darwin, the infamous formulator of the Theory of Natural Selection Working on Variation, the cell was a black box. Humans knew that cells existed, but they had no idea what they were made of or how they worked. The technology of Darwin’s day was not advanced enough to explore the tiny details in cells. In our time, however, technology is advanced enough to open the black box of the cell, and scientists have discovered molecules, the very base of life, “the bedrock of nature,” as Behe puts it. Behe calls his book Darwin’s Black Box because now that the black box of Darwin’s time – the cell – has been opened, it can show us if his infamous theory is true.
What has the black box shown us? It has revealed that the smallest forms of life, which were once thought to be “simple,” are in truth very complex. In fact, some, if not all, cells contain systems and processes which are irreducibly complex. An irreducibly complex system is, in Behe’s words, “composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any of one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning.”
By this definition, we can see that an irreducibly complex system could not have evolved gradually because it could not have had any precursors that functioned. This is a big challenge to Darwin’s theory, because natural selection can only choose systems that already work. No irreducibly complex systems were known to exist in Darwin’s time, but he himself admitted that if one were to be found, “my theory would absolutely break down.” Since the late twentieth century, humans have found many such systems. A few that Behe discusses in Darwin’s Black Box are cilia, flagella, human blood clotting, and the process by which cells transport proteins from one place to another. Behe also points out that there are very many systems that technically could have evolved gradually, but the odds are about as likely as a groundhog successfully crossing a thousand-lane highway during rush hour.
These discoveries point us to an obvious conclusion: intelligent design! Since irreducibly complex systems cannot have evolved gradually, all the components which fit together so perfectly must have arisen all at once. Some scientists have speculated that whole, irreducibly complex systems could have evolved all at once by luck, but is it scientific to rely on luck? Of course not. Random changes called mutations have been observed in many species, but at their very best mutations produce only small changes in organisms. Mutations may be able to change part of a system, but they cannot change the whole system at once. Also, mutations do not create new DNA; they merely modify existing DNA. So, if irreducibly complex systems did not result from luck, they must have been created by an intelligent Designer Who had specific functions in mind when He was making them.
This theory of intelligent design has been upheld by many religious sects throughout history, most notably Christians and Jews. What makes it so astonishing to the scientific community is that the amount of evidence we have for it is now overwhelming, and no one has offered a sound explanation for any other way life could have originated. Yet many scientists still refuse to accept it. They stubbornly cling to Darwin’s broken-down theory or formulate their own hypotheses. Why won’t they go with the theory that is obviously the most data-supported? Scientists have their own personal reasons, but the most common one seems to be that they just don’t want to believe it! Hopefully these scientists will overcome whatever their reasons are for disbelief.
People are entitled to believe what they want to, whether their beliefs are true or not. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t try to teach our beliefs to others who do not agree with them. When we teach our truths, we should back them up with solid examples and convincing arguments. This is exactly what Michael J. Behe does in Darwin’s Black Box. He uses real examples from nature to show that there isn’t much evidence for evolution, but there’s a lot of evidence for intelligent design. This brief summary of his book barely skims over all the bones Behe has to pick with arguments against intelligent design. He doesn’t leave a single argument standing after he inspects it with his common sense and scientific facts. If my essay doesn’t satisfy you, I suggest you read Darwin’s Black Box. His outstanding arguments and facts show that the Evolution V. Creation debate has (or should) come to an end.
*Please note: Macroevolution differs from “Microevolution,” which is the theory that small genetic changes can occur in organisms as they breed and adapt to their environments. This theory has been shown to exist in nature and is not debated as being untrue in Darwin’s Black Box. The theory of “Macroevolution” is that the small changes produced by Microevolution can build up over eons of time and eventually cause an organism to evolve into a completely different organism. That is the theory that is discussed in Darwin’s Black Box.
Frodo Baggins is a very imaginative wanna-be hobbit! She is a big fan of The Lord of the Rings, and enjoys watching the movies, reading the books, dressing up like Frodo, and making her own birthday party speeches, among other things. She absolutely loves to act, and has been in several plays, either in front of an audience or just for her/her friends’ own personal amusement, including The Beggar and the Wolf, The Comedian, Romeo and Juliet, and acting out scenes from The Lord of the Rings! Other things that she enjoys are writing, movies, her laptop, crocheting, waffles, and the wonderful game of golf. She is also an aspiring journalist and photographer. Frodo Baggins would like to thank her friends Sam, Merry, and Pippin for being awesome traveling companions, and the St. Louis Cardinals for being the best baseball team!!!