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on 26 March 2017
Although the terminology was a bit above my intelligence the book was as expected.
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on 3 June 2017
Such a brilliant read and really gets you thinking about theories. Definitely recommend this book.
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on 12 September 2016
Love it! If you're interesting in finding out the actually mathematically possibility of evolution getting a grip on life and whipping it up into shape to create conscious sentient beings like ourselves then this book is for you. Conclusion.. Theres probably more chance in Katie Price getting her boobs removed than this miracle of life to happen by accident. All praise to the most high!
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on 4 February 1999
(1) The author shows little knowledge of or interest in the evolutionary literature. How is it possible to refute a theory without knowing the evidence and arguments on which it is based?
(2) The "irriducible complexity" argument is just not new. The arguments in the book had been refuted before the book was published by authors such as Darwin, Muller, Cavalier-Smith, etc, etc. This applies to both the general argument and to many of the specific examples given. See (1) above.
(3) The author professes to accept many of the central findings of evolutionary biology, e.g. that plants and animals share the same common ancestor. But these facts pose obvious and profound difficulties for his arguments. His attempt to deal with these difficulties is perfunctory and obviously flawed.
(4) The author is a professional scientist. But he has made no attempt to convince his colleagues of these ideas. Not one peer reviewed paper on irriducible complexity or intelligent design. If he had sought the opinion of his colleagues he would have had to confront problems (1) (2) and (3) and this awful book would not have been published!
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on 23 March 1999
As a biochemist interested in DNA structures and the origins of complex systems, I was delighted to hear that someone in my area of research had written a book on this subject. Behe does a good job of trying to convey the problem. If anything, molecular systems are even MORE complex than detailed in his well written and wonder-filled descriptions. However, I was surprised and frustrated to find the use of poor logic and factual errors throughout the book. For example, Behe can't find articles that he LIKES about the molecular evolution of flagella, so he then proceeds to claim that these articles simply don't exist. There are entire textbooks with titles like "Molecular Evolution" (search Amazon.com and see for yourself), and yet Behe insists that nothing has been written on the subject, and concludes that the reason for this is because no one has been able to find any detailed evidence for molecular evolution.
One of the examples cited of "irreducible complexity" is the bacterial flagellum. Behe claims that 40 proteins are necessary for a fully functional flagellum. Whilst this is true for E.coli, flagella in many bacteria are made from fewer proteins - for example, in the bacterium that causes syphilis (Treponema pallidum), there are a total of 38 flagellar proteins; in the bacterium that causes lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi), there are only 35 flagellar proteins; finally, in a bacteria associated with ulcers (Helicobacter pylori) there are only 33 proteins necessary to form complete, fully functional flagella. It is likely that as new bacterial genomes continue to be sequenced (at the rate of about one a month!), organisms will be found which require even fewer genes to make a completely functional flagella. So this "irreducible complex" of 40 proteins has shrunk to 33 proteins, in the past 2 years of research! Behe's argument is that EVERY ONE of the 40 proteins are necessary. Obviously 7 of those 40 aren't completely necessary. Maybe it's only 30 or perhaps even 20 proteins that are absolutely necessary? It's hard to say, but it is very dangerous to make such dogmatic statements as "this system is irreducibly complex", especially when the system is made up of proteins that have other normal functions in the cell, apart from flagella - such as the GTPase proteins. For a more fair treatment of the subject of flagella (and bacteria and molecular evolution in general), I can happily recommend reading "The Outer Reaches of Life", by John Postgate (also available through Amazon.com), which is an excellent treatise about bacteria written for the "non-scientific reader".
Of course there is a need to explain the origins of biochemical complexity. But declaring "intelligent design by a miracle" to be this method is neither scientific nor helpful. I guess my advice would be similar to that of Huxley about Darwin's Origin of the Species - please read Behe's book and decide for yourself!
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on 8 December 2012
I recommend Behe's book not because he offers a knock-down refutation of Darwinian evolution (he may or may not have done that), nor because he makes a great case for design as an alternative (this is probably the weakest part of the book), but because his book provides a fascinating insight into what happens when someone challenges scientific orthodoxy. That this is the tenth anniversary edition is helpful because, in a new afterword, Behe examines some of the criticisms that have been offered against the book's main idea: irreducible complexity. This is particularly interesting because one can see first-hand (by reference to the original text, and the voluminous online "rebuttals") the way in which Behe's ideas have been systematically misrepresented by the scientific community, and even within the US legal system. Thus for anyone interested in the way ideas can come to be dogma, and how such dogma is defended by fair means and foul, Behe's book provides the staring point for a fascinating case study. It is also a fairly clear and well written introduction to some of the extraordinary discoveries of molecular biology and, when all is said and done, does seem to present a challenge to the current evolutionary paradigm which, I think, has not yet been fully addressed.
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on 7 January 2008
The basic argument is that evolution by a gradual series of random mutations cannot account for the development of highly complex ,resolved and irreducible bio-chemical networks.
It does not do justice to this book to portray this debate as religion v science.
The fact is that we struggle to explain the evolution of life on Earth from pre-biotic chemicals;or the evolution of DNA and its sophisticated interaction with proteins.
It is no bad thing to remain sceptical of whether nineteenth and early twentieth century scientific theory is really adequate to fully explain the outstanding complexity or the brilliantly conceived and engineered solutions of nature.
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on 13 July 2014
Interesting read… bearing in mind what is thought and taught today.. even Darwin had his provisos!!
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on 3 February 2016
Irreducible Complexity. This is a clever observation and an argument for teleology that has got many taking it as a challenge to disprove Behe. I read this in 1996 and has since observed the Intelligent design battle with their critics. Design seems obvious to me and their arguments makes sense. It's well written and worth a read.
I'd like to purchase his book Edge of Evolution for Kindle, but I don't see it in that format. Sounds like a good follow up.
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on 26 August 2015
good book
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