Skip to comments.Darwin's Doubt
Posted on 07/16/2013 11:44:20 AM PDT by Heartlander
Darwins Doubt, the brand new New York Times bestseller by Cambridge-trained Ph.D., Stephen Meyer, is creating a major scientific controversy. Darwinists dont like it.
Meyer writes about the complex history of new life forms in an easy to understand narrative style. He takes the reader on a journey from Darwin to today while trying to discover the best explanation for how the first groups of animals arose. He shows, quite persuasively, that Darwinian mechanisms dont have the power to do the job.
Using the same investigative forensic approach Darwin used over 150 years ago, Meyer investigates the central doubt Darwin had about his own theory. Namely, that the fossil record did not contain the rainbow of intermediate forms that his theory of gradual evolutionary change required. However, Darwin predicted that future discoveries would confirm his theory.
Meyer points out that they havent. Weve thoroughly searched the fossil record since Darwin and confirmed what Darwin originally saw himself: the discontinuous, abrupt appearance of the first forms of complex animal life. In fact, paleontologists now think that roughly 20 of the 28 animal phyla (representing distinct animal body plans) found in the fossil record appear abruptly without ancestors in a dramatic geological event called the Cambrian Explosion.
And additional discoveries since Darwin have made it even worse for his theory. Darwin didnt know about DNA or the digital information it contains that makes life possible. He couldnt have appreciated, therefore, that building new forms of animal life would require millions of new characters of precisely sequenced codethat the Cambrian explosion was a massive explosion of new information.
For modern neo-Darwinism to survive, there must be an unguided natural mechanism that can create the genetic information and then add to it massively, accurately and within the time allowed by the fossil record. Is there such a mechanism?
The answer to that question is the key to Meyers theory and entire book. Meyer shows that the standard neo-Darwinian mechanism of mutation and natural selection mechanism lacks the creative power to produce the information necessary to produce new forms of animal life. He also reviews the various post-Darwinian speculations that evolutionary biologists themselves are now proposing to replace the crumbling Darwinian edifice. None survive scrutiny. Not only is there no known natural mechanism that can create the new information required for new life forms, there is no known natural mechanism that can create the genetic code for the first life either (which was the subject of Meyers previous book Signature in the Cell).
When Meyer suggests that an intelligent designer is the best explanation for the evidence at hand, critics accuse him of being anti-scientific and endangering sexual freedom everywhere (OK, they dont explicitly state that last part). They also claim that Meyer commits the God of the gaps fallacy.
But he does not. As Meyer points out, hes not interpreting the evidence based on what we dont know, but what we do know. The geologically sudden appearance of fully formed animals and millions of lines of genetic information point to intelligence. That is, we dont just lack a materialistic explanation for the origin of information. We have positive evidence from our uniform and repeated experience that another kind of causenamely, intelligence or mindis capable of producing digital information. Thus, he argues that the explosion of information in the Cambrian period provides evidence of this kind of cause acting in the history of animal life. (Much like any sentence written by one of Meyers critics is positive evidence for an intelligent being).
This inference from the data is no different than the inference archaeologists made when they discovered the Rosetta Stone. It wasnt a gap in their knowledge about natural forces that led them to that conclusion, but the positive knowledge that inscriptions require intelligent inscribers.
Of course, any critic could refute Meyers entire thesis by demonstrating how natural forces or mechanisms can generate the genetic information necessary to build the first life and then massive new amounts of genetic information necessary for new forms of animal life. But they cant and hardly try without assuming what they are trying to prove (see Chapter 11). Instead, critics attempt to smear Meyer by claiming hes doing pseudo science or not doing science at all.
Well, if Meyer isnt, doing science, then neither was Darwin (or any Darwinist today). Meyer is using the same forensic or historical scientific method that Darwin himself used. Thats all that can be used. Since these are historical questions, a scientist cant go into the lab to repeat and observe the origin and history of life. Scientists must evaluate the clues left behind and then make an inference to the best explanation. Does our repeated experience tell us that natural mechanisms have the power to create the effects in question or is intelligence required?
Meyer writes, Neo-Darwinism and the theory of intelligent design are not two different kinds of inquiry, as some critics have asserted. They are two different answersformulated using a similar logic and method of reasoningto the same question: What caused biological forms and the appearance of design in the history of life?
The reason Darwinists and Meyer arrive at different answers is not because theres a difference in their scientific methods, but because Meyer and other Intelligent Design proponents dont limit themselves to materialistic causes. They are open to intelligent causes as well (just like archaeologists and crime scene investigators are).
So this is not a debate about evidence. Everyone is looking at the same evidence. This is a debate about how to interpret the evidence, and that involves philosophical commitments about what causes will be considered possible before looking at the evidence. If you philosophically rule out intelligent causes beforehandas the Darwinists doyou will never arrive at the truth if an intelligent being actually is responsible.
Since all evidence needs to be interpreted, science doesnt actually say anythingscientists do. So if certain self-appointed priests of science say that a particular theory is outside the bounds of their own scientific dogma, that doesnt mean that the theory is false. The issue is truthnot whether something fits a materialistic definition of science.
Im sure Darwinists will continue to throw primordial slime at Meyer and his colleagues. But that wont make a dent in his observation that whenever we see information like that required to produce the Cambrian Explosion, intelligence is always the cause. In fact, I predict that when open-minded people read Darwins Doubt, theyll see that Dr. Meyer makes a very intelligently designed case that intelligent design is actually true. Its just too bad that many Darwinists arent open to that truththey arent even open minded enough to doubt Darwin as much as Darwin himself was.
If Quantum Mechanics was around in Darwin’s time and if he had studied it, he would know evolution not to be gradual and that every once in a while a rare combination of mutations would lead to the quantum leap.
In quantum mechanics, an electron in your body has the possiblility (extremely unlikely possibility) of making the quantum leap and suddenly appearing on the moon.
And for the creationist, quantum mechanics is as near a proven fact as you can get, it is close to 2+2 =4. (Actually in a quantum universe 2+2 only comes vanishingly close to equalling 4 due to quantum fluctations.)
In fact, all semiconductor technology depends on quantum mechanics being true.
Even the well-respected scientific journal Nature had an article earlier this year that states that in the face of recent discoveries in molecular and cell biology, we do NOT understand the basic mechanisms of evolution!!!!
Oh, Boy . . . here we go.
Personal attack is a confession of intellectual poverty.
If there are six days so far, the instance of an organism arising from a random mutation then going through a full life cycle in order to generate offspring --in our reference frame of billions of years-- would be how long on the six day chart from God's perspective? Wow, now THAT is intelligent design, to make those momentary adjustments via random mutations!
Need to read later.
You're using the popular trope 'quantum leap' to mean a sudden and dramatic change; that's not the meaning of the term in QM. A quantum leap is usually the smallest possible change in the state of a particle.
Isn’t a quantum difference very tiny?
Darwin’s original theory is about slow continuous change. Quantum theory is about discontinuity.
quantum fluctuations are tiny from our point of view.
of course from the point of view from an electron quantum fluctuations are giagantic.
from an organism viewpoint, a genetic mutation is tiny
from the viewpoint of a chromosome, a genetic mutation is huge.
Thanks for the ping!
I like Schroeder. Hes interesting, and has as good a theory as any. So far as I know. Admittedly, I dont know much.
The Darwinian Mullahs dont like him, which is an additional recommendation, as far as Im concerned.
With respect to the issue of Intelligent Design, I also very much appreciate the writings of our Founding Fathers. Case in point:
In a letter to John Adams, dated April 11, 1823, Thomas Jefferson endorses the idea of a beginning and of design.
The argument which they [the philosopher disciples of Ocellus, Timaeus, Spinosa, Diderot and D'Holbach] rest on as triumphant and unanswerable is, that in every hypothesis of cosmogony, you must admit an eternal pre-existence of something; and according to the rule of sound philosophy, you are never to employ two principles to solve a difficulty when one will suffice. They say then, that it is more simple to believe at once in the eternal pre-existence of the world, as it is now going on, and may forever go on by the principle of reproduction which we see and witness, than to believe in the eternal pre-existence of an ulterior cause, or Creator of the world, a Being whom we see not and know not, of whose form, substance and mode, or place of existence, or of action, no sense informs us, no power of the mind enables us to delineate or comprehend.
(Jefferson succinctly sums up an argument that was ongoing into my twenties)
On the contrary, I hold, (without appeal to revelation) that when we take a view of the universe, in its parts, general or particular, it is impossible for the human mind not to perceive and feel a conviction of design, consummate skill, and indefinite power in every atom of its composition. . The movements of the heavenly bodies, so exactly held in their course by the balance of centrifugal and centripetal forces; the structure of our earth itself, with its distribution of lands, waters and atmosphere; animal and vegetable bodies, examined in all their minutest particles; insects, mere atoms of life, yet as perfectly organized as man or mammoth; the mineral substances, their generation and uses; it is impossible, I say, for the human mind not to believe, that there is in all this, design, cause and effect, up to an ultimate cause, a Fabricator of all things from matter and motion, their Preserver and Regulator while permitted to exist in their present forms, and their regeneration into new and other forms.
(Amazingly, by some 140 years Jefferson anticipates the detection of the radiation background proving In the beginning.)
We see, too, evident proofs of the necessity of a superintending power, to maintain the universe in its course and order. Stars, well known, have disappeared, new ones have come into view; comets, in their incalculable courses, may run foul of suns and planets, and require renovation under other laws; certain races of animals are become extinct; and were there no restoring power, all existences might extinguish successively, one by one, until all should be reduced to a shapeless chaos.
So irresistible are these evidences of an intelligent and powerful Agent, that, of the infinite numbers of men who have existed through all time, they have believed, in the proportion of a million at least to unit, in the hypothesis of an eternal pre-existence of a Creator, rather than in that of a self-existent universe. Surely this unanimous sentiment renders this more probable, than that of the few in the other hypothesis.
Thanks for writing.
Someday, when my son and grandkids go through my library deciding who wants what, they will find all the Jefferson materials have a nice crisp two dollar bill as a place marker just inside the front flap. ... I have loved books since my childhood. Both of my grandkids have somehow acquired the same love of books and have always read far beyond their school grade level. Thank you for the ping to the thoughts from Tom.
It seems to me that Neo-Darwinist theory has increasingly come under attack these days, from both inside and outside the scientific communities largely because it does not explain what it purports to explain: the emergence of life (not to mention consciousness, mind) from lifeless, inorganic matter. It also cannot explain the emergence of the vast amount of new information it takes to account for the kind of emergent biological speciation that we observe in the historical record: A low information-source cannot spontaneously transition to a high-information source, all by itself. (IIRC, this is called Kahre's Law.) It should be clear to all objective observers that matter and/or protomatter have drastically less "algorithmic content" (i.e., information) than highly complex biological organisms. So from whence did this astronomically large increase of information that characterizes life and consciousness (mind) "come from?"
People who refuse to address such questions, preferring to swaddle themselves in their precious materialist dogma, are simply following in the footsteps of Karl Marx. After all, all inconvenient questions regarding Marx's "system" are absolutely forbidden as a matter or principle.
And then there's the famous saying of Mao Zedong: Tell a lie a hundred times, and people will think it true.
Thank God, there are still honest scientists out there....
Thanks. Heartlander, for this thought-provoking article!
Doubtful, dear friend and brother in Christ. Ever since the Great Exodus of 2006, there are very few articulate Neo-Darwinists still hanging around FR to "dialogue" with.
More's the pity: We lost some great collaborators with serious scientific credentials back then. But they all left, en masse, in a great huff because "creationists are superstitious morons" and thus not worth their time of day to talk to.
Since then, I've been wondering who the "superstitious morons" actually are. The one thing these dear departed all seemed to agree on is what looks to me like a superstitious, mythical belief in the power of matter to single-handedly bootstrap itself into life and mind, through the alleged power of random variation and natural selection.
It's said that science as we know it today began in alchemy, in magical practices. So, what's so different today, if matter itself transmutes just like "base metals into gold," assuming the proper "magical action" has been invoked?
That is, the supposition here is that the inorganic "evolves" into the organic quite "naturally" by means of the "magical operations" of random mutation and natural selection, against the background of purely materialist presuppositions hooking up with "natural laws." (From whence were they introduced? That is, where did "natural laws," or the (more reductive) laws of physics come from, that a magician can manipulate to get his desired result?)
Oh well.... Let the dreamers dream, I suppose. It seems one cannot wake them up. They simply prefer to stay asleep.
Thanks for the ping, dear brother!
betty: they all left, en masse, in a great huff because “creationists are superstitious morons” and thus not worth their time of day to talk to.
Spirited: Truth is a very bitter pill for proud Darwinists and fellow travelers who in rejecting our Lord, the Divine Source of life and mind and relentlessly ridiculing us as superstitious morons only to belatedly discover that their own position can neither account for conscious life nor soul/spirit.
For over one-hundred years alchemists (materialists) have been combining lifeless chemicals in the vain hope that life would finally emerge. But it hasn’t and many materialists are quietly looking to “aliens” from deep-space as the bearers of life who seeded our planet long ago and have been overseeing our evolution ever since. Others are quietly crossing over from physical materialism to mystical materialism (pantheism).
Would you explain what you are saying a little more clearly? Are you saying that material ‘pops’ into existence every once-in a while? Are you saying that the quantum event comes from nothing or does a quantum event arise from a quantum vacuum with a rich sea of fluctuting electrical activity? And when this quantum event which you reference “pops” into existence, into what space did it pop into at the moment of creation? All of science says just prior to creation space did not exist, nor matter, nor energy. Would you explain the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theory which has disposed of the cosmological argument of a quantum event accounting for the creation of the universe? Thank you.
My point is, we are not likely to be at the definitive level of comprehending the Universe in which quantum mechanical calculations work well as a predictor. Our current conceptualization of time is not so complete that we can claim to have reached the last rung of a long ladder of knowledge.
Question for you: if humankind discover a profound aspect of the Universe regarding the nature of living things as opposed to non-living things that they did not heretofore know about or even predict, will the aspect be any less a Creation of God Who is Author of the Universe?
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