Skip to comments.Darwin’s Doubt
Posted on 07/19/2013 12:41:23 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
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.
Dude, it was just a really, really, super-punctuated equilibrium.
Evolutionists will bitterly cling to their anti-God beliefs.
This is just the latest in a whole bunch of “intelligent design” books that pull the legs out from under Darwin.
No question that there is small-scale intra-species evolution. But no one has ever proven ANY cases of General Evolution at work, let alone the theory that General Evolution explains it all.
This was obvious to me back in the 50s, when I first studied biology. It makes no sense—scientifically. Because almost all evolutionary developments—growing an arm, or a leg, or a wing, or an eye—would be counter-productive for generations, before they “evolved” far enough to be useful. That alone is enough to kill the theory. And on the DNA level, the problem for Darwinian theory is far worse.
Let’s see, a guy with a doctorate in philosophy who works for the Discovery Institute. Wake me up when a biologist offers his views...
Some observers ascribe digital interpretation to the evidence. This may be an arbitrary method. Intelligent beings are bound to look at the world and describe it via intelligible means. A materialist may easily brush aside any notion of intelligent involvement in the creation of all things, but he is woefully blind and obnoxious to thereby declare himself a purveyor of either certain truth or science.
It takes more FAITH to believe we all came from the same amino acids in some puddle of goo than it does to believe in God.
I’ll be the first to throw slime. The Cambrian explosion happened over a period of 80 million years at a time when conditions on earth were becoming more friendly to multicellular life. The major phyla of animals that “burst” into being did so over 20 million years of that period. The appearance of an explosion was enhanced by an extinction event that preceded it.
The fossil record of that period and slightly before is preserved in shale and rather unique. The preceding period is rather poorly preserved so we’ve only got trace fossils for some of it. The trace fossils suggest multicellular creatures but only preserve their burrows, tracks and feeding sites.
The Cambrian change in environmental conditions was fare more friendly to complex life forms than those before it. As creatures expanded their numbers and plants proliferated, food was given that other life forms exploited and adaptations led to even more and different creatures and plants.
Finally, transitional life forms may only be seen in the rear view mirror. Each was a successful creature in its time. Synapsids were transitional from reptiles to mammals, for instance. The Dino to Bird transition is well documented in the fossil record. There are many other examples.
The technology and study of evolution in still in its infancy. The Cambrian Explosion has only been intensely studied since 1970. Radiometric dating isn’t all that old either. Science is always a work in progress by its nature while creationism has its limiting factor in religious books. It can only be validated by disproving science, often through ridicule.
Oh, cool. Only took 5 posts for the first ad hominem to show up. Is that a new record?
Creationist will continue to believe in an unprovable cause.
Darwin came to his conclusion base on gradual evolution based on observations of isolated pockets of finches which showed gradual changes to fit their environment. He also showed how changes in species come about by breeding. The archeological record is sparse as most anything that ever lived simply vanished from the record. It takes a stubborn, creationist who takes a narrow, literal view of Genesis to keep on carping about evolution.
Ad hominem? Hardly. Unless you happen to be the type of person who lets their auto mechanic provide insight into dentistry or gets financial advice from landscapers...
RE: Lets see, a guy with a doctorate in philosophy who works for the Discovery Institute
Any comments about his observations other than this?
Read ‘The Edge of Evolution’ and you’ll get it. Randomness doesn’t cut it.
If it was so obvious when you first studied biology, you probably should have made biology a career. The scientist who develops the theory that replaces the Theory of Evolution will have his name remembered along side those of Newton, Galileo, Copernicus, and - dare I say - Darwin. Looking back, I can only say what a loss your potential contribution to science has been...
Other than it’s utter codswallop? No, not really...
RE: Other than its utter codswallop?
Explain to us why codswallop... please. One dismissive sentence is no help at all.
And oh BTW, he has a PhD in the history and philosophy of science from Cambridge (to be more exact). His has a degree in physics and earth science and worked as a Geophysicist.
I read one commentary that part of the reason for the "explosion" was that it was the period when hard skeletons became common, and thus were preserved much more widely. So many people seem to avoid the point that preservation of fossils is not a purely random event.
Don’t I know you from Latin 3? Just kidding. But you are quite right. Micro -evolution occurs at the species level but not beyond genera. Based on the concept of random mutation, Marc-evolution is mathematically impossible. The Edgo of Evolution covers it well.
Yea, whatever. Darwin observed tiny differences due to isolation. The finches were still finches and will always be finches.
That sounds quite likely. Reference the famous trilobite which developed a hard exoskeleton at the tail end of the explosion.
Genius of design ping
Maotianshan and Burgess Shales are two of the few rocks which had a near perfect media for fossil formation. Unfortunately other periods of time are not so blessed. The Maotianshan Shales have recently yielded up a relative of the Trilobite which did not have a hard exoskeleton. This fits in with a pre-Burgess Shale history to creatures that seemed to have sprung fully formed. Rapid evolution of many phyla to take advantage of a favorable environment and “feed on” other plants and creatures still took some 20 to 80 million years. Yes it’s a geological blink of the eye.
If you have time, read the entire link...
I did and my point was that with the trilobite, at least, there were transitional forms, most recently discovered in the Maotianshan shales. Also, when all the “niches” in the environment are not successfully filled, even one million years will see remarkable changes.
With the fossil record giving us a situation similar to someone trying to understand a book from a few surviving pages. It does make it fun to speculate, and Steven Meyer is having a lot of fun. He is also misreading much of the evidence.
Personally, I believe science today has been hijacked by atheism (materialism) and I am OK with science keeping an agnostic stance (open to evidence).
I will readily agree that some scientists like Richard Dawkins are, what I call evangelical atheists. However, even some of them are capable of good science. At the same time, a lot of blanks are being filled in in biology, geology and paleontology. I hate to see all science discounted and ridiculed. Most of the shaky science is in the soft sciences like psychology and sociology. Other areas like global warming heavily use statistics and measurements which can be manipulated for money or ideology. A conclusion today can be found false tomorrow. Also, mistakes are distressingly common. But just a an addition error doesn’t disprove math bad studies will eventually be corrected. You just hope too much damage isn’t done in the meantime as was the case in what I call nazi evolution including M. Sanger.
So where do you stand? Atheism (materialism) - Agnostic (open to evidence) - Theist (Belief in a Deity)
If you can’t prove it, you must take it on faith. You can’t prove macro-evolution and you refuse to acknowledge that Evolution is your religion.
I pity you.
Should stick to writing vampire novels
I’m a theist. I’m struck by the fact that 2500 years ago all the major benign religions had a golden age in short succession. Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism, Jainism, Asceticism in Hinduism as well as Greek philosophy came into being replacing some really nasty religions intending to control the masses and elevate the priests through such as human sacrifice.
I’m certainly against most abortion. I see Islam as a step back to the warrior religions. I see the Bible as the most remarkable ethical writing that has ever existed.
Is that what you were asking.
Warrior Religions? Name one.
The one today is Islam. Polytheism always presents a god of war and the battle of the gods. The Hindus have Kali with many followers. That is not to mention the Aztecs.
Islam is not religion. It is a political ideology. The others you mentioned are dead, by cultural suicide. Hardly warrior religions.
Kali worship is hardly dead nor is Islam less a religion for its political aspects. In fact, that is necessary for a warrior religion. Their god “demands” total control.
The god of islam is man. The fact that kali worship, or worship of a supposed allah- still lingers, is proof of ego idiocy. Nothing more, than a true myth of idolatry. I do not need to be right. Facts are facts. Perhaps a bit of study, would correct inept vision.
"... creationism has its limiting factor in religious books. It can only be validated by disproving science, often through ridicule."
Perhaps you would like to change that assertion, so that you aren't inadvertently maligning the falsing power of Science by mixing it with the conceptualization of faith in action that is hallmark to creationism assertions?
You might also enjoy reading at http://www.reasons.org. Lots of real science by real scientists there ...
Except this — I’m still waiting for him to explain how it applies for this book.
RE: Whatever it is that Meyer thinks he “shows” the facts prove otherwise.
All I can say is this...
Meyer writes in his book ( copy and paste), “Neo-Darwinism and the theory of intelligent design are not two different kinds of inquiry, as some critics have asserted. They are two different answers — formulated using a similar logic and method of reasoning—to 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 there’s a difference in their scientific methods, but because Meyer and other Intelligent Design proponents don’t 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 beforehand — as the Darwinists do — you will never arrive at the truth if an intelligent being actually is responsible.
Since all evidence needs to be interpreted, science doesn’t actually say anything—scientists do. So if certain self-appointed priests of science say that a particular theory is outside the bounds of their own scientific dogma, that doesn’t mean that the theory is false. The issue is truth — not whether something fits a materialistic definition of science.
RE: Sorry, but there is only one scientific method, and its first rule is: natural explanations for natural processes.
OK, I agree with that UP TO A POINT.
But remember, if the cause of something is SUPERNATURAL, then the scientific method can only get us so far. And if a philosophical naturalist INSISTS that all there is, is natural explanation, then we won’t any closer to the truth.
And let’s remind ourselves of one thing — calling something a “theory” says little about the degree of certainty backing the idea.
A theory describes aspects of nature that are beyond (or beneath) what we can observe, aspects that can be used to explain what we observe. Thus, some theories are true (atomic theory), some are false (caloric theory), and the scientific method is what directs us in deciding which are which.
The next question is this Does Intelligent Design (ID) meet this definition of theory?
I am inclined to say “yes”.
ID is a theory of design detection, and it proposes intelligent agency as a mechanism causing biological change. ID allows us to explain how aspects of observed biological complexity, and other natural complexity, arose. And it uses the scientific method to make its claims.
The scientific method is commonly described as a four-step process involving observations, hypothesis, experiments, and conclusion.
ID begins with the OBSERVATION that intelligent agents produce complex and specified information (CSI) <-— William Dembski’s term.
Design theorists hypothesize that if a natural object was designed, it will contain high levels of CSI.
Scientists can then perform experimental tests upon natural objects to determine if they contain complex and specified information.
One easily testable form of CSI is irreducible complexity (Michael Behe’s term), which can be tested for by reverse-engineering biological structures through genetic knockout experiments to determine if they require all of their parts to function.
When scientists experimentally uncover irreducible complexity in a biological structure, they conclude that it was designed.
Michael Behe of Lehigh University did just that and detailed his findings in the book — THE EDGE OF EVOLUTION.
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