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.
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