More reasons to doubt Darwin1
A review of: Darwin‘s Doubt, the explosive origin of animal life and the case for intelligent design by Stephen C. Meyer2
HarperOne, Nashville TN, USA 2013
Published: 6 November 2014 (GMT+10)
Stephen Meyer has an impressive pedigree in the philosophy of science and geophysics but is better known as a prominent spokesperson for the ID movement in the USA. Darwin’s Doubt3 is, in many ways, a sequel to his Signature in the Cell (2009)4, both of them impressive in length, scope and incisive analysis. In both, he explicitly distances ID from biblical creationism, or from the claims that ID is based on religious belief. So is this ‘stealth creationism’ as some of ID’s critics have claimed? That will continue to be debated. Certainly, it’s pertinent that, having avoided discussing the identity of the ‘IDer’ throughout the book, he belatedly acknowledges that the “ability to detect design makes belief in an intelligent designer (or a creator, or God) not only a tenet of faith, but … brings science and faith into real harmony.” Moreover, “evidence of a purposeful design behind life … offers the prospect of significance, wholeness, and hope” (p. 412). This claims too much for ID because such human yearnings are only truly satisfied by a personal encounter with the Creator-made-flesh; and faith in Christ invariably comes through the revelation of the Word of God (Romans 10:17).
Dissent in the evolutionary camp
Nevertheless, that niggle aside, this book is a veritable tour de force in tackling the theory of biological evolution—e.g. “whether mutation and selection can add new information to pre-existing information-rich DNA” (p.vii–viii)—and showing the superiority of the design argument. In recent decades there have been numerous dissenters within the evolutionary scientific community itself; their collective voice has been getting even louder in the last few years. While their alternative theories are diverse (e.g. EvoDevo, Symbiogenesis5, and Natural Genetic Engineering, to name just three), they have in common a profound disagreement with the creative powers claimed for standard neo-Darwinism. This, of course, is the model of evolution that has been taught in schools and universities for generations and is preached with almost evangelical zeal by the likes of Richard Dawkins. Many of the doubters are themselves world-class biologists. Indeed, this fact highlights the huge disparity that exists between the ‘Darwinian doubts’ expressed in peer-reviewed scientific literature and the public’s perception that evolution is well established and not seriously in question at all.
Cambrian Explosion still a major challenge
In the context of these ongoing debates, Meyer’s major focus is Charles Darwin’s particular doubts about the ‘Cambrian Explosion’, “the manner in which numbers of species of the same group suddenly appear in the lowest known fossiliferous rocks” (On the Origin of Species, p. 306–307). He shows that evolutionists since Darwin have singularly failed to explain where the explosion of novel animal forms came from or what mechanisms (within their paradigm) might have been responsible. Dealing in turn with the ideas of major evolutionist dissenters, these are also found wanting. Whichever of the ‘three pillars’ of neo-Darwinism have been challenged (variation, natural selection or heritability), the naturalistic scientists have reached an impasse. Science is no closer to explaining the origin of the complex, digitally-coded information systems in DNA. Rather, as genomics discoveries are made apace, theories of blind, undirected evolution appear ever more audacious.
In December 2013, yet another stunning revelation was revealed by a research team led by University of Washington professor of genome sciences, Dr. John Stamatoyannopoulos: a hitherto unknown genetic code which controls genes rather than being involved in protein manufacture—the rub is that this code is written right on top of the existing DNA code! In other words, it now appears that many of the 3-letter codons have a dual function—so have been appropriately dubbed ‘duons’6—another nail in the coffin of neo-Darwinian evolution and certainly something Meyer would have included in Darwin’s Doubt but for its recency.
As revelations are made apace in the diverse fields of fossils and genomics, glaring flaws in the evolutionary paradigm are getting harder to conceal—further highlighting Evolution’s Achilles' Heels.
References and notes
- Modified from its initial publication in Evangelical Times (UK), 14 March, 2014, p. 21. Return to text.
- The book is authored by Stephen C Meyer, Harper Collins, 2013, 498 pages. Return to text.
- For a more in-depth review, see Woodmorappe, J., Darwin’s dirty fossil secret, Journal of Creation 28(1):45–49, 2014. Return to text.
- Meyer, S.C., Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design, HarperOne, New York, 2009. Return to text.
- Espoused by the late Lynne Margulis as a young post doctoral scientist, but especially following publication of two of her books, Symbiotic Planet: A New Look at Evolution (1998), and Acquiring Genomes: A Theory of the Origins of Species (2002; co-authored with her son Dorion Sagan). Return to text.
- It was reported, “The discovery of duons has major implications for how scientists and physicians interpret a patient’s genome and will open new doors to the diagnosis and treatment of disease.” See Seiler, S., Scientists discover double meaning in genetic code, 12 December 2013. Return to text.