Book Review: Darwin’s Doubt

Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin Of Animal Life And The Case For Intelligent Design, by Stephen C. Meyer

A sequel of sorts to his book Signature In The Cell (a book that has been on my to-read list for years and should probably be read and reviewed fairly soon), this particular book examines the implications of the Cambrian explosion, and studies about its extent in time and scope, on the various strains of evolutionary thought and on the alternative scientific thesis of intelligent design. To be sure, this is a book that is likely to cause a lot of controversy, both because it is so rigorously honest and because its use of scientific sources unfriendly to intelligent design draw support from sources that scientists cannot discredit but would rather ignore in polite company. In exposing the scientific bankruptcy of evolutionary biology with regards to the Cambrian explosion, this book is not likely to win many friends among the foes of intelligent design.

In terms of its organization, this book is very well planned, beginning with seven chapters that deal with the mystery of the missing precursors and intermediate forms to the Cambrian explosion of fossils, along with evidence that as few as five or six million years were available for the development of almost all of the phyla of animal life that exists, none of which has any credible ancestral or transitional forms and explode on the scene fully developed in a great deal of disparity. Included in this first section is an explanation of the traditional neo-Darwinian synthesis and punctuated equilibrium, both of which are found wanting. The second section looks at what is necessary to build a body plan (namely the different body plan of the various phyla of the animal kingdom, all of which are very distinctive and widely separated), and examines further evolutionary rivals to neo-Darwinism like evo-devo, and finds that where there is success in explanatory value, that information (including the existence of genes and even a desired end) is smuggled in to what is purported to be a naturalistic perspective but is in actuality not. The book then concludes with a section that looks at Intelligent Design and demonstrates how it serves as the best theory given the available evidence, pointing out that all attempts to exclude it as science are arbitrary [1].

This book manages to combine pointed analysis, skillful rhetoric, an excellent focus on empirical data, along with a heavy interest in biographical history in its larger aims. In doing so it manages to point out that the Cambrian explosion was one of Darwin’s own doubts about his theory, and that Louis Agassiz, far from being an old fogie, was more rigorously empirical than Darwin and later supporters of evolution. Indeed, the most telling aspect of this book is the fact that it is focused on accurate conveyance of scientific data from a wide variety of sources and that its conclusions are so rigorously unfriendly to evolutionary biologists. One sees in the rhetorical strategy of the author an attempt to be judged on scientific merits, even though the nature of Meyer’s reasonable claims is such that those who are not willing to accept the presence of a designer or Mind in the creation of life are not going to be impressed by his rhetoric because they will have already blinded themselves to the truth. This sort of book, as necessary as it is to establishing the scientific legitimacy of Intelligent Design, needs to be aided by books which explore in more detail the pathological refusal of so many, especially those who are not well-versed with the data but are part of the Darwinist faith, to accept the legitimacy of Intelligent Design. With a large enough body of work to be found on the scientific validity of design and the failure of any naturalistic alternatives to explain the origin of life or the proliferation of life in the Cambrian explosion, or the development of biological machines or information or anything else beyond trivial and minor mutations, it is time to go on the attack. This book signals at least some desire in so doing.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/08/11/on-constraints/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/01/29/the-pseudoscience-of-naturalism-a-popperean-analysis-of-biologys-most-dangerous-assumption/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/07/06/reasonable-doubt/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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13 Responses to Book Review: Darwin’s Doubt

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