Book Review: Evolution: A Theory In Crisis

Evolution:  A Theory In Crisis:  New Developments In Science Are Challenging Orthodox Darwinism, by Michael Denton

For many people, myself included, this book was the initial clarion call demonstrating the scientific flaws within the paradigm of evolution.  While the intellectual roots of Intelligent Design go back quite further than this book, this book is the moment when such thoughts entered the intellectual mainstream [1], much to the chagrin of those who are in denial of the scientific evidence even to this day.  What strikes me as particularly noteworthy about this and other books is that different people have different approaches to the crisis of evolution but in general they all end up with the same conclusions, demonstration of the immensely troubled nature of the theory and the desperation its adherents have in avoiding competition and protecting their theory by any means possible because the alternative(s) are so unpalatable.  One almost has sympathy for the unfriendly readers of this and other books like that cannot deal with the facts of the matter nor are unwilling to accept how beleaguered their paradigm is, but who feel it necessary to lash out against those who would trouble their sleep and remind them of truths that they are unwilling to accept.  Needless to say, I found this book an immensely enjoyable read.

In about 350 pages or so, the author deals with the crisis of evolution by exploring various lines of argument and evidence.  The first few chapters of this book give the historical context for evolution, for Darwin’s initial ideas as well as for the way that Darwin went from an embattled theory with a lot of gaps and blank spaces to a dogma whose problematic nature was papered over with triumphalist rhetoric.  After this the author talks about typology, looking at it as an approach and looking at its viability in contemporary cladistics.  After that the author looks at the failure of homology, the discontinuous nature of the fossil record, the way that evolutionists bridge the gaps in their imagination through hopeful monsters and a deliberate ignorance of the absence of ancestral or transitional forms.  As the book winds to a close the author talks about molecular biology, the problem of abiotic evolution, the probablistic impossibility of evolution, and the importance of the paradigm in better understanding the facts of science as they present themselves through investigation and experimentation.  Each chapter contains a great deal of resources, showing that the author has indeed done his homework in this magnum opus.

If Behe is better known for his in-depth discussion of biochemistry and Philip Johnson is more notable for his discussion of tactics and strategy, Denton’s area of expertise here is in the philosophy of science as well as gross anatomy and the fossil record.  If you want to know about the implications of typology on the hierarchy of nature and its resulting discontinuity, this is a great place to go.  The author deserves a lot of credit for putting a wide variety of deep and thus far unsolved problems before the public eye, bringing the house secrets of paleontology and other disciplines to a wider awareness and increasing skepticism about evolution in the public discourse.  The way the author trolls evolutionists with references to discredited theories of the past is also deeply entertaining for this reader.  In reading a book like this, a sympathetic reader gets a sense of the deep problems of continuous solutions and how those problems work on a large scale across wide areas of science, which have given later writers a lot of avenues to work with in expanding the ground laid by the author.  This is a well-deserved classic book that deserves being reread and reflected upon as the crisis of evolution is no less serious now than it was when Denton wrote, and all too impossible to ignore.

[1] See, for example:

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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6 Responses to Book Review: Evolution: A Theory In Crisis

  1. Pingback: Book Review: The Design Revolution | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Book Review: The Last Lost World | Edge Induced Cohesion

  3. Pingback: Book Review: Darwin’s Secret Sex Problem | Edge Induced Cohesion

  4. Pingback: Book Review: Ancestors: In Search Of Human Origins | Edge Induced Cohesion

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