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: November 6, 2014
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.
murk P., Canada, 6 November 2014
I agree with you re: necessity of God reaching out to us fallen / sinful / deceived people. ID requires granting that our unaided reason is not destroyed by the fall - this is not true (John 15:5, Colossians 2:3, Jeremiah 17:9). You guys have many articles that explain necessary preconditions to do science - and they are all metaphysical in nature that are beyond the scope of scientific verification. Everyone starts from Faith!
Perhaps John Locke together with an explanation from Greg Bahnsen stated it most succinctly:
"faith should not be afforded to anything 'but upon good reason,' thus dispensing with any tension between them."
I find it odd that to do science requires faith in uniformity and that the future will be like the past, or the whole scientific enterprise is immediately destroyed. So it rests on faith - and it these two things are true but only because God holds them together in our fallen world because He is Faithful.
And no other worldview can account for them without going to Disney Land where fairies, ducks that drive cars, and forgetful fish abound:)
Thanks for the article
Aleksandar K., Croatia, 6 November 2014
The existence of 'duons' isn't a new discovery, is it? You've already written how same nucleotide sequences have multiple functions, exons that are parts of multiple genes. Or is this something different?
Philip Bell responds
The press release about this finding in reference 6 concerns the following research paper: Stergachis, A.B. et al, Science, 342(6164): 1367-1372, 13 December 2013. The details get technical but the abstract of this paper states: "We found that ~15% of human codons are dual-use codons (“duons”) that simultaneously specify both amino acids and TF [Transcription Factor; Ed] recognition sites. ... Pervasive dual encoding of amino acid and regulatory information appears to be a fundamental feature of genome evolution." For "a fundamental feature of genome evolution" (an unfounded belief) read "a fundamental feature of genomes", which to the unprejudiced is simply shouting Divine Design!
O. S., Canada, 6 November 2014
I agree to the article and also the other comments. If you stop and look at the big picture, even with ID etc., you will see that none of this was by a big explosion [that] evolutionists can't even prove happened; making this yet another bit of proof pointing to a creator.
Ferdinand III S., Canada, 6 November 2014
I reviewed this book back in August, some insights that are worthy to share with your readers would include the fact that bio-chemical reality and complexity, completely destroys Darwin's theory. Meyer's 'Doubt' is hardly in doubt. In my opinion Darwinism is a gigantic cult and fraud.
... Morphology requires full information sets, not random changes, and mutations kill cells. Meyer:
“microevolutionary changes (such as variation in color or shape) merely utilize or express existing genetic information, while the macroevolutionary change necessary to assemble new organs or whole body plans requires the creation of entirely new information.”
“macromutations,” inevitably produce deformity and death. Only minor variations meet the test of viability and heritability”
“More complex single cells might require upwards of a million base pairs of DNA. Yet to assemble the proteins necessary to sustain a complex arthropod such as a trilobite would need orders of magnitude more protein-coding instructions.”
“average gene has about 1000 bases...protein 300 amino acids...an average-length protein represents just one possible sequence among an astronomically large number.”
Meyer proves that, mathematically, evolution of [cell to scientist]... is impossible.
michael S., United Kingdom, 6 November 2014
Intelligent Design has become unmitigated in its overt reality. A duon simply defies belief, and is staggering.
Once upon a time, Darwin could argue that Intelligent Design was our intuitive but uneducated understanding of organisms, but now we have a situation where Intelligent Design not only kills evolution, but it OVERkills it, in its staggering specified complexity.
I mean to say, this would be like saying that graffiti was the result of a strange weathering pattern. It's no longer Special Pleading, I would go further and say it is almost a kind of insanity to accept evolution as the explanation for life on earth, given the scientific facts.
I think Meyer possibly is Creationist by faith, but in a scientific climate, obviously nobody will listen to him if he were to state such a thing. Which shows just how badly biased it is these days - that an argument is only considered if it fits with the politics.
Terry F., United States, 6 November 2014
I have read both of Meyer's books and they are very useful in applying logical thinking coupled with evidence-based science to dismantle the evolutionist paradigm.
The problems I have with ID is their acceptance of the time frames of evolutionists as well as their skittishness in avoiding naming the Creator. I know a number of them, like Michael Behe of Darwin's Black Box fame, are Catholics which is a denomination that does not really reference the bible very much. This may explain their hesitancy in defending it.
Still, the science ID uses is very helpful in exposing the unscientific nature of evolution, which is not really based on evidence and holds together more like a belief system with the intention of eliminating God as a possibility for creating the universe and all within it.
Bible believing Christians can still profit greatly from reading Meyer's works but you will be required to have your thinking cap on. It is not always easy reading but well worth the effort and may require more than one reading to really absorb.
Bob E., United States, 6 November 2014
Thank you Mr. Bell for your important perspective on Darwin's Doubt. Dr. Meyer references a Michael Behe paper regarding histones reporting that they tolerate mutations well, yet across phyla are astoundingly similar. So Meyer writes that histones, "are never used as molecular clocks... Because... the small differences between histones yield an extremely recent divergence" (p. 107). How recently? As an old-earther, he doesn't say. But Behe wrote of histones, that "the green pea differs from that of mammals by only two conservative substitutions in 102" (Behe, 1990, p. 374). Yet their ID movement allows that a designer may have split plants and animals a billion years ago. So, as Meyer uses histones as evidence against neo-Darwinists, he should also acknowledge that they argue against ID's old earth.
richie T., United States, 7 November 2014
A lot of my atheist friends and co-workers say that creation science research isn't peer reviewed therefore it can't be trusted. Can anyone give me some examples of peer reviewed creation research
Don Batten responds
I suggest that you type 'peer review' into the search window on Creation.com (above right) and you will find ample refutation of this nonsense.
The Journal of Creation
is a peer reviewed journal, and there are other good ones that publish creationist research.
However, peer review in secular academia is often little more than peer pressure to conform, stifling dissent from the ruling paradigm. If you don't conform to the rules of the club of naturalism, you just don't get published.
The fact that so much evolutionary nonsense gets published is a good indication of the inadequacy of peer review when it comes to the story telling of historical science. See for example, how the story of whale evolution, all published in 'peer reviewed' papers, has unravelled: Whale evolution fraud