Stephen C. Meyer’s Darwin’s Doubt

A Review and Synopsis by Wayne Hammer, Author of Science Fiction Thriller, Shifts

Intelligent design is gaining popularity today because the inferred grounds upon which Darwinist evolution is based, the fossil record, seems to be in conflict with the theory. In Stephen Meyer’s landmark work, Darwin’s Doubt, Dr. Meyer thoroughly explores the philosophical and scientific flaws in the neo-Darwinian construct that increasingly reveal it to be unworkable as a theory of origins in light of a growing body of critical scientific opinion. As Meyers suggests, when a theory no longer provides a comprehensive and coherent explanation for observable reality, it ceases to be workable.

The renowned scientist and author of the highly regarded, Signature in the Cell, maintains that the Cambrian explosion, the relatively short evolutionary event during which most major animal phyla appeared beginning around 542 million years ago, poses two key challenges to contemporary neo-Darwinian evolutionary themes—the first of which Darwin himself recognized in 1859 as an unresolved issue plaguing his original theory. Meyer argues that the sudden appearance of novel animal life forms during the Cambrian timeline, and the absence of fossilized precursors for most of these animals in lower Precambrian strata, cast serious doubt that the gradualist picture of evolution envisioned by both Darwin and neo-Darwinian proponents has sufficient scientific standing. The popular and readily accepted model fails to account for a conceptual shortcoming that many paleontologists have long acknowledged.

If one is to believe that each new phylum appearing during the Cambrian explosion evolved through a process of natural selection, then at least some transitional fossils (of the multitude and variety that should have existed from the three Precambrian phyla) ought to have been unearthed by now. This lack of fossilized evidence defies the notion that there is an unbroken evolutionary chain from which all species evolved. Alas, the required molecular sequences and anatomical similarities in the fossil record are missing, and the precise time of deep divergence (species origination) cannot be identified.

Neo-Darwinian evolution works gradually over millions of years. It is a trial-and-error process of mutation and selection in which an organism must obtain and maintain a functional advantage in a series of incremental steps. But the timelines required for these distinctly different body plans to evolve are too extensive and wouldn’t allow for the emergence of new genetic traits. Dr. Meyer claims that proponents of the neo-Darwinian evolutionary model can’t adequately explain how vast numbers of possible combinations of coded symbols could both organize themselves in a predictable linear progression and then generate the complex types of genes and proteins found in living organisms today. Tightly integrated networks of genes, proteins, and other complex molecules are required to arrive at the right place at the right time in and around the embryonic cells. For such processes to arise, a materialistic theory of evolution would require vastly more time than has passed on earth since life began.

More importantly, Meyer contends that the neo-Darwinian mechanism lacks the creative power (the intelligence) to produce the diversity of distinct animal life forms that first appear in the Cambrian period, a view that many contemporary evolutionary biologists share. Meyer believes that insufficient genetic and epigenetic information would prohibit random mutations and natural selection from giving rise to the variety or quantity of the sophisticated new body plans that appear in the fossil record. And now there’s overwhelming evidence that mutations, able to generate large-scale changes in an organism, are mostly deleterious and destroy many more fledgling life forms than they create. He’s willing to acknowledge the phenomenon of natural selection as an important filter, but not the driving mechanism—not an adequate construct to account for the influx of new information required to transition from one species to another.

Many would conclude, based on this new scientific evidence, that it’s unlikely the information at the molecular level required for animal development was generated and replicated by accident. Yet there’s no explicit reference to an observable intelligent cause in Meyer’s book. Rather, the actions of an intelligent designer can be inferred from today’s observable evidence, and arguments opposed to Darwin’s theory can no longer be relegated to leaps of faith.

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