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Regis Nicoll Christian Blog and Commentary

Breaking the Spell of Darwinism

When evolutionism’s front man, Richard Dawkins, wrote, “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist,” he grossly overstated his case. If atheism is to be more than wish fulfillment for folks troubled by what Thomas Nagel calls “the cosmic authority problem,” it must be based on a materialistic narrative that accounts for chemical evolution andbiological evolution. The former explains how life first arose; the latter, how current life forms developed from earlier ones.

How matter became live

Darwinists are quick to tout the Urey-Miller experiment for how matter went live, but the facts are something else. True, researchers Harold Urey and Stanley Miller produced some amino acids from a prebiotic cocktail in 1953. However, their “success” depended not on an unguided, materialistic process, but on an intelligently designed experiment that was meticulously controlled to ensure “just-right” conditions for producing life’s building blocks.

On top of that, their experimental conditions, as it was later learned, did not reflect those of early Earth, which were hostile to, not “just right” for, amino acid production. Had those conditions been faithfully simulated, intelligent intervention or not, their much-heralded life-building chemicals would not have survived.

Dr. Stephen Meyer highlights this in “Signature in the Cell,” as part of an impressively comprehensive critique of chemical evolution. Drawing upon research over the last 60 years on the biological cell, Meyer shows that it is a theory at odds with what is known about biological complexity.

The reason the Urey-Miller experiment failed—and was destined to do so—is that the “probabilistic resources” of the universe (never mind a lab!) are insufficient to account for the appearance of life from unintelligent processes. Meyer demonstrates, in detail, that universe is neither old enough nor large enough for the creation of proteins necessary for essential cell processes by the chance arrangement of their constituent amino acids. And yet, as Meyer points out, the instructional content of amino acids is just one tier of biological information in a hierarchal structure that includes, in ascending order, DNA, genes, gene clusters, gene “folders,” and gene “superfolders.”

After 300 or so pages, establishing the impotency of chemical evolution, Meyer spends the last 200 pages on an alternative theory: intelligent design. He makes a compelling case for intelligent design as a legitimate area for scientific research, then advances a convincing, scientific argument for why intelligent causation is thebest explanation for the origin of life. (My detailed review of “Signature” can be found here.)

In his most recent book, “Darwin’s Doubt,” Meyer takes on the primary subject of Darwinism: biological evolution.

A doubting Darwin

The crux of Meyer’s critique and, indeed, a major source of doubt in Charles Darwin himself, is the absence of fossilized transitional forms predicted by the theory of common ancestry.

If all life forms today descended from simpler ones, as Darwin proposed, the fossil record should be replete with intermediate forms. In fact, considering the vast number of morphological differences between original and final forms, it would be expected that there should be just as many (if not more!) intermediate as final forms.

Instead, Meyer notes, geologists “have found no such myriad of transitional forms” but, rather, “the abrupt appearance of the earliest animals.”

For example, in the Cambrian Period the fossils of 20 phyla (out of 27 total in the fossil record) were laid down in a blink of geological time—roughly 5 to 6 million years. Not only is this their first appearance in the fossil record, their complexity represents a quantum leap over pre-Cambrian fossils with no traceable line of descent.

In fact, the whole “bottom-up” pattern predicted by Darwin—that is, small, gradual changes over time leading to large-scale differences—is completely overturned in the Cambrian stratum, where the sudden appearance of complex organisms is followed by small-scale variation. But it’s worse than that, if you’re a Darwin acolyte. Continue reading here.