The Darwinist materialist paradigm, however, is about to face the same revolution that Newtonian physics faced 100 years ago. Just as physicists discovered that the atom was not a massy particle, as Newton believed, but a baffling quantum arena accessible only through mathematics, so too are biologists coming to understand that the cell is not a simple lump of protoplasm, as Charles Darwin believed. It’s a complex information-processing machine comprising tens of thousands of proteins arranged in fabulously intricate algorithms of communication and synthesis. The human body contains some 60 trillion cells. Each one stores information in DNA codes, processes and replicates it in three forms of RNA and thousands of supporting enzymes, exquisitely supplies the system with energy, and seals it in semipermeable phospholipid membranes. It is a process subject to the mathematical theory of information, which shows that even mutations occurring in cells at the gigahertz pace of a Pentium 4 and selected at the rate of a Google search couldn’t beget the intricate interwoven fabric of structure and function of a human being in such a short amount of time. Natural selection should be taught for its important role in the adaption of species, but Darwinian materialism is an embarrassing cartoon of modern science.— George Gilder
What is the alternative? Intelligent design at least asks the right questions. In a world of science that still falls short of a rigorous theory of human consciousness or of the big bang, intelligent design theory begins by recognizing that everywhere in nature, information is hierarchical and precedes its embodiment. The concept precedes the concrete. The contrary notion that the world of mind, including science itself, bubbled up randomly from a prebiotic brew has inspired all the reductionist futilities of the 20th century, from Marx’s obtuse materialism to environmental weather panic to zero-sum Malthusian fears over population. In biology classes, our students are not learning the largely mathematical facts of 21st-century science; they’re imbibing the consolations of a faith-driven 19th-century materialist myth.
Second, this book poses a strong challenge to the theistic evolutionists such as Francis Collins for many of the same scientific reasons. Collins places great test in modern Darwinism as the unifying theory of biology, but seems completely unaware of the formidable scientific problems now afflicting the theory—in particular, the challenges to the creative power of the natural selection/mutation mechanism. He makes no attempt to address or answer any of these challenges. In addition, many of his arguments for universal common descent—the defense of which was his main concern in The Language of God—are based upon the alleged presence of nonfunctional or “junk” elements in the genomes of different organisms. Though the theory of intelligent design, which Collins says he opposes, does not necessarily challenge this part (common descent) of Darwinian theory, the factual basis of his arguments has now largely evaporated as the result of ENCODE and other developments in genomics. Thus, this popular view of biological origins, and its conception of God’s relationship to the natural world, now stands starkly at odds with the evidence. But why attempt to reconcile traditional Christian theology with Darwinian theory, as Collins tries to do, if the theory itself has begun to collapse? (410-11)— Stephen C. Meyer in Darwin’s Doubt
This book has presented four separate scientific critiques demonstrating the inadequacy of the neo-Darwinian mechanism, the mechanism that Dawkins assumes can produce the appearance of design without intelligent guidance. It has shown that the neo-Darwinian mechanism fails to account for the origin of genetic information because: (1) it has no means of efficiently searching combinatorial sequence space for functional genes and proteins and, consequently, (2) it requires unrealistically long waiting times to generate even a single new gene or protein. It has also shown that the mechanism cannot produce new body plans because (3) early acting mutations, the only kind capable of generating large-scale changes, are also invariably deleterious, and (4) genetic mutations cannot, in any case, generate the epigenetic information necessary to build a body plan. Thus despite the commercial success of The God Delusion and its wide cultural currency, the New Atheist philosophy lacks credibility because it has based its understanding of the metaphysical implications of modern science on a scientific theory that itself lacks credibility—as even many leading evolutionary biologists now acknowledge. (410-11)— Stephen C. Meyer in Darwin’s Doubt
The materialistic evolutionary theories that intelligent design challenges, theories widely regarded by convention as “scientific,” fail to meet the very same demarcation standard. In other words, there is no defensible definition of science, and no specific demarcation criterion, that justifies both excluding intelligent design from science and including competing materialistic evolutionary theories. Instead, attempts to use demarcation criteria specifically to disqualify intelligent design as a scientific theory have repeatedly failed to differentiate the scientific status of intelligent design from that of competing theories. Depending on which criteria are used to adjudicate their scientific status, and provided metaphysically neutral criteria are selected to make such assessments, intelligent design and materialistic origins theories invariably prove equally scientific or unscientific.— Stephen C. Meyer in Darwin’s Doubt
For example, some critics of intelligent design have argued that it fails to qualify as a scientific theory because it makes reference to an unseen or unobservable entity, namely, a designing mind in the remote past. Yet many accepted theories—theories assumed to be scientific—postulate unobservable events and entities. Physicists postulate forces, fields, and quarks; biochemists infer submicroscopic structures; psychologists discuss their patients’ mental states. Evolutionary biologists themselves infer unobserved past mutations and invoke the existence of extinct organisms and transitional forms for which no fossils remain. Such things, like the actions of an intelligent designed, are inferred from observable evidence in the present, because of the explanatory power they may offer.
If the demarcation criterion of observability is applied rigidly, then both intelligent design and materialistic theories of evolution fail to qualify as scientific. If the standard is applied more liberally (or realistically)—acknowledging the way in which historical scientific theories often infer unobservable past events, causes, or entities—then both theories qualify as scientific.
And so it goes with other such criteria as well. There is no specific (non-question-begging) demarcation criterion that succeeds in disqualifying the theory of intelligent design from consideration as a scientific theory without also doing the same to its materialistic rivals. (390)
Philosopher of science Larry Laudan has shown [that] attempts to apply demarcation criteria to decide the scientific status of specific theories have invariably generated irreconcilable contradictions. The vortex theory of gravity that Newton’s theory replaced envisioned plants swirling around the sun pushed by a substance called ether. It did provide a mechanistic explanation for gravitational attraction. It failed, however, to explain the evidence and was judged by Newton and physicists following him to be manifestly false. Nevertheless, because it proposed a mechanistic cause of gravitation, it qualified as “scientific”—at least given the conception of science favored by Leibniz and the mechanical philosophers. Conversely, Newton’s theory failed [be considered] scientific by their definition, though it much more accurately fit the evidence. […] Thus, philosophers of science generally think it much more important to assess whether a theory is true, or whether the evidence supports it, than whether it should or should not be classified as “science.” The question of whether a theory is “scientific” is really a red herring. What we really want to know is whether a theory is true or false, supported by the evidence or not, worthy of our belief or not. And we cannot decide those questions by applying a set of abstract criteria that purport to tell in advance what all good scientific theories must look like. (388-9)— Stephen C. Meyer in Darwin’s Doubt
More than a century and a half [after Darwin acknowledged the problem of the Cambrian fossil record], after many failed attempts to discover—and explain away—the missing fossil ancestors, and after discoveries in molecular and developmental biology have revolutionized our understanding of the complexity of animal life, continuing to regard the Cambrian explosion as merely a niggling problem for established theory—a lone question mark or negative clue—now seems not so much cautious, as simply unresponsive to the evidence.— Stephen C. Meyer in Darwin’s Doubt
The animal forms that arose in the Cambrian not only did so without any clear material antecedent; they came on the scene complete with digital code, dynamically expressed integrated circuitry, and multi-layered, hierarchically organized information storage and processing systems. (381)
Studies in the history and philosophy of science have shown that to explain an event or a set of facts, scientists must typically cite a cause capable of producing that event or those facts. When scientists do not have the luxury of directly observing the cause of a particular event or effect under study, as historical scientists typically do not, they must cite a cause that is otherwise known to produce the facts in question. That means historical scientists must show that the event or facts of interest must in some way represent the expected outcome of a particular cause having acted in the past—that the events or facts should have occurred “as a matter of course.”— Stephen C. Meyer in Darwin’s Doubt
To many scientists, especially those steeped in the materialistic assumptions of contemporary scientific culture, the idea of intelligent design seems inherently implausible or even incoherent. Science to them involves not only observing and studying material entities and phenomena, but explaining them by reference to materialistic entities. For these scientists, it makes no sense even to consider the idea of intelligent design, with its explicit reference to the activity of a designing mind.
Yet it turns out that both the Cambrian animal forms and their pattern of appearance in the fossil record exhibit precisely those features that we should expect to see if an intelligent cause had acted to produce them. Further, the Cambrian animal forms and their manner of appearance contradict what we should expect to find in the fossil record and in the animal world given a purely materialistic “bottom-up” process of evolution. Thus, despite its potential for disturbing the materialistic sensibilities of many scientists, it is hard logically to avoid the conclusion that the design hypothesis actually provides a better, more casually adequate explanation for key features of the Cambrian event. (378-9)
Darwin himself insisted that “nothing can be effected” by natural selection “unless favorable variations occur.” Or as Swedish evolutionary biologist Soren Lovtrup succinctly explains: “Without variation, no selection; without selection, no evolution. This assertion is based on logic of the simplest kind….Selection pressure as an evolutionary agent becomes void of sense unless the availability of the proper mutations is assumed.” Yet the “proper” kinds of mutations—the mutations that produce favorable changes to early-acting, body-plan-shaping, regulatory genes—do not occur.—
Microevolutionary change is insufficient; macromutations—large-scale changes—are harmful. This paradox has beset Darwinism from its inception, but discoveries about the genetic regulation of development in animals have made this paradox more acute and cast serious doubt on the efficacy of the modern neo-Darwinian mechanism as an explanation for the new body plans that arise in the Cambrian period. (264)
"Yet the ‘proper’ kinds of mutations—the mutations that produce favorable changes to early-acting, body-plan-shaping, regulatory genes—do not occur.”
Richard Dawkins has noted that scientific theories can rely on only so much “luck” before they cease to be credible. But the second [neo-Darwinian] scenario, involving gene duplication and neutral evolution, by its own logic, precludes natural selection from playing a role in generating genetic information until after the fact. Thus, it relies entirely on “too much luck.” The sensitivity of proteins to functional loss, the rarity of proteins within combinatorial sequence space, the need for long proteins to build new cell types and animals, the need for whole new systems of proteins to service new cell types, and the brevity of the Cambrian explosion relative to rates of mutation—all conspire to underscore the immense implausibility of any scenario for the origins of Cambrian genetic information that relies upon random variation alone, unassisted by natural selection. […] On the other hand, any model for the origin of genetic information that envisions a significant role for natural selection, by assuming a preexisting gene or protein under selective pressure, encounters other equally intractable difficulties. […] Indeed, our growing knowledge about the rarity and isolation of proteins and functional genes in sequence space implies that neither neo-Darwinian scenario for producing new genes is at all plausible. Thus, neo-Darwinism does not explain the Cambrian information explosion. (206-8)— Stephen C. Meyer in Darwin’s Doubt
My point in summarizing these disputes [in the scientific literature] is simply to note that the molecular and anatomical data commonly disagree, that one can find partisans on every side, that the debate is persistent and ongoing, and that, therefore, the statements of Dawkins, Coyne, and many others about all the evidence (molecular and anatomical) supporting a single unambiguous animal tree are manifestly false. (124)—
I haven’t made up my mind yet on this issue—there are so many angles!—but it’s becoming increasingly clear that the mainstream scientific establishment’s public-facing unified front on evolution is very cracked underneath all the public pronouncements of “there is no controversy.” It smacks of the global warmism movement.
Attempts to infer a consistent picture of the history of animal life based on analyzing the anatomical characteristics of different animals have also proven problematic. In the first place, there is a general and long-standing problem with attempts to infer the evolutionary history of the animal phyla from similar anatomical traits. At the level of the phyla—that is, when one compares the phyla to each other and tries to determine their branching order—the number of shared anatomical characteristics available for inferring evolutionary relationships drops off quite dramatically. There is an obvious reason for this. For example, an anatomical character such as the “leg”, that is useful for diagnosing and comparing arthropods, which possess legs, proves useless for making comparisons between (for example) brachiopods or bryozoans, which do not. In the same way, basic structural features of human-designed systems, such as the distinctive submarine “trait” of an encapsulating watertight hull, might help to distinguish it from a cruise ship, which is only watertight on its underside. But this “trait” would be irrelevant for comparing and classifying, say, suspension bridges, motorcycles, or flat-screen televisions. In a similar manner, biologists find that there are only a handful of highly abstract characters, such as radial versus bilateral body symmetry, the number of fundamental tissue layers (triploblasty, three layers, versus diploblasty, two layers), or the type of body cavity present (true coelom, pseudocoelom, or no coelom), available for morphological comparisons of the many diverse animal forms. Yet evolutionary biologists have often disputed the validity of these rather abstract traits as guides to evolutionary history. (125-6)—
In his presentation, [Chinese paleontologist J. Y. Chen] highlighted the apparent contradiction between the Chinese fossil evidence and Darwinian orthodoxy. As a result, one professor in the audience asked Chen, almost as if in warning, if he wasn’t nervous about expressing his doubts about Darwinism so freely—especially given China’s reputation for suppressing dissenting opinion. I remember Chen’s wry smile as he answered. “In China,” he said, “we can criticize Darwin, but not the government. In America, you can criticize the government, but not Darwin.”—
Stephen C. Meyer in Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design (52)
This book has been very fascinating thus far.
"Whether humans are the cause of 100% of the observed warming or not, the conclusion is that global warming isn’t as bad as was predicted. That should have major policy implications…assuming policy is still informed by facts more than emotions and political aspirations.
And if humans are the cause of only, say, 50% of the warming (e.g. our published paper), then there is even less reason to force expensive and prosperity-destroying energy policies down our throats.
I am growing weary of the variety of emotional, misleading, and policy-useless statements like “most warming since the 1950s is human caused” or “97% of climate scientists agree humans are contributing to warming”, neither of which leads to the conclusion we need to substantially increase energy prices and freeze and starve more poor people to death for the greater good.
Yet, that is the direction we are heading.”