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Second Thoughts on Darwinism

Mar 10, 2017

One of the most difficult things one can do today is dare to offer a critique of the reigning Darwinian paradigm. It is not unlike daring to leave Islam: it is considered to be apostasy and death is the required response. While Darwin doubters may not be killed for their recalcitrance, they can easily lose their jobs, lose publishing offers, lose financial benefits, and so on.

darwin 2Thankfully some brave souls are willing to risk all this, and risk the wrath of the evolution monolith. Three important brand new books can now be added to the growing library of works by serious thinkers who are not held captive to Darwinian orthodoxy. Two are written by those heavily involved in science while a third is penned by a journalist with a long-standing interest in science.

They all make it clear that the evidence is wanting. They have no problems with science and following the evidence wherever it may lead. But they do have a problem with scientism, which is not real science at all, but a philosophical presupposition which rules out any truth other than that which empirical research alone can offer. It is that materialistic bias which straightjackets so many from fully running with all the evidence.

Here then are the three volumes:

Michael Denton, Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis. Discovery Institute, 2016.

Back in 1985 Sydney-based molecular biologist Michael Denton released his influential book, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis. Three decades later he argues that it still is – and even more so. In his first book he began by noting that biologists “cannot substantiate the fundamental claims of Darwinism”.

He sought to offer a “systematic critique of the current Darwinian model, ranging from paleontology to molecular biology” to show that “the problems are too severe and too intractable to offer any hope of resolution in terms of the orthodox Darwinian framework.”

He then concluded his 360-page study with these words:

Ultimately the Darwinian theory of evolution is no more nor less than the great cosmogenic myth of the twentieth century….
The truth is that despite the prestige of evolutionary theory and the tremendous intellectual effort directed towards reducing living systems to the confines of Darwinian thought, nature refuses to be imprisoned. In the final analysis we still know very little about how new forms of life arise. The “mystery of mysteries” – the origin of new beings on earth – is still largely as enigmatic as when Darwin set sail on the Beagle.

Now, thirty years on, he argues that this continues to be the case. Indeed, since then, “there have been massive advances and discoveries in many areas of biology, including paleontology, genomics, and developmental biology.” The most technical of the three books presented here, it offers another 350 pages of critique of the neo-Darwinian paradigm.

As he states at the close of his book, his core thesis of his first volume

has been vindicated by advances over the past three decades. Nature remains as I described her in 1985: stubbornly discontinuous, resistant to all attempts to reduce her to Darwinian functional continuums. From the origin of life to the origin of human language, the great divisions in the natural order are still as profound as ever, and still uncrossed either by known empirical series of adaptive transitional forms or by hypothetical functional continuums. Darwin was not “right after all.” There is an irresistible consilience of evidence for rejecting Darwinian cumulative selection as the major driving force of evolution….
Evolution is still a theory in very deep crisis.

Douglas Axe, Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life is Designed. HarperOne, 2016.

In this important volume a noted American science writer speaks about the “design intuition”. While science is more than just intuition, it must also be based in reality. And in the real world we see design everywhere, and it provides our basic understanding of how things got there. He writes:

I think the intuition by which we immediately perceive certain things to be the products of purposeful intent is close to the idea that some things are too good to be true. This expression doesn’t mean that good things can’t happen; it means certain good things can’t just happen. They never come out of thin air. They only happen if someone makes them happen.

He goes on to explain:

According to the design intuition, neither bricks nor shoes get made unless someone makes them. As familiar as this intuition is, it turns out to have huge implications for biological origins, because the claimed exceptions are so concentrated there. And what dramatic exceptions they are! Bricks don’t get made until someone makes them (or today, until someone makes the machine that makes them), but somehow much more complex things, like dragonflies and horses, did get made without anyone making them, we are told.

He spends the rest of the book teasing this out, and he cites plenty of atheists and evolutionists who admit in part to seeing things the same way. Consider the issue of materialism, and whether there are such things as the mind, consciousness, and so on.

Atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel for example wrote an entire book on this in 2012 called Mind and Consciousness: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False. It was a bold and important book full of questions by someone who should not even be asking such questions.

But at least he was honest in admitting that he wants his atheism to be true, despite evidence to the contrary. Many other such scientists and thinkers are featured in this book – those who are courageous enough to break out of the reigning materialist ideological stranglehold, and examine the evidence regardless of where it might lead to.

The argument Axe makes in nearly 300 pages cannot of course be easily summarised here in such a short review. Suffice it to say that his non-technical, well-argued case deserves a wide hearing. The more science progresses, the more we find evidence of intelligence all around us, pointing to the obvious question of whether there might be an intelligent designer.

Those who have not already decided a priori that a design hypothesis cannot possibly even be countenanced may get little from this book. But for all the rest of us, a very compelling case is made indeed. And it will leave you agreeing with Axe when he says at the end of the book that the “deepest questions in the scientific study of life are up for grabs”.

Tom Bethell, Darwin’s House of Cards. Discovery Institute, 2017.

Bethell does a very nice job here summarising the many areas of concern which exist concerning evolution. In nearly 300 pages he seeks to make the case that we may indeed be dealing with a house of cards. As he says early on in the book:

Darwinism was once a well-fortified castle, with elaborate towers, moats, and battlements. It remained in that condition for well over 100 years – from the publication of The Origin of the Species in 1859 to the Darwin Centennial and then for perhaps three decades after that. Today, however, it more closely resembles a house of cards, built out of flimsy icons rather than hard evidence, and liable to blow away in the slightest breeze.

And again:

Darwinian evolution never did have much in the way of evidence to support it. Today, following Julian Huxley’s lead, it is often embraced more for the support that it gives to atheistic philosophy than for its science. The scientific evidence for evolution is not only weaker than is generally supposed, but as new discoveries have been made since 1959, the reasons for accepting the theory have diminished rather than increased.

Meaty chapters look at the main areas of concern, such as natural selection, the fossil record, homology, common descent, information theory, the philosophy of materialism, DNA and information, and the sociobiology wars. Consider his chapter on human exceptionalism.

He points out that it was Darwin who seems to have been the first person to make the claim that there is nothing exceptional about humans. This is now a mainstay of Darwinian thought. These folks claim it is arrogant to suggest otherwise. But as Bethell writes:

The accusation of arrogance is self-defeating on its face. Only humans are capable of arrogance or of seeing themselves as superior to other animals. Animals cannot rise to that level of abstraction. Do cats or dogs think themselves superior to humans? (Well, dogs don’t, but I’m not so sure about cats.) The criticism of arrogance itself rests on human exceptionalism.

Bethell concludes, “There is remarkably little evidence for Darwinism. . . . The science of Darwinism amounts to little more than the ‘wedding’ of materialism and Progress. . . . Materialism is highly implausible and has been widely challenged. . . . The break-up of Darwinism seems likely in the years ahead.”

Conclusion

Taken together these three very important volumes offer us plenty to think about. Perhaps Darwinism in its various formulations is not as inerrant or above reproach as it is made out to be. Perhaps it has plenty of aspects that warrant much closer examination, assessment, and rethinking.

But far too often anyone who dares to do this is ostracised, vilified and demonised. I am very thankful for these three courageous thinkers who are willing to take the heat in the pursuit of truth. We need more thinkers and scientists like them.

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9 Responses to Second Thoughts on Darwinism

  • Wow – Denton’s first book was excellent – I still use the hilarious arguments for the evolution of bird flight he presented. Great to see this list – thanks Bill.

  • Bill I often challenge atheists in my street preaching and am still living to let the tale. We have DVD’s on the table to give away and I offer them to passers bye. Worst that happens is ridicule on the run yet no one has seriously stopped to challenge me. I may have had a handful of takers over some two and a half years. I thank God for His grace that I am able to see His awesomeness in everything I see and feel a heavy heart for those able to experience this too if they would have eyes to see.

  • It was written to promote the natural rule of wealthy and powerful men in Europe. They paid for the expedition they wanted to continue in control, but with a natural explanation not a God based one. So you get the theory that bigger skull equals bigger smarter brain, disproven now, it’s brain connections and folds and all of that…..look into Darwin’s treatment of the natives he brought back..he treated them as little more than animals. While white European males were of course..more evolved. There are no branching trees of relationship, there are no missing links,as a matter of fact scientists are now trying to figure out how snippets of genes appear laterally through out unrelated species. the supposed embryology I and many people learned, was a discredited set of illustrations…all embryos do not look alike, reptile is very distinct from mammal, for example thing is, they knew almost immediately the illustration that we all look like fish, etc, was wrong, Yet I was taught it in the 1970’s in the US.(100 years later or so) When they got to the part about..mutations causing change, and said only 1 in 1 million mutations survives, my little brain at 15 realized that math doesn’t work, As well, population drift..of a species, tends to end and they go back to a more normal distribution of characteristics, they don’t become a new species.It’s…a theory. that’s all it is How sad we are so eager to unseat God we must believe a lie. to believe that changing our DNA is our next evolutionary step When there is no evolution.. we will create monsters and think ourselves proud creators..

  • Heavy stuff but so fascinating. I know a couple of people who are atheists and also staunch supporters of Darwin theory. They are so wrapped in the “truth” of it that it’s pointless debating with them (and I’m not very good at that sort of thing anyway!).

  • Dear Bill,

    Thank you for the article. What you NEVER, EVER hear discussed by the godless MSM when they are discussing aboriginal affairs [stolen generation etc etc] is the effect Darwinism had on the treatment of the Aboriginal population AFTER the theory became popular in the early days of the Australian colony.

    The impact Darwinism had on society at first cannot be over estimated. It was MASSIVE and became well represented in government which shaped official policies towards them. I am not saying Darwin would have wanted this but the ripple effect of Darwinism also gave some people an excuse to treat them as less than human. The general attitude, put simply, was “they are a weaker race so they are going to die out anyway”. It also seemed that way when aboriginals began to die in droves of measles etc. diseases that they had never encountered before because of their isolation. The fact that determining the degree of Aboriginality at the beginning of the 20th century eg half cast, quarter cast, etc was the responsibility of the government department of Flora Fauna and Fisheries is evidence of this.

    The theory literally knocked the establishment Church off its feet .They had few scientific answers to it although many individual clergy and congregations did their best for them. Some were prevented from trying.

    Christians today should know that God does not make rubbish and the aboriginal race is as fully human as other races but because it developed in isolation it had remained a tribal culture until Australia was discovered.

  • It’s great to see such books which point out the problems with naturalistic evolution, especially by non-Christians, as is the case with at least one and possibly all of these authors.

    However, these books are a product of the Intelligent Design movement, a movement that formally rejects the biblical account as relevant to the history of life on this planet. So if someone asks why the intelligent designer made people with defects, allowed disease and suffering, etc., they can’t point to an originally-perfect creation marred by the Fall; they have to accept an intelligent designer who couldn’t quite get it right.

    Most in the Intelligent Design movement reject the biblical record of the world-destroying flood and reject the explicit (Exodus 20:11) and emphatic (Genesis 1) claims of Scripture that creation took place over a period of six days.

    So although their material can be extremely useful, but we need to remain aware of the ID movement’s own biases.

  • Thanks Philip. We all have biases of course. As readers here should know, I am happy to feature those who do a good job of exposing the weaknesses of Darwinian evolution, whether they fully agree with everything else we might believe on these issues. To use a poor analogy, I may not have been a fan of the Soviet Union, but I was glad they fought with the Allies against Hitler and the Nazis. The same here – as you acknowledge, most of these authors are not even Christians, so of course they may not run with the biblical material on this. But I am still very thankful for their important work in taking on Darwinism.

  • Darwin was as dangerous as mohammed and it would be a toss up as to who has done the most damage.
    Hitler and Stalin were both influenced by his theory of evolution. The mental prison of evolution is very similar to islam and it’s teaching. Reminds me of the saying – the most dangerous virus is an evil idea.

  • Re the ID movement…some definitely are believers in Biblical creation, but don’t make an issue of it. Let’s face it, the only cogent account of an Originator of Intelligent Design that we have is the Judao-Christian God of the Bible. What do atheists who recognise the mathematical impossibility of a spontaneous, materialistic origin of life have to offer…panspermia. Really!

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