by Michael DentonLike all cultures, ours has a dominant origin myth (using the word in the sociological sense, which connotes nothing about its truth or falsity): in this case, the mythos of accidental evolution, the emergence and development of the universe and all life in it by blind, random chance through the purposeless interaction of matter and energy, which are defined a priori as the only realities in the universe.Like all origin myths, this one has universal implications for how all areas of life are lived; confers cultural power on the intellectual elite that upholds it; is taught as fact and automatically accepted by most people as a given that needs no examination, and engenders passionate loyalty on many levels independent of rational argument.And like all origin myths, it rests on no eyewitness testimony; the origin of the universe and of life had no humans to record it historically or photographically.
A significant difference between this mythos and many others, though, is its theoretical appeal to empirical evidence.Though the origin is itself unobservable, the physical realities of the universe supposedly provide enough circumstantial evidence to "prove" the mythos.That this proof exists is a postulate most people accept, in practice, on the authority of tradition, social consensus, and "expert" say-so; pressed to explain it, most could not. But the appeal to evidence as the ostensible basis of the belief system is significant —because evidence is supposed to be able to withstand informed examination.This is where Denton's book comes in.
An Australian molecular biologist, Denton has impeccable scientific credentials.(He is also a theistic evolutionist, but here he makes no reference to religious revelation or philosophical reasoning; his case is developed strictly from empirical scientific observations.) He begins by outlining the origins of Darwin's theory and the arguments for it, and traces the history of its rise to a position of dogma.Then, chapter by chapter, he examines the present state of various areas of circumstantial "evidence" for the mythos, and the circumstantial evidence against it.The latter vastly outweighs the former.
There is a great deal of content and information in this book, most of it clearly understandable to intelligent laymen (the chapter on cell biology might be challenging).Two of the most salient points can be summarized as follows. First, we know a great deal more about the actual mechanisms of heredity through DNA than was known in Darwin's day (which was essentially nothing).Everything we know and have observed about the structure and transmission of DNA suggests that it is mutable up to a point —but it is not infinitely mutable.Empirical evidence refutes the fixity of species (a typical straw man Darwinists like to knock down) —but it does suggest the relative fixity of broad kinds of living things, and here the fossil record is completely in harmony with the evidence of biochemistry.Second, most highly developed organs and systems of living things exhibit "irreducible complexity" —that is, their development by small accidental mutations would have required a vast number of them, but none of them would have had any adaptive value at all until the complete development was done, and some would actually have temporarily greatly reduced the ability of the organism to survive.Much earlier, Peter Stoner, in Science Speaks, demonstrated accidental evolution to be a "statistical monstrosity" from the standpoint of probability theory; Denton demonstrates it to be a biological monstrosity as well.
This book is carefully researched and documented, clearly argued, and cogent.It is a pleasure to recommend it to anyone who genuinely wants to understand the "blind chance vs. ultimate purpose" debate.
|eBook format||Paperback, (torrent)|
|Publisher||Adler & Adler|
|File size||2.1 Mb|
|Book rating||4.59 (101 votes)