Book Review: Darwin’s Doubt

DarwinsDoubtThumbby Brad Nelson   11/17/13
I ready about half of Stephen Meyer’s Darwin’s Doubt this weekend as well as watched the documentary of the same title. Like most such efforts, Darwins’ Doubt is a weak apologetic for the idea of Intelligent Design. But this particular apologetic does raise serious questions regarding Darwinism.

First, let me tell you where I stand. The subject of the origin of life tends not to let the facts speak for themselves, and not just because the facts are relatively scarce. There are people on both sides of this issue who want a particular outcome, facts be darned. In the case of science (as we see with the global warming scam), many scientists are as zealous and dogmatic as the worst fundamentalist religious person in terms of being close-minded and simply demanding that Darwinism not be questioned lest (in their minds) it lead to religious considerations. Meyer recounts one such incident.

But as I see it, we’d be better off letting the chips fall where they may. No one should be threatened by an honest debating of the facts or an honest airing of philosophical differences, including one’s metaphysical presuppositions. In the case of Intelligent Design, it’s not enough to merely look at something as incredible as DNA or the mechanism of the cell and say “That is too incredible for natural processes to come up with that on its own.” Indeed, anyone who has looked at DNA and the mechanisms of cells will readily admit the miraculous nature of it, no matter how such things came to be.

But they did come to be. And the question is, just because we do not how they came to be, should we rightly invoke divine intervention? As Meyer points out in the book (or quotes from someone else), does it really matter if you say that god created a certain species, whether the mechanism is evolution or special creation?

My philosophical starting point is that God created the heavens and the earth. He created the laws of nature. And embedded in the laws of nature is the ability for all these amazing things to occur: electricity, magnetism, chemistry, quantum physics, etc. It is no less wondrous to me if God created species via Darwinian natural selection.

And we should probably get over some of our fear of that word. As I commonly put it, evolution via natural selection is little more than the idea of chemistry-over-time. And the idea of chemistry itself is not controversial. And DNA may be a wondrous molecule, but it is still a molecule and it is one that obviously and inherently is amenable to encoding vast amounts of data and allowing that data to change. The genes and all the wondrous proteins and cellular mechanisms show the deep power and wonder of chemistry, which is all built upon the foundational laws of physics, which is all based upon the Creative power that caused all that is to come to be. It is not blasphemous to suppose that there is evolution by natural selection any more than it is blasphemous to suppose there is such thing as continental drift. Just as geology has consequences (or, rather, interesting capabilities), so does chemistry.

And as we see in modern science, infested with Leftism and a hostility to even the barest amount of philosophy that doesn’t lead to a completely meaningless outlook on life, science itself is now biased toward a very particular and narrow metaphysical presupposition. And scientists tend to defend this outlook with all the gusto of the worst kind of priesthood. Oddly, in science today it is often more difficult to let facts speak for themselves than in the most fundamentalist religious community (which too much of science itself has become).

First, it should be said that to disprove all or part of Neo Darwinism is not in any way to give evidence for, or make the case stronger for, the idea of Intelligent Design. The only way that I can see to prove the idea of Intelligent Design is to get to the point where you can say, with certainty, that natural processes are incapable of evolving life. And at some point that might even be possible. But nature is full of surprises and we would be engaging in supreme hubris if we supposed that because we had encountered a deep problem that we must invoke (in the case of the creation of life) Special Creation.

On the case that Stephen Meyer makes for Intelligent Design in Darwins’ Doubt, I can only say that I am underwhelmed by that argument.

However, his critique of Darwinism is specific, protracted, and powerful. I came away from this book quite sure that Neo-Darwinism (or Old Darwinism, for that matter) is untenable. Yes, we surely evolve. But how? The model of the gradual accumulation of changes (via random mutations) that leads to new species (and eventually, given enough time, to new phylum) is totally blown apart by the fossil record, particularly the Cambrian Explosion.

What we have is a both a severe silence in the fossil record combined with a cacophony of noise a moment later. Remember, the theory of evolution by natural selection eschews fast-and-furious. The entire theory depends upon the accumulation of gradual changes. As Meyer quotes Darwin himself saying, anything else is little different from Special Creation.

For three billion years, the only life on earth was single-celled life: algae. A few sponges and other very very primitive lifeforms appear at the end of this period (the entire period being known as the Precambrian).

And then — within a span of 5 to 10 million years (which is a blink of the eye in terms of the theory of Darwinism or relative to the amount of time life has been on earth) — the fossil record shows the sudden appearance of various forms of complex life. There are 20 or so complete phylums seemingly created out of thin air, in the relative blink of an eye, a timescale much too short for the theory of evolution by natural selection to account for.

In this 5 to 10 million year span in the Cambrian (which followed the Precambrian), nearly all of life’s major body plans or general forms (phylum…the largest category just under Kingdom) came into being (with a few more added later). The creatures that appear in this very detailed (and high resolution, thanks to the fine-grained mud) fossil record are quite complex with compound eyes and various other features of what we would think of as highly evolved creatures. But before this sudden explosion in the fossil record in the Cambrian, there is silence. There are a few sponges and other strange (and very primitive) life forms but absolutely no evidence of any ancestral life forms. And Darwinism itself depends upon a steady string of them.

And the consternation this is causing committed Darwinists can be seen in the lame excuses made for this. “Oh, we haven’t searched enough. There are still fossils to be discovered.” Or, worst of all, they lie and say “The precursors of those Cambrian life forms are represented in the Precambrian fossils.”

But they’re not. There is only silence. We have in earth’s history 3 billion years of simple single-celled life and then — boom — we have nearly all the phylum (including chordates — us) being created seemingly out of thin air. I would still insist that there is a natural explanation for this. But even so, it’s obvious that the Cambrian Explosion blows a gaping hole in Darwinism.

That’s not to say that some new and better theory won’t come along to explain this. I expect that will be the case. But for now, Darwinism (much like global warming) is a crippled theory, buoyed up more by the zealousness of its adherents than by the evidence.

Now that is not to say the evolution does not occur. Clearly the fossil record does show this. But the idea of a steady, slow evolution via natural selection is blown apart because, well, that’s not what happened.

Meyer also notes that this sudden appearance of nearly all the major phylum in a brief 5 to 10 million years span in the Cambrian puts on its head Darwin’s idea of a “tree of life.” In that iconic “tree of life,” there would be a gradual branching off as new species arise. Over time, species would become so remote from other species on other branches of the tree of life that entirely new phylum would be created. But what we instead have is all the major phylum being created in a relative blink of the eye and then diversification inside of the phylum, but no mixing between the phylum. There is no tree. It’s all more a a series of vertical shafts. It’s top-down rather than bottom-up.

And Meyer shows how the latest science that has been done cannot show any kind of logical “tree of life.” If you base that tree on outer forms, you get one kind of tree. If you base it on a specific few genes, you get another. If you base it upon some other set of genes, you get still another. There is no clean, logical, and inevitable branching structure. What we instead almost assuredly have is the idea of the “tree of life” being more of a man-made creation.

Darwin understood the problem of the Cambrian Explosion and understood that if this wasn’t resolved that his theory would be shattered. It was just assumed at the time that this issue would resolve itself, that there were large missing parts of the fossil record and/or that the precursor life forms that predated the Cambrian would all necessarily be soft-bodied and thus the fossil record could not preserve the evidence.

These ideas are blown apart because actual and minute eight-celled sponge embryos have been found in Precambrian layers. Those layers are indeed capable of preserving soft-bodied creatures. But those layers are missing all of the supposed precursors (or earlier forms) of the Cambrian life forms that, according to Darwin’s theory, must exist. Neo Darwinism is based upon the idea that natural selection (fueled by occasional mutations) add up over time and create new species. But there is no mechanism or theory in this for the kind of rapid change that took place in the Cambrian.

But clearly that life did arise, and I’m going to assume it arose by natural processes. Much of Meyer’s book is dedicated to explaining how difficult, if not impossible, it is for random genetic changes to create new proteins. And it is new proteins that ultimately are the smallest unit that can be selected for via natural selection. DNA codes for the chain of amino acids that make up proteins. And proteins are the mini factories or orchestrators of all cellular functions. If natural selection cannot create new proteins, then Neo Darwinism is stillborn.

I found this part of the book to be intriguing and yet, well, certainly those complex proteins were built somehow and I’m not ready to say that the hand of god intervened. And yet the latest research does strongly suggest that mere random mutations can in no way account for creating new information encoded into DNA for the creation of new proteins. So we are indeed left with much doubt about current theories. Hopefully the answers will be forthcoming and will be as marvelous as they surely must be, whatever the explanation. • (4191 views)

Brad Nelson

About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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45 Responses to Book Review: Darwin’s Doubt

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    I have an extensive collection of books on natural history, including evolution. The Cambrian explosion is indeed the biggest problem Darwinism faces; in fact, it works well after that point. This is why I refer to Darwin as the Copernicus of biology: just as Copernicus made a major theoretical advance on Ptolemy but didn’t quite get it right (the actual theory in use today is Kepler’s version), so Darwin (and Wallace) made a major advance in understanding the origin of species, but there was more to it than they presented. You might find Michael Behe’s work on the subject interesting as well.

    You might have appreciated the Mallard Fillmore cartoon many years ago in which the Good Duck suggested telling a biology teacher than God created evolution.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Yes, I’ve heard of Behe. And perhaps his Darwin’s Black Box would be a good place to start.

      One of the reviews there at seems to state things honestly:

      The first half of this book is comprised of lengthy, extremely accessible and enjoyable descriptions of exactly how the smallest cellular mechanisms work. The latter half consists of an attempt to assert the irreducible complexity of those mechanisms. If cilia in cells can’t be accounted for by natural selection, says Behe, then there must be intelligent design at work on that level.

      That’s where I feel a little cheated by these books. Because we can’t explain something now is little reason to jump for “God did it.”

      In terms of “Darwin’s Doubts,” for instance, let’s just assume that “God did it,” that He intervened during the Cambrian and created 20 or so phylums from scratch and set them off.

      What would this tell us of the designer? This designer let single-cell life exist on this planet in somewhat of a steady state for three billion years. Why? Blue-green algae are cool, but cool enough to waste three billion years on them when man, his highest creation, is still waiting in the wings?

      There are mysteries indeed in the Cambrian Explosion. But reaching to Intelligent Design just raises new questions.

      I admit to being at least slightly annoyed by these books that do indeed take a close look at the natural world, and relate the latest in scientific information, often in fascinating and informative ways. But then they punt and suggest “irreducible complexity” or Intelligent Design. I’m certainly no snarky atheistic radical materialist myself who gets hives at even the mention of God. But is that approach intellectually honest given the history of how many problems seemed “irreducibly complex” only to be solved later with novel and unexpected ideas?

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Critics on both sides of the issue refer to that as “the God of the gaps”, the idea being that everything we can’t (yet) explain must be the work of the Designer. But note that in addition to Darwin’s Black Box, Behe also wrote The Edge of Evolution, which looks at several examples of Darwinian evolution (such as the struggle between Homo sapiens and Plasmodium) and presents the notion that Darwinism works at a certain level, but that greater changes (such as the Cambrian explosion) require another mechanism.

        One might also note that there are books looking into subjects such as symbiosis (even the eukaryotic cell is arguably a symbiosis of prokaryotic cells with various organelles such as mitochondria and (in plants) chloroplasts. One reason Darwin wasn’t entirely right is that natural selection isn’t the only evolution mechanism.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Symbiosis is surely one means for an organism to acquire new capabilities. But natural selection would still be the force that either kept or pared out those new features.

          It’s obvious enough that natural selection acts. You get the case of the white moths in England that have a recessive brown or black gene. In cities where coal dust stained the trees dark, the darker moths were selected for and thus the white moths (eaten by the birds who can spot them easily against the dark trees) tended to be selected out.

          That one can change a species via selection (natural or otherwise, such as with dog breeding) is clear enough. The question is, at least in terms of Meyer’s book, whether or not random mutations can create new information to the point where new species are created. You can select between brown, black, yellow, or white moths until the end of time, but one is selecting for what is already there. And perhaps minor mutations can happen in existing genes that give new color combinations.

          But can mutations give rise to whole new genes? The information model given by Meyer in “Darwin’s Doubt” is that this is statistically impossible. Using one of his analogies, it’s just as unlikely that you will create a new and meaningful sentence in English by taking an existing sentence and “mutating” it by substituting letters at random once in a while. You will tend just to scramble things. Oh, you’ll have plenty of letters there, but no useful meaning or information.

          I don’t know what the Neo Darwinian refutation of this, if any, would be. What we do know is that somehow the genetic information gets inserted into DNA. New genes are made, new proteins are encoded for, and species get new features that can be selected for or against. And Meyer makes a strong mathematical case that sheer randomness won’t get you those new proteins.

          And if one looks at the explosion of life in the Cambrian, that would seem to bare this theory out. Slow, methodical, minor changes aren’t apparently going to account for this Cambrian explosion. There is some other mechanism or force giving life a push. Given that this seems self-evidently to be the case, it’s not illogical to suppose that God gave the push. But we just don’t know yet. And it makes sense to suppose a natural cause first.

          What that cause or mechanism is is anyone’s guess. Like I said, I’ve read only half of “Darwin’s Doubt.” Maybe Meyer offers up some suggestions. What we must take into account is the oddity of having blue-green algae be the only type of life on earth for three billion years. How they evolved is question enough. But why did nothing else evolve if Neo Darwinism is correct? It makes no sense. That static 3 billion years makes as little sense, in Darwinian terms, as the sudden explosion in the Cambrian. I’ve half a mind to reach for a nifty sci-fi “aliens did it” explanation which, of course, solves nothing. But the fossil record gives the suggestion of some outer or foreign agent giving a jumpstart — or we just have no idea at all about how new information is encoded into DNA.

  2. Glenn Fairman Glenn Fairman says:

    Behe’s “irreducible complexity” reveals to us how mutations, which are well over 99% lethal to the organism, are not the vehicles of macroevolution. The mousetrap, a very simple device for killing mice, could not work if only one item of the trap is omitted. Therein the entire organism must be designed to function optimally at once in order for it to thrive.
    Moreover, A random mutation that would somehow evolve into an eye must also create a means to replicate that mutation into the next generation……something that is vastly complex by an exponential factor.

    The DNA molecule is perhaps the most complex life building program on earth. And while the molecule is material, the information within it is the byproduct of intelligence—and therein of Mind. Mind is prior to matter, not the accidental function of matter. The chances of a DNA molecule assembling itself far exceeds 1 times 10 to the 100th power—a stupefying number.

    Behe’s biological archetype of irreducible complexity is the bacterium flagella, a hyper complex biochemical motor that must spin at 10,000 rpm in order to move in viscous fluids. Everything about the motor bears the marks of intelligent design, including O-rings, bushings and gear-like structures that are microscopic in size. In applying irreducible complexity to this structure, it is evident that if sonly one part of the complex schema was left out, the life form could not function and would pass out of existence. the chance of all of these parts coming together at once through blind mutation and forming a working structure, giving what we know about mutations, is off the chart. Also, both structure and gene would have to be “on the same page, or the characteristics could not be passed on.

    So far we are looking only at the world of existing matter. Darwin, could say little on how the great leap from inorganic to organic life occurred other than that it took time and chance. Little did Darwin understand about Mendelian genetics, as he though the cell itself to be an enigmatic viscous blob.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I understand the theory of irreducible complexity. But proving something is irreducibly complex will take more than awe at the magnificent integration of parts.

      Mind (intelligence) could certainly be forming these miniature biological machines. We see the hint of the inherent-to-reality nature of mind in quantum experiments, for instance. We could imagine, if not God’s mind, then the inherent sentience bound into the universe by God as being part of the impetus, the source for information and general will, one of the forces of nature of sorts.

      And we might some day have good reason to conclude that something is irreducibly complex. But I don’t think that day has come yet. If I were a scientist (or just curious), I wouldn’t go by the assumption that something can’t be explained by the laws of nature (even if we have to find some new laws).

      Until we are able to mimic the processes of evolution (either in the petri dish or on the computer), dealing with certain subjects such as evolution and life on earth is a bit like reading tea leaves. You can read into them pretty much anything you want. Many theories or ideas can’t readily be disproved.

  3. Kung Fu Zu says:

    I have always wondered how the 2nd law of thermodynamics would apply to evolution. If systems basically tend toward disorder, how is it that things have become more ordered?

  4. Glenn Fairman Glenn Fairman says:

    Show me where life is coming into being or evolving in a macro, not a micro sense, which is adaptation and has observable limitations. We hear of the “God of the Gaps” persistently from the Materialists, and yet, shall we not turn this around and point out the naturalist/materialist is placing his faith in a “Science of the Gaps?” Even Steven J. Gould, the master of Neo-Darwinian apologetics, was honest enough to hold that macro-evolution could not account for variation and range in speciation and had to hypothesize his “punctuated equilibrium” theory—a diluted down Lamarkianism that could come from isolated populations—-but he died with only a theory. Even that ill-mannered fool who now stands as the premiere evolutionary theorist has admitted evolution to be insufficient in his heart of hearts and admits that it looks as if things are designed–but that cannot be possible and we cannot let the metaphysical torso in through the front door. He has stated an interest in alien seeding, a form of intelligent design–but this just kicks the can down the road further.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I’m okay with “science of the gaps;” that is, having the expectation, with a suitably open mind, that within the sphere of the natural world that there will be natural causes for seemingly inexplicable things. If we can find unambiguous evidence of intelligent input in regards to DNA, all the better. That would be a tremendous story, for sure.

      But we’re not there yet. There are some cracks in Neo Darwinism but that doesn’t mean that just any old conception of how things are is how things are.

      The mystery is the world itself. A slightly smaller mystery is how a series (up to 150 or more) of amino acids can be constructed by random mutations to form a workable protein that folds usefully and stably and can, somehow, provide more function for cells which in turn can crank out new functions for an organism.

      It’s all extremely complex, no matter who is imputing the data. The book in question rated the above at something like 1 in 10-to-the-70th power. Perhaps the methodology is in error. What seems impossible can sometimes be achieved with clever programming or overlooked methods.

      That things evolve is not in question, nor is the idea that natural selection is a shaping influence. What is in severe question is whether or not random mutations in DNA can create now “words” or “sentences” that can create new capabilities. It is very easy to mutate a fruit fly and have it grow legs out of its head. But those legs are already encoded for, like one part in a giant Lego set (maybe Mr. Potato Head is a better analogy). But can mutation create a new fundamental shape of Lego? That seems to me to be the question. And if mutation can’t, what other natural cause could? That seems to me to be a mystery…if the math espoused by Mr. Meyer is correct.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Gould always saw himself as a Darwinian, but it is true that the punctuated equilibrium theory contradicts Darwin’s extreme gradualism. However, there were many earlier Darwinians (such as Thomas Huxley) who believed saltation was a viable concept.

  5. Kung Fu Zu says:

    The hardware is interesting, but who wrote the software?

  6. Glenn Fairman says:

    “That things evolve is not in question, nor is the idea that natural selection is a shaping influence.”

    We must be careful with our terms here. We have never witnessed macroevolution occurring, nor does the fossil record point to such a mechanism by the universal dearth of transitional forms. We have a wealth of instances of microevolution, or adaptation occurring: viruses, bacteria, speciation of dogs and cats, or Darwin’s finches. But those adaptations of themselves are subject to limitations–a dog does not grow wings and the beak size of Darwin’s finches grew and receded depending on the wetness of the years.

    Moreover, if we take the case of lupus (wolf) where we get our domestic dog, we find that the “refinement” into purebreds results in not a net increase in genetic information, but a decrease from the wolf–resulting in genetic dead ends that result in the lack of heartiness and subsequent increases of congenital diseases. What is occurring is in effect a devolution or a loss of genetic information and a loss of robustness in the organism.

    If macroevolution were occurring, there would be a superabundance of transitional forms and the creationist babe would have been strangled in its crib. Instead, the dirty little secret is their virtual absence. Think about it. Instead of the marked phenotypes that differentiate the forms that we see in the fossil record, would we not see a great mass of transitional forms–forms that would make it extremely difficult to classify life forms because they revealed beings in constant flux? We do not, however find this to be true. Look at the phylum trees–we see distinct speciation and we can only erroneously infer that macroevolution has taken place because that is what we wish to see.
    Darwinism has only ever been a working hypothesis. Since it is unfalsifiable, it never could have been considered a theory. Through the years, evolutionists have brought forth Haeckel’s nascent forms, the exploded thesis of vestigial organs, and we are now demolishing the mythology of junk DNA. Scientists point to the similarity in structures from animals to man and the DNA that a tapeworm and a Englishman have in common. An intelligent Designer would utilize many a common theme in constructing a series of bridges or computer programs because they were optimal and functional. The idea of a designer may not lead us to the doorstep of the Nazarene, but it perhaps makes a hell of a lot more sense to believe that a magnificent mind is at work here rather than the sophomoric spectacle of life bootstrapping itself into existence ex nihilo. Darwinism was merely the fig leaf for a generation of humanity that wanted to live the way they wanted to without the eye of accountability staring at them. In sticking their heads into the ground, they believe they have avoided such scrutiny.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I would say that both macro and micro evolution are a given. I don’t believe that God simply created various species from scratch and that there has only been micro evolution.

      And I’m not up to date on the state of the art regarding transitional fossils. Indeed, the entire importance of the Cambrian explosion in regards to the theory of gradual evolution is that there are no transitional forms.

      Still, I’m not one who says that because the current theory has holes in them that we jump to divine intervention as a solution. That just doesn’t seem to be the way the world works. And in any event, such a theory would be even less falsifiable than Darwinism.

      I think there are several mysteries to solve, not least of which is how life got started. Then there is accounting for the information encoded into DNA. And last, but not least, assuming some kind of evolutionary process, how it can work so relatively fast as in the Cambrian explosion. But the very existence of DNA and the various cellular mechanisms means that evolution is not just possible but inevitable.

      My thoughts on this are to maintain a certain amount of humility, especially because our investigation of this entire line of inquiry is so relatively new. DNA was only just discovered. To propose an intelligent designer, while certainly possible, doesn’t advance our knowledge or leave open many other possibilities. And the idea of an intelligent designer itself is problematic. Why the assumption that the intelligence is in the front end instead of the back end?

      While realizing that Darwinism (and anti-Darwinism, for that matter) has become somewhat of a religion or worldview for people, I’m willing to let the facts speak for themselves even as we try to uncover more of them and even as we acknowledge the severe problems any theory has right now. But to have an unsolved mystery does not mean we should invoke a miracle. And just because Darwinists have been smug in advancing their theories does not mean that opposite of those theories (Special Creation) is true.

      I’m intrigued by the possibilities, including Intelligent Design. I think there is much left to be discovered.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I don’t know if there are enough transitional forms (I don’t know how many there should be), but there are certainly many. The descent of the horse is more complex than it was once thought, but that simply means that there is an abundance of transitional forms there. A recent book by Neil Shubin (Your Inner Fish) deals with transitional forms on the fish-to-amphibian chain.

  7. Glenn Fairman says:

    DNA is coded information, It does not have a material origin. Information and consciousness are the products of sentient and directed mind. Any Informations System Engineer knows that information does not bootstrap itself into being but is thoughtfully put together with a teleological purpose in mind. By claiming the priority of materiality before consciousness, we put the cart before the horse and muddy the waters.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Okay, let’s say that God created, I guess, the various phylum with hard-wired DNA. But things have evolved, and they would need to. One of the theories for why there is sex, for example, is to stay ahead of parasites by mixing and matching genes.

      So we can certainly suppose that some intelligent designer was aware of all this and made the system dynamic, which it certainly is. But the most dynamic system of all, and one that could handle most contingencies, is a naturalistic one. The greatest system that an intelligent designer could create is one that could self-assemble and be dynamic enough to handle all contingencies thrown at it. And this is what we quite possibly have.

      I admit it is a mystery how this system might have self-assembled, if it did so. It’s certainly possible that it was given some hard-wired coding by an intelligent designer at the get-go. But we just don’t know. We are so early in this process of discovery that I think it’s best to keep an open mind. Perhaps there are ways for information to accumulate in DNA.

      One of the problems regarding this entire enterprise is that any theory is problematic because the nature of the subject matter is mostly beyond our ability to directly measure and manipulate. This makes it therefore easy for flabby theories to take hold, including that of intelligent design. We just don’t know yet. The study of how life evolved (or was designed) is in its infancy.

      I’d like to think that eventually computer models could show us how this could work. That’s probably our best bet, to be able to set up scenarios and see what happens. But we are likely decades, if not hundreds of years, from being able to model the kinds of processes that evolution might take.

      It’s all well and good to say that because DNA is information, and because the only kinds of information we know about comes from minds that therefore DNA comes from a mind. But we don’t know that yet. It’s an interesting theory. But what if, as the Darwinists say, information is indeed drawn from natural selection in some way….or some other process? It could be complete random chance that kick-started the Cambrian explosion, for all we know. The history of life on earth doesn’t seem to fit any model. Three billion years of simple blue-green algae doesn’t exactly fit the model of an intelligent designer. And the Cambrian explosion doesn’t fit the theory of gradual evolution.

  8. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Here’s a good adjunct to this whole subject. Secret Universe: The Hidden Life of the Cell.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      This video (having just finished it) is centered around the invasion of cell machinery by a virus. I’d never seen this one before. Some of the nano cellular machines are beyond belief. I would love to see an entire film on just how one of those things works, especially the little walking thingie that transports cargo up and down the inner highways of the cell.

      Viruses themselves would seem to present a tough case for intelligent design. Why, after all, would a designer design code for the virus to break down his other machines? You glimpse what I think is much more probable, that this is indeed a sort of survival of the fittest, even at the cellular level.

      Life, however it got started and however it changes, does seem to be in a constant ongoing battle, driven not toward a comfortable equilibrium by an intelligent designer but by the sheer will to be. Energies and information is used, however it is accumulated, to do wondrous and sometimes awesome things in a constant dance of change, defense, offense, and coming into being.

  9. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I was reading a little more of “Darwin’s Doubt” last night. It’s a difficult book to read, but not so much from a technical standpoint. It’s more like you are looking over the shoulder of an argument between scientific colleagues on somewhat esoteric matters, rather than being presented a clear and concise layman’s overview at the state of the problems with Neo-Darwinism, although the book does function as both. But it gets a little dull, repetitive, and “inside baseball.”

    But there are clear problems with the idea of mutations working hand-in-hand with natural selection to make changes in major body plans, aka “macro evolution.” And if we didn’t have evidence that it has happened, we might well throw in the towel and say that it is impossible given that every avenue of thought seems to lead to a dead end.

    But it did happen. So now we must ask whether the gap in our knowledge is due to its impossibility via natural processes. There is an appeal to this approach. The idea of an Intelligent Designer is grand, thought-provoking, and may satisfy our religious strivings.

    But there’s a problem with invoking an Intelligent Designer. As they say in war, “If you break it, you own it.” So it is with genetics and life. If an Intelligent Designer designed the various life forms, that designer also owns all the birth defects and other maladies that stem from imperfect bodies.

    All of the problems of birth defects, disease, and other maladies are easily enough explained in the paradigm of contingency. That is, excrement happens. Chance plays a part. There is no plan, per se, in every little defect. But with Intelligent Design, the Designer owns all of that.

    And that’s where contingency will re-enter the equation whether we want it to or not, because with every question regarding the intentions of this designer, we will likely create a rationalization to explain some conundrum – this time of purpose rather than of scientific theory. We become the contingent agents of sorts, making it all work with our rationalizations.

    But it’s certainly possible that an Intelligent Designer of some sort hand-coded the DNA. But then we have to ask why he did so for the viruses as well which would have to be specifically hand-coded to wreck the Designer’s other works. And why, if this coding is from presumably a Divine Designer, did so many of the species become extinct?

    And the Cambrian explosion is indeed an interesting thing that needs explaining (as does life itself, in its origin and all its forms). But what intention can we deduce from a designer who is satisfied with single-celled blue-green algae as the only (or predominant) life form on this earth for three billion years? Did this designer get bored and thus started the Cambrian explosion?

    These are not meant to be flippant questions. This is meant to merely point out that “If you break it, you own it.” Invoking an Intelligent Designer does not come for free. If that Designer can write on-the-fly working software for incredibly complex (and working) species, why does not this Designer on-the-fly fix broken ones?

    After reading now about 3/4 of this book, I’m left with the impression that there are indeed major problems with Neo Darwinism, particularly in explaining macro evolution. But it seems premature to jump to the idea of an Intelligent Designer. Such a thing may even be true. But I think much of this leap to an Intelligent Designer is fueled less by evidence or logic than by the ongoing rivalry with a side that often can rightly be called truly noxious and obnoxious: the proponents of Darwinism who have taken up that cause with an unhinged dogmatic zeal, and a particularly anti-religious zeal it is.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      This is a problem only if one assumes an omniscient designer. Most people do, but it isn’t inherent in the concept.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Good point. And I haven’t read the part where Meyer perhaps gets into some of the details of this philosophy. But we are well-read enough here to do the same ourselves.

        It seems to me in terms of an Intelligent Designer we are dealing with three possible agents:

        1) God Almighty himself (benevolent or otherwise)

        2) A lesser intelligent agent (seed-spreading aliens, if you will, who themselves would need to be explained, of course) or

        3) Some kind of “force of nature” formative intelligence, perhaps analogous to a Platonic form. It’s the idea that there are preferred forms in nature that are given some kind of “oomph” in the direction of forming, much like we see in any pattern such as ice crystals which are going to have six sides.

        Number three has some plausibility to me, for what are “the laws of nature” themselves but standardized “oomph” in a preferred direction?

        Still, I believe that we are too early in the process of trying to understand how life arose and gained the forms that it has to reach for supernatural answers. Number 3 above would not be supernatural, of course. And something like this might even be true. After all, there is apparently good reason to believe that we haven’t a clue what 96% of the universe is made of. It will take an open mind and probably some revolutionary theories to account for that.

        But from a methodological point of view, if I’m a scientist, I wouldn’t be throwing away my gene-splicers and centrifuges anytime soon. There is every reason to suspect that we will find a natural answer to this conundrum. And if we don’t, and we find a “spooky” one, then fine. Quantum physics itself is entirely spooky. But appealing to an intelligent designer can have the effect of simply throwing in the towel in terms of an investigation.

  10. Pokey Possum says:

    It seems logical to me that if an Intelligent Designer is intelligent enough to make those little footed machines that move things around inside a cell then he is intelligent enough to know ahead of time the need for virus fighting mechanisms inside the cells.

    I believe the intelligent designer is the one who calls himself I AM. Can this conclusion be reached through science, or will it remain in the realm of faith?

    The way I understand it, God created man for the joy of loving us and for us to love Him.
    We have all seen parents who take pleasure in loving their children. That they have love for their children when they behave and also when they misbehave is a wonderful mystery. But what satisfaction would a parent have in children who robotically behave in a sterile and predictable manner – if they were programmed for obedience at the cost of personality?

    I believe it is our Creator’s love for us, and His desire to be loved in return that compelled Him to create us with freedom of thought (free will). And a side effect of that free will is the propensity to self-love and the desire to be our own god. The temptation to want to be our own god and self-love leads to choosing to eat an apple while rationalizing away the disobedience and ignoring the consequences of the choice. Thus sin and death entered into Creation and ruined/made imperfect for a time (an age) what was designed to be perfect. Being the intelligent designer, God foresaw the need to redeem this situation before it even happened. He planned for this contingency because He loves what He created.

    Is it not uncommon for a parent to go to great lengths to save their child from pain, even death, if it is within their power? Many would give their very lives if it meant their child could live.

    God loves his children, His creation, so much that He gave a part of Himself (His Son) to redeem us all. He set the example of redemption by blood through the law of Moses, and by the light the law casts on our sin we understand the need for redemption. Jesus Christ willingly gave His life’s blood for us, and by the power of Him who spoke life into existence Christ walked out of the grave alive on the third day having conquered sin/death once and for all. And He sends His Spirit to those who believe as a deposit toward the life He intended for us from the start.

    I think the reason science cannot yet answer the question of our existence is because it has not discovered the existence and power of God’s Love. Science cannot quantify this Love or factor in the life-giving power His Love has on Creation. God’s Love for His Creation is both the question and the answer. The beginning and the end. Not a finite end, but one that sets things right. It came to be when Christ said about His work, “It is finished” and continues on into timeless eternity as a constant, never to be repealed or changed.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I believe it is our Creator’s love for us, and His desire to be loved in return that compelled Him to create us with freedom of thought (free will). And a side effect of that free will is the propensity to self-love and the desire to be our own god.

      One of Charles Darwin’s famous quotes is “What a book a devil’s chaplain might write on the clumsy, wasteful, blundering, low, and horribly cruel work of nature!”

      As Dennis Prager notes, nature is, at best, amoral. It is nature’s way to let the weak die. But human beings, on the other hand, build hospitals.

      The conundrum facing us is reconciling nature with a benevolent god. Nature herself is a very poor guide from which to draw moral lessons. This very fact alone gives us evidence of a reality, dimension, or realm above mere nature for we can indeed conceive of moral lessons above and apart form nature.

      But neither must we deny nature. Nature must be given her due. I see no problem whatsoever with operating under the assumption that all of life’s processes can be explained (at least via the chain of cause and effect) by no more than the laws of nature. If it can be shown otherwise, or if we discover some mysterious laws that we otherwise didn’t know about, then fine. But to reach for the idea of special creation because we have nagging unexplained phenomena doesn’t seem to me to be justified, especially given the history of scientific investigation of the natural world in explaining just such nagging things.

      Is there really irreducible complexity or have we instead not figured out how such biological systems might have evolved? And if we invoke divine intervention for things such as the Cambrian explosion, then we are left giving various accounts for the thinking and motivations of God. And you will find as many of those as there are people on the earth. And where does this get us in terms of understanding life and all of reality?

      Glenn Beck often quotes this from Thomas Jefferson: “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.”

      Somehow modern Christianity got into its head that the idea of life evolving was in opposition to a triune God. And because so many of the people who are Darwinists are often snarky atheists, I think we have a bit of a rivalry going. It’s become a zero sum game. Either Darwin dies or Christianity dies. And that’s a very bad bet to make for I think it’s a fair assumption that natural process will eventually be at the root of an explanation for how life arose and what prompted the Cambrian explosion.

      It’s also possible that those events are so far in the past and lacking direct and verifiable evidence that we will remain in the dark. But I think it’s a bad deal to usher in the darkness before it is needed by claiming divine intervention.

      For better or for worse, this world does seem to be governed by what we call the laws of nature. Man’s job is to rise above nature but I don’t think it is also necessary to deny nature. I also believe in Albert Einstein’s idea of “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” I don’t know if ol’ Albert was thinking deep metaphysical or ontological thoughts when he said that. But I believe that is the correct lens through which to gauge even all of nature. Whatever the laws are, it’s a miracle that we have these laws at all, even as cruel as some of them are.

      Another thought comes to mind when contemplating this. It’s a thought I’ve struggled with over the years, at times dismissing it as too stern, and at times coming to recognize the wisdom of it. It is Paul’s admonition of, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” I think in some ways coming to grips with the totality or reality (such as any one mind ever can) requires that we put away some of our childish things and face some of the harsh truths. After all, our main political foes (socialists) are stuck in a childish utopian dream, a world where no one has to suffer, no one has to compete, and everything is “fair.”

      I can’t begin to say that I understand all of God’s wisdom, even as expressed and encoded into the laws of nature. But I do think it’s more than okay to explore natural explanations for things even as miraculous as life….if we keep in mind that all of existence itself stems from phenomena quite beyond nature. But it’s not for me to decide where that boundary line is. But there does appear to be one. So we investigate the natural world with the best methods we have, including our reason and logic and see where this leads. And my worldview is in no way threatened by this.

      • Pokey Possum says:

        “Glenn Beck often quotes this from Thomas Jefferson: “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.”

        I would agree with Thomas Jefferson. 1) How can an answer be expected to a question that is not asked? 2) The nature of God is order, not chaos and fear.
        As an aside, I’m curious about the context of the quote. What was the fear that he was addressing?

        “It’s also possible that those events are so far in the past and lacking direct and verifiable evidence that we will remain in the dark. But I think it’s a bad deal to usher in the darkness before it is needed by claiming divine intervention.”

        I really don’t consider my belief in God to be a default position, or giving up, or even taking the easy way out. It is much more of a challenge to believe in the unseen than what is seen or can be scientifically proven. That’s why faith comes from God and is given to those who ask for it. (no snark intended)

        “Another thought comes to mind when contemplating this….It is Paul’s admonition of, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

        It is my understanding that Paul is speaking to fairly new Christians, encouraging them to not be satisfied with the spiritual milk they have been taking in, but to crave the meat of the scriptures and to mature in the faith. And, as you say, “rise above (human) nature” -to become more Christ-like.

        “I can’t begin to say that I understand all of God’s wisdom, even as expressed and encoded into the laws of nature. But I do think it’s more than okay to explore natural explanations for things even as miraculous as life….if we keep in mind that all of existence itself stems from phenomena quite beyond nature. But it’s not for me to decide where that boundary line is. But there does appear to be one. So we investigate the natural world with the best methods we have, including our reason and logic and see where this leads. And my worldview is in no way threatened by this.”

        Brad, it is your inquisitiveness, open-mindedness, confidence and willingness to be a little vulnerable all at the same time that makes you somewhat unique. And fun.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          …that makes you somewhat unique.

          Oh mon dieu. I must try harder then. 😉

          One of the best sections of his book, “Darwin’s Doubt,” is where Meyer discusses what he calls “word salad” coming out of the mouths of Darwin apologists. Instead of admitting the various problems with the theory, they simply posit language that sounds plausible but means nothing and solves nothing.

          This is very common in our world today, and perhaps always has been. But as Dennis Prager says, “Everything the Left touches it makes worse.” And I would say that this includes science as well. Science is now full of Leftist ideologues who put aside objectivity long ago. This is behind the proliferation of the global warming scam, for example.

          It took Richard Feynman to burst through the psychological, bureaucratic, and political clutter after the Challenger accident with his simply demonstration of a piece of o-ring material losing its pliancy when dipped into a glass of ice-cold water.

          We are short of Richard Feynman’s today. Many of the top scientists, such as Stephen Hawking, preach a secular religion called “materialism” that hides itself inside scientific-sounding theories such as the multi-verse theory. But such an idea is not a scientific theory because it cannot be falsified (and this from the same people who chide us for imagining “dragons in our garage” — Sagan). It’s interesting speculation, I’ll admit. But it is not science and is, in fact, a religious view. It is the secular-socialist-materialist religious view, or religious impulse, really. It’s a way to get around any kind of beginning, even if they have to make it up out of whole cloth.

          I’m quite happy to admit that God may have bundled up the genes with his hand-coded data. There may indeed be irreducible complexity. But we have to be careful of word salad on our side as well. Simply saying “irreducible complexity” is not the same thing as proving it. And simply acknowledging that point mutations of DNA can never likely create new proteins (and thus eventually new species) is not quite the same thing as saying that Creationism is proved. We, too, have to be careful of engaging in word salad, saying things that may be pleasing but that jump across whole chasms without sufficient demonstration of the plausibility of the idea.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            Nice point about non-falsifiability. I’ve pointed out, for example, that liberals defending CAGW sound much like fundamentalists defending “scientific” creationism, with equal plausibility. I first encountered this argument about 40 years ago from a friend at Purdue who similarly regarded the idea of tachyons as unscientific.

          • Kung Fu Zu says:

            “that hides itself inside scientific-sounding theories such as the multi-verse theory. But such an idea is not a scientific theory because it cannot be falsified (and this from the same people who chide us for imagining “dragons in our garage” — Sagan). It’s interesting speculation, I’ll admit. But it is not science and is, in fact, a religious view.”

            In fact, some strains of Buddhism and Hinduism consider reality as being made up of “multi-verses”.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              As I understand it, the multiverse theory is a theory of the infinite “bubbling off” of universes, each a side-node of some greater “multiverse.”

              This particular concept feigns compliance with quantum theory but is simply driven by a disgust for the idea of a beginning. Einstein hated the idea of a beginning as well, thus he made what he called his biggest mistake with this “cosmological constant” kludge.

              Scientists don’t tend to like anything that leaves any room for a Creator. That’s just the reality of it. These people are now indoctrinated in a new world view. They are more comfortable with proposing their own variant of imagining how many angels can dance on the head of a pin than to acknowledge the implications of the Big Bang.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Your discussion of the matter of love and obedience replicates the logic used by a priest discussing the problem of Evil at the end of Anthony Boucher’s long story “We Print the Truth”.

  11. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I’ve been reading a bit of Meyer’s other book, Signature in the Cell. And one of the reasons he posits for the secular materialists positing a “multiverse” is to increase the chance for chance itself.

    In order for point mutations or random self-assembly to account for the information encoded into DNA (or just whatever started life itself rolling), it requires a HUGE bit of random chance to be working for it. And the numbers that Meyers and others have crunched apparently show that if you had ALL of the universe to use as some big chance pool, you could never, by chance alone, come up with 150 (or even less) amino-acid sequences to code for just one protein. And it takes several proteins, all working in conjunction, to make life work.

    So Meyer posits that at least one reason for the “multiverse” is the desire to simply increase the surface area (if you will) in which chance has to work. Maybe — the secular socialist atheist smart-ass scientism types surely suppose — that even if it is statistically impossible for life to self-assemble in this one universe (our own) then in an infinite number of universe it could surely do so. Problem solved.

    Certainly other processes could be at work in terms of how life started and how the sequences of amino acids became encoded in DNA. And I, for one, don’t reach to the idea of intelligent design merely because we are stumped. If that’s the ultimate answer, then so be it. I’m happy with that. Whatever is the truth.

    But there are people out there who are not happy unless any possibility of a creator is removed. Much like everything else in our society, everything the Left touches they make worse. And that includes science where a dispassionate approach to discovery is no longer the norm. We’re talking about an entire culture that has mixed politics into everything. And as Jonah Goldberg points out in “Liberal Fascism,” this is always what you get with the Left (Progressives, socialists, Communists, liberals, etc.). Things can’t just stand for themselves. Everything tends to be politicized and is interpreted according to the narrow lens of Cultural Marxist politics (which is decidedly and forever atheistic).

    All conservatives should be very well aware of this aspect of the Left. If not, they should go back and read that book. But it’s become nearly impossible for anyone indoctrinated into Leftism to be rational, impartial, and fact-based.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I read once that one major problem people had with living under communist totalitarianism was that everything was a matter of politics. So it’s hardly a surprise that liberal totalitarians also politicize everything.

  12. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Speaking of intelligent design, John Derbyshire embarrasses himself in this debate (two opposing articles at The American Specator) with Stephen Meyer.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Very interesting debate. Derbyshire has some nice points, if you ignore his total failure to answer Meyer’s challenge to explain the Cambrian explosion. I did a response (which may or not make it in) noting that science is a method of explaining the world, and that relying on scientists as prophets (as Darwinists, like CAGW alarmists, are all too likely to do) is NOT science.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Basically Derb was running like a scared little girl from a metaphysics that upsets his worldview. He tries to hide his discomfort with a series of snarls. As someone said on that thread, Derb has finally turned into a crank. And I agree.

        As I’ve stated, I expect that there will be a naturalistic explanation for the existence of life. But if not, I’m fine with that too. We should be committed to facts, not some dogmatic fear of what might happen should anyone loosen their death grip on the strictly materialist conception of the universe.

        Derb comes off as a thoughtless hack, and one afraid of his opponents if only because he assigns to them bad motives and doesn’t actually, at any point at all, deal with the problems that are on the table regarding Darwinism. He even claims the term “Darwinism” itself is a pejorative of the religious.

        That’s just nuts. I lost a lot of respect for this guy. It could turn out that there is a naturalistic explanation for the information in DNA. If so, what a wonder to discover it. If we actually hit a scientific dead-end regarding that, what a wonder too that the idea of an intelligent source of that genetic information gains credibility as an alternative explanation….even if it is not scientifically provable.

        Derb is also naïve in terms of expecting a material explanation for the mind thereby showing what I think is a blind faith that is not warranted. I’ve seen this same discomfort from atheists of all stripes when dealing with the truly spooky nature of reality, including the immaterial mind, which is a noted and unavoidable example. Instead of acknowledging the problem, in principle, of a material explanation for that which is immaterial, they tie themselves up into knots trying to explain why it would just be better not to notice those things as all….a point that Meyer has been making and that Derb, through his evasion, once again confirms.

        I agree with Meyer that the Cambrian explosion presents real problems for the very core idea of Darwinism which is gradual evolution. And the nature of the information content of DNA, and the kind of information content it takes to create useful proteins, sheds serious doubt on the idea of point mutations being a means for evolution (macro evolution, at least) to occur.

        No doubt there are people involved in intelligent design whose only desire is to confirm their faith. But so what? Hasn’t Derb just given an inarticulate and I would say disingenuous recitation in the opposite direction? Let the facts fall where they may, but we shouldn’t be afraid of looking at them or the problems in any scientific theory. And last time I looked, there is more to the world than what is scientifically provable (such as our subjective minds, for instance). The scientific-centric point of view is useful but does not and cannot explain everything. Nor does it own the metaphysics.

        I suspect all that we saw from Derb was his unvarnished and somewhat childish disdain for religion. Too bad he didn’t take up the subject of science which is what Stephen Meyer did, and much to his credit.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          I have a few observations here. For one thing, Darwin was supported by some people (such as Thomas Huxley) who disagreed with his gradualism and considered saltation (rapid evolutionary leaps) a reasonable possibility. Their approach, unlike his, isn’t seriously challenged by the facts of the Cambrian explosion.

          Another is that the co-discoverer of evolution by natural selection, Alfred Russell Wallace, believed that the human brain was inexplicable by purely natural mechanistic means. In effect, he was the co-originator not only of Darwinism, but of intelligent design.

          Finally, I will note that I distinguish between Darwinians like me (who believe in evolution by natural selection, at least as a major if not exclusive explanation of the origin of species) and Darwinists (i.e., Darwin cultists). I refer to Darwin as the Copernicus of biology because like the Polich cleric, he wasn’t entirely right.

  13. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    ” I refer to Darwin as the Copernicus of biology because like the Polich cleric, he wasn’t entirely right.”

    Who is his Kepler?

    • Timothy Lane says:

      He may not have appeared yet, or we may simply need more time to see who it is. (It took a while to realize that Kepler’s system was right, though Newton did use it to come up with his gravitational formula.) Or maybe it’s Michael Behe or some other partial dissenter on evolutionary biology.

  14. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Frankly, I get tired of these pinheads such as Derb who equate belief in god as some contagious rash that must be eradicated and refuted at every turn. Like it or not, existence is metaphysical and spooky.

    But I think I know where these people are coming from. The vanguard of “reason” hope to protect society from the irrationality of religion, as they see it. And they certainly see it as a dire threat because, as with the Derb refutation of Meyer, he didn’t refute Meyer. He simply dogmatically held to the position that the one and only one way to understand reality is via strict materialism and if you don’t think the same way, there must be something wrong with you.

    And this materialism-only view is obviously not so right out of the gate, for materialism cannot account for our minds, for example. Nor is there any reason to believe, in principle, that it ever can. Reality is inherently metaphysically spooky. Get used to it.

    And I think “reason” itself is little more than an insider club wherein various forms of “Brites” continue to make the case for why their point of view is so gosh-darn important that it can’t stoop to even addressing the inherent metaphysical issues of reality, let alone the gaping holes in Neo Darwinism.

    As an aside, Dennis Prager has a wonderful video up at PragerU about rationality which certainly intersects on the conceit of those self-appointed protectors of “reason.” It’s worth a viewing: Is Evil Rational?

    There is nothing remotely creepy or bizarre about the idea of teleology. Although Derb can’t bust his way through his own narrow prejudices (guardian of rationality, so he thinks he is), one reasonable interpretation of the double-slit experiments of quantum physics is that there is a kind of mind inherent in mere matter itself (whatever “matter” actually is…it should not be assumed to have been inherently understood merely by giving it a word that it has become familiar and routine).

    Meyer’s calls the force that may be behind the information in DNA as “intelligence.” Derb and others automatically inflate that to God. And certainly that idea is consistent with the idea of God and a Creator, nor do many of those involved in intelligent design deny this possibility or deny it is a hope. But must the anti-religious bigotry of the “rational” people constrain a full and broad search of the possibilities just because some (who claim to dislike the dogmatism of religion) run screaming from the word “god,” even if they do themselves inflate the idea of intelligence to mean only that of a Christian god?

    That there is a nature to nature is self-evident or else there could be no “laws of nature.” What if part of that nature is a latent intelligence? As I said, quantum double-slit experiments show a clear link between mind and matter. The particles (or waves) seem to “know” what to do. What if there is a self-directed principle inherent to matter that works to form life?

    And despite the school-girl-like shriekings of the “rational” people such as Derb, there is nothing in this idea that is contrary to science or that in any way is an impediment to scientific research. It’s just another line of inquiry. But surely it is a threat to those who are the self-appointed “Brites” whose job it seems to be to protect us all from unorthodox beliefs. Sound familiar?

    And we inevitably must have other lines of inquiry because, at least to me, it is self-evident that science cannot deal with the only reason any of us are having this conversation in the first place: the mind, consciousness itself. Yes, Derb, there is room for serious and honest attempts to understand reality that are outside the paradigm of radical materialism. Let science continue to try to unwrap the mystery of life. If it succeeds, then all the better. It’s the end, not the means, that should interest us. But any honest scientist should note the obvious point that the scientific method cannot, and never will, tell us everything. It is more a matter of dogmatic faith to suppose that it can.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      You’ll recall that a group of religious skeptics sought to call themselves collectively “brights”, Michael Shermer defended this as not intended to cast aspersions on the religious. My own thought was that such people could better be called “arrogants”.

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