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The New Atheists today scoff at people of faith. Richard Dawkins has even urged his followers to mock people of faith. The same people bristle at the suggestion that they, themselves, have faith.
Dawkins is sweeping in his statements, defining faith for the masses and allowing no prisoners. But his definition of faith is loaded with his assumptions about what faith is, ignoring the evidence – even the evidence right in front of him. This the conclusion I reach as I consider his first debate with John Lennox.
I would even go so far as to say that Dawkins is guilty of the very same charge he levels against Christians and other people of faith. Let me explain.
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As I work my way through Darwin’s Doubt, by Stephen C. Meyer, the pace slows as we go from basic information, concepts and analyses to complex ones. In my first article, I covered four chapters dealing with the fossil record, the Cambrian explosion and addressing some conclusory solutions to the problem it poses to the theory of evolution. In my next two articles, I took on chapters 5 & 6 and chapters 7 & 8 dealing with more complex solutions that, in turn, expose more problems.
Over the course of those chapters, we traversed the fossil record and got progressively deeper into molecular and biological minutia. In Chapter 9, we stood back and looked at the forest in mathematical and probabilistic terms. The problems that we encountered at the microscopic level reveal problems of cosmic proportions as we examined the complexity of DNA and the plausibility of random mutations leading to functional results on which natural selection could work among the dizzying number of possible outcomes. In Chapter 10, we go back in to the deeper evaluation looking at genes and proteins.
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I received the book, Darwin’s Doubt, by Stephen C. Meyer, as a gift and have been reading and reviewing it on this blog. I learn better by processing what I read, and processing, for me, means writing.
In the first installment, I breezed through the first four chapters of the book in which Meyer introduces the problem of “Darwin’s doubt”, the Cambrian Explosion. Darwin knew the sudden proliferation of life forms in the Cambrian era was a problem to his theory, but hoped future discoveries would prove his theory right.
The Theory of Evolution necessarily requires long periods of gradual change in which natural selection works to weed out unproductive traits in favor of productive traits, slowly and almost imperceptibly evolving from simple life forms to more complex life forms and from one life form to another life form.
The Cambrian “explosion” contraindicated Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Darwin, himself, highlighted that fact, but he assumed that future discoveries would fill in the missing gaps that did not appear in the fossil record in his time. Meyer traces the most relevant history since Darwin’s time to “tell the rest of the story”, which turns out does not confirm his assumption. In fact, subsequent discoveries accentuate the problem.
In the next two chapters, Meyer explains how the scientific community has attempted to fill that gap with solutions that explain away the gap. Rather than question Darwin’s theory, they have moved to the molecular record to vindicate the theory to which the scientific community long ago committed. Meyer carefully explains how the Cambrian gap and less remarkable (but no less significant) Precambrian gap are not bridged by molecular analysis or anatomical analysis.
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I received the book, Darwin’s Doubt, by Stephen C. Meyer, for Christmas. Since my college days, I have always been interested in “truth” in whatever form it may be revealed. As someone who spent his academic career in the “liberal arts” and post academic career in the law, I do not have a robust scientific background, but science interests me, especially as it relates to origins and ultimate truth.
Not being thoroughly inculcated in the sciences, I am not apt to read through scientific journals and must rely on someone to “break it down” for me. Stephen Meyer does that remarkably well in Darwin’s Doubt. Though I am a man of faith, I am keenly aware that religious folk can be very unscientific about science. If I am going to consider information and arguments, I want them to be well stated, well researched and deferential to scholarly analysis and opinions. Darwin’s Doubt meets that test.
Meyer’s launching point, as suggested by the title of the book, is a problem that Darwin himself recognized. That problem is known as the Cambrian Explosion. The sudden and prolific “explosion” of new life forms that appear in the fossil record in the Cambrian period is a problem for Darwinism. If the Cambrian explosion can not be explained by Darwinian theory (as it has evolved since the 1800’s), there may be reason to discount it or abandon it altogether.