Darwin’s Faith: The Religion of the New Atheism

Depositphotos Photography ID: 59162885 Copyright: irstone

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.

Continue reading

The Irreducible Complexity of the Universe


(c) Can Stock Photo

I recently read the book, Darwin’s Doubt, by Stephen C. Meyer, a Cambridge University Ph.D. in the Philosophy of Science. The book uses Darwin’s acknowledgment that the Cambrian Explosion was a significant problem to his evolutionary theory of the origin of life as a springboard to explore in detail that problem which Meyer aptly names “Darwin’s doubt”.

I have summarized the first ten chapters of the book on a different Blog, Perspective, starting with a summary of the first four chapters of the book. If you want to read a summary description of the detail that Meyer explores without buying the book, though I strongly suggest buying the book if your are interested.

In this blog, I want to provide an overarching description of the basis for Intelligent Design, which is ultimately the theory that Meyer espouses. For Meyer, the key basis for Intelligent Design is 1) the argument from biological or genetic information and 2) the argument from physics or cosmology. Both arguments can be summed up in the statement that we live in a universe of irreducible complexity that could not have happened by chance or unguided “natural law”.

Meyer focuses on the biological argument, observing that, to build the complex biological machines that we see, there is a need for prior information, and any discussion of that complexity begs the question: where did that information necessary to build the protein parts out of which the complex structures are made come from in the first place? What cause is capable of generating that information? Meyer argues that we can use the same scientific method that Darwin used to infer that the cause had to be conscious mind or intelligence.
Continue reading

Reblogging Darwin’s Blind Spot

Photo by Ken Gortowski

Photo by Ken Gortowski

I recently read Darwin’s Doubt by Stephen C. Meyer, and I highly recommend it. I have touched on another aspect of Darwin in my own writings, something that Gerald M. Vershuuren calls “Darwin’s blind spot”.

I previously highlighted an aspect of Darwin’s thinking in Random Thoughts on Evolution that seem to undermine his own theory. Darwin expressed skepticism about the value of his own “inward convictions” (that there is purpose in the world) as quoted from a letter he wrote July 3, 1881, to William Graham who posited that natural laws imply purpose in life, the following:

I cannot see that there is then necessarily any purpose. Would there be purpose if the lowest organisms alone destitute of consciousness existed in the moon? But I have had no practice in abstract reasoning and I may be all astray. Nevertheless you have expressed my inward conviction, though far more vividly and clearly than I could have done, that the Universe is not the result of chance. But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?

The fact that he could not trust his inward convictions follows fairly naturally from his theory that all life has evolved, including mankind, from lower life forms. It strikes me as ironic, however, that Darwin’s skepticism stopped with his inward convictions and did not extend, also, to, the conclusions of his mind.

I do not mean to suggest at all that Darwin was not highly intelligent, a genius in fact. I simply hold out that Darwin’s conclusion about his inward convictions should have also caused him to doubt the processes of his mind as well, including his construct of the evolutionary theory .

My point is this: if Darwin could not trust his inward convictions, being the product of a mind derived from lower life forms, what confidence should Darwin have in the “rational” conclusions of that same mind, it being the derived from irrational, random processes?

Vershuuren takes the analysis further in Darwin’s Blind Spot.

Reviewing Darwin’s Doubt Chapter 10

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / kgtoh

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / kgtoh

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.

Continue reading

Reviewing Darwin’s Doubt Chapter 9

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / kgtoh

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / kgtoh

I am deep into the book, Darwin’s Doubt, by Stephen C. Meyer, and chronicling my way through it. The title of the book comes from the problem that the Cambrian explosion posed, and still poses, to evolutionary theory. In the first article, the problem that first appears in the fossil record is explained. In the next article, some possible solutions to the problems are explored and discarded. In the third article, we begin to look to genes for possible solutions, and that sets the stage for this article.

The origin of the animals that appeared suddenly in the Cambrian period necessarily required vast amounts of new functional information. Where did it come from and how did it arise? The discovery of DNA as information retaining and building mechanisms seemed to present great hope for a solution, but that is not the story the history of exploring this solution tells. In fact, the study of DNA has only accentuated the problem.

Continue reading

Reviewing Darwin’s Doubt Chapters 5-6

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / radiantskies

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / radiantskies

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.

Continue reading