May 17, 2019 in Analysis

The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent

Design by Stephen Meyer was certainly the most arguable book issued in 2013. Intensely advanced by the Discovery Institute, the book endeavors to put forth a scientific defense for "Insightful Design." The fundamental issue of the book is that the purported Cambrian outbreak cannot be expounded by resorting to naturalistic evolutionary apparatus. Within the geologic phase taking place around 500 million years ago, well-known as the Cambrian, a variety of new creatures, phyla and body plans, appeared unexpectedly, with no developmental pre-history. Having denied the standard experimental hypotheses, as well as a couple of alternative ones, about the outbreak, Meyer comes to a conclusion that the main conceivable clarification is a mixture of new "data" from an outside source, the ”intelligent designer” presented by the Biblical God.

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The work is complicated to review because it is an indubitable door stopper and because the disputes and scoffing disagreements encompassing both the book and the general evolution-creation debate continually appear in any case. Subsequently, the report will be to some extent narrow-minded, maybe not considering all nuances of Meyer's contention or that of his rivals. The paper also references to the open discussion between Stephen Meyer and the scientist Charles Marshall, accessible on YouTube. Marshall composed a discriminating evaluation of the book for the periodical "Science."

The scientists fluctuate towards the thought that evolution is, to some degree, a teleological and consequently not completely blind knowledge being a profound part of the structure of the Universe. In order to appear appropriately experimental instead of defending an intriguing philosophical position, ID must clarify how the constructor makes his plans or how he executes them. How do the plans get epitomized in the matter? Even if one assumes that the projects are created by phenomenal means unbelievable and unexplainable to people, the final part of the constructing procedure (where the "data" is united with the material medium and is considered a part of it) should be disposable to scientific investigation. Yet, the defenders of ID have never mentioned a hypothesis about this. This appears even more strange if one remembers that the very “data” is not paranormal; however, it is analogical to the one found in computers or other intricate man-made items. On the other hand, the case may not seem strange if one assumes that ID is just a forepart of the creationism. At that point, ID is truly a philosophical position attired in the investigation sound tongue. It could be obviously valid; however, it is not a ’scientific’ assertion in the most unswerving sense. In case ID defenders aim at launching a fresh science instead of reascertaining the old religious philosophy (or simply making inconvenience for the neighborhood school area), they should either sweep Rupert Sheldrake's idea of "morphogenetic fields" or unite with somewhat heterodox researchers doing exploration on "self-association." It will appear even braver if the scientists wander deeper into parapsychology, attempting to demonstrate the presence of etheric or astral frames.

Meyer concedes that there is no elucidation for how the constructor made and performed his designs. The author does not consider this issue a problem and does not pay attention to it. Furthermore, there is no clarification for how the mind causally collaborates with the brain. What the author allows the readers to do is to realize that the mind does cooperate with the brain. Accordingly, the reader can realize that ID is valid, although not knowing how it actually works. It becomes of great interest whether the author is convinced that the procedure of ID is everlastingly secretive or whether he supposes the conundrum can be comprehended on a fundamental level. If the author sticks to the first point of view, then ID is dubiously alike with the religious idea that a monotheistic god constructed the world using supernatural and unimaginable means. If Meyer adheres to the second idea, then ID could (on a basic level) produce testable exploratory theories. When the reader expresses interest in why the author did not grasp the recent perspective, one may suppose that it contradicts his religious presuppositions. Moreover, Meyer’s perspective is compatible with the theological idea that the dualism ‘mind-brain’ works only through inexplicable saintly mediation.

The issue with ID is that it risks turning into a "science stopper" by basically announcing that the Cambrian outbreak must have a heavenly clarification about which nothing significant can be claimed apart from God. This appears to be foolish even from the philosophical or religious perspective since the Cambrians were pretty much as physical as the little shells or the Ediacaran fauna that preceded them. Accordingly, there appears another claim that if the superhuman constructor existed he would have enough power to reprogram the Ur-genome in the primeval ocean with all the essential "data" that unravels during the evolution. However, Meyer rejects this thought on religious grounds: such an idea is analogous with deism, mystical evolutionism, or even polytheism, three positions Meyer would not like to include into his conception since they hazard undermining his Old Earth creationism. Consequently, Meyer needs to urge the Cambrian outbreak being incomprehensible and supernatural, so he can assert that new data was important to make the beast body-plan.

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Marshall alludes to Meyer as a smart constructionist of the holes ("Darwin's Doubt" - Stephen Meyer vs. Charles Marshall"). If the apparently unexpected appearance of new beast body plans during the Cambrian is the principal proof for ID, then ID can be denied by basically delivering an adequately persuading transitional remnant (transformation of "the little shells" and the trilobites). In fact, Marshall indicates that the same sort of genes can underlay opposite or very diverse body plans. As a result, the Cambrian outbreak might basically have reshuffled hereditary data that was at that point present amid the Precambrians. Meyer's reaction is that Marshall can not clarify where all the data initially originated from. While this is a pertinent issue, Marshall is right that it is a distinct argument from the one presented in Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design, where Meyer claims that the Cambrian explosion required a fresh delivery of data from the constructor. Having changed the goalposts when Marshall urged a naturalistic clarification for the outbreak, Meyer resorts to the position of “Designer of the Gaps” ("Darwin's Doubt" - Stephen Meyer vs. Charles Marshall"). At last, any naturalistic clarification of anything can be confronted by asking where all the data initially originated from – truly a variant of "why there is nothing instead of something." While this issue is properly justified, the reaction could also allude to deism, polytheism, or mystical evolutionism – positions contrary to the obscure creationism.

Another issue is that the very idea of "data" is to some extent uncertain. Occasionally, "data" is by all accounts considered as another method for saying that an object is unpredictable. Since basically everything in the universe is intricate, this appears quite compatible with the deistic and pantheistic ideas rejected by Meyer. It does not demonstrate that the intelligent constructor must be the Biblical God. It does not even imply a non-Biblical designer who for unknown reasons interferes 500 million years earlier. The book makes the readers suppose that the complexity has always existed while the universe is divine. On the other hand, one may come to a conclusion that the universe was created by a deity who let the universe evolve naturalistically. In such a case, "data" is such an expansive idea that it can not be used to say anything relevant regarding the Cambrian body plans. From another perspective, "data" is by all accounts something more mechanism-like, something that "projects" the living creatures. However, most likely, this is basically a poor analogy since the contrasts between living animals and machines are more striking than the similarities. If one discovers a watch on the heath, he/she distinguishes it as constructed while it is divergent from the encompassing heath. Therefore, "data" appears to be not a perfect method for discussing the multifaceted nature of the universe.

The mistakes and misinterpretations continue endlessly, page after page. Meyer takes typical experimental arguments about the early clashes on the atomic versus morphological trees of life as a proof of researchers knowing nothing, totally overlooking the recent agreement between these information sets. Like all creationists, he totally misconstrues the Eldredge and Gould punctuated harmony model and claims that they are contending that development does not happen. Moreover, he does not pay attention to both Gould and Eldredge having unmistakably clarified why their thoughts are analogous with Neo-Darwinism and do not back any type of creationism. He rehashes a hefty portion of other creationist myths, including the post hoc debate regarding likelihood (you cannot make the contention that something is impossible after the fact is proved), realizing that his math-phobic spectator is effortlessly tricked by the abuse of huge numbers.

Stephen Meyer squanders a full chapter on the meaningless idea of "data" as the ID creationists characterize it. Moreover, he discusses the subject of methodical science biology, utilizing the typical open argument between contending positions to prove that researchers cannot make up their opinions, when that is the customary path in which investigative inquiries are contended until agreement has been reached. The author entangles crown-groups with stem-groups, mishandling the contentions about the acknowledgment of predecessors in the fossil record, and can not tell a cladogram from a family tree. Meyer flounders on the fields of epigenetics, evo-devo, and hereditary float as though they totally misrepresented Neo-Darwinism, instead of researching them as supplements to people’s comprehension of it. All in all, he covers a great variety of points in current evolutionary science, exploring how to contort or confound each one of them. Therefore, the author appears to be totally unequipped to comprehend these subjects.


To conclude, Stephen Meyer's Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design is a fascinating book in many perspectives, and it is likewise informative and well-composed. However, the book composed of 540 pages appears to be too much for a general pursuer. The visible disadvantage of the book and Meyer’s research, in general, is the rejection of such fruitful areas as self-organization and symbiogenesis. The work is not about science but rather about the pseudoscience. It uncovers some helpful certainties and assembles a case that would never encounter issuing in an associate periodical, while it essentially disregards the latest research. Charles Darwin felt uneasy about the Cambrian outbreak since it gave birth to unpredictable, unapparent from any point multicellular life (Ayala, 8562). However, if the concept of continuous change over considerable periods of time was valid, there had to be less complex fossils that originated before the Cambrian blast; however, they were none discovered in his time. Darwin believed that future paleontologists would have the capacity to demonstrate a complete genealogy for each of the known at those times fossils of the Cambrian outbreak. Stephen Meyer speculates that nothing has happened while Darwin himself conveyed the uncertainty (Ayala, 8564). The book's title and the centrality of Charles Darwin himself in the debate is, on the other hand, a periodic trick: Darwin himself had his uncertainty; nothing considerable has been discovered ever since; thus, even Darwin himself would be compelled to reject his own hypothesis (basing on the continued mystery of the Cambrian explosion) (Ayala, 8570).

While numerous subtle elements still need to be dealt with, the reader now realizes that the time setting of the Cambrian outbreak was longer and there were predecessor multicellular fossils, so it is hard to keep believing that there was a sudden blast of synthetic life – and nobody really does any longer. The evolution needs time and little steps, and both have been given by contemporary research. Meyer hypothesizes that if more data goes around, the expanding multifaceted nature can significantly rise. Furthermore, data assumes knowledge, so where there is more data, some intelligence must be including that information. Not a great number of readers will be threatened by the work since the author rushes huge numbers and big words. However, in order to comfort the intimidated pursuer, the entire data discussion is a deadlock and just a smart word-play. An important question that remains unanswered is the reason why Meyer and his smart outline partners are so concentrated on demonstrating that the designer is involved in matter formation. Moreover, it remains unclear why there has to be a designer behind the Cambrian explosion and why the hand of the constructor has to be present in the data content of DNA. The fact is, once more, logical, and again, there are cases where Meyer basically disregards present day research and resorts to the history to prove his position.

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