Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Theory in Crisis

The Spectator, a weekly British political magazine, has published a column in which various contributors list their "best books" of 2016. Novelist and biographer A.N. Wilson was deeply impressed with a book that I also found to be a fascinating read - Michael Denton's Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis. Denton is a geneticist who argues in his book that Darwinian mechanisms like natural selection and genetic mutation are wholly inadequate to explain features of living things like the diversity of leaf shapes, the pentadactyl limb, feathers, the emergence of language and much else.

For example, human cognitive capacities like sophisticated mathematical ability seem to have been present in the brains of the earliest humans and yet were dormant for perhaps hundreds of thousands of years until relatively recently. This persistence of an ability that was never used is inexplicable on the Darwinian view that no function can either emerge or persist if it is of no benefit to the species.

Here's what Wilson writes about Denton's book:
Michael Denton’s Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis (Discovery Institute Press, £16.80). A sequel to his 1985 book — Evolution: A Theory in Crisis — this takes us up to date with the dazzling developments of life sciences over the past 30 years. Denton is a sceptic about Darwin’s theory of evolution on purely scientific grounds.

It is hard to see how anyone reading his book could not be persuaded. Paleontology provides abundant evidence of evolution within species, but none of one species morphing into another. Denton is fascinatingly clear in his exposition of the science of genetics, and how it destroys the Darwinian position. A truly great book.
Despite its scientific subject matter Denton's book is surprisingly accessible to the intelligent layman and would make an excellent Christmas gift for anyone who is both a reader - admittedly a vanishing breed - and/or scornful of contemporary challenges to the Neo-Darwinian orthodoxy, a type which also seems to be diminishing given the cogency of so much of the current criticism of naturalistic Darwinian explanations in biology.