Darwin's Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design

Darwin's Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design

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by Stephen C. Meyer

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When Charles Darwin finished The Origin of Species, he thought that he had explained every clue, but one. Though his theory could explain many facts, Darwin knew that there was a significant event in the history of life that his theory did not explain. During this event, the “Cambrian explosion,” many animals suddenly appeared in the fossil

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When Charles Darwin finished The Origin of Species, he thought that he had explained every clue, but one. Though his theory could explain many facts, Darwin knew that there was a significant event in the history of life that his theory did not explain. During this event, the “Cambrian explosion,” many animals suddenly appeared in the fossil record without apparent ancestors in earlier layers of rock.  

In Darwin’s Doubt, Stephen C. Meyer tells the story of the mystery surrounding this explosion of animal life—a mystery that has intensified, not only because the expected ancestors of these animals have not been found, but because scientists have learned more about what it takes to construct an animal. During the last half century, biologists have come to appreciate the central importance of biological information—stored in DNA and elsewhere in cells—to building animal forms.

Expanding on the compelling case he presented in his last book, Signature in the Cell, Meyer argues that the origin of this information, as well as other mysterious features of the Cambrian event, are best explained by intelligent design, rather than purely undirected evolutionary processes.

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Editorial Reviews

Dr. George Church
“Darwin’s Doubt represents an opportunity for bridge-building rather than dismissive polarization—bridges across cultural divides in great need of professional, respectful dialogue—and bridges to span evolutionary gaps.”
Dr. Mark Menamin
“It’s hard for us paleontologists to admit that neo-Darwinian explanations for the Cambrian explosion have failed miserably....Meyer describes the dimensions of the problem with clarity and precision. His book is a game changer.”
Dean Koontz
“Meyer writes beautifully. He marshals complex information as well as any writer I’ve read....a wonderful, most compelling read.”
Dr. Wolf-Ekkehard Lonnig
Darwin’s Doubt is by far the most up-to-date, accurate, and comprehensive review of the evidence from all relevant scientific fields that I have encountered in more than forty years of studying the Cambrian explosion.”
Dr. Russell Carlson
“Meyer demonstrates, based on cutting-edge molecular biology, why explaining the origin of animals is now not just a problem of missing fossils, but an even greater engineering problem at the molecular level....An excellent book and a must read.”
Dr. Scott Turner
Darwin’s Doubt is an intriguing exploration of one of the most remarkable periods in the evolutionary history of life.... No matter what convictions one holds about evolution, Darwinism, or intelligent design, Darwin’s Doubt is a book that should be read, engaged and discussed.”
Dr. Mark McMenamin
“It’s hard for us paleontologists to admit that neo-Darwinian explanations for the Cambrian explosion have failed miserably....Meyer describes the dimensions of the problem with clarity and precision. His book is a game changer.”
Dr. Norman C. Nevin OBE
“It is a tour de force…This book is well informed, carefully researched, up–to–date and powerfully argued. It confronts Darwin’s doubt and deals with the assumptions of Neo–Darwinism. This book is much needed and I recommend it to students of all levels, to professionals and to laypeople.”
Dr. Stuart Burgess
Darwin’s Doubt is another excellent book by Stephen Meyer. Stephen Meyer has clearly listened to the arguments of those who are sceptical about intelligent design and has addressed them thoroughly. It is really important that Darwinists read this book carefully and give a response.”
George GilderTechnologist
“I spend my life reading science books. I’ve ready many hundreds of them over the years, and in my judgment Darwin’s Doubt is the best science book ever written. It is a magnificent work, a true masterpiece that will be read for hundreds of years.”
Dr. William S. Harris
“The issue on the table is the mechanism of evolution—is it blind and undirected or is it under the control of an intelligence with a goal in mind? In Darwin’s Doubt, Stephen Meyer has masterfully laid out one of the most compelling lines of evidence for the latter.”
Dr. Matti Leisola
“Dr. Meyer has written a comprehensive and up–to–date analysis on the massive scientific evidence revealing the total failure of the neo–Darwinian explanation for life’s history. Darwin’s Doubt is important, clearly written with sound arguments, excellent illustrations and examples that make the topic easily understandable even for non–specialists”
Dr. Donald L. Ewert
“Meyer makes a case for intelligent design as the only viable scientific theory for the origin of biological novelty. Meyer’s challenge to naturalism will no doubt be strongly resisted by those committed to a materialist worldview, but provide food for refection for those who are searching for truth.”
Dr. Mark C. Biedebach
“Stephen C. Meyer’s Darwin’s Doubt is a truly remarkable book. Within its 413 pages of text are four tightly woven interrelated arguments. Using 753 references, he presents evidence associated with the serious weaknesses of materialistic theories of biological evolution, and positive evidence for the theory of intelligent design.”
Dr. Change Tan
“A great book on the origin of animal life and crises of Darwin evolution; very clear, factual, comprehensive, logical, and informative. An enjoyable reading for both non–expert and expert.”
Dr. Stephen A. BatzerP.E.
Steven Meyer gives an insightful and thoughtful treatment to the history of life. Justice Louis Brandies taught us that, ‘Sunlight is the best disinfectant,’ and Dr. Meyer lets the sun shine in.
Dr. Tom Woodward
“Steve Meyer’s book is a much–anticipated bombshell that details the swarm of problems of Darwinian evolution and also presents the case for intelligent design. Ask yourself: how often does a book of this kind receive a warm welcome from leading geneticists and paleontologists? Never, until now! ”
No Source
“Stephen C. Meyer is brilliant and his latest book, Darwin’s Doubt is a must read.”
Dr. Richard Weikart
“Stephen Meyer’s new book, Darwin’s Doubt, is a fascinating and rigorous study demonstrating not only that biologists and paleontologists do not have an adequate explanation for the Cambrian Explosion, but that there is an alternative view that makes more sense.”
Terry Scambray
“Meyer is a talented writer with an easygoing voice who has blended interesting history with clear explanations in what may come to be seen as a classic presentation of this most fundamental of all debates.”

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Darwin's Doubt

By Stephen Meyer

HarperCollins Publishers

Copyright © 2013 Stephen Meyer
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-06-207147-7

When Charles Darwin finished his famous book, he thought that he had
explained every clue but one.
By anyone's measure, On the Origin of Species was a singular achieve-
ment. Like a great Gothic cathedral, the ambitious work integrated many
disparate elements into a grand synthesis, explaining phenomena in fields
as diverse as comparative anatomy, paleontology, embryology, and bio-
geography. At the same time, it was impressive for its simplicity. Darwin's
Origin explained many classes of biological evidence with just two central
organizing ideas. The twin pillars of his theory were the ideas of universal
common ancestry and natural selection.
The first of these pillars, universal common ancestry, represented
Darwin's theory of the history of life. It asserted that all forms of life have
ultimately descended from a single common ancestor somewhere in the
distant past. In a famous passage at the end of the Origin, Darwin argued
that “all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have de-
scended from some one primordial form.”1 Darwin thought that this pri-
mordial form gradually developed into new forms of life, which in turn
gradually developed into other forms of life, eventually producing, after
many millions of generations, all the complex life we see in the present.
Biology textbooks today usually depict this idea just as Darwin did,
with a great branching tree. The trunk of Darwin's tree of life represents
the first primordial organism. The limbs and branches of the tree repre-
sent the many new forms of life that developed from it (see Fig. 1.1). The

vertical axis on which the tree is plotted represents the arrow of time. The
horizontal axis represents changes in biological form, or what biologists
call “morphological distance.”
Biologists often call Darwin's theory of the history of life “universal
common descent” to indicate that every organism on earth arose from
a single common ancestor by a process of “descent with modification.”
Darwin argued that this idea best explained a variety of biological evi-
dences: the succession of fossil forms, the geographical distribution of
Darwin's evolutionary tree of life, as depicted by the nineteenth-century German evolu-
tionary biologist Ernst Haeckel.

Darwin's Nemesis 5
various species (such as GalÃpagos finches), and the anatomical and em-
bryological similarities among otherwise highly distinct organisms.
The second pillar of Darwin's theory affirmed the creative power of a
process he called natural selection, a process that acted on random varia-
tions in the traits or features of organisms and their offspring.2 Whereas
the theory of universal common descent postulated a pattern (the branch-
ing tree) to represent the history of life, Darwin's idea of natural selection
referred to a process that he said could generate the change implied by his
branching tree of life.
Darwin formulated the idea of natural selection by analogy to a well-
known process, that of “artificial selection” or “selective breeding.”
Anyone in the nineteenth century familiar with the breeding of domestic
animals—dogs, horses, sheep, or pigeons, for example—knew that human
breeders could alter the features of domestic stock by allowing only ani-
mals with certain traits to breed. A sheepherder from the north of Scot-
land might breed for a woollier sheep to enhance its chances of survival
in a cold northern climate (or to harvest more wool). To do so, he would
choose only the woolliest males and woolliest ewes to breed. If generation
after generation he continued to select and breed only the woolliest sheep
among the resulting offspring, he would eventually produce a woollier
breed of sheep. In such cases, “the key is man's power of accumulative
selection,” wrote Darwin. “Nature gives successive variations; man adds
them up in certain directions useful to him.”3
Darwin noted that pigeons have been coaxed into a dizzying variety of
breeds: the carrier, with its elongated eyelids and a “wide gape of mouth”;
the “short-faced tumbler,” with its “beak in outline almost like that of a
finch”; the common tumbler, with its penchant for flying in close forma-
tion and “tumbling in the air head over heels”; and, perhaps strangest of
all, the pouter, with its elongated legs, wings, and body overshadowed by
its “enormously developed crop, which it glories in inflating” for its aston-
ished patrons.4
Of course, pigeon breeders achieved these startling metamorphoses by
carefully sifting and selecting. But, as Darwin pointed out, nature also has
a means of sifting: defective creatures are less likely to survive and repro-
duce, while those offspring with beneficial variations are more likely to sur-
vive, reproduce, and pass on their advantages to future generations. In the
Origin, Darwin argued that this process, natural selection acting on random

variations, could alter the features of organisms just as intelligent selection
by human breeders can. Nature itself could play the role of the breeder.
Consider once more our flock of sheep. Imagine that instead of a human
selecting the woolliest males and ewes to breed, a series of very cold win-
ters ensures that all but the very woolliest sheep in a population die. Now
again only very woolly sheep will remain to breed. If the cold winters con-
tinue over several generations, will the result not be the same as before?
Won't the population of sheep eventually become discernibly woollier?
This was Darwin's great insight. Nature—in the form of environmental
changes or other factors—could have the same effect on a population of or-
ganisms as the intentional decisions of an intelligent agent. Nature would
favor the preservation of certain features over others—specifically, those
that conferred a functional or survival advantage upon the organisms
possessing them—causing the features of the population to change. And
the resulting change will have been produced not by an intelligent breeder
choosing a desirable trait or variation—not by “artificial selection”—but
by a wholly natural process. What's more, Darwin concluded that this
process of natural selection acting on randomly arising variations had
been “the chief agent of change” in generating the great

Excerpted from Darwin's Doubt by Stephen Meyer. Copyright © 2013 Stephen Meyer. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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