Cambrian explosion News

Steve Meyer vs. hostile reviewer Charles Marshall (audio)

Spread the love

Book. Review. Audio.

Darwin’s Doubt – Stephen C Meyer & Charles Marshall debate ID – Unbelievable?

Stephen C Meyer is the world’s leading Intelligent Design proponent. His new book Darwin’s Doubt claims that the Cambrian fossil record, which saw an “explosion” of new life forms in a short space of time, is evidence for ID.

Darwin's Doubt

Evolutionary biologist Charles Marshall of the University of California, Berkeley has written a critical review of the book. He debates Meyer on whether Darwinian evolution can explain the diversity of life in the Cambrian rocks.

19 Replies to “Steve Meyer vs. hostile reviewer Charles Marshall (audio)

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    I thought, though I admit I’m biased, that Dr. Meyer did an outstanding job answering Charles Marshall’s peer reviewed critique of S=Darwin’s doubt:

    Stephen Meyer Answers Charles Marshall (Peer Reviewed Paper) on Darwin’s Doubt – October 2013 (4 part response)

    If anyone has not read Darwin’s Doubt yet, Dr. Paul Giem is currently doing a chapter by chapter video series on the book here:

    Darwin’s Doubt – Paul Giem – video playlist

    Of particular interest from the preceding video playlist is this segment:

    Darwin’s Doubt – Chapter 12 – Complex Adaptations and the Neo-Darwinian Math – Dr. Paul Giem – video;index=7

  2. 2
    Mapou says:

    Stephen Meyer is an excellent debater and a superb voice for the ID hypothesis. Bravo.

    One thing that bothered me is Marshal’s accusation that ID proponents are not using ID to contribute much to the science of biology. The implication is that the Darwinist side is using Darwinism to contribute to the advancement of biological science. The hard and painful truth is that there is absolutely nothing in biology that necessitates an a priori belief in Darwinism.

  3. 3
    Chance Ratcliff says:

    I’m in the midst of listening to this debate now. I think Marshall may be a panpsychist, attributing the concept of consciousness to all material, to some degree — he denies being a materialist. I’m impressed by Marshall’s ability to disagree with Meyer respectfully, instead of the usual dismissive motive mongering, invective, and ad hominem. Overall a great discussion, an hour into it.

    Marshall conceded Meyer’s point that he presupposes the presence of genetic information prior to the Cambrian in promoting the rewiring of regulatory networks for the production of new body plans. That was the point at which he began to sound like a panpsychist. That being the case, he should at least agree with Meyer that it’s not neo-Darwinian evolution which could be said to be responsible for building new body plans, but rather some alternate ‘material’ process. If matter somehow motivates itself to purposeful and diverse arrangements that ultimately result in disparate body plans, it could hardly be a random process in that regard.

    Thanks much BA77 for posting the discussion. 🙂

  4. 4
    Chance Ratcliff says:

    Pardon, the audio link was in the OP, thanks News!

    I can still thank BA77 for the Paul Giem chapter by chapter discussion. 😉

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    Good Point Mapou,

    In fact besides contributing nothing to experimental biology,,,

    Why Do We Invoke Darwin? – Evolutionary theory contributes little to experimental biology By: Philip S. Skell
    Excerpt: “Certainly, my own research with antibiotics during World War II received no guidance from insights provided by Darwinian evolution. Nor did Alexander Fleming’s discovery of bacterial inhibition by penicillin. I recently asked more than 70 eminent researchers if they would have done their work differently if they had thought Darwin’s theory was wrong. The responses were all the same: No.,,, In the peer-reviewed literature, the word “evolution” often occurs as a sort of coda to academic papers in experimental biology. Is the term integral or superfluous to the substance of these papers? To find out, I substituted for “evolution” some other word – “Buddhism,” “Aztec cosmology,” or even “creationism.” I found that the substitution never touched the paper’s core. This did not surprise me. From my conversations with leading researchers it had became clear that modern experimental biology gains its strength from the availability of new instruments and methodologies, not from an immersion in historical biology.,,
    Darwinian evolution – whatever its other virtues – does not provide a fruitful heuristic in experimental biology.,,”
    Philip S. Skell – (the late) Emeritus Evan Pugh Professor at Pennsylvania State University, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

    Podcasts and Article of Dr. Skell

    ,,,I would argue that Darwinian presuppositions have hindered the progress of science. For instance the Junk DNA narrative that forced onto science by Darwinists hindered investigation into non-coding regions:

    On the roles of repetitive DNA elements in the context of a unified genomic-epigenetic system. – Richard Sternberg – 2002
    Excerpt: It is argued throughout that a new conceptual framework is needed for understanding the roles of repetitive DNA in genomic/epigenetic systems, and that neo-Darwinian “narratives” have been the primary obstacle to elucidating the effects of these enigmatic components of chromosomes.

    Matheson’s Intron Fairy Tale – Richard Sternberg – June 2010
    Excerpt: “The failure to recognize the importance of introns “may well go down as one of the biggest mistakes in the history of molecular biology.”
    –John Mattick, Molecular biologist, University of Queensland, quoted in Scientific American,,,

    Is Panda’s Thumb Suppressing the Truth about Junk DNA?
    Excerpt: Dr. Pellionisz sent me an e-mail regarding his recent experiences at Panda’s Thumb. Pellionisz reports that Panda’s Thumb is refusing to print his stories about how he has personally witnessed how the Darwinian consensus rejected suggestions that “junk” DNA had function. Dr. Pellionisz’s e-mail recounts how some rogue Darwinian biologists have believed that “junk” DNA had function, but it also provides historical proof that this went against the prevailing consensus, and thus such suggestions that “junk”-DNA had function were ignored or rejected by most Darwinian scientists.

    In fact, although Darwinism is useless in Medical diagnostics,,,

    Darwinian Medicine and Proximate and Evolutionary Explanations – Michael Egnor – neurosurgeon – June 2011

    Intelligent Design and its importance to Medical Research – video

    ,,,to the somewhat minor extent evolutionary reasoning has influenced medical diagnostics, it has led to much ‘medical malpractice’ in the past:

    Evolution’s “vestigial organ” argument debunked
    Excerpt: “The appendix, like the once ‘vestigial’ tonsils and adenoids, is a lymphoid organ (part of the body’s immune system) which makes antibodies against infections in the digestive system. Believing it to be a useless evolutionary ‘left over,’ many surgeons once removed even the healthy appendix whenever they were in the abdominal cavity. Today, removal of a healthy appendix under most circumstances would be considered medical malpractice” (David Menton, Ph.D., “The Human Tail, and Other Tales of Evolution,” St. Louis MetroVoice , January 1994, Vol. 4, No. 1).
    “Doctors once thought tonsils were simply useless evolutionary leftovers and took them out thinking that it could do no harm. Today there is considerable evidence that there are more troubles in the upper respiratory tract after tonsil removal than before, and doctors generally agree that simple enlargement of tonsils is hardly an indication for surgery” (J.D. Ratcliff, Your Body and How it Works, 1975, p. 137).
    The tailbone, properly known as the coccyx, is another supposed example of a vestigial structure that has been found to have a valuable function—especially regarding the ability to sit comfortably. Many people who have had this bone removed have great difficulty sitting.

    And let’s not forget the horror of the holocaust which, although many Darwinists are in complete denial of this fact of history, Richard Weikart has done a excellent job in tying evolutionary reasoning directly to the ‘scientific justification’ behind the holocaust:

    From Darwin To Hitler – Richard Weikart – video

    So we have a theory in science which has contributed nothing to the furtherance of science, but has in fact hindered scientific progress. Moreover through its influence on thought it has led to the much medical malpractice and can even be tied to the providing ‘scientific’ justification for the “master Race’ thinking of NAZI ideology. Not a good track record for a theory that is suppose to be as well established as the theory of Gravity!

  6. 6
    selvaRajan says:

    Dr.Meyer is both a better debater and author than other prominent ID proponents, despite not being a scientist.

  7. 7
    Chance Ratcliff says:

    Marshall ends up swerving drastically to avoid a conundrum (that perturbing the developmental process is destructive to the organism) by presuming that gene regulatory networks were (must have been) much more malleable in the past, such that the regulatory networks would have been capable of producing diverse body plans by trial and error. So he ends up presupposing a rich source of biological information (malleable regulatory networks) capable of sophisticated and disparate body plan expression, that preexisted the body plans it would ultimately build. It’s a specter that looks a lot like foresight.

  8. 8
    Jaceli123 says:

    Hey @bornagain77 found some videos that you might want to check out heres the link. it has multiple videos but hope you can check them out.

  9. 9
    bornagain77 says:


    Darwin’s Doubt (Part 8) 11-16-2013 by Paul Giem – video;index=8

    Video Description: We continue with and complete the second part of the book, discussing the import of developmental gene regulatory networks and epigenetic information for the development of new body plans and the strain they put on Darwinian theory.

  10. 10
    Chance Ratcliff says:

    Thanks much bornagain77, I’m looking forward to that series!

  11. 11
    coldcoffee says:

    Chance Ratcliff=>Thanks much bornagain77, I’m looking forward to that series!

    Me=> There is no need to wait.I think you can buy the book It is more immersive to read the book than listen.

  12. 12
    Chance Ratcliff says:

    coldcoffee, I’m already reading it. My reasons for interest in Paul Giem’s presentation have naught to do with a substitute for the book itself.

  13. 13
    Optimus says:

    Thanks for the tip, News. While Marshall was generally cordial, I think his quality of argument declines significantly toward the end, and, though he didn’t say so explicitly, he treated ID as an argument from ignorance. Two things of particular note to me are (1) his blindness to the relevance of SETI and (2) his breezy appeal to half-baked second law arguments to explain functional complexity. That’s rather disappointing for an individual who seems so erudite.

  14. 14
    tjguy says:

    Is it just me or do others think he gave up too much in this debate?

    Marshall gave an illustration about getting the foundations for a lot of different buildings and then simply building on them. This was in response to Meyers contention that signaling pathways(was it?) couldn’t be changed along the path of evolution.

    Meyers replied by saying that he was helping himself to a lot of information – just assuming it.

    Marshall admitted that but said this was a different problem than the Cambrian deals with. Meyer never really rebutted that giving the impression that Marshall had just rendered his book meaningless.

    I certainly do not believe that for one minute, but I was disappointed.

    Did I miss something here?


  15. 15
    Optimus says:

    @ Tj
    I think Meyer rebutted Marshall’s assertion about dGRNs by pointing out his break with uniformitarian principle. Essentially, Meyer’s critique was that Marshall has to assume that dGRNs used to function in ways that have never been observed due to his prior commitment to evolutionary scenarios.

  16. 16
    Bruce David says:

    At one point about an hour into the debate Marshall brought up the metaphor of science being a maker of “maps”, and said that his problem with ID is that it doesn’t contribute to filling in the map. This is a version of the “science stopper” argument, actually.

    This is not a valid argument. The fact that you don’t like the consequences of a conclusion does not make the conclusion false. Look at Stonehenge, for example. No one would deny that the most reasonable explanation for its existence is that it was designed and built by some kind of intelligent beings. Do we know who they were or how they did it, or why? No, and we may never know. That ignorance, however, does not invalidate the conclusion that Stonehenge was designed. Likewise, our conclusion that the best explanation for the existence of living things is that they were the product of ID is simply not invalidated by the fact that we may never know who the designer(s) was or were nor how they did it.

  17. 17
    bornagain77 says:

    Marshall, for example, described the first third of Darwin’s Doubt — the section that discusses the Cambrian and Precambrian fossil record, Marshall’s own area of principle expertise — as “good scholarship.” – Luskin
    See more at:

  18. 18
    Chance Ratcliff says:

    Correction to my comment at #3, Marshall did not deny being a materialist, I was mistaken. I believe I was also mistaken about him being a panpsychist. Here’s the comment he made at 51:45 that I zeroed in on:

    “So the fact that complexity emerges on a planet like ours [?][?] entirely understandable in terms of simple mechanical processes. I’d say, I’m a materialist but I would also say that to me matter is unbelievable. It is capable of sentience, it is capable of consciousness, it is capable of compassion, morality. So some of the characterizations that I’ve seen of my review from the Discovery institute, sort of paint me as a materialist who thinks there’s none of these things…”

    I think in the context he was most likely speaking of sentient beings composed of matter, and not the properties of matter per se. I think I was trying to type while listening to that comment and didn’t give it enough attention.

  19. 19
    davogee says:


    I have to agree with you. I thought Marshall rendered the book meaningless in part and the information argument got pushed back into pre Cambrian. After that point I thought Meyer was rescuing (rightly so) the information argument.

    I think theist can be confident in at least one information gap that God filled….”In the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth”. Perhaps the “genetics” for matter and life was in the first minute speck/seed of space-time/energy that inflated into the big bang (although you would need a Super Genius mathematician to write and initiate some unbelievable unified quantum formula in order to pull that off).

    I’m going to re-listen to the debate to see what I missed.

    Best, Dave

    “Is it just me or do others think he gave up too much in this debate?

    Marshall gave an illustration about getting the foundations for a lot of different buildings and then simply building on them. This was in response to Meyers contention that signaling pathways(was it?) couldn’t be changed along the path of evolution.

    Meyers replied by saying that he was helping himself to a lot of information – just assuming it.

    Marshall admitted that but said this was a different problem than the Cambrian deals with. Meyer never really rebutted that giving the impression that Marshall had just rendered his book meaningless. “

Leave a Reply