The grand river of life that has flowed on earth over the past four billion years has clearly not meandered slowly and steadily across some flat and featureless landscape, but tumbled constantly through a rugged landscape over endless cataracts and rapids. No matter how unfashionable, no matter how at odds with current thinking in evolutionary biology, there is no empirical evidence for believing that organic nature is any less discontinuous than the inorganic realm. There is not the slightest reason for believing that the major homologs were achieved gradually via functional continuums. It is only the a priori demands of Darwinian causation that have imposed continuity on a basically discontinuous reality.
No matter now “unacceptable,” the notion that the organic world consists of a finite set of distinct Types, which have been successively actualized during the evolutionary history of life on earth, satisfies the fact far better than its Darwinian rival. (p. 112)
Note: Discontinuity in the inorganic realm? Dr. Denton seems here to refer to the fact that mathematical facts, physical laws, and chemical elements do not shade imperceptibly into each other; they are discontinuous.
There is a cultural (and in some places legal) need to defend Darwinian biology, irrespective of evidence. Denton would like to move beyond that, to ask how patterns take shape in life.
See also: Michael Denton on the discontinuity of nature: Denton focuses on the many examples of fundamental features of life forms, like the pentadactyl limb of vertebrates, that are uniform, but serve no adaptive purpose, pointing perhaps to discoverable physical patterns in nature, like the patterns in the chemical elements.
Denis Noble: Evolution needs replacement, not extension. A more honest statement is that the synthesis needs to be replaced.
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