Cambrian explosion Intelligent Design

If anyone cares, Biologos (Christians for Darwin) will now actually review Darwin’s Doubt

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Instead of noviewing it. A number of Biologians will try their hand.

David Klinghoffer at Evolution News & Views , who is way more charitable than me (O’Leary for News), says better late than never.

But I say: Darwin's Doubt ID theorist Steve Meyer’s book, Darwin’s Doubt is now (at 6:10 EST):

So quite honestly, at this point, who really cares if Christians for Darwin have decided to consider Meyer’s arguments honestly and seriously? Given that the book is #6 in paleontology, we can be sure a lot of people are considering it, even if many daren’t admit it.

By the way, why is Darwin’s Doubt even a problem to the BioLogians?

It’s easy to see why Darwin’s Doubt is a problem to people who have devoted their lives to promoting and celebrating Darwin’s mechanism (natural selection acting on random mutations) as able to produce increasingly complex information.

But why is it a problem to a Christian group if it turns out that natural selection on random mutations simply cannot do that?

Whenever I ask members of BioLogos’ natural constituency, I get an earful about fundamentalists’ beliefs and how Christians can [heart] Darwin.

This much I know is true: Whenever I ask a simple question and get a complex, evasive answer, I suspect something.

Also, we learn from the Introduction, “As you will read in these posts, these scholars are carefully considering the evidence and explaining the findings to those outside their field of expertise. This kind of attention to evidence counteracts another misconception about BioLogos, namely that we uncritically accept the consensus of mainstream science simply because it is the consensus. ”

So where, exactly do they differ from the consensus? Well, never mind, let’s see what they have to say about Darwin’s Doubt.

Here’s the first installment, by the editors, featuring Calvin College’s Ralph Stearley, who is “ultimately” not persuaded. He feels that Meyer makes more of the problems than they warrant. Really? Did Meyer invent the Cambrian problem?

Anyway, as Paul Nelson notes at Evolution News & Views, Stearley keeps going back and forth between naturalism and design. Always hoping (Biologians are always  hoping) to somehow be rescued—or at least to be able to make the case that they have somehow been rescued—by pure naturalism.

But mother nature is a bitch.

Anyway, like I said, who really cares at this point? The real issues have moved on. Who cares whether Calvin College’s God would design anything? Or could? Nothing depends on that, as it happens. – O’Leary for News

See also: Christianity Today online piece tries to meld neuroscience and Christian spirituality. And both come off looking like clunkers.

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32 Replies to “If anyone cares, Biologos (Christians for Darwin) will now actually review Darwin’s Doubt

  1. 1
    tjguy says:

    I think it caught them flat footed and they really didn’t know how to answer the book. Months later after much sweat and toil, it seems like they have finally figured out a way to at superficially deal with it. This will allow their fan club to dismiss the book, confident their guys have exposed the errors of the book. OK, I’m reading in to the non answer thing a bit, but it is a distinct possibility. Once we see their “answer” we’ll know more.

  2. 2
    Mung says:

    I don’t understand why they can’t just copy the objections to it from posts at TSZ.

  3. 3

    My theory: people don’t want to believe they made a compromise they didn’t need to make.

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    Here are some links, thus far, responding to Critics of ‘Darwin’s Doubt’:

    Stephen Meyer Answers Charles Marshall (Peer Reviewed Paper) on Darwin’s Doubt – October 2013 (4 part response)
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....77371.html

    Steve Meyer vs. hostile reviewer Charles Marshall (audio of debate) – Dec. 1, 2013
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....all-audio/

    Does Lightning-Fast Evolution Solve the Cambrian Enigma? – Stephen C. Meyer October 24, 2013
    Excerpt: The authors assumed that natural selection and random mutations were responsible for the change that had occurred and then simply asserted that natural selection could produce the rate of morphological change they measured. In other words, they begged the question as to the rapidity with which the mechanism of mutation and selection can produce morphological novelty. They did not demonstrate that the neo-Darwinian mechanism has the creative power to generate morphological novelty this quickly.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....78321.html

    Darwin’s Doubt and the Plea for more time! – Dr. Stephen Meyer – audio
    http://radiomaria.us/discoveri.....t-29-2013/

    Current Biology Paper’s Assumptions and Methodology Dramatically Underestimate “Rates of Change” in the Cambrian Explosion – Casey Luskin October 31, 2013
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....78581.html

    Erwin and Valentine’s The Cambrian Explosion Affirms Major Points in Darwin’s Doubt: The Cambrian Enigma Is “Unresolved” – June 26, 2013
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....73671.html

    So Explaining the Cambrian Explosion Is All About the Oxygen, Is It? – July 12, 2014
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....87771.html

    Crevo had a good summary of the Darwinian papers that tried to answer Meyer’s book, ‘Darwin’s Doubt’:

    Evolutionists Tap Dance Around Cambrian Explosion – September 25, 2013
    Comment after review of the articles: “The Darwinist answers to the Cambrian explosion are vacuous, vapid, vacant, void, and vagrant. They dodge the question, filling their time with question-begging circular irrelevancies. They fail to acknowledge the existence of their critics, except when necessary to vent their voluminous voracity for vituperation.
    Where did the information come from to build new body plans? That is the question! “Uh, duh, well, maybe evolution just ran faster, that’s all. Maybe there was more oxygen back then. Maybe that’s just how evolution works. Maybe a combination of the above.” Are you satisfied? Anyone giving answers like that to explain a major failure of their project should be fired on the spot.”
    http://crev.info/2013/09/evolu.....explosion/

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    Here are more thorough looks at the major flaws in all the critical reviews of ‘Darwin’s Doubt’:

    Darwin’s Doubt – Reviews – Part 1 – by Paul Giem – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YW8SLKoSZqM
    Darwin’s Doubt – Reviews – Part 2 – by Paul Giem – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPqN0-YiJgg
    Darwin’s Doubt – Reviews – Part 3 – by Paul Giem – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Mj1thPrSgc
    Darwin’s Doubt – Reviews – Part 4 – by Paul Giem – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfEfa6KaEXU

    video playlist – “Conversations with Stephen Meyer,” short videos in which Dr. Meyer reflects on the past year’s controversy over his book, what the criticisms of Darwin’s Doubt reveal about the weakness of his critics and what that suggests about the future of the discussion as a whole.
    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL7Wwl5TzliiESzJlMgqCo6ogMIZWL7gmj

    A Graduate Student (Nick Matzke) Writes – David Berlinski July 9, 2013
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....74221.html
    A One-Man Clade – David Berlinski – July 18, 2013
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....74601.html
    Hopeless Matzke -David Berlinski & Tyler Hampton August 18, 2013
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....75631.html

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    Further notes:

    Darwin’s Dilemma – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxh9o32m5c0

    Dr. Stephen Meyer: Darwin’s Dilemma – The Significance of Sponge Embryos – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPs8E7y0ySs
    Dr. Stephen Meyer: Darwin’s Dilemma – Where did the information come from? – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CTKKrtSc8k
    Dr. Stephen Meyer – Why Intelligent Design Describes the Cambrian Explosion – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfYaD0c-SAc

    Awesome graphic on Cambrian Explosion from ‘Darwin’s Doubt’
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....74341.html

    Investigating Evolution: The Cambrian Explosion Part 1 – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DkbmuRhXRY
    Part 2 – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZFM48XIXnk

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    I hoping Dr. Meyer’s next book will be on Darwin’s other ‘horrid doubt’,

    Darwin’s Other Doubt – Michael Flannery – July 29, 2013
    “But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....74911.html

    Self-Refuting Belief Systems – Cornelius Hunter – September 2012
    Excerpt: Relativism states that there are no absolute truths, but if true then that statement is an absolute truth. Likewise the statement that evolution is a fact, if true, means that we cannot know evolution to be a fact. Why? Because with evolution our minds are nothing more than molecules in motion—an accidental biochemistry experiment which has yielded a set of chemicals in a certain configuration. This leads to what Darwin called “the horrid doubt”:
    “But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind.” Darwin to Graham, William – 3 July 1881
    Today evolutionists agree that while a random collection of chemicals doesn’t know anything, nonetheless over long time periods and under the action of natural selection, phenomena which we refer to as knowledge, will and consciousness will spontaneously emerge. And how do we know this? Because evolution occurred and we know that it occurred. Therefore evolution must have created the phenomena of knowledge. The proof is left to the student.
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....stems.html

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    If all those links refuting critics seem a bit much to go through, ‘The Biggest failure of Critics’, i.e. the elephant in the living room problem that all critics of Darwin’s Doubt fail to meaningfully address, is succinctly summed up here by Dr. Meyer in this short video:

    The Biggest Failure of Critics – Stephen Meyer – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ljy1yfGdC5Y

  9. 9
    News says:

    Geoff Robinson writes at 3: My theory: people don’t want to believe they made a compromise they didn’t need to make.

    Yes. That is exactly what happened. BioLogos was staging an elaborate, “theologian-y” surrender to naturalism. All the while, people they despised – and stood by and watched while they were hounded from their jobs – *are taking ground.*

    Are raising issues that are taken seriously by non-Biologians.

    Now, the Biologians must invent objections, go back and forth, and be “ultimately” unpersuaded – now that no one need care much what they think anyway.

    Like I said, does anyone care whether Calvin College’s God could or would design anything or not?

    That’s just what happens when you side with the big battalions and don’t stand with your own when it matters.

  10. 10
    Silver Asiatic says:

    From the comments on the site and statements from some of the leadership, it seems clear that they’re softening towards ID. There’s really nowhere else to go. The first step in this softening is exactly what Darwinists will do … start to talk about “other mechanisms”. Once you can get away from RM and NS, you distance yourself from Darwin and then open the door to all sorts of chaotic non-explanations. Biologos can now start to claim that they “didn’t fully support neo-Darwinism”. That was only “one of the evolutionary mechanisms” and not a very significant one. There is “some question” about how evolution can explain certain features. They can then say that they were “open to evidence of design” but were “cautious” about early claims from ID. Now that Biologos researchers have investigated criticisms of Darwinian theory from “respected scientists” (i.e. nobody from ID), “evidence is emerging” that there “can be a strong case made for the influence of an intelligent agent in nature”, but this is nothing like what the ID movement has claimed, since ID is mainly a political movement, unlike Biologos.

    Support of design in nature, of course, “was always the position Biologos held”.

  11. 11
    Mung says:

    Is everyone at BioLogos our enemy?

    For example, I have immense respect for Alister McGrath.

  12. 12
    Silver Asiatic says:

    From a comment on this Biologos post:
    http://biologos.org/blog/revie.....troduction

    “Dr. Haarsma’s statement above is the first *official* BioLogos statement (as opposed to occasional statements made by various columnists) that endorses cosmic fine-tuning.”

    Cosmic-fine tuning is an ID argument. It’s illogical to accept evidence of design there and then have theological problems with evidence for design in biology. But many TE’s do just that.

  13. 13
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Mung @11. I don’t view them as enemies, myself. I think many are just trying to avoid, what they think are, needless conflicts. I admire McGrath also, and many others there.

  14. 14
    Silver Asiatic says:

    All the while, people they despised – and stood by and watched while they were hounded from their jobs – *are taking ground.*

    I didn’t mean to under-emphasize that point — very true. The Biologos crowd kept their respected positions while ID scientists were fired. Very little (I’d say ‘no’) support was given to fellow theists who were persecuted by mainstream science.

  15. 15
    Axel says:

    The natural world just appears to be designed? Would it be possible to study it successfully if it were not? Or is it just an appearance of design that’s important…. If so, why?

    Like walking from one room to an adjoining one, both with walls lined with aquaria , populated with fish. The second one, however, in which the aquaria are of a much more sophisticated construction, only appears to have been designed, and what looks like water in the tanks only appears to be water. Likewise the fish only appear to be fish.

    Does Dawkins realise how hapless he can be, when he realises he’s wrong, but tries to smoothe it over, by extending the hand of sympathy, if not friendship to IDers? ?

  16. 16
    Mung says:

    Part 1 of Robert Bishop’s review is now online.

    It’s sad, really.

    There’s the Extended Synthesis! Ta Da!

    Unfortunately Meyer sets the components of the Extended Synthesis against each other, as if they were competing explanations.

    So while none of the things that make up the Extended Synthesis can explain the Cambrian Explosion, if we lump them all together, we have an explanation.

    Really? REALLY?

    *sigh*

  17. 17
    RodW says:

    Maybe I’m reading it wrong but it looks like the paperback is #1 on paleontology

  18. 18
    Barry Arrington says:

    Summarizing Stearley: Meyer is wrong, because the explosion lasted more like 25 million years instead of 6 million.

    If the 4.5 billion years of the history of earth were a single 24 hour day, 6 million years would be 2 minutes and 25 million years would be 8 minutes. Does anyone seriously think that Meyers’ argument is weakened if the explosion took 8 minutes instead of 2? This is point-missing on a grand scale.

  19. 19
    HD says:

    BioLogos has an open comment policy and for the most part, everyone in the comment sections are incredibly respectful even when they strongly disagree. Wouldn’t this be a great opportunity for either Meyers or for anyone else at DI to take on their critics on a more “real-time” format rather than later, one of them write a post here or on Evolution News that Biologos totally misunderstood them? Why not just correct them right there and be done with it? Their comments won’t be censored.

  20. 20
    Mung says:

    HD @ 19, perhaps if they ever get around to discussing the science.

    But why respond to someone who is arguing over your motive in how you went about addressing the topics, asserting basically that it was for rhetorical effect as a means to escape the overall strength of a unified “Extended Synthesis” explanation for the Cambrian exposion?

  21. 21
    HD says:

    >But why respond to someone who is arguing over your motive in how you went about addressing the topics, asserting basically that it was for rhetorical effect as a means to escape the overall strength of a unified “Extended Synthesis” explanation for the Cambrian explosion?

    Hence the need to respond right there and not write something later. If you correct them on the spot to specific claims in those posts, there won’t be a need for a different article later on.

  22. 22
    Joe says:

    For the past few days I took some time to re-read and respond to Prothero’s review over on Amazon. What weren’t personal attacks and unsupported spewage turned out to be blatant lies and misrepresentations with one exception- Meyer didn’t meticulously go over the lower Cambrian fauna, ie the period before the explosion. Not that anything Prothero had could account for those organisms.

    Hopefully BioLogos has a better go of it than that.

  23. 23
    Silver Asiatic says:

    From Ralph Stearley’s review:

    But, while it is true that Goodwin and others believe that their discoveries pose a major challenge to neo-Darwinian orthodoxy, this does not cause them to abandon their belief that the history of life can be explained as the outcome of biological processes!
    Indeed, many evolutionary biologists and paleontologists are looking to build the notions provided by morphogenetic fields and developmental constraints into a larger synthesis.

    They’re working on it. “Looking to build” something, maybe.

    Some conclusions …

    I admit that, by temperament, I am inclined to see design in nature, and so I resonate with some of Meyer’s arguments. I think he and I would concur that humans are not “baubles on the Christmas tree of life.” I think he has developed a case for the inadequacy of standard “bean-bag” genetic approaches to the production of animal body plans …

    Does Darwin’s Doubt exhibit irritating flaws? Yes.
    Is the Erwin and Valentine book, The Cambrian Explosion, authoritative and more fun than Darwin’s Doubt? Yes. But do I think that Meyer makes an argument that folks should think hard about? Yes.

    Steary sees design in nature. He quibbles about a few of Meyer’s arguments, but he promotes the book as something to take seriously. If most of the good people at Biologos agree with this then they really should open the organization up to ID research and analysis. Take it seriously, as Steary recommends.

  24. 24
    Mung says:

    Two Rhetorical Strategies (Reviewing “Darwin’s Doubt”: Robert Bishop, Part 2)

    This is like someone doing a ‘review’ of The Origin of Species and focusing on Darwin’s rhetoric rather than his argument and evidence. I’m sure that’s fine as far as it goes, but how far does it go?

  25. 25
    tjguy says:

    But why is it a problem to a Christian group if it turns out that natural selection on random mutations simply cannot do that?


    Excellent question!! Why do they care how God did it?

    Doesn’t the Bible seem to fit better with the purposeful design idea?

    If so, why in the world would this be a problem for them?!!

    Geoff may have hit the nail on the head when he said:
    “My theory: people don’t want to believe they made a compromise they didn’t need to make.”

    If so, it becomes a pride thing and they are more concerned about saving face, not being wrong, and being semi respected by secular scientists than they are about giving the Creator the glory due Him.

    I’m sure they do NOT think they are robbing God of His glory. Neither is that their desire, but in effect I believe that this is what happens.

  26. 26
    tjguy says:

    BioLogos has an open comment policy and for the most part, everyone in the comment sections are incredibly respectful even when they strongly disagree. …. Why not just correct them right there and be done with it? Their comments won’t be censored.

    That was not my experience. When Biologos first went on line they had a number of articles on line and one was about church history and the interpretation of Genesis by the early Church Fathers. There were some clear mistakes in that article. They said you could write in and discuss the articles and I spent a lot of time writing a response to that article. But, it was never published. I wrote in and asked about it and they said they were still preparing their site and that eventually it would be published.

    Well, it never was. I wish I still had a copy of what I wrote because I spent a lot of time researching it. Unfortunately, I didn’t keep a copy of it. That was very discouraging for me and it gave me the idea that they wanted to protect the view of church history that they were trying to propagate. It has given me a distrust of the organization as well.

  27. 27
    Axel says:

    Cambrian explosion, Denyse? A mere detail…

    On a serious note, it’s a sad day, isn’t it, when a Christian educational organisation cannot admit they were comprehensively mistaken in going along with the ISIS atheist Establishment’

    And that, mark you, after being presented with what appears, judging from the opinions of people who do ‘know their onions’ in this field, to be a compellingly devastating master-piece of analysis of the fundamental misconceptions underpinning Evolution – like skittles at a very popular bowling venue.

    And further, at a juncture in our history that looks as if it is set to usher in a thoroughgoing demolition of atheist beliefs right across the board, in science as elsewhere.

    But then, it’s not a novelty, since they routinely ignore the most basic implications of mathematically-based findings of quantum mechanics, the most successful paradigm ever – and not merely in the sense of its being the latest one. That, ipso facto, disqualifies them as serious people.

    Indeed, to revert to the Cambrian explosion: It’s QED, isn’t it! Despite their shamelessly half-baked attempts to explain it away.

  28. 28
    Axel says:

    ‘I admit that, by temperament, I am inclined to see design in nature, and so I resonate with some of Meyer’s arguments.’

    Really, Silver Asiatic? What, when everything in Nature seems so clumsily conceived and put together? How could you!

  29. 29
    Axel says:

    Your #10, Silver Asiatic:

    Very amusing, but we’ve seen that slow shape-shifting from the dark side, often enough. Like a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. A wonder to behold.

  30. 30
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Axel #28 – yes, I thought that was strange that the Biologos refutation of the book was from an author that agreed that there is evidence of design in nature. 🙂

  31. 31
    Axel says:

    @Barry Arrington #18

    Since they don’t baulk at using such specious, indeed, frivolous arguments, that seems a very significant point you made there, Barry. I hope it’s readily used to refute anyone who tries to shoot that line again.

  32. 32
    Mung says:

    …much to the credit of our friends at BioLogos, leading spokesmen for the theistic evolutionary view have sought to engage in constructive dialogue with advocates of ID.

    It’s gratifying to report that our conversations have borne fruit. At the BioLogos website, developmental geneticist and past BioLogos president Darrel Falk (pictured at left) has now contributed a two-part review of Stephen Meyer’s book Darwin’s Doubt that is, candidly, remarkable.

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....89791.html

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