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Book Review - Uncommon Dissent: Intellectuals Who Find Darwinism Unconvincing

Chris Banescu

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Uncommon Dissent: Intellectuals Who Find Darwinism Unconvincing
William A. Dembski
ISI Books (June 1, 2004)
366 pages

Destroying the unqualified and unjustified myth that "only religious fanatics oppose Darwinism", Dr. William Dembski's collection of essays presents a powerful and convincing case that exposes the many flaws and problems of Darwinism. Rather than having an agenda, the intellectuals that contributed to Uncommon Dissent exemplify the objective, rational, and scholarly manner in which they have both examined the various evolutionary theories and exposed these theories' many inconsistencies, oversights, and errors. The eloquence and thoroughness with which these essays critically analyze the Darwinian dogmas reveal that fanatical devotions to unproven theories are prevalent mainly in the mainstream secular scientific community - not among the many scholars and scientists who dare question the veracity and universality of various evolutionary models.

One of Dembski's key objections to the assertion that random changes created the vast complexity of life is a fitting summary of the structural problem of evolutionary thought. Dembski notes that "this blind process, when coupled with another blind process, is supposed to produce designs that exceed the capacities of any designers in our experience." This theoretical and chaotic process has been proposed and promoted by Darwinists as fact without the required scientific evidence to back it up. Furthermore, the intolerance shown to dissenting voices that question evolutionary theories reveals a dangerous pattern of repression and censorship within the scientific establishment.

The missing fossil data needed to support evolution is a crucial argument expressed by many of the book's contributors. If Darwin was correct, then scores of transitional animal forms must exist in the geological record. However, as Phillip E. Johnson points out:

The fossil evidence is very difficult to reconcile with the Darwinist scenario. If all living species descended from common ancestors by an accumulation of tiny steps, then there once must have existed a veritable universe of transitional intermediate forms liking the vastly different organisms of today... with their hypothetical common ancestors.

Such evidence simply does not exist. According to Cornelius G. Hunter:

The observed fossil pattern is invariably not compatible with a gradualistic evolutionary process. The fossil record does not reveal a pattern of accumulated small-change.... New species appear fully formed, as though planted there, and they remain unchanged for eons.

In the face of such convincing evidence, one would expect evolutionary scientists to acknowledge some serious flaws in their theories. After all, science should be about searching for the truth. Unfortunately, Johnson notes:

When the fossil record does not provide the evidence that naturalism would like to see, it is the fossil record, and not the naturalistic explanation, that is judged to be inadequate.

Instead of admitting the problems and allowing for criticism, the Darwinist establishment ignores the data and muzzles the dissenters, choosing to discredit the messengers rather than face reality. As Dembski observes:

Darwinism has achieved the status of inviolable science, combining the dogmatism of religion with the entitlement of science.

Michael J. Behe's "irreducibly complex" organisms present yet another stumbling block for Darwinists. He observes that most organisms are "irreducibly complex, meaning they need several parts working together in order to function." According to Behe, this creates "headaches for Darwinian theory because they are resistant to being produced in the gradual, step-by-step manner that Darwin envisioned." For evolution to work, all the complex biochemical systems needed for an organism to live must "evolve" simultaneously and in perfect synchronization so this new creature can eat, remove waste, move, and survive. Since evolutionists maintain this must all happen by chance, only an enormous miracle (or an intelligent designer) can explain these countless chaotic processes instantly coming into existence -- with just the right fine-tuning and harmonization -- to allow even the simplest organisms to stay alive. Darwinism's gradual steps and trial and error explanations simply do not suffice.

Uncommon Dissent promises to not only "detail the weaknesses of Darwinian evolutionary theory," but to also show that "the preponderance of evidence goes against Darwinism." In both respects, the essays meet and exceed these expectations. Given Dembski's own impressive academic credentials and the solid intellectual qualifications of his contributors, this book provides a strong dissenting voice to challenge the many half-truths, obfuscations, and mistakes of mainstream evolutionary thinking.

The central weakness or "fatal flaw" of Darwinism is its inability to explain the existence of both rational thought and the origins of the inherent complexity of life evident in the huge variety of organisms and their immensely intricate DNA code. The very existence of such a "code" implies that a rational force was needed to encode it. Creationists like to call this God, while Darwinists call it chaos.

While Darwin's theory seems to explain how small-scale evolutionary changes or limited natural selection processes could operate within certain species, it fails miserably to describe, as Robert Koons observes, how such functional forms and processes "came to be there in the first place" and, as Edward Sisson notes, it "tells us nothing about when and how the genes we see today first came into existence." The cavernous gap that exists in the scientific evidence purporting to prove how one-celled organisms "evolved" into man remains an immense and significant problem for Darwinists. As James Barham so eloquently notes:

Epic poems and Boeing 747s do not come into existence by themselves, no matter how much time is available - and neither do cells, or even proteins.

Darwinists demand a bigger miracle than any creationist could ever claim, as they assert that "only matter in mindless motion" gave birth to intelligent life and consciousness. Indeed, the faith required to believe that chaos allowed inanimate matter to become alive and to eventually develop into rational beings is far greater than the faith needed to acknowledge that an intelligent Creator designed it all from the beginning. Dembski is quite correct when he concludes, "Getting design without a designer is a good trick indeed."

Chris Banescu is an attorney, entrepreneur, and university professor. His business, ethics, and management articles and podcasts can be found on www.ChrisBanescu.com. He is a regular contributor to OrthodoxyToday.org, manages the conservative site www.OrthodoxNet.com, writes articles, and has given talks and conducted seminars on a variety of business and management topics. He has also written book reviews for Townhall.com and articles for Acton.org.

Read this article on the Town Hall website (new window will open). Reprinted with permission of the author.

Posted: 12/13/04



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