The evolution debate is about to undergo a paradigm shift.
Darwin's Origin of Species launched a revolution whose scientific, cultural and spiritual effects are still with us. Now a new revolution is on the horizon. On June 18, the HarperOne imprint of HarperCollins will publish Darwin's Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design, by Stephen C. Meyer.
Dr. Meyer is the Cambridge University-trained leader and founder of the ID movement. His previous book, Signature in the Cell, caught the attention of scholars who previously had nothing friendly to say about ID. Even distinguished atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel admitted that it confronted him with a "fiendishly difficult problem." But Signature in the Cell considered only the mystery of the origin of life. Dr. Meyer's new book expands the scope of the case for ID to the entire sweep of life's history.
In some ways his book resembles Darwin's Origin, with its methodical style, summarizing and synthesizing arguments and evidence in an unprecedentedly rigorous and powerful way. Or since the idea of intelligent design stretches back to classical philosophy, waiting only to be restated definitively in contemporary scientific terms, it might best be compared to Richard Dawkins's The Blind Watchmaker, which performed a similar service for Darwinian theory.
Meyer begins with what Darwin himself regarded as a troubling enigma, a subject of doubt and even some scientific distress. It is a mystery from which subsequent generations of Darwinists have sought to distract the public's attention. Some 530 million years ago, in the event called the Cambrian explosion, there sprang suddenly into existence the majority of animal body plans (phyla) that have existed on Earth. The shallow seas of the Cambrian period abruptly teemed with diverse, exotic animals.
Evolutionary biologists and paleontologists have struggled to explain this epic event. Dr. Meyer takes his readers on a journey through scientific history, starting with the discovery of the Burgess Shale by Charles Walcott in 1909. He shows how failed attempts to give a satisfying Darwinian explanation of the Cambrian explosion have opened the door to increasingly profound questions, posed by evolutionary biologists themselves, leading to a far greater mystery: the origin of the biological information necessary to build the animals of the Cambrian and all the living creatures that have existed on Earth.
Here is a sweeping account, stunningly illustrated with gorgeous color photos, of the frontiers of the scientific critique of Darwinism and the case for ID. Exacting and thorough, yet remarkably accessible to the thoughtful lay reader, Darwin's Doubt introduces us to the challenges to Darwinism based on the study of combinatorial inflation, protein science, population genetics, developmental biology, epigenetic information, and more.
Meyer explains how post-Darwinian alternatives and adaptions of Darwin's theory -- including self-organizational models, evo-devo, neutral or nonadaptive evolution, natural genetic engineering, and others -- fall short as well. He demonstrates that the weaknesses of orthodox evolutionary theory, when flipped over head-to-foot, are precisely the positive indications that point most persuasively to intelligent design.
Evolutionary biologists studying gene regulatory networks and fossil discontinuity, among other fields, have come tantalizingly close to reaching this conclusion themselves.
The Cambrian event, fundamentally, represents an information explosion, the first but not the last in the history of life. As no book has done before, Darwin's Doubt spells out the implications of this fact. Dr. Meyer stands on the verge of turning the evolution debate in an entirely new direction, compelling critics of the theory of intelligent design, at last, to respond substantively and in detail. The book will be a game-changer, for science and culture alike.