NOTE: you can tune in to the Dennis Prager radio show at 2 PM Eastern today in order to hear Dr. Meyer discuss the new book.
I found a book review of the new book on intelligent design by Dr. Stephen C. Meyer. This book is concerned with the fossil record, and it is the sequel to the highly acclaimed “Signature in the Cell“, which dealt with the origin of biological information in the first living cell.
The title of the book refers to the difficulty [Charles Darwin] had in explaining the “Cambrian Explosion,” the vast proliferation of new animal body plans (new “phyla” or major animal groupings) that appears in fossils in the Cambrian strata, deposited some 530 million years ago. These animals appear suddenly in the fossil record, without any plausible predecessor such as Darwin’s theory predicted. Darwin wrote,
The difficulty of understand the absence of vast piles of fossiliferous strata, which on my theory were no doubt somewhere accumulated before the Silurian [i.e., Cambrian] epoch, is very great. I allude to the manner in which numbers of species of the same group suddenly appear in the lowest known fossiliferous rocks.
Darwin saw this accurately as a challenge to his theory. It remains one still. The animals appear too quickly in the record to be explained through his gradualistic theory.
And it remains a challenge from the perspective of mainstream science. Various theories have been proposed in explanation of the suddenness with which these new phyla came on the scene. Perhaps selective fossilization caused their predecessors to disappear from paleontologists’ view. Mainstream science casts serious doubt on that view. Statistical paleontology renders it deeply improbable. The soft-body hypothesis appears unlikely to succeed, since the evidence shows soft-bodied organisms have been frequently fossilized.
Or maybe the Cambrian animals’ precursors really are there in the record, in the form of exotic Ediacaran fossils. But these organisms are not clearly animals of any sort, and what they are is so in confusion that they could hardly be considered evidence for anything. Further,
As Nature recently noted, if the Ediacaran fauna “were animals, they bore little or no resemblance to any other creatures, either fossil or extant.” … This absence of clear affinities has led an increasing number of paleontologists to reject an ancestor/dependent relationship between the Ediacaran and Cambrian fauna.
Scientists have proposed genetic histories for these phyla, but as Meyer pointedly puts it, these scenarios all “assume a gene.” And a lot more besides. That is to say, they beg the question of evolution’s explanatory adequacy by assuming that it must be true. From there they suggest pathways according to which genes “must have” evolved. But there’s no evidence of it in the record.
Now the exciting thing is that at the time of writing (Monday night), the book is number one on Barnes and Noble:
And number ten on Amazon:
Now is this a book for the layman? Well, I’ve met the guy who wrote the book review above face-to-face, and his background is not in biology. I think if he can struggle through it, then I could do it too. And so could you. I think that both of Dr. Meyer’s books are must-read books for anyone interested in knowing how well the presumption of naturalism succeeds when confronted with the latest scientific evidence. These are the books you need to buy and read if you are serious about integrating science and religion. The thing to realize is that naturalists and atheists and materialists have no answer to these books. None. Do you like winning? Then spend the money and time on the books that are unstoppable in a debate.