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Review of Stephen Meyer’s book “Darwin’s Doubt”

Darwin's Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent DesignDarwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design by Stephen C. Meyer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I feel somewhat unqualified to give this volume a thorough or critical review since my BS is in Environmental Science and I do not have a command of the peer-reviewed literature on many of the relevant disciplines Meyer touches on. That being said, Meyer appears to have a thorough command of the peer-reviewed literature and consistently refers to it throughout his book to make his case, frequently using the words of convinced-and-published Neo-Darwinists to demonstrate so. Another feather in Meyer’s cap, one that I do feel qualified to grant him, is his ability to use both inductive and deductive reasoning well. This is a skill seldom displayed in the science-centric articles I have come across over the years.

Probably the most enjoyable part (for those who dwell in the light of geekdom) was the amazing crash course in evolutionary studies that Meyer gives his readers. I learned so much about the Burgess shale, epigenetic information, developmental genetic regulatory networks, protein folds, combinatorial space, etc. that I feel like I can now digest some of Meyer’s primary source materials (peer-reviewed, scientific journals) with enough of a rudimentary understanding to be able to read with a more critical eye.

But Meyer’s strength is also the book’s weakness. Some of the chapters are so very dense, saturated with technical terminology, that it was a strain to keep up. I found myself mentally checking out and having to review what I had just been over.

Ultimately, this reviewer felt Meyer did a solid job of two things: 1) critiquing the Neo-Darwinian claim that the diversity of animal life (with special reference to the Cambrian explosion) arose through the accumulation of random mutations and “edited” by virtue of natural selection; and 2) making a solid case for Intelligent Design based solidly on a broad and detailed understanding of the evidence found within the published, peer-reviewed scientific literature and the history of science from Darwin on. Combine these two things with Meyer’s ability to handle inductive vs. deductive reasoning well, and a reader who has a high tolerance for difficult reading is in for a treat.

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