Darwin’s Macroevolutionary Theory

“Richard Dawkins has said biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed. That’s classic Darwinism: design without a natural designer. Intelligent design is the idea there are certain features and patterns in the living world—and the universe itself—best explained by reference to an actual intelligence rather than an unguided process like natural selection and random mutation.” Stephen Meyer

Darwin on the rocks

Q&A | DNA and Cambrian fossils, says Stephen Meyer, make macroevolutionary theory increasingly untenable

Stephen Meyer

Stephen Meyer

Stephen Meyer is director of the Center for Science and Culture at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute. He is one of the founders of the “intelligent design” movement and author of two books about biological origins, Signature in the Cell and the 2013 bestseller,Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design. Arguments for design in nature come from planetary science, physics, and molecular machines within cells: Meyer has focused on the digital information encoded in DNA.

For folks who don’t know, would you explain intelligent design? Richard Dawkins has said biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed. That’s classic Darwinism: design without a designer. Intelligent design is the idea there are certain features and patterns in the living world—and the universe itself—best explained by reference to an actual intelligence rather than an unguided process like natural selection and random mutation.

Your most recent book is called Darwin’s Doubt. What exactly did Darwin doubt? It had to do with an event in the history of life known as the Cambrian explosion, in which the first major animal forms emerged in the fossil record very abruptly. This raised a real problem in Darwin’s mind, and it’s something he acknowledged in the Origin of Species itself. In the lower, Precambrian layers, the ancestral forms he expected to see based on his branching tree picture of the history of life just weren’t there. Instead of seeing life gradually morph from a very simple one-celled organism through lots of intermediate forms, what we see in the fossil record is the sudden appearance of these complex animal forms. Darwin said the absence of these ancestral intermediates was a “valid argument against the views here entertained,” as he put it in his Victorian English. Continue reading

French Revolution Model

“At the end of the 18th century, there were two great Western revolutions—the American and the French. Americans opted for the freedom of the individual, and divinely endowed absolute rights and values.

“A quite different French version sought equality of result.” Victor Townhall.com Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson, “Is the French Revolution Our New Model?, Townhall.com, October 9, 2014

At the end of the 18th century, there were two great Western revolutions — the American and the French. Americans opted for the freedom of the individual, and divinely endowed absolute rights and values.

A quite different French version sought equality of result. French firebrands saw laws less as absolute, but instead as useful to the degree that they contributed to supposed social justice and coerced redistribution. They ended up not with a Bill of Rights and separation of powers, but instead with mass executions and Napoleonic tyranny.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration is following more the French model than the American.

Suddenly, once-nonpartisan federal bureaucracies have become catalysts for fundamentally transforming America. Often-ideological bureaucrats have forgotten their original mission. NASA might do better to ensure that our astronauts are independent of Vladimir Putin’s Russian rockets rather than claiming that its primary mission is to reach out to the Muslim community. Continue reading

Victims of Communism

Memorial-to-the-Victims-of-Communism-in-Prague-Czech-Republic“Supporters of a museum dedicated to the estimated 100 million victims of communism worldwide hope to break ground on the National Mall on the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. Why are there so few Democrats and liberals among them?” Jams Kirchick

“According to the Black Book of Communism [published by Harvard University Press], regimes inspired by Marxist-Leninism are responsible for some 100 million deaths (and counting), making communism the 20th century’s most fatal ideology.” Ibid

“From Stalin’s gulags to the Cambodian Killing Fields to Mao’s famines, there is not a single communist government in history that was not both tyrannical and left horrifying death and destruction in its wake.” Ibid

James Kirchick, “Communism’s Victims Deserve a Museum,” The Daily Museum, October 9, 2014

Communism’s Victims Deserve a Museum

James Kirchick, The Daily Beast, October 9, 2014

Supporters of a museum dedicated to the estimated 100 million victims of communism worldwide hope to break ground on the National Mall on the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. Why are there so few Democrats and liberals among them?
Not long ago, I mentioned the Victims of Communism Memorial to an acquaintance. It’s a bronze model of the statue raised by Chinese students in Tiananmen Square shortly before the Peoples Liberation Army massacred thousands of peaceful demonstrators in 1989. Located on a small patch of land near Union Station in Washington, countless people walk by it every day, perhaps without even recognizing the memorial or understanding why it is there.

“Communism wasn’t responsible for any deaths,” my interlocutor said. “Crappy leaders were.”

How many times have you heard some formulation of this viewpoint? “Communism is an excellent idea in theory, it just hasn’t worked in practice.” I wish that was the sort of sentiment I only remembered from college dorm room bull sessions. (“OK. How many more millions of people have to die before we get it right?” I always asked, incredulously).

Unfortunately, the notion that Marxist-Leninist ideology is not responsible for the estimated 100 million deaths perpetrated by communist regimes has long been de rigeur among a broad segment of the intellectual elite. And it’s a worldview that, as my friend’s remark and countless other examples attest, is earning followers  among a growing number  of the Millennial Generation. The Marxist recrudescence is hard to quantify, but it can be seen in populist reactions to the worldwide financial crisis, the rise of far left political parties around the globe, and the increasing popularity of once-obscure figures like Slavoj Zizek, a Slovenian Marxist cultural critic. Last year, The New York Times heralded the arrival of the appropriately-named Jacobin, “a magazine dedicated to bringing jargon-free neo-Marxist thinking to the masses.”  In January, Rolling Stone — blissfully unaware of its own role in the consumer economy—published a widely discussed piececalling upon the government to secure jobs for everyone, abolish all private property, and “take back the land.” The only thing missing from this bill of particulars was elimination of the bourgeoisie.    Continue reading

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