Writing at Why Evolution Is True, Jerry Coyne explains that he can’t review Darwin’s Doubt because he’s not an expert on the Cambrian explosion. But while the book begins with a puzzle from paleontology, that’s really only the thread, initially tugged loose from the sweater, that results in the whole garment coming unraveled.
Dr. Meyer’s book covers evidence from many disciplines — like genetics. So it seems relevant to consult one of Britain’s top geneticists, Dr. Norman C. Nevin OBE, BSc, MD, FRCPath, FFPH, FRCPE, FRCP. Once you get past all the honors and decorations, he is Professor Emeritus in Medical Genetics, Queen’s University, Belfast. In an appraisal of Darwin’s Doubt, Dr. Nevin says this:
With the publication of On the Origin of Species in 1859, Darwin acknowledged that there wasn’t an adequate explanation for the pattern in the fossil record in which a wide diversity of animal life suddenly appeared in the Cambrian geological period. His doubt about the “Cambrian explosion” centered on the wide range of body forms, the missing fossil intermediates and the lack of evidence for antecedents.
Meyer’s book examines the implications of the “Cambrian explosion.” It is a fascinating story and analysis of Darwin’s doubt about the fossil record and the debate that has ensued. It is a tour de force. It is divided into three main parts with several chapters in each — “The Mystery of the Missing Fossils,” “How to Build an Animal.’ And After Darwin What?’
Many leading biologists criticize key aspects of evolution. The main problem with neo-Darwinism is the origin of new biological information. Building a living organism requires an immense amount of information. The issue that arises is the source of the information and how can random mutations and natural selection generate the necessary biological information to produce such a diversity of animal forms without antecedents.
This book is well informed, carefully researched, up-to-date and powerfully argued. Its value is that it confronts Darwin’s doubt and deals with the assumptions of neo-Darwinism. This book is much needed and I recommend it to students of all levels, to professionals and to laypeople.
You can hardly get better than that. We’ve asked Coyne to come over to ENV and debate the thesis of Darwin’s Doubt. He has so far ignored the invitation, only now implicitly dodging it with the bit about not being exactly the right kind of specialist. But Dr. Coyne is a free-ranging defender of evolution. Surely an interdisciplinary book like this that takes on Darwinian theory as a whole should not be too far outside his orbit.