It’s a mantra among defenders of orthodox Darwinian theory: There is no debate about evolution.* There is no controversy about intelligent design. Repeat one thousand times, until you may actually start to believe it.
If the publication a year ago of Stephen Meyer’s book, Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design, tells us anything, it’s that the evolution debate in fact continues. More than that, like a storm, it is gathering strength and advancing steadily.
Darwin’s Doubt was a major step forward. Now the controversy has advanced still further.
The paperback edition of Meyer’s landmark work is out today, with a new 35-page Epilogue in which Dr. Meyer answers the more substantive challenges to his argument — from scientists including Charles Marshall, Donald Prothero and Nick Matzke, focusing on the origin of biological information, the duration of the Cambrian explosion, cladistics and the mystery of the missing ancestors.
Having considered the arguments in Darwin’s Doubt, readers will recognize the challenge it offers to traditional evolutionary thinking and perhaps wonder how stalwart defenders of evolutionary theory have responded.
Yes, indeed. And with the new chapter included, that curiosity and hunger for further debate — on an issue that could not be more scientifically, philosophically, or indeed spiritually vital — can be at least partially sated.
Of course even in the absence of the new edition of Darwin’s Doubt, you’d get a sense of the progress we’ve made from signs like the news this past week about The Third Way. That’s a freshly launched website linking together scientists who doubt the Darwinian "consensus" and who seek a "third way," a path toward a new theory of evolution.
These scientists, led by James Shapiro at the University of Chicago, decidedly are not advocates of intelligent design. But they give evidence of the intense ferment in the field of evolutionary biology, which ID continues to do so much to encourage.
Starting today and continuing in coming weeks, we’ll be featuring here "Conversations with Stephen Meyer," short videos in which Dr. Meyer reflects on the past year’s controversy over his book, what the criticisms of Darwin’s Doubt reveal about the weakness of his critics and what that suggests about the future of the discussion as a whole.
Stay tuned. Meanwhile, today is a good day — none could be better — to get your copy of the expanded edition of Darwin’s Doubt.
* Karl Giberson said exactly that in The Daily Beast over the weekend, doubling down on the myth of vestigial human "tails" and swatting aside criticisms of his use of a Photoshopped image purporting to represent such an appendage.