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A “Nightmarish Scenario” for Darwinism — the Curse of Non-Adaptive Order

David Klinghoffer

Stump your Darwinist friends by asking them to explain, in evolutionarily adaptive terms, biological features like the precise pattern of the maple leaf or of an angiosperm flower. “That’s a fantastically serious challenge to Darwinism,” says Discovery Institute biologist Michael Denton in this brief but delightful video conversation — a “nightmarish scenario.” Why? Because Darwinism by definition must justify such features, including the taxa-defining novelties, as having been seized upon by natural selection because they were adaptive. I mean, that pattern specifically and not some other.

It’s the specificity that’s the problem. This is a deep point by Denton. For classic evolutionary theory, the curse of non-adaptive order resides in the fact that non-adaptive patterns — beautiful and complex ones — absolutely pervade life. An aesthetic choice might explain the act of selection. But blind, dumb natural selection, focused like a laser beam on fitness, carefully designing these thing to be just as they are and no other way? Sorry, that doesn’t fly.

Editor’s note: Get your copy of Dr. Denton’s Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis now. For a limited time, you’ll enjoy a 30 percent discount at CreateSpace by using the discount code QBDHMYJH.

David Klinghoffer

Senior Fellow and Editor, Evolution News
David Klinghoffer is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute and the editor of Evolution News & Science Today, the daily voice of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, reporting on intelligent design, evolution, and the intersection of science and culture. Klinghoffer is also the author of six books, a former senior editor and literary editor at National Review magazine, and has written for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Commentary, and other publications. Born in Santa Monica, California, he graduated from Brown University in 1987 with an A.B. magna cum laude in comparative literature and religious studies. David lives near Seattle, Washington, with his wife and children.

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Conversations with Michael DentonFilms and Videonature