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Conversations with Michael Denton: Evo-Devo as a Two-Edged Sword for Darwinism

David Klinghoffer

“Evo-devo” sounds like it should be an early 1980s punk rock band. In fact, as Discovery Institute biologist Michael Denton explains, the field of evolutionary development biology, like the iconic Darwinian Tree of Life itself, cuts sword-like through neo-Darwinism.

The sword has two edges. Yes, the revelations of evo-devo are suggestive of evolution in the sense of common descent. However, the “highly conserved gene circuits and integrated developmental modules” that guide development are another matter. Denton gives the example of a developmental module like the one that results in the decreasing size of the phalanx bones of the hand (proximal, intermediate, distal) — something that is devilishly difficult, near impossible, to explain in terms of Darwinian adaptation.

Notwithstanding happy talk from Darwin’s apologists, it’s another instance where the crisis of evolutionary theory grows as science advances. The more we know, the more Darwinism fails to explain.

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