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Evolution: A Theory In Crisis Paperback – April 15, 1986
Scientific Teaching Series
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From Library Journal
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
In an interview he is quoted as saying
"There are various forms of teleological theories, extending from Creationist intervention theories to nature mysticism. But these theories are (I don't want to be derogatory) an occultist type of theory. You can't really find any evidence that such phenomena are operating in nature, but you can see that natural selection can operate. This is a great strength of Darwinism. Although I think it is totally incapable of accounting for the broad picture, the complex adaptations required by the tree of life, it's certainly capable of generating a certain degree of evolutionary change. That is its great strength."
It is very clear throughout Denton's book that he considers creationism to be a myth and teleological design in general to be unscientific.
In his own words, Creation and design hypotheses in general are an "occultism type of theory."
So the accusation that he wrote this book with a certain philosophical priori in mind are unfair and inaccurate.
As to the criticism that Denton offers no alternative to Neo Darwinian theory, I can only say that that's a very large burden to place ont he shoulders of one man. Scientific revolutions are rarely made by a single individual. Even Darwin's hypothesis was spawned initially from the works of others before it came to stand on its own. Darwin's claim to fame is suggesting that changes in organisms are random and not directed. Before Darwin it was accepted that organisms change, but the idea is that change was somehow directed by the organism in some mysterious fashion. Those are the key differences in evolutionary thought before and after Darwinism.
In this book Dention is merely trying to get us to consider that Neo Darwinian evolution does not explain life completely, and should be reconsidered in some areas of science where it is applied.
It was said by one reviewer that Denton fails to provide another theory to replace evolution, yet that is circular logic. The implication in the reviewer's words is that Neo Darwinian evolution should be accepted until such a time as another theory can be provided. Yet, according to that logic, how can the sythesis of another theory explaining the origins of life even be attempted if one refuses to admit that there are problems in Neo Darwinian theory? Furthermore why should one even attempt to create another theory if no problems are perceived in the current theory?
Denton's purpose in writing this book therefore, is getting us to analyze the claims of Neo Darwinian theory, acknowledge the problems , and then proceed on the path to discovering a more complete theory of life.
As I stated before however, none of this can happen until it sufficiently demonstrated that there is a problem with the current theory. This is the purpose of Denton's book.
A theory should not be accepted just because there is nothing better to replace it.
I give this book three stars because the reviewer did have one good point. The information in Denton's book is severely outdated. To give just one example, one of the items in his list of proofs of evolution is Kettle's peppered moths. In 1998 however, Kettle's work was determined to have been falsified.
Since Kettle however, many other researchers have proven that evolution does happen. Or at least, we hope they've been far more honest than Kettle.
Also, this book lacks the insights from more recent research such as the human genome project. However, I cannot state for certain just how much recent research impacts Denton's arguments. Perhaps someone else can enlighten us on just how much the human genome project has taught us about macroevolution and Neo Darwinian theory.
All the recent research in the world will not matter if it does not give us new insights into how Neo Darwinian evolution might work on a macroevolutionary scale.
Despite its dated nature however, I found Denton's book to be enjoyable. He is objective and fair minded and that is quite rare in this modern age. If nothing else his book is valuable for its historical content. illustrates how the idea of evolution has changed throughout the years, and in doing that reminds us that even scientists are vulnerable to the human desire to "see what one wishes to see." Of looking through colored lenses so to speak.
Contrary to what some reviews might claim reading Behe's books or Denton's book is not an either or question. In fact they are very complementary and I would recommend that anyone interested in the issue of Intelligent design vs random chance and billions of years read Denton's book first as it is an overall better introduction to the debate.
Evolution: A Theory in Crisis starts off describing Darwin's voyages aboard the HMS Beagle and explains quite powerfully how Darwin came to believe in natural selection as a driving force for evolution. Denton also eloquently shows how the fact that Darwin's theory was used to justify white / European superiority to what the Europeans of the day considered to be the lesser races. Denton then methodically proceeds to give us a well-written and detailed overview of the many disciplines that touch on this debate and some of the problems they face in making a case for Macro evolution.
While Denton does mention the Bible in the context of describing the thinking of pre-Darwin times, his critique of current evolutionary thinking comes from the basis of science.
While one might be tempted to think that since "Evolution: A Theory in Crisis" was written in 1986 it is out of date, if so one would be wrong in that Denton's critiques of the various flawed approaches that attempt to validate purely naturalist evolution are still 100 percent valid, with one possible exception. That exception being Denton's view on the Molecular Clock theory of evolution.
This change in thinking led Denton to write another book "Natures Destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe." This book is not a repudiation of Denton's excellent critique of the many scientifically flawed ways evolutionist have tried to support their theory, but instead Denton does do an about face on the importance of the Molecular Clock which in his first book he dismissed as a tautology, but which in his second book he now believes provides evidence for intelligent design of a sort.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Once the cutting-edge research scientists convinced me that random mutations and natural selection cannot create or write any...