- Hardcover: 480 pages
- Publisher: Free Press; 1ST edition (July 8, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0684845091
- ISBN-13: 978-0684845098
- Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #696,316 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Nature's Destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe 1ST Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Springer Science Sale
Explore featured applied science titles on sale.
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
From Publishers Weekly
New England biologist Denton continues the assault on Darwinian science, especially the theories of evolution and natural selection, that he began in Evolution: A Theory in Crisis. Here, Denton takes a page out of the work of 19th-century natural theologians like William Paley and 19th-century anti-Darwinian scientists like Robert Chambers to contend that, far from being random and without direction, the laws of nature operate by design. Moreover, says Denton, the design of the laws of the universe inevitably lead to one conclusion: "The entire process of biological evolution from the origin of life to the emergence of man was somehow directed from the beginning." Denton marshals a dizzying array of scientific evidence to bolster his conclusions. First, he examines the evidence from physics and chemistry for the inevitability that the development of a universe like ours would have the evolution of life as its goal. He discusses gravity, the nuclear energy levels of certain atoms, water, light, carbon, uranium and more as elements whose existence is perfectly orchestrated to usher human life onto the universe's stage. Denton then discusses evolutionary biology, arguing that the biocentric nature of the universe undermines the Darwinian principles of contingent natural selection. Denton's arguments are weakened by their circular nature (he assumes design in nature and proceeds to make pieces fit his argument whether they do so easily or not), but his prose is engaging and his insights are accessible to readers who lack a deep scientific background. In the growing debate over Darwin's theories, Denton's voice remains one of the most notable and compelling.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Biolgist and medical researcher Denton argues that the laws of nature and the conditions on this planet exist for the inevitable origin of carbon-based life on Earth as well as the necessary emergence of the intelligent human animal (both events are assumed to be unique in this universe). In great detail, he examines the prerequisites and constituents required for the living cell: water, carbon, metals, oxygen, DNA, proteins, and solar radiation. Furthermore, Denton claims that a long chain of pervasive coincidences is supremely fit for the existence of life and our own species as the determined end of this evolving cosmos. Grounded in both teleology and biocentricity, his directed evolution is a combination of the anthropic principle and natural theology. Glaringly absent, however, is any serious consideration of the ramifications of evil, mutations, mass extinctions, contingency, and exobiology. Most scientists will reject Denton's commitment to purpose evolution as ill conceived and unconvincing. Recommeded only for larger science collections with a penchant for such novel works.?H. James Birx, Canisius Coll., Buffalo, NY
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
"All the evidence available in the biological sciences supports the core proposition of traditional natural theology--that the cosmos is a specially designed whole with life and mankind as its fundamental goal and purpose, a whole in which all facets of reality, from the size of galaxies to the thermal capacity of water, have their meaning and explanation in this central fact."(p. 389)
Can Denton's stance be any more clearer than this? Perhaps. He does say that "to get from a single cell to Homo Sapiens has taken about 4 billion years". Likewise, he seems to assume that evolution is responsible for the diversity and complexity of life, albeit directed by information built into the first cell, by whom or what he does not say. However, he offers little to support the notion that the origin of this first cell (and its wondrous DNA) was "in some way programmed into the laws of nature ... it has to be admitted that at present, despite an enormous effort, we still have no idea how this occurred ..."
He goes on to mention the various theories currently offered, unfortunately with a less critical eye than he should. Even the poor example of snowflakes as a highly ordered state analogous to the molecules of life is thrown a bone. This seems strange in light of the still unanswered challenges presented in his previous book, but it is an example of why evolutionism has survived-- the compartmentalization of science, whereby each scientist, assuming evolution to be proven outside his own field of expertise, discards or explains away his own contradictory findings (the "knowledge filter" again). We will have to be content with such excellent volumes on the subject as "Forbidden Archeology","The Origin of Species Revisited", and Lubenow's "Bones of Contention". However, this does not detract from the main thrust: the overwhelming evidence of design, inexplicable by "natural" evolution.
Another flaw is his requiring that "evidence for believing that the world is prefabricated to the end of life" must somehow contradict his own notion of "special creation." Even supposing this were true, he errs in forgetting that the creation of the first cell (to use his evolutionary view) or DNA, or indeed the left-handedness of life's proteins, are in themselves worthy of being considered supernatural acts, in that they do not naturally follow from the (strangely fortituous) laws of nature in the same way as the origin of the heavier elements. He neglects to address the still unresolved (and fatal) problems regarding the early atmosphere, crucial to the origins question. In distancing himself from his perception of "creationism," he exhibits similar forgetfulness when he claims that his argument is consistent with naturalistic science--"that the cosmos ... can be comprehended ultimately in its entirety by human reason." But surely he does not mean to include abiogenesis and the fitness of the universe for life. Instead, one gets the impression that he is trying to be charitable to his fundamentalist Darwinian colleagues.
What Denton does do well is take us on a marvelous tour of how finely-tuned the universe is to allow us to exist. He does this in far greater detail than most other books of this kind. He covers such "coincidences" as the many fortituous (and anomolous) properties of water, independent yet working together to support life; the fine-tuning of physical constants; suspicious dovetailing of nuclear resonances; the fitness of carbon and other elements for life; the complexity and inexplicability of DNA and proteins; etc. As we read about the ingenuity employed at the molecular level for the sending of nerve signals, manipulation of electrons, conveyance of oxygen, and so on, and the many such contrivances that are essential for life, we are struck by the overwhelming, mind-boggling complexity of it all, and the sneaking suspicion that much is taken on faith in evolutionistic circles. And we see immediately that it cannot be an informed faith based on any scientific evidence, but rather a wishful, forced belief that such nanomachines could have arisen by chance. By the time we have recovered from our revelations about water and carbon, how wonderfully fit they are for our existence, by the time we are finished reading about proteins and the cell, it seems an impossibility that life, being so complex as it is, could have arisen at all, even if it were created by some supernatural being; for this being would have to be possessed of an intellect that beggars our minds. We are used to thinking of cells as simple blobs of protoplasmic jelly, as did Darwin; not so. Now we can understand wny the intricate requirements of life are usually glossed over in popularized treatments on evolution: either the knowledge was not available then, or the inclusion of it would have made evolution impossible, even ridiculous, to defend.
However, details even creationists take for granted are scrutinized, leaving us with a sense of awe (or gnashing of teeth): the fitness of the visual spectrum for vision; the design of the hand; our body dimensions and bipedal gait, allowing us to use fire and thus develop technology; our capacity for language; and so on. In doing so he shows us that the "chance" so casually spoken of in evolutionism quickly diminishes to absurdity upon open-minded examination of our cosmos; and that, indeed, we were meant to discover this fact.
This compilation of smoking guns makes for an always fascinating, always interesting read, bound to raise much ire in evolutionistic circles. Perhaps a better title would have been "Denton's Dangerous Idea." Apologies to many sci-fi writers should be forthcoming, as he demonstrates that many concepts of otherworldly life can be entertained only in our naivete.
Denton initially explains how the four fundamental forces of physics and other parameters such as the expansion rate of the universe or the nuclear energy level in atoms must be precisely tuned to permit the existence of advanced life. While Denton acknowledges that many other authors have covered these themes, this lays the groundwork for some novel arguments Denton then makes.
Denton finds that the earth's atmosphere absorbs harmful radiation and is transparent to a narrow band of light radiation. This narrow band is optimized for the photochemistry of biological vision and the camera-type eyes in vertebrates. Moreover, the stable elements produced by supernova explosions, radiometric decay, and other processes are remarkably fit for the needs of carbon-based life.
None of this would matter if many forms of life were possible in our universe. But Denton's assessment of the periodic table finds that only Carbon fits the needs of life: it is capable of forming covalent bonds, and it forms appropriate organic compounds over the narrow range of temperatures where water, a solvent far superior to its closest rival, is liquid. Only silicon comes close to carbon in its utility for life, but it cannot form the same diversity of compounds as carbon.
Finally, Denton finds that complex organs such as the lobster's eye pose an insurmountable challenge to Neo-Darwinian evolution. The lobster's eye utilizes a precise array of reflectors which focus light on the retina. Evolution requires that all intermediate stages must be functional. Yet the alleged precursor to the lobster must have used a totally different system wherein it is "difficult to see how those halfway, intermediate eyes would have been selectively advantageous in an evolutionary sense." (pg. 356)
Denton concludes that there exists a "long chain of coincidence" where the laws of nature are specifically adapted for the only type of life which can exist in the universe. He concludes that the "anthropocentric presumption has not only stood the test of four centuries of scientific advance, but it increasingly makes more sense of the cosmos as a whole than does any competitor theory." (pg. 367)