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Darwin, Denton and the Discovery Institute

Every now and again there comes an unexpected endorsement for the Design argument. This time it was from the Spectator magazine. In its November 12th issue, A N Wilson, writer and newspaper columnist, chose Michael Denton’s Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis[1] as his Book of the Year for 2016. What he says is breath-taking, though, to some of us, completely obvious:

Cover of Ecolution: A theory still in crisis..this (book) takes us up to date with the dazzling developments of life sciences over the past 30 years. Denton is a sceptic about Darwin’s theory of evolution on purely scientific grounds. It is hard to see how anyone reading his book could not be persuaded. Palaeontology provides abundant evidence of evolution within species but none of one species morphing into another. Denton is fascinatingly clear in his exposition of the science of genetics, and how it destroys the Darwinian position. A truly great book.

Well it doesn’t get much clearer than that – the destruction of the Darwinian position on purely scientific grounds. And he is not alone in this conclusion. Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, Professors of cognitive science at Rutgers University USA, in their recent book What Darwin got Wrong,[2] while rejecting any notion of Intelligent Design (essentially obligatory in academia, of course), state that natural selection as the basis of evolution is ‘irredeemably flawed’. James Shapiro, Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Chicago, in his book Evolution – A view from the 21st century[3] – agrees and finds it ‘surprising’ that scientists still hold to a view of evolution based on random change.

It is also intriguing that the Royal Society in November 2016 held a scientific conference to consider ‘New perspectives in Evolution’, or as one observer described it – Scientists seek to update Evolution.[4] The question is whether Darwinism is to be amended or abandoned. The evidence for design in Nature tilts to the latter.

Cover of Evolution: a theory in crisisMichael Denton’s first book, Evolution a Theory in Crisis,[5] was an eye-opener at the time and remains so. With its focus on scientific rather than philosophical or religious objections to Darwin, it was one of the seminal influences in the Intelligent Design movement.

What I find surprising, if not shocking, is that in school and college education you cannot raise such issues. Evolution we are told is ‘fact’ and any criticism of it is to be immediately suppressed. This, you’ll find for example, in advice issued by the Department of Education.[6] Nothing could be further from the spirit of scientific enquiry, and it is a national scandal that the Government colludes in the suppression of genuine scientific debate about the feasibility of Darwinian processes.

And it is not as if this is only an intellectual and scientific game. Life-changing philosophical and religious implications gather around the views we take of origins. If, as is becoming increasingly apparent, the key to the origin of the universe and of life is design, we should all be able to assess for ourselves the implications of this increasingly clear finding of science.

Cover of the report on The Impact of Evolution In November of 2016, The Centre for Science and Culture, a programme within Seattle’s Discovery Institute, published Darwin’s Corrosive Idea.[7] Among its startling survey findings is that the widespread public acceptance of Darwinism:
  • makes people believe that the existence of God is improbable
  • leads to a loss of faith
  • erodes belief in human uniqueness, and
  • distorts belief in long-held ethical standards.

Although the data is based on American opinion, similar surveys in the UK produce broadly similar findings. For example, a recent survey of belief in Britain found, among other things, that a third of British adults do not believe in God and 46% of 18-24 year olds deny the existence of any higher spiritual power.[8]

If ever there was anything that mattered for us all, this is surely it.

Dr Alastair Noble
December 2016

[1] Discovery Institute Press, 2016
[2] Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010
[3] FT Press 2011
[4] Carl Zimmer, Quanta magazine, Nov 22, 2016
[5] Adler and Adler, 1986
[6] See eg the School and Early Years Finance (England) Regulations 2014, Department for Education and DCSF (2007) guidance on Creationism and intelligent design. Available at and can now be found at
[7] See eg , and references therein

Image credits:
Thumbnail - extracted from a cover of
The Spectator
Evolution - still a theory in crisis - Discovery Institute Press, 2016
Evolution: a theory in crisis - Adler & Adler Publishers Inc. U.S., 1986
Darwin's Corrosive Idea - Discovery Institute free download at