Does intelligent design provide a plausible account of life’s origins?

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by Stephen C. Meyer,

from The American Spectator,

The Cambrian Explosion and the Combinatorial Problem.

In the Origin, Darwin expressed a key doubt about the ability of his theory to explain one particular event in the history of life, an event known as the Cambrian explosion.

I’ve recently written a book, Darwin’s Doubt, about this in which I argue that the problem Darwin identified not only remains to this day, but that it has grown up to illustrate a more fundamental conceptual difficulty than he could have understood …

Darwin was puzzled by a pattern in the fossil record that seemed to document the sudden appearance of animal life in a remote period of the Earth’s history, now known as the Cambrian. any new and anatomically complex creatures – such as trilobites, appear suddenly in the sedimentary layers associated with this period without any evidence of simpler ancestral forms in the earlier layers below.

Darwin frankly expressed his puzzlement in the Origin of Species about this mysterious event. “The difficulty of assigning any good reason for the absence of vast piles of strata rich in fossils beneath the Cambrian system is very great,” he wrote. “The case at present must remain inexplicable, and may be truly urged as as valid argument against the views here entertained.”

Could this problem with neo-Darwinian theory point instead to a different type of cause? Do we know of any other kind of entity that has the power to create large amounts of functional or digital information? We do. As information scientist Henry Quastler recognized, the “creation of new information is habitually associated with conscious activity“, in other words, the work of intelligent agents.

Of course, many scientists dismiss intelligent design as “religion masquerading as science”. But … instead it is based upon scientific evidence and the same method of scientific reasoning that Darwin himself used in the Origin of Species.

In rejecting the theory as unscientific by definition, evolutionary biologists reveal a deep a priori commitment to methodological naturalism-the idea that scientists must limit themselves to materialistic explanations for all things.

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