Michael Denton is a British-Australian biochemist. This book is an update of his 1985 title, Evolution: a theory in crisis.
It contains many technical terms and more than 800 endnotes, referencing academic works in support of his thesis. However, the written style is clear, as is the book’s message that Darwinian evolution is like, as Denton says, the queen in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland — believing in six impossible things before breakfast (p.225).
Denton believes that there are evolutionary processes demonstrated in nature, and does not argue for a Creator nor even intelligent design. But he does point out that living organisms belong to distinct taxa (such as fish, reptiles, primates) and that Darwinian evolution (teaching that innovations are the result of many gradual changes over long periods of time, driven by the need to survive) cannot explain their origin.
He further demonstrates that taxa often have astonishingly complex and interrelated features that need to be ‘right first time’ and cannot be explained by gradual steps. He comments: ‘Incongruous though it may seem … especially to a reader outside of academia … it remains true that the vast majority of all taxa are indeed defined by novelties without any antecedent in any presumed ancestral forms’ (p.56).
What is more, he points out that many such novelties serve no apparent survival function at all, thus not conforming to any Darwinian ‘survival of the fittest’ concept. Male nipples, he believes, are an example.
Furthermore, he points to a ‘third infinity’ that modern biology has revealed: ‘Stunning complexity is everywhere in current biology [a complexity Darwin could never have even imagined] … the cosmos is an infinity of the very large, and the atom is the infinity of the very small’. But the ‘organism is the infinity of the very complex. That such an infinity might have come about in finite time, as a result of any undirected random process, seems impossible’.
On nearly every page, Denton gives examples of the extraordinary complexity of living organisms: ‘Between a living cell and the most highly ordered non-biological system … there is a chasm as vast and absolute as it is possible to conceive’ (p.121). A chasm, he believes, it is impossible for any imagined evolutionary process to bridge.
I have read several helpful books from within the Christian community on the creation/evolution debate. But this book is truly remarkable and would richly reward any reader interested in the subject, even if, like myself, they do not have a relevant scientific background to engage in the detail of Denton’s arguments. Buy it, read it, and then lend it to another!