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Charles Darwin  Erasmus Darwin  Leonard Darwin  Richard Dawkins  William Dembski  Daniel Dennett  Michael Denton  Alan Dershowitz 

Michael Denton  Senior Research Fellow in Human Molecular Genetics at the University of Otago  Amazon  GBS  AV

As far as Christianity was concerned, the advent of the theory of evolution and the elimination of traditional teleological thinking was catastrophic. The suggestion that life and man are the result of chance is incompatible with the biblical assertion of their being the direct result of intelligent creative activity. Despite the attempt by liberal theology to disguise the point, the fact is that no biblically derived religion can really be compromised with the fundamental assertion of Darwinian theory. Chance and design are antithetical concepts, and the decline in religious belief can probably be attributed more to the propagation and advocacy by the intellectual and scientific community of the Darwinian version of evolution than to any other single factor. Today ensconced in our comfortable agnosticism, after a century of exposure to the idea of evolution and quite inured to the idea of a universe without purpose, we tend to forget just what a shock wave the advent of evolution sent through the Christian society of Victorian England.    Evolution: A Theory in Crisis  p.66

Protein molecules are the ultimate stuff of life. If we think of the cell as being analogous to a factory, then the proteins can be thought of as analogous to the machines on the factory floor which carry out individually or in groups of all the essential activities on which the life of the cell depends. Each protein is a sort of micro-miniaturized machine, so small that it must be magnified a million times before it is visible to the human eye. The structure and functioning of these fascinating work horses of the cell was a complete mystery until the 1950s.    Evolution: A Theory in Crisis  (1986)  p.234

Molecular biology has shown that even the simplest of all living systems on the earth today, bacterial cells, are exceedingly complex objects. Although the tiniest bacterial cells are incredibly small, weighing less than 10-12 gms, each is in effect a veritable micro-miniaturized factory containing thousands of exquisitely designed pieces of intricate molecular machinery, made up altogether of one hundred thousand million atoms, far more complicated than any machine built by man and absolutely without parallel in the nonliving world.    Evolution: A Theory in Crisis  (1986)  p.250

No living system can be thought of as being primitive or ancestral with respect to any other system, nor is there the slightest empirical hint of an evolutionary sequence among all the incredibly diverse cells on earth    Evolution: A Theory in Crisis  (1986)  p.250

Considering the way the prebiotic soup is referred to in so many discussions of the origin of life as an already established reality, it comes as something of a shock to realize that there is absolutely no positive evidence for its existence.    Evolution: A Theory in Crisis  (1986)  p.261

The complexity of the simplest known type of cell is so great that it is impossible to accept that such an object could have been thrown together suddenly by some kind of freakish, vastly improbable, event. Such an occurrence would be indistinguishable from a miracle.    Evolution: A Theory in Crisis  (1986)  p.264 

The impossibility of gradual functional transformation is virtually self-evident in the case of proteins: mere causal observation reveals that a protein is an interacting whole, the function of every amino acid being more or less (like letters in a sentence or cogwheels is in a watch) essential to the function of the entire system. To change, for example, the shape and function of the active site (like changing the verb in a sentence or an important cogwheel in a watch) in isolation throughout the molecule, destabilizing the whole system and rendering in useless.    Evolution: A Theory in Crisis  (1986)  p.321

To grasp the reality of life as it has been revealed by molecular biology, we must magnify a cell a thousand million times until it is twenty kilometers in diameter and resembles a giant airship large enough to cover a great city like London or New York. What we would then see would be an object of unparalleled complexity and adaptive design. On the surface of the cell we would see millions of openings, like the port holes of a vast space ship, opening and closing to allow a continual stream of materials to flow in and out. If we were to enter one of these openings we would find ourselves in a world of supreme technology and bewildering complexity.    Evolution: A Theory in Crisis  (1986)   p.328

The information necessary to specify the design of all the species of organisms which have ever existed on the planet, a number according to G. G. Simpson of approximately one thousand million, could be held in a teaspoon and there would still be room left for all the information in every book ever written.    Evolution: A Theory in Crisis  (1986)  p.334

When a number of enzymes are necessary for the assembly of a particular compound, they are arranged adjacent to each other so that, after each step in the operation, the partially completed compound can be conveniently passed to the next enzyme which performs the next chemical operation and so on until the compound is finally assembled. The process is so efficient that some compounds can be assembled in less than a second, while in many cases the same synthetic operations carried out by chemists, even in a well-equipped lab, would take several hours or days or even weeks.    Evolution: A Theory in Crisis  (1986)  p.334

It is astonishing to think that this remarkable piece of machinery, which possesses the ultimate capacity to construct every living thing that ever existed on Earth, from giant redwood to the human brain, can construct all its own components in a matter of minutes and weigh less than 10-16 grams. It is of the order of several thousand million million times smaller than the smallest piece of functional machinery ever constructed by man.    Evolution: A Theory in Crisis  (1986)  p.338

The theory of phlogiston was an inversion of the true nature of combustion. Removing phlogiston was in reality adding oxygen, while adding phlogiston was actually removing oxygen. The theory was a total misrepresentation of reality. Phlogiston did not even exist, and yet its existence was firmly believed and the theory adhered to rigidly for nearly one hundred years throughout the eighteenth century. ... As experimentation continued the properties of phlogiston became more bizarre and contradictory. But instead of questioning the existence of this mysterious substance it was made to serve more comprehensive purposes. ... For the skeptic or indeed to anyone prepared to step out of the circle of Darwinian belief, it is not hard to find inversions of common sense in modern evolutionary thought which are strikingly reminiscent of the mental gymnastics of the phlogiston chemists or the medieval astronomers.

To the skeptic, the proposition that the genetic programmes of higher organisms, consisting  of something close to a thousand million bits of information, equivalent to the sequence of letters in a small library of one thousand volumes, containing in encoded form countless  thousands of intricate algorithms controlling, specifying and ordering the growth and development of billions and billions of cells into the form of a complex organism, were composed by a purely random process is simply an affront to reason. But to the Darwinist the idea is accepted without a ripple of doubt -- the paradigm takes precedence!    Evolution: A Theory in Crisis  (1986)  p.350-1

At the heart of the problem lay a seeming paradox -- proteins can do many things, but they cannot perform the function of storing and transmitting information for their own construction. On the other hand, DNA can store information, but cannot manufacture anything nor duplicate itself. So DNA needs proteins and proteins need DNA. A seemingly unbreakable cycle -- the ultimate chicken-and-egg problem.    Natures Destiny  (1998)  p.293

In the discoveries of science the harmony of the spheres is also now the harmony of life. And as the eerie illumination of science penetrates evermore deeply into the order of nature, the cosmos appears increasingly to be a vast system finely tuned to generate life and organisms of biology very similar, perhaps identical, to ourselves. 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 a 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.

Four centuries after the scientific revolution apparently destroyed irretrievably man's special place in the universe, banished Aristotle, and rendered teleological speculation obsolete, the relentless stream of discovery has turned dramatically in favor of teleology and design, and the doctrine of the microcosm is reborn. As I hope the evidence presented in this book has shown, science, which has been for centuries the great ally of atheism and skepticism, has become at last, in the final days of the second millennium, what Newton and many of its early advocates had so fervently wished -- the "defender of the anthropocentric faith."    Natures Destiny  (1998)  p.389

 

Alan Dershowitz  (b. 1938)  Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School  Web  Amazon  GBS

As has become all too common with regard to famous and infamous trials, the popular perception of what transpired in the courtroom comes not from the transcript of the court proceeding itself, but rather from the motion picture and/or stage play that was based -- often loosely -- on the trial. Inherit the Wind was both a prize-winning play and movie.    Introduction  The special edition of The Scopes Trial  (1990)

As usual, the real story, as told in the trial transcript and its contemporaneous accounts, was more complex and far more interesting. The actual William Jennings Bryan was no simple-minded literalist.    Introduction  The special edition of The Scopes Trial  (1990)

All in all, Bryan does quite well defending his position and Darrow comes off as something of an anti-religious cynic. The law was on Darrow's side, although it took more than half a century for the Supreme court to vindicate his position. But the primitive and misapplied evolution taught by John Scopes was neither good sciences nor good morality.    Introduction  The special edition of The Scopes Trial  (1990)

The eugenics movement, which advocated sterilization of "unfit" and "inferior" stock, was at its zenith, and it took its impetus from Darwin's theory of natural selection. German militarism, which had just led to the disastrous world war, drew inspiration from Darwin's ideas on survival of the fittest. The anti-immigration movement, which had succeeded in closing American ports of entry to "inferior racial stock," was ground in a mistaken belief that certain ethnic groups had evolved more fully than others. The Jim Crow laws, which maintained racial segregation, were rationalized on grounds of the racial inferiority of blacks.

Indeed, the very book -- Hunter's Civic Biology -- from which John T. Scopes taught Darwin's theory of evolution to high school students in Dayton, Tennessee... made it clear that biology had direct political implications for civic society. In discussing the "five races" of man, the text assured the all-white legally segregated high school students taught by Scopes that "the highest type of all, the Caucasians, [are] represented by the civilized white inhabitants of Europe and America." The book, the avowed goal of which was the improvement of the future human race, then proposed certain eugenic remedies.    America on Trial  (2004)  p.263-4

see also: Scopes

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