In previous posts I mentioned my serious doubts about the adequacy of neo-Darwinian theory of evolution to explain the origin and evolution of life on Earth. For example, read my recent post “The Origin of Life.”
There is no intent to beat the subject to death, but I, a non-scientist, find that I share doubts about Darwin with an increasing number of distinguished scientists from a variety of disciplines. The average person would not realize it from a study of high-school and college books on the subject, but the Darwinian theory that has dominated academia for more than a century is becoming less and less tenable.
In response to the gradual undermining of Darwinism, some eminent scientists are searching for new answers. As men of science they reject the idea of creationism or intelligent design. That is a clearly unscientific idea since it brings an arbitrary supernatural force into the evolutionary process. They regard it as a scientific cop-out. On the other hand, they realize that neo-Darwinian theory ignores much contemporary molecular evidence and invokes unsupported and unrealistic assumptions about the accidental nature of hereditary variations. They also point out that neo-Darwinians elevated the idea of natural selection into an almost God-like creative life force that solves all difficult evolutionary problems; but random mutations and natural selection do not provide a credible answer to the question of how life evolved on the macro level.
As a replacement for neo-Darwinian theory, some prominent theorists and experimenters are looking for what they refer to as “The Third Way of Evolution”. They are examining rapid evolutionary processes such as symbiogenesis, horizontal DNA transfer, action of mobile DNA, and epigenetic transfer. The search for alternative explanations of the evolutionary process goes on, but thus far there has not been the sort of breakthrough that would lead to an entirely new evolutionary paradigm.
Meanwhile, traditional Darwinian theory is on life-support.
On the outskirts of science, advocates of intelligent design continue their work despite continuing criticism from orthodox scientists. There is certainly evidence to support the ID view. Without intelligence, how do we explain the amazing complexity of a living cell or the remarkable genetic code that fills the living cells in a multicellular organism? How do we explain the sudden appearance (creation?) of entirely new morphological types in the fossil record? How do we explain irreducible complexity? But the theory of intelligent design also has its problems and its critics, and not all its detractors are God-haters. If designed by an intelligence, why do genetic defects occur? Why do certain species appear to have very poor designs? Why do whales have vestigial limbs? These questions have no easy answers.
No matter the evolutionary theory to which you subscribe, there remain many unanswered questions. If you are interested in the subject, I refer you to two excellent writers on evolution. Stephen Meyer of the Discovery Institute is perhaps the foremost advocate of the intelligent design argument, and he has two best-selling books in print, Signature in the Cell and Darwin’s Doubt. As for the “third way” movement, I refer you to a book by Perry Marshall entitled Evolution 2.0. Marshall explains many of the new discoveries in the field of evolution in a way that even I can almost understand.
By the way, Perry Marshall offers a multi-million dollar prize to anyone who can produce an intelligible information code (like the DNA sequence within a living cell) without input from an outside intelligent source. (God?)