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At Townhall, Jerry Newcombe on Darwin's Doubt


DebatingDDsmall.jpegIn Darwin's Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design, Stephen Meyer examines among many other matters the challenge to Darwinian theory from combinatorial inflation. That is, the genetic information in DNA considered in light of the "immensity of the combinatorial spaces associated with even single genes or proteins of average length."

To illustrate, Dr. Meyer tells of a bicycle thief who needs to solve the problem of unlocking a bike lock with an unknown combination: "As the number of dials...increases, the number of possible combinations rises exponentially."

That's homey and comprehensible, though how many of us ever tried to steal bike? Here's another real-life comparison drawn by Jerry Newcombe in a review of Darwin's Doubt over at Townhall.com:

Every time I log into a computer and have to enter my password, I'm reminded of how impossible evolution is.

One little mistake on the keypad, and I can't log in. There's even a website where I seem to be in permanent "log-in purgatory." I can't login ever. Granted, it's operator error. But still...

By "evolution," of course Newcombe means the Darwinian evolutionary mechanism, unguided mutation and selection, as an explanation of life's origins and development.

Unlike bicycle thievery, trying and failing repeatedly to get the right username/password combination for this or that website that you have used in the past is an experience that's frustratingly common for most of us. Despite never facing it themselves, the mathematicians and scientists at the 1966 Wistar Institute Conference, who pioneered in confronting the difficulty posed to Darwinism by the study of combinatorics, would sympathize. Meyer tells their story in Chapter 9.

Read the rest of Newcombe's review here.