Pro-Darwin consensus doesn't rule out intelligent design By Stephen C. Meyer
(CNN) -- "While we officially celebrate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" on November 24, celebrations of Darwin's legacy have actually been building in intensity for several years. Darwin is not just an important 19th century scientific thinker. Increasingly, he is a cultural icon.
Darwin is the subject of adulation that teeters on the edge of hero worship, expressed in everything from scholarly seminars and lecture series to best-selling new atheist tracts like those by Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. The atheists claim that Darwin disproved once and for all the argument for intelligent design from nature.
And that of course is why he remains hugely controversial. A Zogby poll commissioned by the Discovery Institute this year found that 52 percent of Americans agree "the development of life was guided by intelligent design." Those who are not scientists may wonder if they have a right to entertain skepticism about Darwinian theory.
We are told that a consensus of scientists supporting the theory means that Darwinian evolution is no longer subject to debate. But does it ever happen that a seemingly broad consensus of scientific expertise turns out to be wrong, generated by an ideologically motivated stampeding of opinion?
Of course, that does happen. Many ideologically driven crusades in science -- the earth-centered solar system and eugenics, for example -- survived long after supposed evidence for these ideas evaporated. And precisely the same thing is happening today in the ideologically charged field of evolutionary biology. Indeed, there are strong scientific reasons to doubt the consensus about Darwin's theory and what it allegedly proved.
Contrary to Darwinian orthodoxy, the fossil record actually challenges the idea that all organisms have evolved from a single common ancestor. Why? Fossil studies reveal "a biological big bang" near the beginning of the Cambrian period (520 million years ago) when many major, separate groups of organisms or "phyla" (including most animal body plans) emerged suddenly without clear precursors. Fossil finds..."