NATURE'S DESTINY by Michael J. Denton


How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe
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The author of Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (not reviewed) again confronts the notion that the presence of humankind is a random event in a random universe, asserting that “the cosmos is uniquely fit for the specific type of life that exists on Earth.” Denton, a New Zealand—based researcher in genetics and eye disease, begins with the discoveries of 20th-century physics and cosmology that support what the first modern scientists, such as Kepler and Newton, desperately longed for: evidence of design in nature. Without it, there could be no assurance of humankind’s unique place in the universe. One such discovery has to do with the delicate balance between the relatively weak force of gravity and the strong nuclear force. If gravity were stronger the universe would be smaller, since it would have expanded less quickly. The mass of stars would also be smaller and their life spans much shorter—life, therefore, would not have time enough to develop. On the other hand, if gravity were weaker, stars would not form at all. Denton cites a number of eminent physicists to support his views, but what he really wants is to take the argument to biology, which as a field still holds the Darwinian view that “life and man are fundamentally contingent phenomena.” Denton is no creationist but argues that carbon-based life could never have formed without Earth’s precise biology: No other liquid but water has the available permeability, thermal properties, and viscosity; the sun could not be further away or closer; and the distribution of various elements neatly corresponds to an environment most amenable to life in this or presumably any other corner of the universe. Denton is rather pedantic, driving the same point home again and again. And yet he makes a thorough and fascinating case, one that will no doubt anger those holding to the orthodoxies laid down by Darwin. (50 b&w illustrations, 15 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: July 8th, 1998
ISBN: 0-684-84509-1
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Free Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1998