Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis

Michael Denton

More than thirty years after his landmark book Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (1985), biologist Michael Denton revisits his earlier thesis about the inability of Darwinian evolution to explain the history of life. He argues that there remains “an irresistible consilience of evidence for rejecting Darwinian cumulative selection as the major driving force of evolution.” From the origin of life to the origin of human language, the great divisions in the natural order are still as profound as ever, and they are still unsupported by the series of adaptive transitional forms predicted by Darwin. In addition, Denton makes a provocative new argument about the pervasiveness of non-adaptive order throughout biology, order that cannot be explained by the Darwinian mechanism.

Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis is being released in conjunction with a companion documentary featuring Denton titled The Biology of the Baroque: The Mystery of Non-Adaptive Order, to be released on February 12, 2016.


Of all the books that have been critical of Darwinian evolution in recent years, Michael Denton’s Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis stands out for doing more than simply compiling the full range of evidence — from cosmology through all of biology to the origins of human language — that goes against a blind, incrementalist view of the development of life. To be sure, Denton does that very well. But the book’s real triumph is to frame this criticism in terms of an alternative paradigm, one indebted to Darwin’s great rival Richard Owen. This proposed new paradigm is founded on the idea of discrete biological forms, or ‘types,’ which have the standing of natural laws. Denton is consistently clear and scrupulous about how the evidence bears on Neo-Darwinism vis-à-vis what might be called his ‘Neo-Owenism.’ All told, Evolution is the one book that I would recommend to any student or lay person who wants to think in positive, scientific terms out of Darwin’s black box.

Steve Fuller, Auguste Comte Professor of Social Epistemology, University of Warwick, UK, and author of Science vs. Religion? and Dissent over Descent

Darwinists often deflect trenchant criticisms by kicking the can down the road. In ten or twenty years science will surely show their theory is correct, they say. Now thirty years after his groundbreaking book, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, Michael Denton calls their bluff. Not only hasn’t Darwinism overcome its challenges, severe new problems have made the crisis much worse.

Michael Behe, PhD, Professor of Biological Sciences, Lehigh University, and author of Darwin’s Black Box and The Edge of Evolution

Based on a great variety of indisputable facts from biology and paleontology, Michael Denton presents in his new book a highly competent and very thoughtful critique of the neo-Darwinian paradigm. His arguments convincingly suggest that modern biology prematurely dispensed with the notions of typology, essentialism, structuralism, and laws of biological form as promising alternative approaches to the origin of biological complexity and diversity. His affirmation of common descent with modification also demonstrates that well-founded doubts concerning the capabilities of the neo-Darwinian mechanism cannot be easily dismissed as anti-evolution propaganda, but should rather be welcomed even by neo-Darwinists as heuristically fruitful.

Günter Bechly, PhD, Paleontologist

In this book Michael Denton moves adroitly from the history of ideas to scientific explanation. Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis is really two books in one: an insightful and fearless historical analysis on the one hand, and a provocative manifesto for a ‘new’ biology on the other. It is a rare and powerful combination that demands careful reading.

Michael A. Flannery, Professor and Assistant Dean for Special and Historical Collections, University of Alabama at Birmingham, and author of Alfred Russel Wallace: A Rediscovered Life

Biologist Michael Denton has written a devastating critique of Darwinian evolution. Denton is not a creationist, but a structuralist. He makes a compelling argument, supported by abundant evidence, that the most basic structures of living things — their forms or body plans — are not adaptive and cannot be explained by the cumulative selection that is at the core of evolutionary theory. Instead, he argues, those forms are part of the very fabric of nature. Everyone involved in the controversies over evolution should read this book.

Jonathan Wells, PhD, Biologist and Senior Fellow, Discovery Institute, and author of Icons of Evolution and The Myth of Junk DNA

Michael Denton’s new book Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis is a substantial reworking of his classic book of (nearly) the same name. In this new book, he expands his argument against Darwinian adaptation as a mechanism capable of explaining the patterns we see in life. Using his considerable knowledge of historical and modern biology, he makes a fresh and compelling argument about the origins of animal form that will be completely new to many readers. I urge anyone interested in these questions to read this book.

Ann Gauger, PhD, Senior Research Scientist, Biologic Institute, and co-author of Science and Human Origins



Michael Denton

Senior Fellow, the Center for Science & Culture and the Center on Human Exceptionalism
Michael Denton holds an M.D. from Bristol University, as well as a Ph.D. in biochemistry from King’s College in London. A Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, Denton has had a critical impact on the debate over Darwinian evolution.