Review of Darwin's Dilemma

DVD by Illustra Media

 Wayne Spencer

    Illustra Media has produced some excellent video programs on intelligent design.  The program "Darwin's Dilemma" is the third in a trilogy of videos on design.  The others in this trilogy are "Unlocking the Mystery of Life" and "The Privileged Planet."  The "Mystery of Life" program addressed molecular biology and the origin of the first life.  "Privileged Planet" addressed astronomy.  Now "Darwin's Dilemma" addresses geology and the complexity of life.  Geology was something Charles Darwin spent a lot of time investigating and in his day some fossil evidence had not yet been discovered.  Darwin had learned of what came to be known as the "Cambrian explosion" apparently from geologist of the time, Adam Sedgewick.  Sedgewick coined the terms "Cambrian" and "Devonian" for two periods of Earth history.  The "Darwin's Dilemma" program explains why the many Cambrian fossils were a problem for Darwin's theories.  Many fossils of a wide variety of strange and complex creatures of the ocean are found "all at once" in the rock record.  They were not led up to by simpler fossils and they represent types that do not change into each other.  It was a problem that caused Darwin concern and additional fossil discoveries over the years have only deepened the dilemma.  Evolutionists continue to struggle with the question, "How could so many organisms, from the Cambrian, evolve so quickly?"

    Darwin's Dilemma is not a young age creationist program.  But it is an excellent presentation of the problem for evolution in the Cambrian fossils.  It gives some history of the discoveries on the problem, especially on the famous Burgess Shale fossils.  It has an excellent segment on Cambrian fossils of embryos found in China.  These fossils from China are amazing because they are of soft-bodied delicate tiny embryos and they are making Chinese scientists question some Darwinist ideas.  I really enjoyed the way this program shows what the weird creatures of the Cambrian were like, with animations showing what they would have looked like swimming in the ocean.  Many of these creatures are extinct and thus many people may not have seen these depicted before.

    Young age creationists have had a very logical explanation of the Cambrian fossils for a long time, that they are creatures buried in Noah's Flood.  It is interesting that geologist Adam Sedgewick, mentioned in the video from Darwin's day, actually disagreed with Darwin about his origin of life ideas.  Darwin's Dilemma does not mention Noah's Flood or support a global Flood, though several points made in the program could be related to it and to a creationist view of biology.  To young age creationists, the Cambrian fossil "explosion" is not about the origin of life really, but about the burial of life in a global catastrophe.  But "Darwin's Dilemma" addresses the subject in relation to design.  Some of the Cambrian creatures were similar to creatures that still exist today, while others were unlike anything living today.  They show God's unlimited creativity.     

    I would recommend the "Darwin's Dilemma" program for Christians.  But I feel Christians should watch it with an awareness of the limits of what it addresses, understanding it is not a young-age creation viewpoint.  The program addresses the "problem" without really addressing the "solution" to the problem.  But it is great for how it shows what the Cambrian creatures were like.  For a young-age creation viewpoint on the Cambrian explosion, I would recommend this web article by geologist Dr. Kurt Wise, .  "Darwin's Dilemma" also includes some extra features that have video questions and answers by some scientists who are in the program.  These scientists will be familiar to viewers who have seen the Expelled movie, and other intelligent design videos.  

    If you would like to purchase a copy of this video or other Illustra Media programs on intelligent design, you can contact Randolf Productions, an arm of Campus Crusade for Christ.  You can go to their website at or call them at 800-266-7741 Monday through Friday.      

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