Saturday, January 03, 2004

Intelligent Design rundown...

After getting an inquiry regarding Michael Behe’s book, Darwin’s Black Box, and its relevance to the Intelligent Design movement, I decided to list books I have read that, in my opinion, deal with the ID movement in one way or another. This list is by no means comprehensive and the order of the books listed is not of any particular significance. It is just FYI… The Creator & the Cosmos – Hugh Ross, Christian astronomer / physicist, President of Reasons to Believe; Hugh presents, from an astronomer’s perspective, the fine tuned aspects of the universe and how it points towards not only a Designer, but the God of the Bible as the Designer. The evidence put forth is very powerful because it is very quantifiable, unlike the data found in biological sciences. Darwin’s Black Box – Michael Behe, Intelligent Design proponent, Catholic; Behe, a molecular biologist stunned the scientific world with his 1996 book which has caused all sorts of conniptions in his field. The premise is simple – there exists a concept of irreducible complexity in which a functioning system is reduced to its component parts, each of which is needed for functionality. Remove any one of the parts and the system ceases to function. Therefore, is there a Darwinian method by which the system can be built up from its aggregate parts? Behe says there isn’t. His critics cry “foul” and posit the existence of evolutionary pathways that have long since been replaced by what appear to be irreducibly complex pathways. Imaginary pathways remain imaginary... Behe's request of a solid evolutionary pathway remains unanswered. Evolution: a Theory in Crisis – Michael Denton, Intelligent Design proponent, Agnostic; Denton’s in-depth analysis of Evolution in 1986 was pivotal in influencing many an ID proponent, Behe included. Critics mainly accuse Denton of misquoting others or they point to the apparent fact that Denton has since accepted Evolution – neither of which are true. It is interesting to note that Denton’s biological analyses have remained intact all these years. Nature’s Destiny – Michael Denton; Denton seems to do an about-face with this book in which he appears to claim adherence to Evolutionary theory. One wonders why he remains as a fellow with the Discovery Institute if this is the case? Actually, being an agnostic, he has a hard time accepting a Designer in the Christian sense and he rather fancies an approach in which Nature has programmed into itself the purpose of developing humans through the eons of time – close to Theistic Evolution in a way, but in no way accepting of the blind chance aspect of Naturalism. Intelligent Design – William Dembski, Intelligent Design proponent, Christian; Dembski presents a layman’s guide to his contribution to the ID field and, in particular, the concept of Complex Specified Information. He also presents an approach with which to scientifically determine design by means of quantifying biological structures in terms of bits of information. Darwin on Trial – Phillip Johnson, ID proponent, Christian; Johnson takes a lawyer’s approach to the philosophy of Evolutionism and how it permeates our science classrooms. He also shows the bad reasoning used in the Darwinian models. One the ground-breaking books in the ID movement. The Origin of Species – Charles Darwin, Evolutionist; The book that started it all, from the Darwinist point of view anyway. Well thought out, but not without errors. Darwin makes assumptions, which he acknowledges, but which evolutionists now seem to disregard. Rare Earth – Donald Brownlee & Peter Ward, Evolutionists, Agnostic and Atheist; The field of astrobiology is addressed here in an excellent guide to the uniqueness of Earth as a harbor for advanced life. A good picture of the events in Earth’s past that contributed to preparing an environment for human life. Beyond the Cosmos – Hugh Ross; Building off the advances in physics, namely, String Theory, Ross shows how multi-dimensionality allows for resolution of some typical Biblical paradoxes such as the Trinity, predestination, etc. Criticized mainly by Christian philosophers, it does not purport to tell how God accomplishes these feats, only a manner in which He could. Defeating Darwinism: by Opening Minds – Phillip Johnson; Johnson wrote this book as a primer mainly for high school students, youth pastors, parents, etc., to educate them to the basics of the Darwinian way of thinking. The Elegant Universe – Brian Greene, non-Christian; Greene takes us on a trip through the world of multi-dimensionality of String Theory – the unification of General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. Excellent resource for the fine tuning involved in keeping this universe intact. Of Pandas & People – Dean Kenyon, ID proponent; A companion book to be used in Jr. High and High School biology classes presenting the ID perspective through a rational analysis of typically held naturalistic beliefs. What if the Moon Didn’t Exist? – Neil Comins, Evolutionist; A so-so analysis of the importance of the Moon for life on Earth. Although he does a good job of detailing out the Moon’s importance, he too often posits evolutionary sequences as if they were givens in the equation. Conjecture and unsupported environmentalism mar this book’s potential. Buy it only if you see it in a used book store. A Brief History of Time – Stephen Hawking, Agnostic; Hawking’s classic which brought cosmology into the living room. Useful if read with Carl Sagan’s preface in mind… that Hawking attempts to do away with any need for God. He fails. How Now Shall We Live? – Chuck Colson & Nancy Pearcey, Christian; Not truly an ID book per se, but it does delve into the aspects of ID and how they pertain to addressing the Christian answer to how we got here. Night Comes to the Cretaceous – James Powell, non-Christian; Another book that is not necessarily ID in its scope, but it addresses the manner in which science works – whether it be the actual research or the politics involved. Describes how the impact theory of the demise of the dinosaurs came to be. Origins – Robert Shapiro, non-Theist; Shapiro has fallen out of favor with the origin of life crowd because he sees no way for a chance origin to have occurred. They haven’t kicked him out of their meetings, though, because he truly knows so much. Yet, even though he doesn’t subscribe to the chance origin theory he does not accept what he calls “the myth” of creation. Rather, he believes the answer is found in an area probably inaccessible to us… clays. Regardless, he does an excellent job of showing the utter impossibility of life originating by chance and he does this by detailing the immense complexity involved in even the simplest building blocks of life. Afterglow of Creation – Marcus Chown, non-Christian; Chown writes for the layman on the research behind the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation (CMB) maps. A wonderful polemic for the Big Bang and the intense fine tuning involved within it. Show Me God – Fred Heeren, Christian; Not a scientist, but a reporter, Heeren does a wonderful job of presenting to the layman, the developments in the world of cosmology, from the Big Bang to COBE, that point to the God of the Bible. Icons of Evolution – Jonathan Wells, ID proponent; Wells presents an analysis of several “icons” of evolution that have permeated science literature as “proofs” of the evolutionary theory but, in reality, are nothing more than smokescreens. Eugenie Scott, non-Theist, and head of an anti-creationist organization, said that this book would be a royal pain in the neck. God & the Astronomers – Robert Jastrow, Evolutionist, Agnostic; An out of print book that you may still be able to find in used bookstores. Jastrow takes naturalists to task for ignoring the possibility of a theistic answer to the origin of the universe. He closes the book with, “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.” To Engineer is Human – Henry Petroski, non-Christian; Another book that is strictly not related to the ID movement, but it is beneficial nonetheless. Petroski shows the layman how the act of engineering works and how human fallibility enters into the picture. He analyzes various engineering failures, detailing the why and how of such failures. A good primer on the aspects of Design as applied to engineering. Finding Darwin’s God – Ken Miller, Evolutionist, Catholic; Written in response to Michael Behe’s book, Miller attempts to refute Behe’s claims. This book is considered by Bill Dembski (ID proponent) to be the best attack on Intelligent Design put forth by Evolutionists. Miller fails on theological grounds, and his science is best addressed by Behe and his colleagues. Tower of Babel – Robert Pennock, Evolutionist; Pennock attempts to discredit the ID movement, Phillip Johnson and William Dembski in particular, through a series of attacks on the concepts used. Not a scientist, Pennock uses tactics that are suspect, as well as not well thought through. The title should be a good indication of the root of his attack. His major premise, that language is a good indicator of the Darwinian method in action, fails miserably.

No comments: