Item description for Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science & Theology by William A. Dembski & Michael Behe...
Overview The author of "The Design Inference" aims to show the lay reader how detecting design within the universe, and especially against the backdrop of biology and biochemistry, unseats naturalism--and above all Darwin's expulsion of design in his theory of evolution. Named a 2000 Book of the Year by "Christianity Today."
Publishers Description Voted a 2000 Book of the Year by Christianity Today The Intelligent Design movement is three things: a scientific research program for investigating intelligent causes an intellectual movement that challenges naturalistic evolutionary theories a way of understanding divine action Although the fast-growing movement has gained considerable grassroots support, many scientists and theologians remain skeptical about its merits. Scientists worry that it's bad science (merely creationism in disguise) and theologians worry that it's bad theology (misunderstanding divine action). In this book William Dembski addresses these concerns and brilliantly argues that intelligent design provides a crucial link between science and theology. Various chapters creatively and powerfully address intelligent discernment of divine action in nature, why the significane of miracles should be reconsidered, and the demise and unanswered questions of British natural theology. Effectively challenging the hegemony of naturalism and reinstating design within science, Dembski shows how intelligent design can be unpacked as a theory of information. Intelligent Design is a pivotal, synthesizing work from a thinker whom Phillip Johnson calls "one of the most important of the design theorists who are sparking a scientific revolution by legitimating the concept of intelligent design in science."
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Studio: InterVarsity Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9" Width: 6" Height: 0.9" Weight: 1.05 lbs.
Release Date Aug 12, 2002
Publisher IVP-InterVarsity Press
ISBN 083082314X ISBN13 9780830823147
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More About William A. Dembski & Michael Behe
William A. Dembskiis research professor in Philosophy at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. A mathematician and philosopher, he is also a senior fellow with Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture in Seattle. Dembski has appeared in discussions about intelligent design on the BBC, NPR, PBS, CNN, FOX News, ABC Nightline and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
Reviews - What do customers think about Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science & Theology?
Understanding "Intelligent Design" Jan 14, 2007
William Dembski, who has Ph.D.s in both math & philosophy (as well as degrees in theology & psychology), asks: * "How do we recognized the `finger of God'? By witnessing something that God alone could have done...by witnessing a sign that is uniquely specific to God" (p. 36) * "For those who cannot discern God's action in the world, the world is a self-contained, self-sufficient, self-explanatory, self-ordering system. Consequently they view themselves as autonomous & the world as independent of God. This severing of the world from God is the essence of idolatory & is in the end always what keeps us from knowing God" (p.99).
To properly appreciate this work, one needs both a keen mind and an advanced statistical background. How ironic that the media wishes to portray advocates of intelligent design as less than intelligent themselves! Three decades ago, I began college as a math major. Yet, I must confess that I found the stats in this book absolutely challenging.
A watchmaker God? Oct 20, 2006
In a time when Christian belief and religion in general is coming under very severe attack from many leading scientists and philosophers whose analytical/positivistic mode of philosophy aligns them closely with science, the attempts of creationists, conservative and fundamentalist Christians, and intelligent design theorists to put forward 'scientific' arguments for God's existence are completely understandable.
Unfortunately in my view, despite some very good and clever arguments from people like Demski, Behe and Johnson, which do contain some truth, these arguments fall into several bad philosophical and theological errors which in my view help undermine as well as promote belief in God.
First, it is well known since the time of Hume that trying to infer a cosmic designer from the order of things is troublesome, because of the nature of cause and effect. Also, in my view the God is ID theorists is somewhat too anthropomorphic. Making God just a big cosmic clockmaker, like Urizen in Blake's poems who draws a compass over the universe, in my view undermines the infinite and ineffable nature of God's own being, trying to reduce it to human concepts. Many Christians find the clockmaker God attractive because it fits with the fatherly images of God in the Bible, but I find it very unattractive because all too easily such a God becomes in our minds the true God, who in fact can't be captured by any image or concept (which the Bible and sacred tradition clearly remind us at many points).
The clockmaker God also has some very severe flaws, as has been well pointed out by people like Richard Dawkins. The theory of the intelligent designer has some very specific predictions, and many of these can be clearly falsified by clear evidence. Does this mean God doesn't exist?
I am also reluctant to see theology try and rush into the heart of science. As history shows us with the examples of Galileo and Copernicus, when theology tries to dictate to science what ideas are acceptable and which aren't, the results can be totally disasterous for both.
I agree with the complaints of many Christian thinkers that many philosophers and scientists who accept evolution try to argue against God's existence, against the relevance of philosophy as traditionally conceived for the search for goodness, truth and wisdom, and evolution is often misused by idealogues from various fields as a vehicle to promote their strange ideas. However, fundamentalism, anti-science theologies, fanaticism which makes a virtue of scientific ignorance in favour of theology (creation science) or a crude anthropomorphic watchmaker God are not good theological responses, and in my view are not well grounded either by reason, the bible, or Christian tradition. As St Augustine so wisely said, "If it happens that something about the earth, about the sky, about other elements of this world, about the motion and rotation or even the magnitude and distances of the stars, about definite eclipses of the sun and moon, about the passage of years and seasons, about the nature of animals, of fruits, of stones, and of other such things, may be known with the greatest certainty by reasoning or by experience, even by one who is not a Christian. It is too disgraceful and ruinous, though, and greatly to be avoided, that he [the non-Christian] should hear a Christian speaking so idiotically on these matters, and as if in accord with Christian writings, that he might say that he could scarcely keep from laughing when he saw how totally in error they are."
Dembski Admits that Intelligent Design is fundamentally a Religious, not Scientific Idea Aug 14, 2006
So the truth was stated finally by William Dembski in this popular account explaining the origins and principles of "Intelligent Design"; in which he admits that there is indeed a religious link to what he claims is primarily a scientific hypothesis (But a scientific hypothesis proposed originally by William Paley hundreds of years ago, which was rejected soundly by leading scientists afterwards.). There is nothing in this book which explains how science works, by careful observation and rigorous testing of ideas (hypotheses). Those ideas which are accepted through this rigorous scientific method are either incorporated within longstanding scientific theories, or may themselves be the incipient idea(s) of a new scientific theory which replaces an outmoded one (Most notably, in exactly the same manner that Einstein's Theory of General Relativy and the Theory of Quantum Mechanics replaced Newton's theories of physics, known now as classical mechanics; the latter are now subsumed within the two 20th Century theories forming the core of modern physics.). Dembski clearly doesn't understand how modern science works; he pretends to have such understanding via sloppy logic and intellectually dishonest statements which occur frequently throughout this book.
Intelligent Design is not scientific since it does not adhere to any of the long-established tenets about science itself (Intelligent Design has been judged correctly as the latest flavor of creationism enjoying some popularity amongst fundamentalist Protestant Christians; one notable biologist has referred to it as "reborn creationism".). It can not be tested, simply because it does not generate any testable hypotheses. Moreover, despite claims to the contrary, I have yet to see any peer-reviewed articles testing Intelligent Design; instead, every single book and article published in praise of this idea is merely an attack on the Modern Synthesis Theory of Evolution; this evolutionary theory is itself the central underlying theory for contemporary biology as much as General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics are for contemporary physics (Any current scientific controversies about the Modern Synthesis are related to understanding the tempo and mode of evolution as seen from the fossil record and the relative importance of random genetic drift as the primary means of causing evolutionary change; they, themselves, do not mean that the Modern Synthesis is in trouble as the successful unifying theory it has been for nearly a century in explaining biological phenomena.). And Intelligent Design is not a new idea at odds with mainstream science, but rather the latest incarnation of an idea dating from the 17th Century regarding a "Great Chain of Being" which was subsequently tested - and rejected - by Enlightenment and later scientists, most notably naturalists, leading up to of course Darwin and Wallace, who almost simultaneously came up with the Theory of Evolution via Natural Selection (The Modern Synthesis Theory is its direct descendant, and includes its principles, as well as evidence from biological sciences as diverse as genetics, molecular biology and developmental biology, which were unknown to both Darwin and Wallace.).
The arguments presented by Dembski are not only intellectually dishonest, but now, irrelevant, as determined by Republican Federal Judge John Jones in his landmark, historic decision for the Kitzmiller vs. Dover Board of Education trial; Jones concluded that intelligent design is a religious doctrine masquerading as science (His decision is posted online at: htttp://www2.ncseweb.org/kvd/all_legal/2005-12-20_kitzmiller_decision.pdf). Furthermore, thoughtful, reasonable conservatives like Charles Krauthammer and George Will have written lucid, brilliant columns praising the theory of evolution via natural selection, and condemning intelligent design for being an unscientific, religious doctrine.
There are other, more important - and intellectually sound - books available on the so-called "creation vs. evolution" controversy, which I regard as more worthy than any of Dembski's self-serving defenses of Intelligent Design. Philosopher Robert Pennock's "Tower of Babel" is a splendid historical overview and philosophical deconstruction of creationism, including the best written rebuke of "Intelligent Design" which I've come across (He also covers Dembski's "explanatory filter", and demolishes it too from a philosophical perspective.). Philip Kitcher, another philosopher, published "Abusing Science: The Case Against Creationism" back in the early 1980s, but his arguments are still quite valid today. My friend Ken Miller's "Finding Darwin's God" has an eloquent critique of Intelligent Design, focusing on Michael Behe's mousetrap model of irreducible complexity which claims to bestow validity on Intelligent Design. Distinguished American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) invertebrate paleobiologist Niles Eldredge offers yet another brilliant critique of Intelligent Design in his book "Darwin: Discovering the Tree of Life", the elegant companion volume to the AMNH Darwin exhibition which he curated, soon to embark on a tour taking it to many of North America's and Great Britain's finest science museums. And last, but not least, Eugenie Scott, Executive Director, National Center for Science Education (www.ncseweb.org), has written a fine textbook on this issue, "Evolution vs. Creationism". All of these books are more desirable than Dembski's "Intelligent Design:The Bridge Between Science & Theology". Otherwise, if you insist on purchasing this book, then perhaps you might choose to acquire instead a splendid text devoted to Klingon cosmology (Neither Klingon cosmology nor "Intelligent Design" can be regarded as scientific, since both depend on faith, not reason, to validate their principles.).
An Investigation of Intelligent Design from the Perspectives of Science and Theology Jun 21, 2006
In this popular treatment of intelligent design, Discovery Fellow William Dembski combines his Ph.D. in philosophy with his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Chicago and his Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary to elucidate how the scientific theory of intelligent design interacts with his personal Christian faith.
Dembski explains that design is empirically detectable in nature by seeking for specified and complex information. "Choice" is the primary characteristic of intelligent action, for "intelligent agency always entails discrimination, choosing certain things, ruling out others." (pg. 144) By analyzing the patterns produced by such "choice", Dembski constructs reliable criteria by which we recognize when intelligent choices have been made.
Dembski then peers at design theory through the "lens" of his personal Christian faith. After discussing various models for the interface between science and religion, he decides that the best model concludes that science and religion provide "epistemic support" for one another. A trained theologian and philosopher, Dembski is careful to distinguish between "epistemic support" and "rational compulsion," explaining that even established scientific theories like the Big Bang can provide epistemic support for the Christian doctrine of creation, even if they do not mandate belief in Christianity.
Dembski views the scientific theory of intelligent design in a similar fashion. Design theory provides epistemic support for Christianity, while it does not mandate belief in such. Thus Dembski acknowledges that a scientific approach to studying design in nature has innate limitations, for design theory "nowhere attempts to identify the intelligent cause responsible for the design in nature" because "the nature, moral character and purposes of this intelligence lie beyond the remit of science" (pg. 246).
For those interested in understanding both the scientific nature of intelligent design and also its support and limitations for theological investigations, this book is a must read.
Interesting theme, but no bridge is built. Apr 16, 2006
William Dembski is one of the great names in the Intelligent Design-movement. He holds a Ph.D. in mathematics and philosophy, and have earned grades in theology an psychology. When such a man writes a book and call it "Intelligent Design - The bridge between science & theology" I had great expectations that he had succeeded in making this important bridge.
I think you can read this book in at least two ways. One, as an introduction to how the leading people behind this movement think, and for such a presentation I give the book 4 stars. Dembski is very good at using interesting parables to illustrate his arguments.
But as a bridge between science and theology it is totally failing. And that is sad because the probability for Intelligent Design is in fact high as Dembski shows us, but Dembski mess it up through most of his book. As science I give this book 1 star and end up with a compromise at 2 stars.
Dembski uses much space to general logic. As to show that if you have two similar books containing the same Shakespeare-play, these two books doesn't have any more information together than one of the books alone. OK. And so what? After pages with such stuff you begin to be impatience and wonder how and when will all this logical stuff be used to prove Intelligent Design? And then, as you have waited and waited, Dembski finally writes that it is not space in this chapter (and not in other chapters either)to explain the Big Bang by his Intelligent Design theories. What a disappointment. Couldn't he instead have skipped some of the logic? But after a while you understand that Dembski actually lacks any intentions to reveal the most basic things that normally should have concerned Intelligent Design. He claims that intelligence leaves behind a characteristic signature in nature, and that these signatures are observable. Why can't he tell us what this observable signatures are? He writes that God's fingerprints in nature are imperically detectible. But how? Why wont he tell us?
Dembski writes that something is made by intelligence when it can show both complexity and specification. Ink spelt on a paper can show some complexity in pattern, but it is not specified before the ink spells letters and words with meaning. He then uses this criteria for intelligent design in nature, and call it science and a proof of Intelligent Design when nature is both complex and specified. But can you prove God this way? I think you only can believe in Intelligent Design, and that a strong probability for God never fully can prove Him anyway. Dembski does not try to prove God either, he just confirm that God exists because he have seen him in nature as the result of intelligent design. No one can criticise you for believing in an intelligent designer, but if you want to make this belief into science, it is not enough just to call it science, as Dembski does. You have to fullfill certain criteria and rules to call something science. Dembski dosen't follow these rules at all.
Dembski spend much of his time in this book to criticise others for not being scientific, often just because they don't accept Intelligent Design as science. He says that naturalism is metaphysic, and not science based on evidence. If he had used his own definitions he uses on others, the Intelligent Design he presents wouldn't either be scientific.
He neither seems to remember what he wrote some pages earlier. After "proving" that Christ was the Logo by which the world was created, he later writes that Intelligent Design not necessarily must have originated from any specifically god at all. Are you confused like me?
An interesting objection to the kind of Intelligent Design that Dembski presents, namely that God interacts and design the nature all the time, is why then He design crippled people, hiv-virus an so on all the time? Dembski just brush those with such objections off by calling them unscientific. If Dembski instead had advocated that God started it all by "shooting a billiard ball" with a very precision, that interacted with other "balls" that fine-tuned the universe and started the evolution that eventually ended up with the complicated human being, Dembski could have accepted naturalism as well as Intelligent Design, and then nature could have been responsible, at least in some way, for it's mishaps instead of blaming God, as Dembskis theories leads towards, though he denies it.
In this book Dembski claims to represent, among others, the 90 % of the people in the United States who believe that some kind of transcendent force created the world. I believe the same, but fear that books like this more destroy than helps to make a bridge between science and theology.