Item description for Signs of Intelligence: Understanding Intelligent Design by William A. Dembski & James Kushiner...
Overview Since the late nineteenth century Darwinism has reigned supreme. But in the last ten years, with the advent of books by experts like Phillip Johnson (Darwin on Trial), Michael Behe (Darwin's Black Box), and William Dembski (The Design Inference), an opening has been wedged into the bedrock of evolutionary theory. Signs of Intelligence: Understanding Intelligent Design presents fourteen essays by the main players (including Johnson, Behe, and Dembski) in the intelligent design movement. In clear and accessible language, with diagrams and relevant quotations, it provides an introductory overview of the argument for intelligent design. From fossil records to the irreducible complexity of biochemistry, the logical and evidential fallacies of evolutionary theory are exposed. This brief and accessible book serves as an unsurpassed guide and introduction to the key arguments of a movement that may yet change the face and restore the soul of modern science.
Publishers Description Fourteen brief and accessible essays by key players in the intelligent design movement
Citations And Professional Reviews Signs of Intelligence: Understanding Intelligent Design by William A. Dembski & James Kushiner has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Publishers Weekly - 02/12/2001 page 201
Christian Retailing - 03/19/2001 page 15
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William A. Dembski is a Senior Fellow with the Discovery Institute s Center for Science and Culture. He has authored or edited more than a dozen books, including the first book on intelligent design to be published by a major university press, "The Design Inference: Eliminating Chance through Small Probabilities" (Cambridge University Press, 1998). He has seven earned degrees, including two doctorates, one in philosophy from the University of Illinois at Chicago, the other in mathematics from University of Chicago. His work has been featured on the front page of the "New York Times" and he has appeared on numerous radio and television broadcasts, including ABC s" Nightline" and Jon Stewart s "The Daily Show." Bill and his wife, Jana, live in Central Texas with their daughter and twin boys. . Jonathan Wells is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute s Center for Science and Culture. He holds a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California at Berkeley, and a PhD. in Religious Studies from Yale University. He has worked as a postdoctoral research biologist at the University of California at Berkeley and the supervisor of a medical laboratory in Fairfield, California, and he has taught biology at California State University in Hayward. He is the author numerous articles and several books including "Icons of Evolution, " "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design." "
William A. Dembski was born in 1960 and has an academic affiliation as follows - Baylor University, Texas.
Reviews - What do customers think about Signs of Intelligence: Understanding Intelligent Design?
Good read, but with many bad assumptions Nov 14, 2008
This book is well written in clear, concise language. I recognized only three names, but they are big ones in the intelligent design world, Michael Behe, Steven Meyer and William Dembski.
The book is a series of ID (intelligent design) essays, each addressing points of ID. Why it is a science, why evolution doesn't explain XYZ or why God should be allowed to play in the biology field.
Dembski's intro ended up being one of the more interesting pieces. He successfully (I think) dismissed the argument "But the design is really bad, what kind of designer would do that?" It is a theological argument, and not a scientific argument. Besides, bad design doesn't mean it wasn't designed. He has written himself into a corner though, since the statement "there is a designer" is almost certainly a theological argument and not a scientific one.
I most looked forward to Dembski's "A Primer on the Discernment of intelligent design", since I haven't heard him talk or read anything by him. I thought he had the best chance of making an impact with his design inference, a mathematical formulation that is supposed to be able to tell design from non-design. I was genuinely interested to hear his thinking on that. As it turns out, I am still wondering, as he did nothing to explain it beyond some definitions and hand waving. He just defined a bunch of terms, all of which I understood, but with conclusions that were not demonstrated at all.
While he compares his design inference to forensics, SETI's detection of intelligence and cryptography, what he missed is that all of those things compare a known to another known. eg/ Signals from space versus known numeric patterns, crime scenes versus known blood splatter patterns. What exactly does a intelligently designed biological structure look like? How can you compare a known biological structure to an unknown like a designed biological structure? I think his analogy fails here. I suppose he could use the SETI criteria and check for known numerical patterns in DNA, but I don't think anyone expects that to work.
Michael Behe gave a primer on "irreducible complexity", which is perfectly logical, but makes an assumption that any biological structure has been used for exactly the same purpose throughout its history. There is no reason why natural selection can't use whatever is around for whatever it might be good for. So, there are bird feathers which were never evolved for flying, but serve the purpose. Similarly, various pieces of the bacterial flagellum are found in other bacteria, exactly in their current protein structure, used for completely different things than propulsion.
Steven Meyer essay, "Word Games: DNA, design and intelligence" is all about the language in DNA, how the base pairs are like letters, genes are like words etc.. etc... I agree with him. DNA is very much like a language. I would say that you can just call it a language. The problem here is that Meyer assumes that "languages only come about by intelligence", which is a false assumption. We can't point to a language designer. Who created language? No one did. It evolved naturally.
One of the essays "Is Intelligent Design Science?" by Bruce Gordon discusses "creation science", a precursor to ID and why it actually fits the definition of science (at least according to some definitions). He basically dismissed it as "bad science", but couldn't call it NOT science. I believe that the same can be said of ID overall, at least as far as the current formulation by the people in this book.
Set of Introductory Essays Jul 26, 2008
Signs of Intelligence edited by Dembski and Kushiner is a collection of essays sympathetic to the notion of `Intelligent Design'. The essays are of an introductory nature and would seem to be aimed at readers new to this issue.
Traditionally, the design, or teleological, argument has contended that the universe and its constituents are the product of an intelligent creator, i.e. God. While appearing to share this classic theistic view, Intelligent Design (ID) is largely concerned with the narrower question of contemporary evolutionary theory. That is, the veracity of Neo-Darwinian Theory (NDT). For some participants the stakes of this debate appear to be high - threatening the very foundations of their worldviews. Unfortunately, as a result this issue is often characterized by angry ad hominem attacks, allegations of hidden agendas and overstatement. Following are brief comments on the text for potential purchasers.
First, with regard to shortcomings. Though the individual contributions are of a generally high standard there is too much overlap amongst some of the essays. Second, partially as a result of this overlap, the pieces by Percy and Richards add little value. Third, while he makes some interesting points, I do not find Dembski's approach appealing. On the one hand, he seems to be trying too hard to avoid the theistic implications of ID. While on the other hand, his mathematical modelling seems of the mark, attempting to quantify what seems to be an inherently subjective or intuitive process - inferring design. Fourth and finally, it is unclear what is the difference between ID and theistic evolution. In many ways the latter strikes me as more compelling for the theist.
On the positive side, several of the essays are helpful in identifying and discussing aspects of ID. Johnson is particularly effective in laying out what he perceives to be the underlying disagreement between the two camps -namely, their opposing metaphysical presuppositions - a commitment to physicalism on the part of Darwinists and a rejection of this view by proponents of ID. Johnson seems to be concerned with challenging what he perceives as unwarranted atheistic dogmatism in the academy - 'Darwin on Trial' provides excellent overview of his position. Indeed, for many, this latter charge of academic intolerance is the most interesting and disquieting aspect of the ID issue.
Bradley contribution is also interesting. He takes a broader tact highlighting evidence of the universe's fine-tuning that has come to light through modern science. Although the vast part of the contemporary ID debate is focused on the biological sciences, from my vantage point, theoretical physics offers the more compelling argument for design. Why is there anything? And how are we able to make sense of it? Difficult questions from any perspective, but, particularly so for the non-theist.
Finally, although I am not especially sympathetic to his thesis, Behe is also worth a look. His assertion of irreducible biological complexity has been a catalyst for much recent popular discussion of NDT. Behe argues that certain sub-cellular components are sufficiently complex that they cannot be explained by random mutation and natural selection. While he is effective in pointing out the incompleteness of NDT I do not find this approach compelling. Perhaps, I misunderstand his point; however, this strikes me as a `God of the gaps' argument- that is, NDT couldn't have created these entities so God must have intervened at these points. Though arguably the gaps have gotten larger since Darwin's day, this tactic has several weaknesses. First, it conflicts with traditional views of God as omniscient and omnipotent - reducing him to a type of repairman having to intervene to compensate for earlier oversights. And, second, negative assertions that something could not have occurred are difficult to defend. It is too easy for one's opponents to devise ad hoc stories to bridge the gaps.
Overall, this is a solid introduction to ID. For those interested in this issue a look at the opposing view is worthwhile. Although he is not an atheist, Ken Miller is among the best at defending NDT. Some of Dawkins' early work is also solid in this regard, e.g. the Blind Watchmaker. While with regard to the broader philosophical issues, Pennock's Tower of Babel deals touches on some of them, but is too much of a polemic for a starting point. I would be interested in hearing recommendations in this latter area.
Hateful Reviewers Jul 15, 2006
Have you ever noticed that when evolutionists comment on ID books they are almost always hatefull, angry, and rude? (No, not always. I know.) ID proponents rarely sugar-coat a responce to the evolutionists, but I have rarely ever (if at all) read a mean, vengeful review by an ID proponent. I'm sure they exist so don't bother pulling out your quotes. Just notice how vicious the anti-ID people can be and ask yourself, if one person has to resort to name calling, sarcasm, and insults to put down another person's position, what does that say about the strength of the one person's argument?
Diverse Scholars Explain the Evidence for Intelligent Design in the Nature Jun 21, 2006
Signs of Intelligence is a collection of essays from various scholars of the intelligent design movement who are explaining the precise meaning of the scientific theory of intelligent design. When the NCSE reviewed this book, they called it "aimless." A more accurate description would have been "threatening a wide variety of disciplines behind the curtain of Darwinism."
Mathematician and philosopher William Dembski opens the book by clearing up a common misconception by explaining that intelligent design does not necessarily mean "optimal design" (Also, see The Privileged Planet for a discussion of the concept of constrained optimization). Law professor Phillip Johnson proposes that science has adopted an inherently "materialist" model where explanations can never be non-material causes. Alternatively, Johnson suggests that science adopt a strictly "empirical" model, which uses the scientific method of hypothesis and experimentation but does not limit its answers to naturalistic causes.
Michael Behe proposes some novel examples of irreducible complexity. Namely, the cell's protein transport system contains a number of macromolecules, all of which are necessarily simply to get a protein to its correct destination in the cell. This irreducibly complex system reveals deeper levels of complexity in protein transport and assemblage, beyond mere proper irreducible complexity in protein functionality. Similarly, Stephen Meyer argues that the specified complexity in DNA, combined with the inability of natural explanation to explain the origin of life, imply that design is the best explanation. Meyer explains that this is not a "God-of-the-gaps" type argument because we have much observational experience that intelligent agents exclusively produce such forms of encoded specified complex information.
Other essays include Jonathan Wells' observations that more than simply the genetic code is required to account for life, a conclusion which is eschewed by the dogma of Neo-Darwinism; Paul Nelson's discussion of natural selection as a tautology with weak explanatory power; and Robert Dehaan and John Weister's arguments that the "top-down" pattern of the appearance of biological diversity implies that design took place during the Cambrian explosion and in the history of life as a whole.
Rather than being aimless, this book shows that design arguments are spreading into a variety disciplines and subdisciplines. This book provides plenty of essays by leading design scholars as to why empirical evidence should trump naturalistic philosophy in a diverse set of scientific fields.
It's a GREAT BOOK Jan 30, 2006
I think this is exactly the kind of textbook that should be distributed in abundance throughout all states wanting ID as part of their science curriculum. This will not only guarantee my two daughters a great deal less competition in medical school, it will also help fill the need for astute, critical thinkers in the food service industry. An EXCELLENT BOOK! David/San Francisco