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The Design of Life: Discovering Signs of Intelligence in Biological Systems [With CDROM] [Hardcover]

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Item description for The Design of Life: Discovering Signs of Intelligence in Biological Systems [With CDROM] by Professor William A. Dembski & Jonathan Wells...

"The illusion of purpose is so powerful," writes Richard Dawkins, "that biologists themselves use the assumption of good design as a working tool." As an ardent proponent of Darwinian evolution, Dawkins imagines that all design in biology is merely an illusion. By contrast, this book shows that biologists use the assumption of design with success precisely because design in biology is not an illusion but real. In this book, William Dembski and Jonathan Wells present a compelling scientific case for the intelligent design of biological systems. Their laser-like analysis, clear explanations, and brilliant analogies will captivate every reader, whether trained scientist or curious layperson. Intelligent design (ID), as the study of patterns in nature best explained by intelligence, is already accepted in many special sciences. Archeology, forensics, and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) all belong to ID in this broad sense. These sciences, however, are uncontroversial because any intelligence there could be an "evolved" intelligence. In biology, by contrast, intelligent design is highly controversial because any intelligence there would be an "unevolved" intelligence - it would not be the product of purely material evolutionary processes. Thus, to convinced materialists like Richard Dawkins, who dogmatically accept Darwinian orthodoxy, this book comes as a shot across the bow. Scientists who support the intelligent design of biological systems are routinely held up to ridicule, stripped of their status, denied tenure, and driven from their posts. Why? They do not agree that the universe, life, and the human mind are the accidental outworking of purely material forces. And why don't they agree? Because the evidence of science shows otherwise. This book presents that evidence clearly and cogently. Written for the general reader, it will quickly enter the national conversation. In The Design of Life, Dembski and Wells make the most powerful and comprehensive case to date for the intelligent design of life. This is the book that the promoters of unintelligent evolution do NOT want you to read.

Publishers Description
Present a scientific case for the intelligent design of biological systems. This title shows that the reason biologists use the assumption of design with success is because design is not an illusion but obviously real.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Foundation for Thought and Ethics
Pages   339
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.1" Width: 7.5" Height: 1.1"
Weight:   2.28 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Nov 1, 2007
Publisher   Foundation For Though & Ethics
ISBN  0980021308  
ISBN13  9780980021301  

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More About Professor William A. Dembski & Jonathan Wells

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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.

William A. Dembski has published or released items in the following series...

  1. Proceedings of the Wethersfield Institute

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Design of Life: Discovering Signs of Intelligence In Biological Systems?

Tour de force!! Could we see some specifics in critiques?  Feb 13, 2008
I'd like to see some intellectual honesty on the part of the negative critiques. Enough of the invective and the ad hominems. How about some substance.
The arguments put forth by the authors in the last 3 chapters in particular, Irreducible Complexity, Specified Complexity and the Origin of Life are unanswerable as far as I'm concerned. So to all you critics, put up or be quiet. Let's here your reasoned response to their data. No more whining.
Exposing Neo-Darwinism as the Swiss cheese of scientific theories  Feb 6, 2008

The steadfast adherents to Neo-Darwinism cling to it as if it were an ex cathedra decree from on high. Academia fiercely proscribes any alternative, criticism or disapproval. Anyone with as little as a smidgen of skepticism to as much as a bristling challenge is committing an intolerable cardinal sin and will be punished unmercifully.

Since when has it become standard operating procedure in the halls of academia to suppress in the most daunting terms, even a hint of criticism whether untoward or direct. What happened to the bastion of academic freedom that higher education supposedly strives to uphold? Does this sound like 21st century America or Medieval Europe?

This would all be a non-issue if the Neo-Darwinism that is being propounded had been developed on rock solid dogma, however, there's a dirty little secret here, Neo-Darwinism has as many holes in it as a Swiss cheese.

It's not that Intelligent Design has all the answers explaining the complexity of life on earth; or that Intelligent Design theory is flawless.

Although the subtitle of the book is, Discovering Signs of Intelligence in Biological Systems, I have to say the jury is still out as to whether Intelligent Design is a viable alternative. However, The Design of Life, notwithstanding the rhetoric of the naysayers, amply demonstrates that Intelligent Design, albeit heuristically challenged for the time being, should at least be taken seriously. The authors do a good job in stating their case for Intelligent Design, however, they fall a bit short albeit through no fault of their own. I think the movement is on the right track, however, the problem is that the scientific orthodoxy is so fixated and obstinate on pursuing a flawed theory that only limited resources can be devoted to Intelligent Design research.

That being said, I believe no theory expounding the complexity of life on earth is sacrosanct, and to expound on this, The Design of Life takes direct aim at Neo-Darwinism by meticulously going over many aspects of its dogma, soundly dispelling the notion that it is unequivocally well-founded.

Before I go over what I regard as a devastating flaw in Neo-Darwinism, one that has been elucidated in The Design of Life, I'd like to say from the onset that this text is not about Creationism. In fact, the only time I recall reading the word "Creationism" in The Design of Life was when I saw it listed in the glossary. I know neo-Darwinists like to meld the two theories in order to delegitimatize Intelligent Design.

Neo-Darwinists love to characterize Intelligent Design as a larger than life Supreme Being tinkering with body designs in some fantastical setting, when nothing could be further from the truth.

Science is a process that involves continuously questioning and challenging what we know in order to improve our understanding of the world. It's a shame that the Nazi-like intimidation tactics used by the elite in academia undermine that principle.

Change is slow to come by, but hopefully in the near future the chinks in the armor of Neo-Darwinism will begin to take its toll and the impediments that are standing in the way of facilitating Intelligent Design theory research will just be a bad memory.

Going back to the textbook; according to Neo-Darwinism, the fundamental tenet that explains the complexity of life on earth is two complimentary mechanisms called random mutation and natural selection.

Natural selection takes its cue from random mutation, specifically, molecular changes in DNA. Without those random genetic mutations, natural selection, with respect to macroevolution, can do nothing; it sits on the sidelines, so to speak.

Therefore, the key is mutations, and the authors delve extensively with this subject. Now despite what decades of empirical evidence tells us about how notoriously harmful mutations are, there is one kind of mutation called gene duplication that supposedly circumvents the "deleterious" label. Accordingly, this type of mutation is what the Neo-Darwinists have latched onto as the basis for macroevolutionary change.

However, as the authors point out, among other things, in order for the duplicated gene to serve a different function, it still must undergo additional mutation! In essence, we are back to square one. Try as they might, they simply cannot get around the mostly destructive nature of genetic mutations.

The following quote from the authors regarding mutations is illuminative:

"Most are harmful, while most that are not harmful are merely neutral, neither helping nor hindering the organism. In fact, except for extreme conditions in which harsh environmental insults enormously increase selective pressure (as when bacteria exposed to antibiotics develop antibiotic resistance), no beneficial point mutations are known."

Furthermore, the authors state:

"Such beneficial mutations, however, involve small-scale changes in single protein molecules and provide no evidence for macroevolution. Moreover, when environmental pressure is reduced, the benefit conferred tends to be lost."

(Just as an aside, did everyone notice all the religious connotations that were in the preceding quotes? Geez!)

This is a very damning assessment that drives a stake right through the heart of Neo-Darwinism and because it does, I'm sure I'll receive comments denouncing my critique by those fanatics that have made it their life's ambition to regularly monitor these types of reviews on this site. Keep in mind that regardless of how the naysayers try to twist it, whatever retort they use, basically, it amounts to mere speculation. Nothing they say regarding spin is proof positive.

Remember this, the example I used is but a sliver of the many holes the authors discuss involving Neo-Darwinism in The Design of Life. They do it cogently, comprehensively and with conviction. I highly recommend this book for anyone with a fair and open mind who is inclined to look at both sides of a debate, not just having one side give their take on it with no questions allowed. Once one looks at both sides of this argument, then and only then can one decide for themselves whether Neo-Darwinism is truly the Swiss cheese of scientific theories.

Might as well have a jingle for ID  Jan 31, 2008
I read ( and reread) the first 3 chapters in a painful, masochistic ritual to try and see what 'science' Dembski was going to offer for inserting the judeo-christian god in the gaps he seem to find everywhere in the universe...and I kept at it,(finishing the book) to make sure I wasn't being too skeptical and to be open to genuine arguments. I was wrong to hope that he might feel pressured to tone down the pure ID rhetoric with some workable data...I was right to be skeptical and assaulted for having an open mind...this should have had a gecko hawking everlasting life in the great rainforest in the sky for switching insurance...but they couldn't have used the cavemen though...
I wasn't going to buy this book until...  Jan 27, 2008
The five stars are not for the book, but instead for all the controversy surrounding it. I wasn't going to buy this book until I read all the vitriol in these reviews. I figure any book that causes this much controversy within scientific ranks must be worth reading, if for no other reason than to find out what all the fuss is about. And seeing how I just got a $25 coupon from this site, I decided to take the plunge. I will be back to give a full review once I have finished reading it. Until then, try not to hurt each other...LOL
ID has motivated me to read about science  Jan 17, 2008
I just finished reading this well written and fascinating book. I'm admittedly no scientist. I love to read, mostly history, scifi, biography, philosophy and now ID and related. This is the 16th book on evolution - mostly ID.
Until ID came along I had little interest in biology or evolution. I give ID credit for sparking my interest in science beyond an occasional Scientific American article. I highly recommend this book and Uncommon Dissent, The Privileged Planet, The Edge of Evolution, etc. All fascinating.

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