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Understanding Intelligent Design: Everything You Need to Know in Plain Language (®) [Paperback]

By William A. Dembski (Author), Sean McDowell (Author) & Josh McDowell (Foreword by)
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Item description for Understanding Intelligent Design: Everything You Need to Know in Plain Language (®) by William A. Dembski, Sean McDowell & Josh McDowell...

Dembski, the dean of the intelligent design movement, and McDowell explain the central theories of I.D., clarifying crucial issues in order to give nonspecialists a solid grasp of one of today's foundational religious, scientific, and cultural concepts.

Publishers Description

This compact guide lays out the basics of Intelligent Design, popularly known as ID. William Dembski, the dean of the intelligent-design movement, and Sean McDowell especially target readers whose understanding may have been confused by educational bias and one-sided arguments and attacks.

Commonsense and no-nonsense, with pointed examples, the authors explainthe central theories of ID, showing why the presence of "information" and meaningful "complexity" require the involvement of intelligencewhy ID adheres to the scientific method and is a valid field of scientific inquirywhy scientific evidence increasingly conflicts with evolutionary theorieshow "both" evolutionary theory and ID have religious/philosophical underpinnings, and why this causes so much controversyhow "both" systems of thought have radical implications for our culture--and what readers can do about it

Clarifying crucial issues, this key resource gives nonspecialists a solid grasp of one of today's foundational religious-scientific-cultural concepts.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Harvest House Publishers
Pages   233
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.56" Width: 5.98" Height: 0.56"
Weight:   0.64 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jul 1, 2008
Publisher   Harvest House Publishers
ISBN  0736924426  
ISBN13  9780736924429  

Availability  4 units.
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More About William A. Dembski, Sean McDowell & Josh McDowell

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William A. Dembski is 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.

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Reviews - What do customers think about Understanding Intelligent Design: Everything You Need to Know in Plain Language (®)?

A poor explanation of a flawed explanation  Jan 12, 2010
On a purely superficial level, this is a neither enjoyable nor convincing read. But at a deeper and more important level, it is one that it is misleading. It is not merely simplistic and condescending: it contains within it an underlying thread of hatred for those who approach scientific knowledge with an open mind or question the many contradictions of creationism. It is not even an explanation. It is a poor attempt at explaining an explanation that is itself ill founded, misconceived and contradictory.
Early in the book the authors declare that:

"Intelligent design's main claim is this: Nature exhibits patterns that are best explained as the products of an intelligence (design) rather than undirected material process (chance and necessity). If you think about it, determining whether something is designed ("drawing a design inference") is a necessary part of life. When archaeologists find an oddly shaped rock, they have two basic options: is it a tool or arrowhead (design)? Or is it merely an odd shaped chunk of rock (chance and necessity)? Similarly ripple marks in the sand can be explained by the random motion of waves, whereas "John loves Mary" drawn in the sand clearly indicates design."

The authors use the Bible as the ultimate authority and foundation of all their arguments, but that same authority presents a very strong argument for belief in the identity of God and Nature, in that it teaches that God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent.
If we believe that God is infinitely powerful, we have to admit that wherever power or energy exists it is God's power. If we believe that God is infinitely intelligent, we have to admit that wherever intelligence exists it is God's intelligence. If we believe that God is infinitely present, we have to admit that nothing exists where God is not present. We can make no exceptions to these three conditions, nor can we moderate them in any way. We have to believe that God's power, intelligence and will are in everything, from the smallest quantum of energy to the most massive galaxy or black hole. We have to admit that every stone, every tree, every animal and every human being is God through and through. In short, we have to believe that God and Nature are one and the same thing. The implications of this are important and far-reaching. They extend to science, ethics, theology and politics. The most important implication of all is that, because we are all one with God-or-Nature, to hurt any part of Nature is to hurt, indirectly, ourselves. Until religious leaders and leaders who are religious grasp the simple proposition, there will be no hope for world peace. Dembski-ite quibblingabout intelligent design (or for that matter how many angels you can get on the head of a pin) only promote division, hatred and ultimately violence.

It seems to me that the universe must necessarily be infinite in infinite ways (or dimensions, or aspects) and that if we use the name "God" at all, we can only do so to refer to the infinite "all-that-is. For if God is supposed to be outside Nature, "he" must be separate from something else, and nothing that is said to be
separate from another thing can be regarded as infinite.
This contradiction, I contend, is the flaw that runs through absolutist religions, particularly the warring religions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. It is the self-contradictory doctrine upon which they wholeheartedly agree, but upon which each relies to reassure its adherents that theirs is the only true faith.
"Intelligent Design" is nothing more than a pseudo-scientific argument that has been concocted by those who, because of their religious beliefs, find evolution distasteful and impossible to swallow.

If you insist on believing in intelligent design, you will have to choose between believing in theistic creator who intervenes in human affairs, or in a deistic creator who, having formed the universe out of nothing and issued immutable laws for it to follow, withdraws and leaves it to run on without further intervention. You can't consistently believe in a God who intervenes in human affairs and yet does not intervene. But here's the problem. Theism reduces God to a creator whose creation has flaws in it and who has to work miracles to keep his creation running in accordance with his will (in just the same way as did the mythical Greek gods), while deism reduces God to a less than omniscient architect or designer whose design has resulted in endless generations of human misery, which by any stretch of the human imagination cannot be described as perfect.
The contradiction implicit in believing either in a creator who should intervene but doesn't, or a god who shouldn't have to intervene but does is, I think, particularly fatal for the Christian religion, as belief in intelligent design rules out the need for the miracles of divine incarnation andbodily resurrection that are essential to the Gospel story; while belief in a creator who is careless enough to build into creation original sin, eternal punishment and the need for salvation rules out the possibility of belief that the original design was the product of an omnipotent and omniscient intelligence in the first place. The problem can be expressed as a logical inference that might be expressed as
"If design infinitely intelligent, then no requirement for Divine intervention; and
if Divine intervention required, then design not infinitely intelligent".
The only way out of the impasse that seems rational to me is to accept Spinoza's argument, in his philosophical masterpiece Ethics, that God and the universe are one and the same thing, that this "God-or-Nature" is its own cause, and that it is infinite in infinite ways. I explain this at some length in Iota: God as Nature, Nature as God.
Because I view space-time as being all of a piece and infinite, I can't go along with any theory that the universe "began" in any way. Belief in a cosmological Big Bang that starts everything off is, I think, as absurd as belief in a divine creator,
as it prompts infinite regress questions like "What went bang?" or "Who created God?"
I much prefer the Chinese concept of Qi (Chi), the infinite energy that pervades, empowers, and forms the infinite universe. It is a worldview that has persisted down the ages and in all cultures. The pre-Socratic philosophers Parmenides and Heraclitus, who said respectively that all is one and all is in flux, seem to me to be close to the same view. The Stoics identified Zeus with Nature.
Darwin echoed the same thought in his speculations about pangenesis. Faraday speculated that every atom is nothing more than a centre of force within a field of force. Einstein formalized Spinoza's identification of God and Nature in his Special Theory of Relativity, in which he equated energy (E) with matter in motion (mc2). And the view that the universe is a single, infinite energy field seems to be
confirmed by quantum mechanics, as Gary Zukav engagingly explains in The Dancing Wu Li Masters.
Unsurprisingly, theologians like Dembski abhor this view of the universe, as it denies the existence of individual souls, asserting that there is only one infinite Mind, of
which our minds are mere temporal modes. This thought renders absurd all threats of eternal punishment and all promises of eternal bliss, and in doing so discredits the authority of Catholic priests, Baptist pastors, Jewish rabbis and Moslem mullahs, together with that of the various political systems to which they lend support.
Only when we have grasped that God and Nature are one and the same can we begin to develop the skill of living in peace and harmony with ourselves and the
Science Points to Intelligent Design  Oct 30, 2009
Massive inroads into genetics and biochemistry coupled with revelations of darwinian hoaxes and myths call for a reassessment of the theory of evolution. It was promoted by an 18th century mind (Darwin). Science was very backwards in his day - practically no knowledge of the cell, zero knowledge of DNA. Darwinism/evolution is an embarrassment to all but the indoctrinated.
A well written introduction to the subject  Oct 7, 2009
I highly recommend this book as a quick-read introduction to the intelligent design side of the origin of life debate. I was originally a bit skeptical of this book and only read it at the urging of a friend; so with low expectations I began reading, found it surprisingly illuminating, and finished it in two sittings. Despite several typos, I found it well-written, lucid, and engaging, and most importantly, to my relief it didn't seem to over-reach. I welcomed its brevity. As a shorter book its value is more to frame the argument than to definitively settle the debate.

In reviewing many of the other reviews, I was disappointed, not surprisingly, to find the response to this book so highly polarized: if one believes God created it all then one loves this book, but if one thinks that evolution explains the origin and development of life then one hates this book.

Therefore, in the interest of full disclosure: I'm an MIT-educated engineer that enjoyed attending lectures by the fabulous and late Stephen Jay Gould (the father of punctuated evolution) while in college. I am very well read in science (I am a huge fan of Alan Guth, Brian Greene, and Alan Lightman) and typically prefer to avoid science-related books written by openly avowed Christians.

I am also a Christian that believes in God our creator, but one that often disagrees with and occasionally is embarrassed by fellow Christians' understanding and analysis of science. Regarding my view on the origin of life, I would best be described as an old world creationist: I believe in the Big Bang, that the universe is 13-14 billion years old, the earth 4-5 billion years old, and that dinosaurs lived 230-65 million years ago (and I think that Jack Horner's theories on the evolutionary link between dinosaurs, specifically small therapods, and birds has a lot going for it).

I rated this book 5 stars less for settling the debate and more for well-framing the ID side of the argument. Intelligent design, at least as the authors present it, is less something to shake my head at and more a welcome facet to the discussion. Regardless of your personal views, I highly recommend this book as a constructive step toward a healthy debate.
The best resource available to the general public  Jun 14, 2009
This is unquestionably the best single volume to introduce ID to the general public. In 10 clearly written, concise, and to-the-point chapters, Dembski and McDowell distill the essential elements of modern ID theory. This book is of particular value because it not only explains the principle concepts of ID but it answers the critics as well. With a resource guide for further study and several other valuable appendices ("Quick Response Guide," "Ten Questions to Ask Your Science Teacher About Design," "Dealing with Difficult Critics of ID," and "Evolutionary Logic: A Parody of Darwinian Educational Philosophy"), this book is of great service to students and their parents. The subtitle tells it all, "Everything You Need to Know in Plain Language." Readers interested in pursuing ID further are directed to Dembski and Wells' The Design of Life: Discovering Signs of Intelligence In Biological Systems.
Could have been shorter  May 3, 2009
Could have been a much shorter book.

Page one: "Everything you need to know..."

Page two: "GOD DID IT"

Seriously though, one of my students brought this in for me to see. Don't these religious fanatics ever tire of their own dog-and-pony propoganda show? These arguments were debunked in Darwin's era.

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