As a rationalist, I do not surrender my reasoning to anyone. However, the debate about Intelligent Design is going to impact us, and I thought I would try to collate reference materials that we as scientists and rationalists should be aware of. First an article by Massimo Pigliucci, followed by an essential reading list that Stephen Gould (1941-2002) put together before he died. It is a good start point for all of us that want to debate the issues.
Design Yes, Intelligent No
A Critique of Intelligent Design Theory and Neocreationism
The claims by Behe, Dembski, and other “intelligent design” creationists that science should be opened to supernatural explanations and that these should be allowed in academic as well as public school curricula are unfounded and based on a misunderstanding of both design in nature and of what the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution is all about.
A new brand of creationism has appeared on the scene in the last few years. The so-called neocreationists largely do not believe in a young Earth or in a too literal interpretation of the Bible. While still mostly propelled by a religious agenda and financed by mainly Christian sources such as the Templeton Foundation and the Discovery Institute, the intellectual challenge posed by neocreationism is sophisticated enough to require detailed consideration (see Edis 2001; Roche 2001).
Among the chief exponents of Intelligent Design (ID) theory, as this new brand of creationism is called, is William Dembski, a mathematical philosopher and author of The Design Inference (1998a). In that book he attempts to show that there must be an intelligent designer behind natural phenomena such as evolution and the very origin of the universe (see Pigliucci 2000 for a detailed critique). Dembki’s (1998b) argument is that modern science ever since Francis Bacon has illicitly dropped two of Aristotle’s famous four types of causes from consideration altogether, thereby unnecessarily restricting its own explanatory power. Science is thus incomplete, and intelligent design theory will rectify this sorry state of affairs, if only close-minded evolutionists would allow Dembski and company to do the job.
Aristotle’s Four Causes in Science
Aristotle identified material causes, what something is made of; formal causes, the structure of the thing or phenomenon; efficient causes, the immediate activity producing a phenomenon or object; and final causes, the purpose of whatever object we are investigating. For example, let’s say we want to investigate the “causes” of the Brooklyn Bridge. Its material cause would be encompassed by a description of the physical materials that went into its construction. The formal cause is the fact that it is a bridge across a stretch of water, and not either a random assembly of pieces or another kind of orderly structure (such as a skyscraper). The efficient causes were the blueprints drawn by engineers and the labor of men and machines that actually assembled the physical materials and put them into place. The final cause of the Brooklyn Bridge was the necessity for people to walk and ride between two landmasses without getting wet.
Dembski maintains that Bacon and his followers did away with both formal and final causes (the so-called teleonomic causes, because they answer the question of why something is) in order to free science from philosophical speculation and ground it firmly into empirically verifiable statements. That may be so, but things certainly changed with the work of Charles Darwin (1859). Darwin was addressing a complex scientific question in an unprecedented fashion: he recognized that living organisms are clearly designed in order to survive and reproduce in the world they inhabit; yet, as a scientist, he worked within the framework of naturalistic explanations of such design. Darwin found the answer in his well-known theory of natural selection. Natural selection, combined with the basic process of mutation, makes design possible in nature without recourse to a supernatural explanation because selection is definitely nonrandom, and therefore has “creative” (albeit nonconscious) power. Creationists usually do not understand this point and think that selection can only eliminate the less fit; but Darwin’s powerful insight was that selection is also a cumulative process-analogous to a ratchet-which can build things over time, as long as the intermediate steps are also advantageous.
Darwin made it possible to put all four Aristotelian causes back into science. For example, if we were to ask what are the causes of a tiger’s teeth within a Darwinian framework, we would answer in the following manner. The material cause is provided by the biological materials that make up the teeth; the formal cause is the genetic and developmental machinery that distinguishes a tiger’s teeth from any other kind of biological structure; the efficient cause is natural selection promoting some genetic variants of the tiger’s ancestor over their competitors; and the final cause is provided by the fact that having teeth structured in a certain way makes it easier for a tiger to procure its prey and therefore to survive and reproduce-the only “goals” of every living being.
Therefore, design is very much a part of modern science, at least whenever there is a need to explain an apparently designed structure (such as a living organism). All four Aristotelian causes are fully reinstated within the realm of scientific investigation, and science is not maimed by the disregard of some of the causes acting in the world. What then is left of the argument of Dembski and of other proponents of ID? They, like William Paley (1831) well before them, make the mistake of confusing natural design and intelligent design by rejecting the possibility of the former and concluding that any design must by definition be intelligent.
One is left with the lingering feeling that Dembski is being disingenuous about ancient philosophy. It is quite clear, for example, that Aristotle himself never meant his teleonomic causes to imply intelligent design in nature (Cohen 2000). His mentor, Plato (in Timaeus), had already concluded that the designer of the universe could not be an omnipotent god, but at most what he called a Demiurge, a lesser god who evidently messes around with the universe with mixed results. Aristotle believed that the scope of god was even more limited, essentially to the role of prime mover of the universe, with no additional direct interaction with his creation (i.e., he was one of the first deists). In Physics, where he discusses the four causes, Aristotle treats nature itself as a craftsman, but clearly devoid of forethought and intelligence. A tiger develops into a tiger because it is in its nature to do so, and this nature is due to some physical essence given to it by its father (we would call it DNA) which starts the process out. Aristotle makes clear this rejection of god as a final cause (Cohen 2000) when he says that causes are not external to the organism (such as a designer would be) but internal to it (as modern developmental biology clearly shows). In other words, the final cause of a living being is not a plan, intention, or purpose, but simply intrinsic in the developmental changes of that organism. Which means that Aristotle identified final causes with formal causes as far as living organisms are concerned. He rejected chance and randomness (as do modern biologists) but did not invoke an intelligent designer in its place, contra Dembski. We had to wait until Darwin for a further advance on Aristotle’s conception of the final cause of living organisms and for modern molecular biology to achieve an understanding of their formal cause.
There are two additional arguments proposed by ID theorists to demonstrate intelligent design in the universe: the con-cept of “irreducible complexity” and the “complexity-specification” criterion. Irreducible complexity is a term introduced in this context by molecular biologist Michael Behe in his book Darwin’s Black Box (1996). The idea is that the difference between a natural phenomenon and an intelligent designer is that a designed object is planned in advance, with forethought. While an intelligent agent is not constrained by a step-by-step evolutionary process, an evolutionary process is the only way nature itself can proceed given that it has no planning capacity (this may be referred to as incremental complexity). Irreducible complexity then arises whenever all the parts of a structure have to be present and functional simultaneously for it to work, indicating-according to Behe-that the structure was designed and could not possibly have been gradually built by natural selection.
Behe’s example of an irreducibly complex object is a mousetrap. If you take away any of the minimal elements that make the trap work it will lose its function; on the other hand, there is no way to assemble a mousetrap gradually from a natural phenomenon, because it won’t work until the last piece is assembled. Forethought, and therefore intelligent design, is necessary. Of course it is. After all, mousetraps as purchased in hardware stores are indeed human products; we know that they are intelligently designed. But what of biological structures? Behe claims that, while evolution can explain a lot of the visible diversity among living organisms, it is not enough when we come to the molecular level. The cell and several of its fundamental components and biochemical pathways are, according to him, irreducibly complex.
The problem with this statement is that it is contradicted by the available literature on comparative studies in microbiology and molecular biology, which Behe conveniently ignores (Miller 1996). For example, geneticists are continuously showing that biochemical pathways are partly redundant. Redundancy is a common feature of living organisms where different genes are involved in the same or in partially overlapping functions. While this may seem a waste, mathematical models show that evolution by natural selection has to produce molecular redundancy because when a new function is necessary it cannot be carried out by a gene that is already doing something else, without compromising the original function. On the other hand, if the gene gets duplicated (by mutation), one copy is freed from immediate constraints and can slowly diverge in structure from the original, eventually taking over new functions. This process leads to the formation of gene “families,” groups of genes clearly originated from a single ancestral DNA sequence, and that now are diversified and perform a variety of functions (e.g., the globins, which vary from proteins allowing muscle contraction to those involved in the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood). As a result of redundancy, mutations can knock down individual components of biochemical pathways without compromising the overall function-contrary to the expectations of irreducible complexity.
(Notice that creationists, never ones to loose a bit, have also tried to claim that redundancy is yet another evidence of intelligent design, because an engineer would produce backup systems to minimize catastrophic failures should the primary components stop functioning. While very clever, this argument once again ignores the biology: the majority of duplicated genes end up as pseudogenes, literally pieces of molecular junk that are eventually lost forever to any biological utility [Max 1986].)
To be sure, there are several cases in which biologists do not know enough about the fundamental constituents of the cell to be able to hypothesize or demonstrate their gradual evolution. But this is rather an argument from ignorance, not positive evidence of irreducible complexity. William Paley advanced exactly the same argument to claim that it is impossible to explain the appearance of the eye by natural means. Yet, today biologists know of several examples of intermediate forms of the eye, and there is evidence that this structure evolved several times independently during the history of life on Earth (Gehring and Ikeo 1999). The answer to the classical creationist question, “What good is half an eye?” is “Much better than no eye at all”!
However, Behe does have a point concerning irreducible complexity. It is true that some structures simply cannot be explained by slow and cumulative processes of natural selection. From his mousetrap to Paley’s watch to the Brooklyn Bridge, irreducible complexity is indeed associated with intelligent design. The problem for ID theory is that there is no evidence so far of irreducible complexity in living organisms.
The Complexity-Specification Criterion
William Dembski uses an approach similar to Behe to back up creationist claims, in that he also wants to demonstrate that intelligent design is necessary to explain the complexity of nature. His proposal, however, is both more general and more deeply flawed. In his book The Design Inference (Dembski 1998a) he claims that there are three essential types of phenomena in nature: “regular,” random, and designed (which he assumes to be intelligent). A regular phenomenon would be a simple repetition explainable by the fundamental laws of physics, for example the rotation of Earth around the Sun. Random phenomena are exemplified by the tossing of a coin. Design enters any time that two criteria are satisfied: complexity and specification (Dembski 1998b).
There are several problems with this neat scenario. First of all, leaving aside design for a moment, the remaining choices are not limited to regularity and randomness. Chaos and complexity theory have established the existence of self-organizing phenomena (Kauffman 1993; Shanks and Joplin 1999), situations in which order spontaneously appears as an emergent property of complex interactions among the parts of a system. And this class of phenomena, far from being only a figment of mathematical imagination as Behe maintains, are real. For example, certain meteorological phenomena such as tornados are neither regular nor random but are the result of self-organizing processes.
But let us go back to complexity-specification and take a closer look at these two fundamental criteria, allegedly capable of establishing intelligent agency in nature. Following one of Dembski’s examples, if SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) researchers received a very short signal that may be interpreted as encoding the first three prime numbers, they would probably not rush to publish their findings. This is because even though such signal could be construed as due to some kind of intelligence, it is so short that its occurrence can just as easily be explained by chance. Given the choice, a sensible scientist would follow Ockham’s razor and conclude that the signal does not constitute enough evidence for extraterrestrial intelligence. However, also according to Dembski, if the signal were long enough to encode all the prime numbers between 2 and 101, the SETI people would open the champagne and celebrate all night. Why? Because such signal would be both too complex to be explained by chance and would be specifiable, meaning that it is not just a random sequence of numbers, it is an intelligible message.
The specification criterion needs to be added because complexity by itself is a necessary but not sufficient condition for design (Roche 2001). To see this, imagine that the SETI staff receives a long but random sequence of signals. That sequence would be very complex, meaning that it would take a lot of information to actually archive or repeat the sequence (you have to know where all the 0s and 1s are), but it would not be specifiable because the sequence would be meaningless.
Dembski is absolutely correct that plenty of human activities, such as SETI, investigations into plagiarism, or encryption, depend on the ability to detect intelligent agency. Where he is wrong is in assuming only one kind of design. For him design equals intelligence and, even though he admitted that such an intelligence may be an advanced extraterrestrial civilization, his preference is for a god, possibly of the Christian variety.
The problem is that natural selection, a natural process, also fulfills the complexity-specification criterion, thereby demonstrating that it is possible to have unintelligent design in nature. Living organisms are indeed complex. They are also specifiable, meaning that they are not random assemblages of organic compounds, but are clearly formed in a way that enhances their chances of surviving and reproducing in a changing and complex environment. What, then, distinguishes organisms from the Brooklyn Bridge? Both meet Dembski’s complexity-specification criterion, but only the bridge is irreducibly complex. This has important implications for design.
In response to some of his critics, Dembski (2000) claimed that intelligent design does not mean optimal design. The criticism of suboptimal design has often been advanced by evolutionists who ask why God would do such a sloppy job with creation that even a mere human engineer can easily determine where the flaws are. For example, why is it that human beings have hemorrhoids, varicose veins, backaches, and foot aches? If you assume that we were “intelligent-ly” designed, the answer must be that the designer was rather incompetent-something that would hardly please a creationist. Instead, evolutionary theory has a single answer to all these questions: humans evolved bipedalism (walking with an erect posture) only very recently, and natural selection has not yet fully adapted our body to the new condition (Olshansky et al. 2001). Our closest primate relatives, chimps, gorillas, and the like, are better adapted to their way of life, and therefore are less “imperfect” than ourselves!
Dembski is of course correct in saying that intelligent design does not mean optimal design. As much as the Brooklyn Bridge is a marvel of engineering, it is not perfect, meaning that it had to be constructed within the constraints and limitations of the available materials and technology, and it still is subject to natural laws and decay. The bridge’s vulnerability to high winds and earthquakes, and its inadequacy to bear a volume of traffic for which it was not built can be seen as similar to the back pain caused by our recent evolutionary history. However, the imperfection of living organisms, already pointed out by Darwin, does do away with the idea that they were created by an omnipotent and omnibenevolent creator, who surely would not be limited by laws of physics that He Himself made up from scratch.
The Four Fundamental Types of Design and How to Recognize Them
Given these considerations, I would like to propose a system that includes both Behe’s and Dembski’s suggestions, while at the same time showing why they are both wrong in concluding that we have evidence for intelligent design in the universe. Figure 1 summarizes my proposal. Essentially, I think there are four possible kinds of design in nature which, together with Dembski’s categories of “regular” and random phenomena, and the addition of chaotic and self-organizing phenomena, truly exhaust all possibilities known to us. Science recognizes regular, random, and self-organizing phenomena, as well as the first two types of design described in figure 1. The other two types of design are possible in principle, but I contend that there is neither empirical evidence nor logical reason to believe that they actually occur.
The first kind of design is non-intelligent-natural, and it is exemplified by natural selection within Earth’s biosphere (and possibly elsewhere in the universe). The results of this design, such as all living organisms on Earth, are not irreducibly complex, meaning that they can be produced by incremental, continuous (though not necessarily gradual) changes over time. These objects can be clearly attributed to natural processes also because of two other reasons: they are never optimal (in an engineering sense) and they are clearly the result of historical processes. For example, they are full of junk, nonutilized or underutilized parts, and they resemble similar objects occurring simultaneously or previously in time (see, for example, the fossil record). Notice that some scientists and philosophers of science feel uncomfortable in considering this “design” because they equate the term with intelligence. But I do not see any reason to embrace such limitation. If something is shaped over time-by whatever means-such that it fulfills a certain function, then it is designed and the question is simply of how such design happened to materialize. The teeth of a tiger are clearly designed to efficiently cut into the flesh of its prey and therefore to promote survival and reproduction of tigers bearing such teeth.
The second type of design is intelligent-natural. These artifacts are usually irreducibly complex, such as a watch designed by a human. They are also not optimal, meaning that they clearly compromise between solutions to different problems (trade-offs) and they are subject to the constraints of physical laws, available materials, expertise of the designer, etc. Humans may not be the only ones to generate these objects, as the artifacts of any extraterrestrial civilization would fall into the same broad category.
The third kind of design, which is difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish from the second, is what I term intelligent-supernatural-sloppy. Objects created in this way are essentially indistinguishable from human or ET artifacts, except that they would be the result of what the Greeks called a Demiurge, a minor god with limited powers. Alternatively, they could be due to an evil omnipotent god that just amuses himself with suboptimal products. The reason intelligent-supernatural-sloppy design is not distinguishable from some instances (but by all means not all) of intelligent-natural design is Arthur C. Clarke’s famous third law: from the point of view of a technologically less advanced civilization, the technology of a very advanced civilization is essentially indistinguishable from magic (such as the monolith in his 2001: A Space Odyssey). I would be very interested if someone could suggest a way around Clarke’s law.
Finally, we have intelligent-supernatural-perfect design, which is the result of the activity of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent god. These artifacts would be both irreducibly complex and optimal. They would not be constrained by either trade-offs or physical laws (after all, God created the laws themselves). While this is the kind of god many Christian fundamentalists believe in (though some do away with the omnibenevolent part), it’s quite clear from the existence of human evil as well as of natural catastrophes and diseases, that such god does not exist. Dembski recognizes this difficulty and, as I pointed out above, admits that his intelligent design could even be due to a very advanced extraterrestrial civilization, and not to a supernatural entity at all (Dembski 2000).
In summary, it seems to me that the major arguments of Intelligent Design theorists are neither new nor compelling:
- It is simply not true that science does not address all Aristotelian causes, whenever design needs to be explained;
- While irreducible complexity is indeed a valid criterion to distinguish between intelligent and non-intelligent design, these are not the only two possibilities, and living organisms are not irreducibly complex (e.g., see Shanks and Joplin 1999);
- The complexity-specification criterion is actually met by natural selection, and cannot therefore provide a way to distinguish intelligent from non-intelligent design;
- If supernatural design exists at all (but where is the evidence or compelling logic?), this is certainly not of the kind that most religionists would likely subscribe to, and it is indistinguishable from the technology of a very advanced civilization.
Therefore, Behe’s, Dembski’s, and other creationists’ (e.g., Johnson 1997) claims that science should be opened to supernatural explanations and that these should be allowed in academic as well as public school curricula are unfounded and based on a misunderstanding of both design in nature and of what the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution (Mayr and Provine 1980) is all about.
I would like to thank Melissa Brenneman, Will Provine, and Niall Shanks for insightful comments on earlier versions of this article, as well as Michael Behe, William Dembski, Ken Miller, and Barry Palevitz for indulging in correspondence and discussions with me over these matters.
- Behe, M.J. 1996. Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. New York, N.Y.: Free Press.
- Cohen, S.M. 2000. The four causes. Accessed on 5/16/00 at faculty.washington.edu/smcohen.
- Darwin, C.  1910. The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection: Or, the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life. New York, N.Y.: A.L. Burt.
- Dembski, W.A. 1998a. The Design Inference. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
- —. 1998b. Reinstating design within science. Rhetoric & Public Affairs 1:503-518.
- —. 2000. Intelligent design is not optimal design. Accessed on 2/3/00 at www.meta-list.org.
- Edis, T. 2001. Darwin in mind: Intelligent Design meets artificial intelligence. Skeptical Inquirer 25(2): 35-39.
- Gehring, W.J., and K. Ikeo. 1999. Pax 6, mastering eye morphogenesis and eye evolution. Trends in Genetics 15:371-377.
- Johnson, P. 1997. Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press.
- Kauffman, S.A. 1993. The Origins of Order. New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press.
- Max, E.E. 1986. Plagiarized errors and molecular genetics: Another argument in the evolution-creation controversy. Creation/Evolution 9:34-46.
- Mayr, E., and W.B. Provine. 1980. The Evolutionary Synthesis: Perspectives on the Unification of Biology. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
- Miller, K.R. 1996. The biochemical challenge to evolution. Accessed on 10/30/99 at biomed.brown.edu/faculty/M/Miller/Miller.html.
- Olshansky, S.J., A.C. Bruce, and R.N. Butler. 2001. If humans were built to last. Scientific American March, pp. 50-55.
- Paley, W. 1831. Natural Theology: Or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, Collected from the Appearances of Nature. Boston, Mass: Gould, Kendall, and Lincoln, .
- Pigliucci, M. 2000. Chance, necessity, and the new holy war against science. A review of W.A. Dembski’s The Design Inference. BioScience 50(1): pp. 79-81. January.
- Roche, D. 2001. A bit confused: creationism and information theory. Skeptical Inquirer 25(2):40-42.
- Shanks, N., and K.H. Joplin. 1999. Redundant complexity: A critical analysis of intelligent design in biochemistry. Philosophy of Science 66:268-282.
Massimo Pigliucci is associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology a tthe University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996-1100, and author of Tales of the Rational: Skeptical Essays About Nature and Science. His essays can be found at http://fp.bio.utk.edu/skeptic
The following is a list that Stephen Gould (1941-2002) put together before he died. It is a good start point for all of us.
Pro-Intelligent Design Websites
Access Research Network
Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture
Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness
Origins Home Page, The
Phillip E. Johnson Page
Reasons To Believe
True.Origin Archive, The
Why I Disbelieve Evolution
William Dembski’s Homepage
Creation-Evolution Controversy, The
Design on the Defensive
Kansas Citizens For Science
Metanexus on Science and Religion
National Center for Science Education
Secular Web’s Science Religion Page
Talk.Origins Archive, The
Talk.Reason: Unintelligent Design
Was Darwin Wrong?: The Critics of Evolution
World of Richard Dawkins, The
Frequently Asked Questions about Intelligent Design: from ARN
The Intelligent Design Movement by Dr. Wayne Wofford
“The members of the intelligent design movement are attempting to return to the idea that science and religion are compatible. They are taking a number of approaches, including examination of the complexity of biochemical systems, statistical approaches involving diminishing probabilities…and philosophy.”
Creation and Evolution of a Controversy: by Robert T. Pennock
“Now we come to what may be the most significant recent development in the conceptual evolution of creationism. A more powerful movement is gaining strength within the Tower and is beginning to take the lead in the battles against evolution in the field. This is the group of creationists that advocates ‘theistic science’ and promotes what they call ‘intelligent-design theory.'”
Anti-evolutionists Form, Fund Think Tank: by Eugenie C. Scott
“The funding and deployment of the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture is a major step towards scholarly respectability for a relatively new group of anti-evolutionists: religious conservatives based at secular universities.…We are witnessing the embryogenesis of what I shall call ‘university-based anti-evolutionism.'”
Evolutionists Battle New Theory on Creation: by James Glanz
“In Kansas, after the backlash against the traditional biblical creationism, proponents of the design theory have become the dominant anti-evolution force, though they lost an effort to have theories like intelligent design considered on an equal basis with evolution in school curriculums.”
Intelligent Design in Public School Science Curricula: A Legal Guidebook: by Stephen Meyer, David DeWolf, and Mark DeForrest
The Wedge Strategy: CRSC internal document
The Wedge: A Christian Plan to Overthrow Modern Science?:
by Keith Lankford “What is troublesome about the [Wedge] document (and CRSC in general) is that it focuses on overthrowing evolution, not from within scientific establishments, but through convincing the public that its theory is the morally acceptable one.”
Discovery Institute’s Wedge project Circulates Online: by James Still
“A recently-circulated position paper of The Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture, reveals an ambitious plan to replace the current naturalistic methodology of science with a theistic alternative called ‘intelligent design.'”
Intelligent Design Goes to Washington: Skeptical Inquirer
“Supporters of intelligent design theory…brought their message to Capitol Hill May 10 in a series of events for members of Congress and their staff.…Until now, the creation-evolution debate has primarily been active at the state and local level, but this event may represent the start of a new effort to involve Congress in efforts to oppose the teaching of evolution.”
ID Works In Mysterious Ways: by Michael Shermer
“I have participated in numerous debates with creationists and theologians. And, in fact, my participation at this conference was a debate with Stephen Meyer in which I did address many of their points. For my money, however, the action is not in the arguments of ID, all of which have been thoroughly refuted by myself and others…but in the psychology of ID. What is really going on here is old-time religion dressed up in new fangled jargon.”
How We Threw the Bums Out: by Adrian Melott
An overview of the public-relation strategies used by all sides in the wake of the Kansas State Board decision to remove the theory of evolution from the state education standards.
The Wedge at Work: by Barbara Forrest
“Barbara Forrest, Southeastern Louisiana University, outlines the political agenda of the Discovery Institute’s “Wedge Strategy,” exposing it as a scientific failure encumbered by religious ambition and public relations. Forrest articulates clearly the goals, strategies, and political ambitions of the Intelligent Design movement in America today.”
The Wedge Strategy Three Years Later: by James Still
Creationism Concerns Cause ‘Big Bang’ Over BU Think Tank: by Mark England “Skeptical science faculty at Baylor University are…taking aim at the Michael Polanyi Center, a think tank created without fanfare last year by Baylor’s administration to bridge the gap between religion and science. Several faculty members, however, charge its hidden agenda is legitimizing the discussion of creationism in classrooms.”
Assault on Evolution: by Larry Arnhart
“Until recently, the critics of Darwinism have championed creationism—the idea that a literal reading of the early chapters of the Bible offers a more accurate account of human origins than Darwinian biology does.…But now intelligent design theorists are claiming that scientific data show evidence in the living world for ‘irreducible complexity’ or ‘specified complexity,’ which can only be explained as the work of an intelligent designer.”
Critiques of Intelligent Design
Intelligent Design: The New Stealth Creationism: by Victor J. Stenger
“The intelligent design movement is nothing more than stealth creationism, yet another effort to insinuate the particular sectarian belief of a personal creator into science education. The argument for design to the universe is, of course, ancient; what is new here is the wrongful claim that this philosophical and theological argument is now supported by science.”
Answering the Creationists: by Michael Ruse
“The new creationism is no more effective than any of the earlier versions. … The new creationism is a slicker product than the old creationism. Exploring the fears of its exponents leads us to think more carefully about Darwinism and its nature and limits. But, ultimately, there is nothing to challenge Darwin’s work.”
Design Yes, Intelligent No: by Massimo Pigliucci
“A new brand of creationism has appeared on the scene in the last few years. While still mostly propelled by a religious agenda and financed by mainly Christian sources such as the Templeton Foundation and the Discovery Institute, the intellectual challenge posed by neocreationism is sophisticated enough to require detailed consideration.”
The Design Detectives: by Jason Rosenhouse
“The intellectual legitimacy of the ID movement rests on the validity of the explanatory filter as a means for detecting design in nature. It is the difference between a legitimate theistic science and ye olde God of the Gaps. Dembski’s books are a serious, though deeply flawed…Johnson, by contrast, is just an intellectual poseur desperately trying to remain relevant to a movement that left him behind long ago.” Reviewed, Dembski’s Intelligent Design (1999) and Johnson’s The Wedge of Truth (2001).
The “New” Creationism: by Robert Wright
“What is really new about ‘intelligent design theory’? And who are these ‘academics and intellectuals’? The answer to the first question — nothing of significance — is best seen by answering the second question.”
Intelligent Design and the SETI Analogy: by Robert T. Pennock
“Intelligent-design theorists argue that just as the scientists of the SETI Project seek evidence of intelligence beyond the world, so too do they. …
I think that if we investigate the question of intelligent design in this context it will be easier to see why the IDC conclusion is not scientific.”
Saving Us from Darwin: by Frederick C. Crews
“If creationism were to shed its Dogpatch image and take a subtler tack, it could multiply its influence many fold. Precisely such a makeover has been in the works since 1990 or so. The new catchword is “intelligent design” . . . They are very busy turning out popular books, holding press conferences and briefings, working the Internet, wooing legislators . . . and even, in one instance, securing an on-campus institute all to themselves.”
Intelligent Design: Humans, Cockroaches, and the Laws of Physics: by Victor J. Stenger “As the bankruptcy of creation ‘science’ becomes increasingly recognized, a new catch phrase, intelligent design, has been adopted by those who persist in their attempts to inject creationism into the science curriculum.” Stenger then argues that there exist “no evidence or rational argument for intelligent design” moreover it is an “uneconomical hypothesis that is not required by existing scientific knowledge.”
A Word About Intelligent Design: by Burt Humburg
“There is nothing wrong with Intelligent Design as a strictly religious or philosophical concept. However, it simply fails as a scientific theory. … Because Intelligent Design cannot be disproved and because it is not predictive, it cannot be science. Because Intelligent Design is not science, it is inappropriate to teach it in the public school science classroom.”
A Bit Confused: Creationism and Information Theory: by David Roche
“The argument of some creationists that modern information theory refutes Darwinian evolution is based on a confusion between two distinct information concepts. At the heart of the Darwinian thesis is not information, but complexity.…Once we understand the difference between these two types of information—Shannon information and complexity—it is easy to see what’s wrong with the information argument against evolution.”
The Menace of Darwinism: by Victor J. Stenger
“Creationists responded quickly to the legal developments in Arkansas and a new version of creation science soon took over the spotlight. This re-creation of creation science parades under a banner labelled intelligent design. While intelligent design differs in substantial ways from its previous incarnations, unabashed religious creationism it remains.”
A Designer Universe?: by Steven Weinberg
“Some physicists have argued that certain constants of nature have values that seem to have been mysteriously fine-tuned to just the values that allow for the possibility of life, in a way that could only be explained by the intervention of a designer with some special concern for life. I am not impressed with these supposed instances of fine-tuning.”
The Big Tent and the Camel’s Nose: by Eugenie C. Scott
“In my talk, I wasn’t deploring the untestability of ID per se but the fact that its proponents don’t present testable models. I was referring to the fact that ID proponents don’t present a model at all in the sense of saying what happened when. At least YEC presents a view of ‘what happens:’ . . . I said (and have said repeatedly) that the message of ID is ‘evolution is bad science,’ without providing an alternative view of the history of the universe.”
Dealing with Antievolutionism: by Eugenie C. Scott
Cosmythology: Is the universe fine-tuned to produce us?: by Victor J. Stenger (Also in PDF format; from Skeptic Vol. 4, No. 2, 1996.)
A Brief Philosophical Critique of Intelligent Design: by Michael Lotti
“Here is a bold assertion: the distinction between ‘intelligently designed’ and ‘naturally developed’ is only sensible insofar as it directly corresponds to the distinction between ‘man-made’ and ‘natural.’ If this is correct, it severely undermines the project to create a viable ID theory.”
Calvin College Hosts “Design” Conference: by Jeffrey Shallit
“The lack of scientific success may account for the large chips on the shoulders of ID advocates. In talks and discussions, I heard repeatedly about how the ‘scientific establishment’ was arrayed against ID proponents, that their work was being ‘suppressed,’ and so forth. The possibility that ID research was either nonexistent or of poor quality was never entertained.”
The Anthropic Principle Does Not Support Supernaturalism: by
Michael Ikeda and Bill Jefferys “It has recently been claimed, most prominently by Dr. Hugh Ross on his web site, that the so-called ‘fine-tuning’ of the constants of physics supports a supernatural origin of the universe. Specifically, it is claimed that many of the constants of physics must be within a very small range of their actual values, or else life could not exist in our universe.…In this article we will show that this argument is wrong.”
The Anthropic Coincidences: A Natural Explanation: by Victor Stenger
Contrary to what many Americans have read in the pages of Newsweek (July, 1998), Stenger says: “Based on all we currently know about fundamental physics and cosmology, the most logically consistent and parsimonious picture of the universe as we know it is a natural one, with no sign of design or purposeful creation provided by scientific observations.”
Darwin in Mind: ID Meets Artificial Intelligence: by Taner Edis
“Proponents of ‘Intelligent Design’ claim information theory refutes Darwinian evolution. Modern physics and artificial intelligence research turns their arguments on their head.”
Michael Behe’s Page: from ARN
Behe’s Empty Box: edited by John Catalano
Darwin versus Intelligent Design (Again): by H. Allen Orr, Boston Review
God in the Details: by Jerry A. Coyne
Reviewed in Nature, the world’s leading scientific journal.
Review of Darwin’s Black Box: by Kenneth R. Miller
“Behe [at the closing of his book] attempts to develop the idea of intelligent design into a testable, scientific hypothesis. This is a lofty goal, but this is also where his argument collapses. Scientific ideas must be formulated in terms that make them testable.… Being a trained experimental scientist, one would have expected that Behe would have seen the need to do likewise. Unfortunately, he did not.”
The God of the Tiny Gaps: by Andrew Pomiankowski
“Behe is good at exposing the paucity of evolutionary thought in the field of biochemistry. But in Darwin’s Black Box, he reveals that he is also part of the problem, falling back on the old, limp idea of ‘design.’ He takes irreducible complexity as a statement of fact, rather than an admission of ignorance, claiming that the ‘purposeful arrangement’ of biochemical parts must be the result of an intelligent designer. So what we have here is just the latest, and no doubt not the last, attempt to put God back into nature.”
Born-Again Creationism: Behe’s Big Idea: by Philip Kitcher
“Behe…mounts his case for born-again creationism by taking one large problem, and posing it again and again. The problem isn’t particularly new [however] Behe gives it a new twist by drawing on his background as a biochemist, and describing the minute details of mechanisms in organisms so as to make it seem impossible that they could ever have emerged from a stepwise natural process.”
The Case of the Tell-Tale Traces: by Daniel C. Dennett
“Michael Behe’s book is an interesting attempt at a frontal assault on Darwinism based on an analysis of the complexities of molecular structures inside the cell.… He hints that this ignorance is an embarrassment to scientists, and suggests that it is a taboo topic for scientists because in their hearts they fear they cannot repair it, but this is not at all persuasive. Whether or not scientists ought to be worried, they just aren’t, and I can show why.”
Whose God? What Science? Reply to Michael Behe: by Robert Pennock
Pennock responds to Behe’s unfavorable review of his book, Tower of Babel.
Darwin’s New Critics on Trial: by Michael Ruse
“[Behe] is in as much trouble in the realm of philosophical theology as he was in the realm of biological science. He has offered us a freshened-up version of the old ‘God of the gaps’ argument for the deity’s existence: a Supreme Being must be invoked to explain those phenomenon for which I cannot offer a natural explanation. But such an argument proves only one’s own ignorance and inadequacy. It tells us nothing of beings beyond science.”
Who’s Got the Magic?: by William A. Dembski
A review of Robert Pennock’s Tower of Babel
The Anti-Evolutionists: William A. Dembski: edited by W. R. Elsberry
How Not to Detect Design: A Review of The Design Inference: by Branden Fitelson, Elliott Sober and Christopher Stephens:
“To test evolutionary theory against the hypothesis of intelligent design, you must know what both hypotheses predict about observables. The searchlight therefore must be focused on the design hypothesis itself. What does it predict? If defenders of the design hypothesis want their theory to be scientific, they need to do the scientific work of formulating and testing the predictions that creationism makes.”
- Another Way to Detect Design?: by William A. Dembski
“Specified complexity therefore seems at best to tell us what’s not the case, not what is the case. Couple this with a Darwinian mechanism that is widely touted as capable of generating specified complexity, and it is no wonder that the scientific community resists making specified complexity a universal criterion for intelligence.”
Review of Dembski’s Intelligent Design: by Gert Korthof
“Although Dembski has strong religious motivations, he constructed a non-religious design criterion. His previous mathematical research guaranteed a scientific exposition of the concepts ‘information’ and ‘complexity’.…However his application of ‘complexity’ and ‘information’ to biology is sketchy and weak. Dembski did not give a coherent exposition of the extent to which natural selection can generate information.”
Physics, Cosmology and the New Creationism: by Victor J. Stenger
“Dembski has become prominent for claiming to apply modern information theory to the issue of design and…initiating a ‘new science.’ … As Dembski states it, ‘chance and law working in tandem cannot generate information.’ I will try to show that this is incorrect, when interpreted as some universal principle applying under all circumstances, which Dembski seems to do.”
Snake Eyes in the Garden of Eden: by Keith Devlin
“Antievolutionists argue that humanity could not have evolved by chance. But just how would one recognize the presence of design?”
Review of Dembski’s No Free Lunch: by H. Allen Orr
“You might whip up a bit of applause if you say that a designer can explain biology. But you’ll bring down the house if you say that Darwinism can’t and only a designer can.…Unfortunately, Dembski’s proof has nothing whatsoever to do with Darwinism and his claim to the contrary is hopelessly silly.”
Not a Free Lunch But a Box of Chocolates: by Richard Wein
“The aim of Dr William Dembski’s book No Free Lunch is to demonstrate that design (the action of a conscious agent) was involved in the process of biological evolution. The following critique shows that his arguments are deeply flawed and have little to contribute to science or mathematics.”
First Impressions of Intelligent Design: by Wesley R. Elsberry
“I had hoped that Dembski might expand his analysis of natural selection in this volume, but so far that appears not to be the case. Back in 1997, Dembski promised that we would see his full-blown technical discussion of natural selection in section 6.3 of The Design Inference. Section 6.3 of TDI includes no such thing. Nor does any other part of TDI.”
The Emperor’s New Designer Clothes: by Victor J. Stenger
“When Dembski says that information cannot be generated naturally, he seems to be voicing yet another muddled version of the common creationist assertion that the second law forbids the generation of order by natural processes. Like his predecessors, he ignores the caveat ‘closed system’ in the formal statement of the second law. Open systems can and do become more orderly by their interaction with other systems.”
Phillip E. Johnson
A Review of Darwin on Trial: by Gert Korthof
Impeaching a Self-Appointed Judge: by Stephen Jay Gould
“Darwin on Trial, hardly deserves to be called a book at all. It is, at best, a long magazine article promoted to hard covers—a clumsy, repetitious abstract argument with no weighing of evidence, no careful reading of literature on all sides, no full citation of sources…The book, in short, is full of errors, badly argued, based on false criteria, and abysmally written.”
Darwin Prosecuted: Review of Darwin on Trial: by Eugenie Scott
“Darwin on Trial…fails to disprove evolution, but the spirit behind it deserves to be recognized by all scientists. Johnson reflects the anguish expressed by many conservative Christians who believe that something terribly important is lost if evolution is true, and especially if the way things change is through the wasteful and generally unattractive mechanism of natural selection.”
Naturalistic Fallacy: Review of Reason in the Balance: by Michael Ruse
“Here, laid out in full detail, are the reasons why a respectable and intelligent man like Johnson would freely and gladly make himself a pariah, even in conservative academic circles.…It is not a little bit of evolution that worries Johnson and his ilk. A new adaptation here, a lost adaptation there—who cares? Rather, it is the very moral fiber of the nation that counts. Let in evolution, and pornography, abortion, and sodomy are next.”
The Prospects for a Theistic Science: by Robert T. Pennock
“Johnson and the new Creationists go much further than Newton in their recommendations for a theistic science that incorporates divine interventions and allows appeal to supernatural explanations. In this paper I examine the prospects for such a theistic science.”
The Mistrial of Evolution: by Prof. Terry M. Gray
Theistic-evolutionist Terry Gray (Calvin College) reviews Darwin on Trial.
Review of Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds: by Jeffrey Shallit
A brief but very clever review of Phillip Johnson’s Defeating Darwinism.
Review of Darwin on Trial: by Eugenie C. Scott
“Can one use Darwin on Trial to learn about evolution? Not very well! Darwin on Trial teaches little that is accurate about either the nature of science, or the topic of evolution. It is recommended neither by scientists nor educators. Among the book’s critics are evangelical Christian scientists who have criticized Darwin on Trial’s scientific accuracy.”
Review of Darwin on Trial: by Wesley R. Elsberry
“Anti-evolutionist apologetics are, in large part, the search for a ‘magic bullet’ that will kill Darwinian explanations dead on contact.… Those armed with a magic bullet can combat the evil lycanthrope directly, without having to go to the trouble of…needing to know anything in a deep sense about the subject of lycanthropy. All the magic bullet user needs to know is how to point and pull a trigger. Phillip Johnson’s book of magic bullets fits the formula.”
Review of Evolution: A Theory in Crisis: by Mark I. Vuletic
“I will argue in this paper that both of Denton’s attempts to make an adequate challenge to evolutionary biology fail — neither does Denton manage to undermine the evidence for evolution, nor does he succeed in demonstrating that macroevolutionary mechanisms are inherently implausible.”
Review of Evolution: A Theory in Crisis: by Gert Korthof
“Evolution: A Theory in Crisis is the most scientific anti-evolution and anti-Darwinism book I read so far. And that doesn’t imply that the book is free from scientific errors or that the book is free of bias. Because of the errors and the bias, I cannot recommend it to those with little biological training, unless endowed with a sound critical attitude.”
Review of Evolution: A Theory in Crisis: by Al Case
“I had this book recommended to me by several creationists who said it was ‘the best’ book available for exposing ‘the myth of evolution.’ With that in mind, I did a thorough read and came away with the opinion that ‘the best’ is not much better than the worst.”
Review of Nature’s Destiny: by Mark I. Vuletic
“Although Denton’s book is widely praised among creationists, Denton is no fundamentalist. In his latest book, Michael Denton argues for a theological view that is most like deism or pantheism. However, Denton’s view is ‘distinct from pantheism and some varieties of deism in that it takes the production of familiar and anthropomorphic life as the raison d’être of the universe.'”
Jonathan Wells: Who is He, What Is He Doing?: by Jack Krebs
A look at Wells’ background in the milieu of the Creation/Evolution debate.
Review of Icons of Evolution: by Massimo Pigliucci
“Since there are omissions, simplifications, and inaccuracies in some general biology textbooks, obviously the modern theory of evolution must be wrong. This is the astounding line of reasoning that provides the backbone of Jonathan Wells’ Icons of Evolution. It is the latest book in a series of neo-creationist productions, dressed with the slightly more respectable label of ‘intelligent design theory.'”
Review of Icons of Evolution: by David Ussery
“The purpose of Icons of Evolution, Jonathan Wells claims, is to encourage people to ask questions about evolution, and to document that ‘students and the public are being systematically misinformed about the evidence for evolution.’ …After reading the book, I am convinced that Wells does a quite good job of summarizing…Creationist’s criticisms of evolution, but he fails miserably in his task of documenting his claim of fraud and conspiracy amongst scientists to purposefully and systematically misinform the public.”
An Iconoclast for Evolution?: by Larry D. Martin
“A Berkeley-educated biologist’s attack on the icons of evolution is full of sound and fury, signifying a difference in philosophy—not science.”
Creationism By Stealth: by Jerry A. Coyne
“Wells’s book rests entirely on a flawed syllogism: hence, textbooks illustrate evolution with examples; these examples are sometimes presented in incorrect or misleading ways; therefore evolution is a fiction. The second premise is not generally true, and even if were, the conclusion would not follow.…Authors of some biology texts may occasionally be sloppy, or slow to incorporate new research, but they are not duplicitous.”
Icons of Anti-Evolution: by Wesley R. Elsberry, et al.
A Point-by-Point Rebuttal of Icons of Evolution: by Massimo Pigliucci
In this pamphlet Dr. Pigliucci analyzes Jonathan Wells’ various claims of “fraud” found in biology textbooks, which Wells claims are used to unfairly bolster the case for evolution. Pigliucci argues that in many instances Wells’ examples are not devious at all, but rather excellent corroborations of evolution, only misunderstood by Wells and therefore merely giving the appearance of deceit. In other instances, Pigliucci says, where genuine errors have crept in, the blame must be placed fairly on the publishers, who, because of differing interests, take years to correct scientific error.
Icon of Obfuscation: by Nicholas Matzke
“[A]s we have seen, in every single case, the actual biological experts in their specific fields of expertise in fact agree that the actual evidence in their field supports modern evolutionary theory. Furthermore, many of these scientists have felt sufficiently strongly about this that they have published critiques of creationist misinterpretations of their work. Many of these scientists have felt sufficiently victimized by Wells to write specific rebuttals of him.”
Reviews of Icons Of Evolution: compiled by Don Lindsay
“The thrust of the book is that science classes commonly teach certain pieces of evidence, which Wells refers to as Icons. Wells argues that all of them are flawed in one way or another. He suggests that evolution may be a myth. Scientists disagree.”
A Review of J.P. Moreland’s The Creation Hypothesis: by Graham Oppy
“If creationists manage to come up with good reasons to take their views seriously, then I have no doubt that their views will be taken seriously. (Likewise for astrologers, phrenologists, scientologists, and all those other denizens of the margins of science.) To date, however — as the current volume makes manifest — no such reasons have been forthcoming.”
Review of Hugh Ross’ The Creator and the Cosmos: by Victor J. Stenger
“The argument for the existence of a personal Creator based on arguments from probability and coincidence are no more valid than William Paley’s divine watchmaker. They are simply the latest coat of varnish on the long-decrepit argument from design.…This book by High Ross does great damage to the need for an open, non-dogmatic discussion of the issues.”
Plantinga’s Probability Arguments Against Evolutionary Naturalism: by Branden Fitelson and Elliott Sober
Review of Lee Spetner’s Not By Chance!: by Gert Korthof
Lee Spetner, a physicist of the Jewish faith, claims his NREH hypothesis explains many observed phenomena that neo-Darwinism does not and cannot explain. How well are Spetner’s arguments formulated? Can random variation build information? Can the accumulation of mutations create new species? These questions and more are answered in this superb review.
Fitting the Bible to the Data: by Victor J. Stenger
Review of Gerald Schroeder’s The Science of God (1997).
A Reader’s Guide to Of Pandas and People: by Richard Aulie
“This book recommends ‘intelligent design’ as a better explanation of biological diversity than the theory of biological evolution. Many proponents of this movement endeavor to introduce ‘creation science’ or ‘creationism’ into biology courses in the public schools. Although the authors of the book I review do not use these terms, their effort must be viewed as part of the on-going ‘creationist’ movement, which seeks to obstruct the teaching of biological evolution.”
Of Pandas and People A Brief Critique: by Kenneth R. Miller
Kenneth Miller, biology professor at Brown University, argues that instead of being an “objective examination of the pros and cons of evolutionary biology” as claimed, Of Pandas reads more as “a collection of half-truths, distortions, and outright falsehoods that attempts to misrepresent biology and mislead students as to the scientific status of evolutionary biology.”
Philosophy of Science
Science as Falsification: by Sir Karl Popper
“It is easy to obtain confirmations, or verifications, for nearly every theory—if we look for confirmations. Confirmations should count only if they are the result of risky predictions; that is to say, if, unenlightened by the theory in question, we should have expected an event which was incompatible with the theory—an event which would have refuted the theory. Every ‘good’ scientific theory is a prohibition: it forbids certain things to happen. The more a theory forbids, the better it is.”
Science as Successful Prediction: by Imre Lakatos
“Thus the crucial element in falsificationism is whether the new theory offers any novel, excess information compared with its predecessor and whether some of this excess information is corroborated. Justificationists valued ‘confirming’ instances of a theory; naive falsificationists stressed ‘refuting’ instances; for the methodological falsificationists it is the—rather rare— corroborating instances of the excess information which are the crucial ones;”
The Most Precious Thing We Have: The Difference Between Science and Pseudoscience: by Michael Shermer (1998)
A Defense of Naturalism: by Keith Augustine
“In metaphysics, naturalism typically takes a form of materialism or physicalism: Everything that exists is either physical or supervenient upon the physical. Naturalism in epistemology contends that the role of epistemology is to describe how knowledge is obtained rather than to set out a priori criteria for the justification of beliefs… In this essay I will be concerned with naturalism in the philosophy of religion, where other basic metaphysical and epistemological issues will arise.”
Methodological Naturalism?: by Alvin Plantinga
“[S]cience is said to be religiously neutral, if only because science and religion are, by their very natures, epistemically distinct. In many areas, science is anything but religiously neutral; moreover, the standard arguments for methodological naturalism suffer from various grave shortcomings.”
Naturalism is Today an Essential Part of Science: by Steve Schafersman “Naturalism is, ironically, a controversial philosophy… most people, including some scientists, refuse to systematically understand naturalism and its consequences. This paper proposes to show that naturalism is essential to the success of scientific understanding, and it examines and criticizes the claims of pseudoscientists and theistic philosophers that science should employ supernatural explanations as part of its normal practice.”
Review of Naturalism: A Critical Analysis: by Graham Oppy
Oppy reviews Moreland’s and Craig’s anthology attacking naturalism.
Theology and Falsification: by Antony Flew
“A fine brash hypothesis may thus be killed by inches, the death by a thousand qualifications. And in this, it seems to me, lies the peculiar danger, the endemic evil, of theological utterance. Take such utterances as ‘God has a plan,’ [or] ‘God created the world,’…They look at first sight very much like assertions, vast cosmological assertions. Of course, this is no sure sign that they either are, or are intended to be assertions.”
When Faith and Reason Clash: by Alvin Plantinga
“My question is simple: how shall we Christians deal with apparent conflicts between faith and reason, between what we know as Christians…what we know…about God, and what we know by faith, by way of revelation, as well as know in other ways. In many areas, this means that Christians must rework the [question of origins and methodology] from this [theistic] perspective.”
When Faith and Reason Cooperate: by Howard Van Till
“This question regarding the proper epistemological role of the biblical text in the formulation and evaluation of theories—especially of scientific theories—deserves far more attention than Plantinga gives it in this particular paper. One thing, however, seems clear to me: framing the Christian critique of evolutionary theories in the rhetoric of faith vs. reason offers little hope for growth in our reasoned understanding of either the Scriptures or the Creation.”
Methodological Naturalism and the Supernatural: by Mark I. Vuletic
Departing from the opinion of most Naturalist philosophers, Vuletic maintains that methodological naturalism is “capable of leading to both the falsification and the confirmation of a large number of supernatural hypotheses.”
Darwin Re-crucified: Why Are So Many Afraid of Naturalism?: by Paul Kurtz “A disturbing new dimension has emerged in the creation/evolution controversy. The crusade against Darwinism is no longer the sole preserve of fundamentalist Christians, for many influential religious conservatives have now joined in the fray. One hundred sixteen years after Darwin’s death, efforts to crucify him continue unabated. The main complaint of religious conservatives is that the theory of evolution is allied with naturalism, and this is inconsistent with their theistic faith.”
The New Antievolutionism: speech by Michael Ruse
“I think that one can in fact defend a scientific and naturalistic approach, even if one recognizes that this does include a metaphysical assumption to the regularity of nature. . . but I don’t think it helps matters by denying that one is making it. And I think that once one has made such an assumption, one has perfect powers to turn to, say, creation science, which claims to be naturalistic also, and point out that it’s wrong.”
Commentary on Methodological Materialism: by Eugenie Scott
“If we are allowed to attribute causation to an omnipotent force, there is no point in looking for a natural explanation. And guess what: if you don’t look, you’re guaranteed not to find one! We have found that we get much farther in science by not relying upon supernatural explanations: for practical reasons, we restrict ourselves to methodological materialism.”
NOVA Online: A Cyber Debate “How Did We Get Here?” (1996).
“In 1996, NOVA Online asked two leading spokesmen in the evolution/creation debate to discuss the question, “How did we get here?” The participants have agreed to keep their letters to less than 500 words and have been given equal time to write them.”
Talk of the Nation: “The Politics of Evolution” (August 16, 1999).
“More than a decade ago, the Supreme Court ruled that states could not compel the teaching of creationism in public schools. Since then Creationists have adopted a new strategy: trying to keep Darwinism out rather than forcing creationism into the curriculum. The strategy has recently paid off, as the Kansas Board of Education voted to delete virtually all references to evolution in its curriculum last Wednesday. Join Ray Suarez as he discusses the politics of teaching evolution with Russel Lewis, Wayne Carlie and Stephen C. Meyer, professor of Philosophy at Whitworth College.”
Talk of the Nation: “Scopes Trial 75th Anniversary” (July 21, 2000).
“In 1925, John Scopes was tried for teaching the theory of evolution in a Tennessee public school. Join Ira Flatow and Pulitzer Prize winning author Edward Larson in this hour for a look back at the trial on its 75th anniversary, and at the ongoing battle over teaching evolution in the public schools. Plus, a talk with Kenneth Miller, author of the recent book Finding Darwin’s God (1999), and Michael Behe, author of Darwin’s Black Box (1996), as they debate the issue of Darwinism and the theory of ‘intelligent design.'”
The Diane Rehm Show: “Evolution vs. Intelligent Design” (April 18, 2001).
“The theory of evolution has been challenged by people who believe for religious reasons that the creatures of the earth were made, not evolved. Today another group is challenging evolutionary science. They say evolution isn’t a scientifically sound theory, and propose an intelligent design ‘force’ has been at work. Two experts discuss these theories and their implications: Eugenie C. Scott (executive director of the National Center for Science Education) and William Dembski (associate research Professor at Baylor).”
The Meta Library: “Evolution and Providence” (June 2000).
In June of 2000 the CTNS organized and hosted a workshop with the theme “Evolution and Providence.” A panel was put together representing a broad sampling of the various perspectives on creation, evolution and divine-action. The participants included Michael Ruse, Stephen Meyer, Eugenie Scott, Duane Gish, among others. Also available from the Meta Library is an excellent discussion between Michael Behe and Kenneth Miller taken from the “Interpreting Evolution” seminar at Haverford college, June 2001.
The Connection: “Science, Reason and Genetics” (April 17, 2000).
“Richard Dawkins wonders why people consider science so bleakly, thinking it robs life of warmth and worth. To him, science is filled with wonder, beauty, and awe. Dawkins contends that when Newton explained the prism, he didn’t rob the rainbow of its mystery as the poet Keats complained, he opened the door to the greater wonders of relativity and an expanding universe.” (listen)