on May 7, 2007
...Also, it's self-contradictory. In a segment about atheist evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, the authors dismiss Dawkins' arguments entirely on the grounds that Dawkins is a scientist, not theologian, thus he is not qualified to speak (or write) on matters of God. What a convenient method for ignoring his case for a universe without design. Rather unexpected, coming, as it does, from a theologian pretending to write about science.
The book pretends to be a "balanced" look at the Intelligent Design controversy. Nonetheless, the book bulks the argument in such a way so as to give the impression that ID theory is somewhere on balance with Darwinian evolution by putting forward ID claims have long ago been addressed and falsified by scientists. Such claims as "Evolution runs contrary to the 2nd law of thermodynamics" show the willful ignorance of the authors. Many widely available articles explain how this asinine mis-interpretation of entropy depends on a closed system. The authors either have not done their research, or they are intentionally mis-representing the facts.
Every claim made in this book in favour of Intelligent Design has been refuted by scientists. Intellectual honesty demands that these refutations be dealt with if this book is to be considered balanced. This book does not do this.
This is a transparent attempt to make the "teach the controversy" position appear neutral and moderate while pushing the ID agenda.
on December 3, 2007
Oddly enough, staunch advocates of Intelligent Design Creationism are likely to consider this book as useless mainstream science advocates do. Intelligent Design fans typically try to hide the well established fact that ID is just a new name for creationism, so a book called "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Intelligent Design" that makes so many old, refuted creationist arguments (ones so bad that even many creationists insist they not be used!) just hammers home the obvious reality that "ID" is merely creationism in new clothes. Carlisle and Smith have inadvertently written precisely the book that Intelligent Design advocates are most worried about -- a book that shows that "ID" and creationism are exactly the same thing.
on December 3, 2007
I see 2 very well qualified scientists with all the necessary degrees in evolutionary and biological sciences wrote this tripe. har har. If the credentials of the 2 authors don't give away the game that ID is nothing but rotting, decrepit religious myth painted over with a fresh coat of "scientific" sounding gloss, which was convincingly proven in the Dover case, then nothing else will. Buy and read this book only if you wish to strengthen your willful ignorance.
P.S. Isn't the 9th commandment, "Thou shall not bear false witness/lie"?
on September 7, 2007
The Parable of the Ichthropic Principle
Sixty meters underground, a river used to run through the limestone of the Mexican state of Oaxaca. Because the limestone was uneven in density and porosity, the river carved an irregular channel, widening and contracting. Eventually, over a very long period of time, the surface of the land above underwent changes resulting from diminished rainfall. As the volume of water draining through the underground river decreased, the channel it had carved became a cave. Nonetheless, a trickle of rain still flowed through cracks and crevices, enough to maintain stable pools of fresh water in the lightless depths.
In one such pool lived a small school of fish of the family Characidae. Characids are an adaptable group, occupying many ecological niches of the planet Earth. The characids of this geologically isolated pool had several distinctive adaptations, the most unusual being that they were eyeless. Thus we can identify them henceforth as blind cave fish. Lacking sight, the blind cave fish were well equipped to detect vibrations of any sort through the sensory cells of their lateral lines, which was how they foraged for food as well as how they located each other for mating purposes. Fortunately, water is a superb transmitter of vibrations. Greater self-awareness would not have been adaptive in the bleak conditions of their pool, but if they'd possessed it, they would have had no reason to suppose that any other characids inhabited any other pool in this or any other cave, or indeed that any other pool in any other cave was inhabitable.
The blind cave fish had two rigid requirements for survival--oxygen and food. The oxygen in the pool was maintained at roughly the level they required by the dependable trickle of rain which replenished the loss of water through the porous limestone bed of the pool. Also, the water was cold--a constant forty-one degrees Fahrenheit--which of course allowed maximal oxygenation. Although the fish had no "knowledge" of it, a grave danger to their survival existed in two kinds of pollution: nitrates from their own metabolic waste products, and gradual mineralization from the influx of acid rain water seeping through the soil. Periodically, however, drenching storms would flood the land, refilling the underground river channel and flushing the pool. Most of the blind cave fish would be swept away to an uncertain fate, but enough would survive to rebuild their population. Even the most catastrophic flushing would not decimate them, since their eggs, which were adhesive, were always laid in protected chinks and cracks. Had the floor of the pool been smooth, or had the flooding carried other menaces into their cave, no doubt the blind cave fish couldn't have thrived as they did. It should be noted that the thick layers of rock above, which shielded them from hot sunlight, also shielded them from ultra-violet and other forms of radiation that might have threatened their survival.
The blind cave fish were dependent for their nutrition on another intricate and improbable set of circumstances. Since no light whatsoever penetrated the cavern, no photosynthesizing plants or algae could flourish. Nonetheless, populations of microbes and nearly microscopic arthropods shared the pool. These were the food source upon which the blind cave fish depended, though they supplemented their diet by scavenging the corpses of their own dead. In turn the arthropods and microbes were dependent on bat droppings for 100% of their nutrients. The bats, in huge numbers, infested a large dry cavern of the same cave. The only above-water outlet from their cavern to the fresh air above passed through the grotto of the pool, the ceiling of which was too encrusted with stalactites to attract bats to nest. Thus the quantity of guano the bats dropped in flight was always enough to sustain the pool's organisms yet never enough to poison the water. The blind cave fish were by far the largest and most metabolically active of these aquatic creatures. Having neither predators nor competition, they had ample reason to be happy with their lives--that is, had they had enough self-awareness to exhibit happiness--since each and every condition of their environment seemed specifically suitable to their needs, while any variation of those conditions would have made their life impossible. Indeed, the conditions in which they subsisted were so random yet so improbably assembled that it must have seemed to the fish--again granting them the self-awareness to consider probabilities--that the pool had been designed to provide for their existence. Allowing them just a bit more rationality than they truly possessed, logic would surely have suggested to the blind cave fish that where there is design, there must be a designer. No matter how much intellect we attribute to our three-inch long albino eyeless characids, however, it's clear they had no means of fathoming the nature of the designer, unless it were itself an inscrutable but omnipotent blind cave fish.
on November 4, 2007
Where to begin? I guess a good a place as any is to first admit that I couldn't actually find it within to read this book all the way through. Since I endorse good science, this admission likely disqualifies my review in the eyes of ID's religious fan base. Normally I would never endeavor to review a book without having read it in it's entirety, but that really wasn't necessary for this one. It is exactly as you would expect from a pro-ID theologian. There is really nothing in it that has never been claimed by ID-ists... and soundly refuted by professional scientists.
Old ID and creationist talking points are regurgitated as though never before heard. Even more damning, the accessible, logical, unified and fact based counter arguments readily available in the primary literature are never brought up, let alone addressed. The message here is clear. ID-ists are not prepared to deal honestly with evidence. The only goal they seek is the dissolution of evolutionary science. Any means by which this is accomplished is fine, even if less than honest practices are employed.
on August 13, 2007
The sooner we let these ancient myths fall away to sooner we'll get to where we're supposed to be (peace, understanding, progess, you know, the stuff we all want to be dealing with). So, let's put God up there with Zeus and the rest of them, and move on. God, Santa Claus, Easter Bunny... quaint, cute, all commercial and driven by greed and money. Hang it up. ID is another thinly disguised attempt at stupidity and backwardness.