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Darwin's Nemesis: Phillip Johnson and the Intelligent Design Movement Paperback – February 22, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This Festschrift from friends—and a couple of friendly critics—honors Phillip Johnson, the Berkeley law professor whose 1991 publication Darwin on Trial and later books helped intelligent design emerge as a highly visible, and highly controversial, alternative to Darwinism. While it may be premature to hail Johnson as "Darwin's Nemesis," these essays reveal him as an influential strategist and mentor within the ID movement. Contributors to the 2004 symposium that spawned this collection include leading ID advocates Michael Behe, Stephen Meyer, Jonathan Wells and Scott Minnich, as well as Darwin defender Michael Ruse, who has engaged Johnson in debate. Other contributors address cultural and political questions beyond evolution itself, such as Francis Beckwith's timely review of legal controversies over ID in the classroom, J. Budziszewski's discussion of naturalism and the Natural Law tradition and editor William Dembski's commentary on the professional—and often personal—"backlash" against ID advocates. Readers who are familiar with the basics of ID and curious about the movement's development and inner workings will find much of interest, although for an account of the most recent and current controversies over ID, they will need to consult other sources. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"These essays reveal [Johnson} as an influential strategist and mentor within the ID movement" -- —Publisher's Weekly, February 13, 2006

Product Details

  • Paperback: 357 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (February 22, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830828362
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830828364
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,098,245 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

A mathematician and philosopher, William A. Dembski is Research Professor in Philosophy at Southwestern Seminary in Ft. Worth, where he directs its Center for Cultural Engagement. He is also a senior fellow with Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture in Seattle. Previously he was the Carl F. H. Henry Professor of Theology and Science at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, where he founded its Center for Theology and Science. Before that he was Associate Research Professor in the Conceptual Foundations of Science at Baylor University, where he headed the first intelligent design think-tank at a major research university: The Michael Polanyi Center.

Dr. Dembski has taught at Northwestern University, the University of Notre Dame, and the University of Dallas. He has done postdoctoral work in mathematics at MIT, in physics at the University of Chicago, and in computer science at Princeton University. A graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago where he earned a B.A. in psychology, an M.S. in statistics, and a Ph.D. in philosophy, he also received a doctorate in mathematics from the University of Chicago in 1988 and a master of divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1996. He has held National Science Foundation graduate and postdoctoral fellowships.

Dr. Dembski has published articles in mathematics, engineering, philosophy, and theology journals and is the author/editor of more than a dozen books. In The Design Inference: Eliminating Chance Through Small Probabilities (Cambridge University Press, 1998), he examines the design argument in a post-Darwinian context and analyzes the connections linking chance, probability, and intelligent causation. The sequel to The Design Inference appeared with Rowman & Littlefield in 2002 and critiques Darwinian and other naturalistic accounts of evolution. It is titled No Free Lunch: Why Specified Complexity Cannot Be Purchased without Intelligence. Dr. Dembski has edited several influential anthologies, including Uncommon Dissent: Intellectuals Who Find Darwinism Unconvincing (ISI, 2004) and Debating Design: From Darwin to DNA (Cambridge University Press, 2004, co-edited with Michael Ruse). His newest book, The End of Christianity, differs markedly from his others, attempting to understand how the Fall of humanity can be real in light of modern science.

As interest in intelligent design has grown in the wider culture, Dr. Dembski has assumed the role of public intellectual. In addition to lecturing around the world at colleges and universities, he is frequently interviewed on the radio and television. His work has been cited in numerous newspaper and magazine articles, including three front page stories in the New York Times as well as the August 15, 2005 Time magazine cover story on intelligent design. He has appeared on the BBC, NPR (Diane Rehm, etc.), PBS (Inside the Law with Jack Ford; Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson), CSPAN2, CNN, Fox News, ABC Nightline, and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

[Photo by Laszlo Bencze]

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Steven H Propp TOP 100 REVIEWER on April 30, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Editor William Albert Dembski (born 1960) is a key figure in the "Intelligent Design" movement, who is a professor at the Southern Evangelical Seminary and a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute. He has written/edited many other books, such as The Design Inference, Intelligent Design, The Design Revolution, Mere Creation, Uncommon Dissent, Tough-Minded Christianity, etc.

Dembski wrote in the Preface to this 2006 book, "This volume takes its place alongside other intelligent-design compilations, serving as a handy reference for various ID research topics and personal stories. Yet, as a tribute to our well-loved friend, this book also plays a special role in the ID literature... this book memorializes Phil's achievements in heading the ID movement and thanks him for his influence not only on our lives but also on the wider community of ID proponents and friendly critics." (Pg. 21) Essayists include Stephen Meyer, Michael Behe, Thomas Woodward, Michael Ruse [!], Jonathan Wells, etc., and a "Final Word" by Philip Johnson.

Michael Behe recalls, "I hit what...
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Format: Paperback
The book itself is a good resource for readers who wish to learn more about the works of Phillip Johnson, a leader of the Intelligent Design theories/(facts according to his supporters). It is a one sided defense of Johnson and tears down Darwin. Granted, Darwin made lots of mistakes, but Darwin was the first word, not the most recent, researcher into evolution. One writer insists the world is 10,000 years old. Some writers refute the existence of genetic mutations, or that any mutated species could survive. I know of the research into genetic mutations of species that following nuclear blasts and I believe that genes can indeed mutate and find it sad we have to debate even this level of science. But, indeed, this is the core of this debate.

I note one writer who argues how terrible it is that there are those who believe that since religion is not testable truth that it can not be taught as truth in schools. Yes, that is why your truth has to be faith, not taught in public schools as truth. Students are of different faiths, and it is up to their faiths to teach them faith. It is the role of schools to teach testable truth. That's the way it is supposed to be. Sorry.

The book is a good resource. Even those who disagree with these views can learn from it and allow the debates on this to continue.
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75 of 116 people found the following review helpful By Mit on September 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
I am shocked by the vial hate-speech and mindless ad hominem attacks in the "reviews" printed below. They demonstrate just the kind of vicious closed-minded nonsense that ID proponents seek to dispel. To quote one extreme example (you can read it in context in John Kwok's "review" below): "I find the notion of a Festschrift published in honor of Professor Johnson as absurd as a group of Neo-Nazis publishing one to commemorate Adolf Hitler and his hate-filled book "Mein Kampf" (I find this an apt comparison since Johnson and quite a few of his supporters have an ideological world view that is remarkably close to the likes of Adolf Hitler and Osama bin Laden.)."

Well, to quote Adolf Hitler, whom this reviewer seems to have some familiarity with, "All propaganda must be popular and its intellectual level must be adjusted to the most limited intelligence among those it is addressed to. Consequently, the greater the mass it is intended to reach, the lower its purely intellectual level will have to be." Several of these reviews marvelously illustrate this principle and shame on them for that. And good on the authors of Darwin's Nemesis, both advocates and opponents of ID, who seek a more reasoned approach.

As far as this book is concerned, it must have hit a raw nerve. One has to wonder what irrational opponents of Johnson and his thinking are so sensitive about. If Darwinism really does all that it claims, then it will survive if it is the fittest theory; if not, extinction is inevitable. Whatever happens, there is no place in a civilized society for the kind of hate-speech that a few reviewers clearly wish to substitute for rational arguments. Most appear to do this because they have not actually read the book, but simply hate Phillip Johnson.
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48 of 82 people found the following review helpful By Readalots on June 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
"Darwin's Nemesis" (2006), ed. William Dembski, is a compendium of various Intelligent Design (ID) authors and their "friendly critics". The paperback's 357 pages are dedicated to Phillip Johnson's 65th birthday. Johnson, a Berkeley Law Professor, is credited as the founder (in the early 1980s) and mentor (into the present) of the ID movement.

The book's 19 chapters, authored by many scientists and experts, are divided into six sections. From these biologists, physicists, lawyers, engineers, theologians, and chemists one discovers Darwinism's materialism (p. 35), naturalism's idolatry (p. 19), the weak evidence for evolution (p. 53), Neo-Darwinism's presumed atheism (p. 138), secular humanism (p. 119), and the same Neo-Darwinism's explanation for design (p. 199).

Readers learn that Christians should not ignore the fossil record while teaching evolution or creation (p. 129-130). The book poignantly points out that, while educating, science should never be divorced from the humanities (p. 124). ID proponents are coached (through chapter 5) on how to teach Intelligent Design, in the ways to attract new converts, and about anger management in the face of militant evolutionists (believed to be the vast majorities of educators and scientists). The authors are optimistic that ID will catch on with ensuing generations.

Perhaps the best part of this book is Dembski's definition for ID- "...intelligent design is not a religious doctrine about where everything came from but rather a scientific investigation into how patterns exhibited by finite arrangement of matter can signify intelligence" (p. 98). The most peculiar section of the book is Borges' four-page chapter 8, which attempts an evolution explanation through a set of curious stories.
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