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Doubts about Darwin is a very objective book about the Intelligent Design Movement (ID). This work, a revision of the author's Ph.D. thesis completed at the University of South Florida, has much information that is not commonly known, such as many of the forerunners of the ID movement were atheists or agnostics. For example, the role of such people as Murray Eden (professor emeritus at MIT) and other ID forerunners such as Professor Michael Denton (p. 24) are discussed. Many excellent quotes are included that show the dogmatic attitude of the Darwinists, such as Gould's statement to Professor Johnson calling him (falsely) a creationist and then emotionally proclaiming "I've got to stop" your work, obviously by any means he can (p. 96). This is hardly the attitude of an objective scientist intent on searching for the truth about origins. Woodward, a college professor himself, documents the many unethical attacks by the so called science and university establishment against those who dare to question Darwin. Rarely are Darwin doubters given an opportunity to respond to attacks against them in the journals that published the attacks and, thus, few people have an objective understanding of the movement. Reading sections of this book at times made me ashamed to be a scientist. Woodward does note that many scientists have been objective and fair critics, even supportive of ID, such as University of Chicago Professor David Raup (I was a fan of his work long before I learned about his positive contribution's to ID). The book also tries to answer questions such as, why more and more people are having serious doubts about Darwinism, who they are, and why the ID movement is growing so fast. The motive for the growth of ID is clearly major "doubts about Darwinism" and the book covers these in some detail. Now what is needed is an objective book on ID by a professional historian.
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... One oft-repeated story is that all challenges to Darwinism are merely religiously motivated and hopelessly unscientific. Science is about objective facts. Religion is about subjective values. Darwinism is scientific. Challenges to Darwinism are not scientific and so have no place in any public institution. This standard story is being upended by lawyers, scientists, and philosophers who claim that Darwinism fails the tests of good science. These thinkers, who are neither theologians nor preachers, make up the Intelligent Design (ID) movement, which is chronicled in this important book written by a professor at Trinity College in Florida. Woodward's account shows that the problem with the template of "religion versus Darwin" is that it simply doesn't fit the ID movement, although many detractors try to insist otherwise. The founder of the movement, Phillip Johnson, was, until his recent retirement, a Professor of Law at the University of California at Berkeley. While on sabbatical in the late 1980s, he studied the scientific case for and against Darwinism and concluded that the empirical case for Darwinism was surprisingly weak. He then presented his findings at a symposium held through his law school and was further encouraged to pursue his criticism of Darwinism. As Woodward amply documents, the proponents of this movement-which include a biochemist (Michael Behe) as well as a philosopher of mathematics (William Dembski)-have "doubts about Darwin" based on their investigation of the empirical evidence. Proponents of ID argue that Darwinism lacks crucial evidence, begs important questions, and often caricatures alternatives unfairly. ...Read more ›
This book makes two important contributions to the contemporary Darwin vs. design controversy: 1) it chronicles the history of the growing acknowledgment of the scientific deficiencies of neo-Darwinian evolution and the rise of intelligent design theory, and 2) it also provides a unique, rhetorical analysis of the works of Michael Denton, Phillip Johnson, Michael Behe and William Dembski.
Whereas Larry Witham's recent book "By Design" takes a more neutral tone and extends his narrative to include debates over cosmic design, Dr. Thomas Woodward is more sympathetic with the arguments and ideas of the proponents of the theory of intelligent design, and his book focuses more narrowly upon the issue of biological evolution. But this in no way detract from the book's credibility and effectiveness. Rather, Woodward's work has much to its credit and any serious reader should evaluate the history and analysis he provides on the merits.
One need not have read the works of Denton, Johnson, Behe and Dembski to be able to follow Woodward's analysis, but a familiarity with the primary design proponents' books and arguments will enhance one's appreciation for the analysis he provides. Woodward also points out the importance of Charles Thaxton and his ideas for the development of intelligent design theory, and likewise provides readers with a concise introduction to rhetoric of science as an important intellectual field.
If I had to be picky, I would say that this book is not entirely clear about the fact that there are critics of neo-Darwinian evolution, such as David Berlinski, whom one may not necessarily consider to be a proponent of intelligent design theory. Such a skeptic of Darwin might be more properly considered to be outside of the "Intelligent Design Movement.Read more ›
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