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Signs of Intelligence: Understanding Intelligent Design Paperback – March 1, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Citing inspiration from Quintilian's maxim, "Write not so that you can be understood but so that you cannot be misunderstood," Dembski and Kushiner have assembled a collection of judicious and eloquent essays representing the often-misunderstood intelligent design movement. Contributors include prominent Darwin-doubters Phillip Johnson, Michael Behe and Stephen Meyer, together with a stable of scientists and philosophers associated with the Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture, which Meyer directs. Part I of the collection focuses on introducing intelligent design concepts and addressing general philosophical objections; Part II (composing about two-thirds of the book) includes more technical issues and examples of how design comes into play in scientific subfields such as cosmology, developmental biology and information theory. This collection reflects a maturing movement that is aware of its critics, more focused in its goals and mindful of the need to communicate its message to a nonspecialist audience even as it appeals for a hearing in the scientific community. Although Brazos is promoting the book within "science and faith" and "apologetics" categories, these essays promote intelligent design as a scientific research program rather than as a religious doctrine, and only a few call attention to the theological implications or underpinnings of design. Religious issues are actually de-emphasized by most of the contributors, who express frustration at being dismissed as "creationists" by critics in the scientific community. (Mar.)
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

William Dembski is a mathematician and philosopher, as well as editor of Mere Creation and author of The Design Inference. James Kushiner is editor of Touchstone magazine.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Brazos Press; 1St Edition edition (March 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1587430045
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587430046
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,201,838 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

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Discovery Reviewer on June 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
Signs of Intelligence is a collection of essays from various scholars of the intelligent design movement who are explaining the precise meaning of the scientific theory of intelligent design. When the NCSE reviewed this book, they called it "aimless." A more accurate description would have been "threatening a wide variety of disciplines behind the curtain of Darwinism."

Mathematician and philosopher William Dembski opens the book by clearing up a common misconception by explaining that intelligent design does not necessarily mean "optimal design" (Also, see The Privileged Planet for a discussion of the concept of constrained optimization). Law professor Phillip Johnson proposes that science has adopted an inherently "materialist" model where explanations can never be non-material causes. Alternatively, Johnson suggests that science adopt a strictly "empirical" model, which uses the scientific method of hypothesis and experimentation but does not limit its answers to naturalistic causes.

Michael Behe proposes some novel examples of irreducible complexity. Namely, the cell's protein transport system contains a number of macromolecules, all of which are necessarily simply to get a protein to its correct destination in the cell. This irreducibly complex system reveals deeper levels of complexity in protein transport and assemblage, beyond mere proper irreducible complexity in protein functionality. Similarly, Stephen Meyer argues that the specified complexity in DNA, combined with the inability of natural explanation to explain the origin of life, imply that design is the best explanation.
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47 of 61 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 30, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm not a scientist, but Intelligent Design (ID) has caught my attention. There was the article in the Wall Street Journal about the tenured full professor at San Frans. State U. who was pulled mid-semester from teaching the biology intro. course because he spent a single session presenting views such as ID that challenged the reigning Neo-Darwinian dogma. There was the fury I heard on NPR over Phillip Johnson's *Darwin on Trial.* There was Dembski's dismissal from his post at Baylor U. for inviting non-Darwinian speakers to a academic forum on the origins of life.
Why were so many folks so emotionally opposed to a handful of scientists who are finding compelling eveidence for God's fingerprint in nature?
I've now read a few of these ID books now and am very impressed. This latest work is a very fine introduction. The contributors are all top-drawer thinkers (Dembksi has a Ph.D. from U. of Chicago in Math. and a 2nd Ph.D. from Univ. of Illinois in the philosophy of science, along with masters in hard sciences and theology; Michael Behe has a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Penn and is a full professor at Lehigh U; Phillip Johnson is a logician who is a chaired, full prof. at Berkeley and clerked for the chief justice of the US Supreme Court; Stephen Meyer has his Ph.D. from Cambridge; Jonathan Wells has a Ph.D. from yale in history of science and another from Berkeley in biology, etc. etc.) These are extrememly well-trained, sharp folks, from a variety of backgrounds and fields. But the essays are, for the most part, very accessible to laypersons, like myself.
I enjoyed every one of the pieces in this book, but especially Jay W. Richards' (Ph.D. Princeton Seminary) and Dembskis'.
Whatever your views on this subject, I would urge you to read this book and see what all the fuss is about.
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29 of 37 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 10, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are a free thinker, this book is an outstanding introduction to ID. Most of the poor reviews are more of a reflection of the personal biases of the reviewers than the book they are reviewing.
In fact, at least two reviewers incorrectly assert that this book attempts to discredit modern molecular biology. This book does nothing of the sort. In fact, this book presents a number of well-reasoned arguments that neo-evolutionary theory is inconsistent with some contemporary observations of molecular biology, in no way do the authors assert to discredit molecular biology.
If you are open minded and willing to confront science honestly then you will find this book interesting and intelligent, even if in the final analysis you do not agree with its conclusions.
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92 of 130 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 3, 2002
Format: Paperback
A previous reviewer mused:
"this book makes no sense, and cannot answer the fundamental logical inconsistency of the creationist argument. if coherence in structure in design presupposes a creator, who then created the structure of this creator? there then must have been a higher upper creator, who in turn must have had a creator, ad infinitum. if you are a creationist you will love this book, otherwise it is a waste of time."
Evidently, the book was not read. Dr. Dembski (editor) and the contributing works detail and critique the logical and structrual evidence of design and information extant in the universe.
The response of the "reviewer" quoted above expresses [a] that the book was not read, else why not address at least *some* of its content (or essential thesis), and [b] he or she was simply expressing their ignorance of the issues and of basic theology.
Modern science is in essential agreement that the universe has not always existed--it had a *beginning*, even time itself is said to have come "into being" at some specific point in the past.
Theology does not argue that God--the "Intelligent Designer"--merely preceded the universe, but that the Intelligent Designer is transcendent to it and is eternal. As such, his question is a non sequitor; it is illogical and pointless to ask, "who made this eternal uncreated intelligent being?"
An eternal, uncreated designer does not have a beginning or a creator. The "reviewer" is confused and confusing the categories of a infinite necessary being and a finite contigent being. This is a very low level, hack objection, but, sadly, we do still hear it from time to time.
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