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5.0 out of 5 stars Rational 'spin' unspun: An overview of the evidence for ID, June 3, 2008
This review is from: Intelligent Design 101: Leading Experts Explain the Key Issues (Paperback)
For those seeking more familiarity regarding the 'evolution war', this is a good place to start. This overview of the evidence encapsulates key points that are often overlooked or debunked by critics, and presents evidence to back the claims of ID, which state that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, rather than an undirected process such as natural selection." Unfortunately, them's fightin' words. How so? A Darwinian world view now dominates the classroom, funding organizations, the popular press, and even the courts. Some say that to question certain tenets neoDarwinism (NDE), is to attack science. It's stated here that quite possibly the reverse is true. So how has this debate come to be, progressed, and as of late, stumbled? This book will help bring you up to date.

Phillip Johnson briefly chronicles the unfolding of the debate in recent times, and of the formation of organizations that opposed the Darwinian basic premise of natural causation. Many of these groups fought among themselves as well, over religious differences. Scientists, then and now, point to those motives as the reason for their opposition to NDE. True to an extent, but today's opposition is more science based, as Johnson points out.

To summarize the political nature of the ongoing engagement, he discusses the court cases, then goes on to define his current 'wedge strategy', defining it as a wedge of truth, rather than religion as some critics have defined it.

J.P. Moreland stresses philosophical issues, not that philosophy is necessarily germane to science, but because science uses philosophical arguments, and uses them improperly to refute Intelligent Design. He goes on to discuss at length predictions, explanatory power, either empirical or conceptual, and if conceptual, internal or external (where an external, rational belief need be considered), and so on.

Moreland's entire thesis, I would say, are critiques of what is testable, what is not, what is rational, or what might be considered circular reasoning, and the pros and cons of various ways to assess the evidence. Given the constraints that are imposed on scientific consensus, he makes an excellent case that changes in the progression of biologic systems can be more logically explained by intervention, i.e. Intelligent Design, and can thus be supported.

Casey Luskin discusses the dilemma of finding Intelligent Design in nature, and does so on many fronts, most interesting perhaps, the study of DNA and its complexity. It is often stated that there are no peer reviewed articles attesting to design, a teleological inference, and yet Luskin cites a recent article in Cell Biology International, explaining that such a form of integrated complexity [DNA coding] could not arise by natural processes, regardless of how much time is allowed. Another paper cited challenges Darwinian mechanisms, ascribing the requirement of "large quantities of prescriptive information", and that "[it] requires 'choice contingency' rather than 'chance contingency' or necessity." The foundational evolutionary principal of chance and/or necessity is hereby effectively challenged, and in a peer review journal.

Several other topics make this chapter one of the best I've seen for explaining ID, and how it is logically placed within biosystems. Micromachines are discussed, including the cellular flagellum, and rather than being 'unspun', as biologist Kenneth Miller has stated in a 2004 paper, "it is still spinning just fine" (a quote from Wm. Dembski's response to the paper, with input from Casey Luskin). Is co-option of multi-use proteins, along with horizontal or lateral transfer adequate to explain how totally new cell machinery arises? In this chapter, the arguments and counterarguments are well summarized.

Biosystematics, the study of taxonomic relationships, how they arose, and how they function is discussed at length (~ ten pages) to conclude the chapter. Transitional forms, morphological patterns, isolation, convergence, extinction, punctuated equilibrium are discussed, and you should come away with an excellent overview of both sides, and their relative merits. My take: Adaptive evolution may well be a 'designed in' function.

Michael Behe takes on irreducible complexity, the eye, the flagellum, and the clotting system. Although Darwinist defenders like to claim that the eye evolved from a light sensitive patch, an evolved cup, an evolved retinal surface, a pinhole lense to a variable refractive lense, and with aiming, focusing, and focal length adjusters thrown in, and to postulate these changes occurred through natural selection of genetic mistakes, Michael disagrees. While not touching on all of these areas, he cogently deflates the patch to a matrix cup fallacy. His description of the highly complex light detecting process, shows that it is sophistry to conflate vision with a purported ascendant light sensitive patch, merely because these crude forms exist in nature.

To conclude, he discusses the blood clotting cascade, and Russell Doolittle's counter augments, based on a case study of mice which lacked two of the needed clotting factors. Doolittle's claim was that removal of those two factors was not harmful to the host, showed evidence of redundancy in the process, and pointed to random causation. Behe argues for IC, discredits Doolittle's conclusions, and pokes fun at a copy and paste article by Michael Ruse regarding Doolittle's case study.

The concluding essays by Jay Richards and Eddie Colanter cover the philosophical, theological and historical aspects of man's view of himself and of nature, and do it effectively. The final chapter by Wayne House delves into legal issues that will continue to confront the ID movement. Also included is 'A Reply to Francis Collins' Darwinian Arguments for Common Ancestry of Apes and Humans', by Casey Luskin and Logan Gage. Forty pages of footnote references are also included.

I would classify this book as recommended reading for anyone new to the subject, as well as for journalists, pundits and literary critics who will benefit by gaining a more honest and objective overview of the basics, than from most of what's out there currently in the popular press.
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Showing 1-10 of 16 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 7, 2008 11:21:12 AM PDT
Mr. Bowman:
Unfortunately, it is clear you read the book before reviewing it. You should be expelled. This practice violates the high reviewing standards that have been set for books like these by John Kwok, Tim Beazley, Carl Flygare and others who already know the topic so well they don't have to read before writing their predictable one star "reviews." I recommend that everyone click the "report this" button on your review. Reading books before they are reviewed may in fact be a violation of Amazon's policy.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 11, 2008 3:46:23 PM PDT
Fritz,

Read or unread, the swallowing and regurgitating of so many fallacies by a reviewer does not a five-star make.

Would you like to start counting them? We'll start with the fraud of "Darwinian world view".

How does one count "sides" in discussing the long panorama of life?

the bunyip

Posted on Jun 18, 2008 11:08:47 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 18, 2008 11:10:04 AM PDT
Would the reviewer also suggest that the newest school board in Dover, MD read the book so that they can recommend changes in curriculum for the next school year and prepare for the next court case?
How about Federal judges? Would they benefit from the book as well?
When you say 'evolution war', don't you really mean religion's crusade against science in the U.S.? And even after a defeat in the court isn't clear the book serves as a kind of self-help motivator to get the apologetics back on their feet for the next round?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 19, 2008 3:21:31 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 19, 2008 3:33:57 AM PDT
Lee Bowman says:
"Would the reviewer also suggest that the newest school board in Dover, MD read the book so that they can recommend changes in curriculum for the next school year and prepare for the next court case?"

I've been doing that for months now, and they never respond to my emails! ;-(

Now James, wound I really do that? Actually, that's my 'Colbert style' answer. Given the magnitude of the issue today, and the big guns on the evolution side, I'd recommend that school boards stay within state and federal guidelines, as it probably should have been all along.

I don't view the current academic quagmire as a 'religion vs. science' issue, although at one time, and only in a few isolated instances, has that been the case in the past. Despite vociferous protests over being allowed to question scientific theories in classrooms, I see it as inevitable that that will become the norm.

And I predict that the central issue will distill down to the question of teleology in the progression of biosystems, aye or nay. It's a question that's been around since the beginning of man's cognitive ability. It's more heated now than ever before for two reasons: 1) The evidence of extreme complexity that has been revealed, and continues to unfold, and 2) The availability of that evidence to not only the lay populous, but to the upcoming scientists.

Those with a penchant for knowledge in that area will not wait for college to delve into it, but will freely access it via the Internet. Some may even begin doing their own research independently. This will produce a quandary for the professors; i.e. how to deal with it, and it won't be easy. It will actually be disruptive, and may elicit changes in the way knowledge is dispensed in the classroom, and possible changes in the grading system.

I view it as a vastly new 'enlightenment' era. In the past, periods like that have been more of *imposed* knowledge eras, and whether by church or by science, done by indoctrination. Not so today, since the Internet will offer all opposing points of view, and supporting evidences for those varied views. Barring governments becoming regulators of what can be readily accessed (like China), we may be seeing a new enlightenment era, and like none of the prior ones. It will be interesting to see what develops.

But back to the issue of naturalistic or guided evolution. Much to the chagrin of science, today there is actually more evidence for the latter. Attacking organized monotheistic religions, and yes, they are vulnerable to attack due to the nature of their 'revealed' tenets, and the paucity of any empirical evidences to support them, has become a 'straw man' attack. The focus has shifted to 'evidences', rather than attempts to impose dogma.

I'll make a prediction: The purely naturalistic evolutionary paradigm will continue to be challenged, and may well be falsified. Evidence supports that prediction, but we'll see... And no, it won't be school boards (OR courts) that will determine that outcome.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 22, 2008 11:35:50 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Sep 29, 2008 9:47:50 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2008 10:22:31 AM PDT
Lee: "But back to the issue of naturalistic or guided evolution. Much to the chagrin of science, today there is actually more evidence for the latter. "

Hmmm.... Tell us about that evidence, would you Lee? I am unfamiliar with it. What I am aware of are the naked assertions by ID creationists that X,Y, or Z appear to be too complex to have arisen by natural means, therefore, goddidit. Is that what you call evidence, or is there something more to ID that you'd like to tell us about?

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2008 1:13:45 PM PDT
Mary Endress says:
C'mon, David,

Asking a creationist to provide EVIDENCE is cruel and unusual punishment! I mean, geez, just look at an eye. It's so OBVIOUS that it must be designed, right? What more evidence do you need? It's got God's touch written all over it.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2008 7:12:57 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 4, 2008 7:16:03 PM PDT
RR says:
Fritz,
Name one thing Behe asserts in his book that isn't a rehash of his old stuff. Name anything in the book that isn't available for free on the internet. Why should I pay money for a book that supports ID dishonesty? I wouldn't pay money to read Chariots of the Gods either as it is obviously full of wrong and misleading information.

"predictable one star reviews". They are predictable, because ID's misrepresentations and abject failure to actually conduct research to support any of their assertions is predictable.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 5, 2008 7:51:56 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 5, 2008 8:59:13 AM PDT
Lee: "It is often stated that there are no peer reviewed articles attesting to design, a teleological inference, and yet Luskin cites a recent article in Cell Biology International, explaining that such a form of integrated complexity [DNA coding] could not arise by natural processes, regardless of how much time is allowed. "

That article, by Trevors and Abel (2004), is an opinion piece, not a peer-reviewed research article, but nice try.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15563395?ordinalpos=3&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

Moreover, the article is about the origin of life, DNA, and the genetic code, not about the evolution of species. This, as everyone recognizes, and as distinct from the widely accepted mechanism of speciation, is a scientifically open issue. There is no generally accepted mechanism by which life is thought to have arisen on the planet.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 5, 2008 10:43:37 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 5, 2008 10:59:33 AM PDT
RR says:
Lee,
Bowen:"Luskin cites a recent article in Cell Biology International, explaining that such a form of integrated complexity [DNA coding] could not arise by NATURAL PROCESSES (my emphasis), regardless of how much time is allowed."

Either you or Luskin are misrepresenting the article by saying Trevor et. al. excluded all possible Natural Processes. What they said was that chance and necessity are inadequate and that cybernetic optimization is not seen in nature and we only know of optimization through cybernetic mechanisms. Therefore, they called for new approaches to research.

"The foundational evolutionary principal of chance and/or necessity is hereby effectively challenged, and in a peer review journal."

So, what we have is simply a straw man. No one said that the NDE processes of Natural Selection (necessity) and mutation (chance) extends to the origins of life. Trevor et. al also did not exclude chance and necessity from playing any role whatsoever (if so, please provide the quotation). It was or is simply a reasonable basis for initial research into the origins of life. Further, if we found intelligent cause for the origins of life, it would not affect the foundations of NDE, unless it was shown how the intelligence affected otherwise stochastic mutations.

The fact is that evidence of Design doesn't turn on establishing the limitations of NDE, using NDE as a proxy for all natural causes known and unknown, misrepresenting what has been published, nor in using straw man arguments to apply theories where they are not applicable. These are the deep intellectual flaws of the ID movement and why it is so poorly regarded.

What would be interesting is for DI's fellows to actually produce work (God forbid) that show in fact optimization is required as Trevor et. al assert and can in fact only be accomplished through artificial means. However, as I understand from DL's post, Luskin seems happy to rest on his arguments from authority based on Op Ed pieces. LOL.
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