Customer Review

36 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lucid and Insightful, Nice Compilation, March 14, 2009
This review is from: Questions of Truth: Fifty-one Responses to Questions About God, Science, and Belief (Paperback)
I was also at the AAAS launch of this book, and purchased my own (autographed) copy. It was also a pleasure to meet and speak in person with the authors in the exposition booth. When I asked a question during the formal launch session, Dr. Polkinghorne gave an insightful answer. What a great way to launch a book. Kudos!
Regarding the content, I have found many of the ideas and opinions to be stimulating and insightful, and the prose lucid. It is clear that that the authors have subjected each chapter to multiple editing passes, the product being concise prose and clear metaphors. And in a book like this, I find that it is less important whether or not one agrees with the author(s), and more important that the ideas and rationale are clearly stated.
I admit that I was a bit disappointed by the discussion of Intelligent Design. The authors seem to have accepted and reiterated the caricature promoted by its critics. The other sections seem to reflect more time in original thought.
On the whole, for a scientist and Christian in the middle of my life journey, it is a pleasure for me to consider the careful opinions and conclusions of individuals who have tread so much of the ground I enjoy trekking.
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Showing 1-10 of 17 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 22, 2009 8:10:32 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Apr 14, 2010 1:29:55 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 11, 2009 5:34:48 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 11, 2009 5:36:35 AM PDT
D. G. Frank says:
1) Actually, many of my students are certified geniuses, and are accepted into the finest schools and science programs in the country/world, such as Cal Tech, Mudd, MIT, Univ Chicago, and several others.
2) Further, I attended graduate school in Calif (and qualified for my PhD early in the UC system), and I have taught in the Calif Univ system as well, so I am qualified to comment on it. Most of my students are over-qualified for it.

Sadly, I have watched California schools degrade academically over the last 20 years. So I was not surprised when a recent study (published in Science) showed that California public schools are now some of the worst performing in the country.

It is exactly this sort of political-correctness and close-mindedness that leads to the poorest educations.

And just what are your credentials? What makes you qualified to comment on science and science education? Your anonymity?

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 11, 2009 4:28:16 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Apr 14, 2010 1:28:04 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 11, 2009 7:48:18 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 11, 2009 7:54:32 PM PDT
D. G. Frank says:
Answer my question. What are your credentials? I am not arguing from authority, but from experience. I am wondering what experience or training you have that would lead you to such a shallow, yet strong opinion. Also, knowing the context of your experience could deepen our discussion (please). For example, if you were a biologist, we could biology examples; if a lawyer, legal ones.

I am a PhD scientist with dozens of publications in refereed journals. I also mentor some of the most gifted science students in the country. I tell you this, not because it means that I am correct regarding issues of science (i.e. argument from authority), but to demonstrate that I am knowledgeable and experienced in the areas of which I am writing. My opinion is informed and credible. So far, you have given me no reason to respect your opinion.

1) You've admitted to accepting the silly straw man stereotype of ID, and
2) You've admitted to refusing to become informed so that you can address the more rigorous definitions analytically and rationally.

By your own admission, then, you have chosen a shallow position, chosen to remain ignorant concerning it, and then spout off about it.

Hmmmm. Not my style.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 12, 2009 5:47:57 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Apr 14, 2010 1:27:58 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 12, 2009 3:46:11 PM PDT
D. G. Frank says:
Ok. Let' take these one at a time:
1) Experience/Credentials: Of course, both are relevant to the discussion. The point is, I am not ignorant of science, and have degrees and experience to support my credibility. And you?

1b) 'Bluffing.' Bluffing about what?

2) 'you are not a biologist.' Actually, I've performed biophysical research under NIH grants, published papers on biological systems, and taught biology classes for years. However, 'Biology' is not the only area in which ID has laid claim. Monton thinks that biology is actually a weaker arena to discuss ID than cosmology/astronomy. Of course you would know this if you were aware of the most rigorous thinking concerning the fine-tuning argument.

3) Scientific consensus. I have no intention of overthrowing the scientific consensus. Besides, science is not a democracy, anyway.

4) 'Hint.' This keeps coming up. I would like to try to give you a hint. Would you please be more specific?

5) Predictions of ID as science. This weekend, an intellectually honest friend of mine asked me the same question. We only had a moment, so I replied that string-theory is unverifiable and untestable (as conceded by those theorists actually working on it). Does this mean we should not even think about it?

But are there experiments, predictions, and tests that can be performed in ID research? Of course. Off hand, I cannot think of any experiments that would be precluded by simply allowing for the possibility of intelligent action in any given system. So, why omit possible explanations beforehand? Take the example of panspermia, for instance. Why would one exclude the possibility of an extra-terrestrial source for even portions of biological information, such as from a comet? If you are restricted to evolution mechanism which occur solely on Earth, then because of your a priori bias against the introduction of information you might easily miss an important piece of the puzzle. Don't limit the possible outcomes of an investigation before you start it. Let the data guide you to the best explanation.

Are there predictions? Of course. For example:
a) I investigate the scene of an apparent murder. If I do not find evidence of a murder, then perhaps the death was a random accident, and I would expect to find confirming evidence to that effect. However, if I find evidence of intelligent agency (such as a fingerprint, or DNA evidence), then I would predict that we will catch the murderer. Sure enough, I find a fingerprint, and we catch the 'intelligent' criminal.
b) I find a computer disc full of computer code. How did it get like this? Do I predict that the code happened randomly, or due to the action of an intelligent programmer? Clearly, we associate the presence of information with the action of an intelligent agent. So, I predict that if I investigate the code carefully, I may discover clues as to the identity of a designer (programmer). Sure enough, it was me.
c) I find an arrowhead in the dirt. Was it randomly fashioned by erosion, or is it the product of intelligent action? If the product of intelligent action, then I predict that I will discover other artifacts in the vicinity. I search and find them, verifying my hypothesis based upon intelligent design of the arrowhead.

etc., etc. Now a biological example:
d) I find information in the chromosomes of a fertilized ovum sufficient to develop a new person. Did it get there randomly, or as a consequence of some random, undirected process? I look into it, and discover a plethora of intricate systems that work together in remarkable ways. Clearly, a couple has chosen to have a family. The fertilized ovum is the consequence of deliberate action by intelligent agents. Chromosomes have not just assembled randomly from a vat of randomly arranged amino acids composed of a randomly distributed mixture of elements. There is intricacy and order. If this vast array of intricacy and order were an accident, then I would expect to be overwhelmed with vast evidence of all the similar, but non-functional or marginally-functional statistical misses. If information had been introduced by an intelligent agent, then I would expect to find large increases in complexity over short amounts of time. Predictions, with the ability to falsify hypotheses. Of course, I allude to the Cambrian Explosion, which Darwin admitted was a huge problem for his theory, and where Gould embraced as an example where Neo-Darwinists have lost their way.

There are also examples in cosmology/astronomy but I will leave that discussion to Monton. He's done an excellent job.

Now, it is time for dinner. Perhaps afterwards I will read Allister McGrath's new book. It just arrived. Of course, I'll let you know how it comes out.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 12, 2009 4:48:22 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Apr 14, 2010 1:27:57 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 13, 2009 6:36:49 AM PDT
D. G. Frank says:
- I am not changing the subject, nor bluffing. And you still haven't given me a hint of your credentials.
- You were limiting the ID discussion to biology, which is incorrect. There are many areas of science where the notions of ID could be scientifically important, including cosmology, astronomy, archaeology, for a short list.
- I gave some examples where human intelligent agency led to recognizable effects so that you could understand the need to leave open the possibility of intelligent action in a given system of study.
- Scientific tests. How would one test if a rock in the shape of arrowhead were formed by human hands or by natural processes? To assume only natural processes at the outset would be a mistake.
- Scientific tests. How would one know whether all or some of the information in our DNA found its origin solely from Earth? To preclude the possibility of panspermia may lead to incorrect conclusions.
- Scientific tests. Many accepted areas of science as a practical matter assume working hypotheses which are not rigorously testable or falsifiable. I am not saying that there are not testable predictions of ID (I've listed a few above), but let's play fair. Are you equally critical of all areas of science? I doubt it. David Hume would have a few things to say to you.
- Yes, I've seen Darwin's Dilemma (because I choose to be informed by the source rather than by the shallow caricatures painted by the opponents). I'm still thinking about it, and have not reviewed it. There is no question that the Cambrian Explosion poses a significant problem for the current paradigm of neo-darwinism. I've been reading articles for decades in the scientific literature which explicitly state this. In other words, this is not my opinion, this is a matter of scientific record.
- Who said I had anything new to offer? You seem unwilling to consider what has already been offered...I encourage you to read and respond to the sources, not the shallow caricatures of them.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 13, 2009 1:50:04 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Apr 14, 2010 1:27:55 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 13, 2009 9:15:34 PM PDT
D. G. Frank says:
- You continue to miss the point, incorrectly insisting that ID requires a creator. Remember Monton's book? He is an atheist, and he evaluates many ID arguments that have nothing to do with a supernatural entity. Dude, you are missing the fun stuff!
- At least we know who you are now, 'a defender of the faith..." in scientific materialism. Of course this is not science. As Einstein put it, "Any scientist who believes his own theory ceases to be a scientist."
- Do they charge you offerings at your church?
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