39 of 51 people found the following review helpful
A solid and worthwhile read! (5 stars, actually),
This review is from: Doubts About Darwin: A History of Intelligent Design (Hardcover)
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."
The 1999 Kansas State Board of Education battle features so prominently in the early part of the book. It is true that this episode helped to give intelligent design theory and its main proponents much early publicity, but the main design proponents were not deeply involved in matters there. Leading proponents of design were much more active in the Ohio controversy of 2001-2002, which involved a more clear and careful approach to the teaching of Darwin's theory and a much more favorable result was ultimately obtained: while merely permitting local schools to include discussion of the theory of intelligent design, the State Board of Education adopted a benchmark requiring students to know why scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory.
In any case, this book is quite enjoyable and is recommended to readers. I initially gave this book 4 stars, but after further contemplation of the books merits and after following all of the accounts about the debates surrounding these issues, I have concluded that Woodward brings far more clarity to the issues at stake. At this point, I can only hope that Woodward will write a sequel, analyzing the history and main arguments presented by the anti-design crowd.