- Paperback: 558 pages
- Publisher: Discovery Institute Press; 1st edition (February 1, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0979014123
- ISBN-13: 978-0979014123
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 37 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #774,233 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Deniable Darwin and Other Essays Paperback – February 1, 2010
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He is fond of applying Occam’s razor and when he sees scientific explanations which stretch credulity and stretch the known facts he will point out that the simplest and most economical explanation may well be that God did it. Like many physicists, he is skeptical of biology as a science, reminding biologists that the phenomena which they study must be reduced, ultimately, to the realities of physics. This helps position him as a critic of Darwin. On the one hand you have the mathematics of quantum mechanics working out to a dozen+ decimal places, on the other gaps in the fossil record, the Cambrian explosion, and other underminers of confidence. The fact that contemporary atheists like Dawkins and Dennett lean heavily on Darwin (and have personality traits which offend Berlinski) make them a special target of his ire.
The book consists of a series of essays which principally appeared in Commentary (an unscientific, non peer-reviewed journal, his critics are quick to add). Some (including “The Deniable Darwin” and “Has Darwin Met His Match?”) have elicited a flood of strong, critical rejoinders. The book reprints them and then includes Berlinski’s response to his critics. The book is fascinating if for no other reason than that it provides an insight into the nature of scientific discourse and the fact that it can reduce to ad hominem attack just as easily as it can concern points of fact.
I must confess that I am unable to offer a professional judgment on much of the book. While trained in the history of science I lack the mathematics (one chapter, e.g., is almost completely mathematical) to follow Berlinski’s arguments, though they nearly always contain humorous elements, as when he positions monkeys at typewriters and provides the actual statistical possibilities that they could write six English words in sequence, much less write a Shakespearean sonnet.
As surprising as this might sound, the book has an internal rhythm to it which is captivating. There are narrative arcs and bona fide suspense everywhere. Though it consists of over 550 pp. and is filled with technical material I could really not put it down. The book will be maddening to some, reassuring to others. The one thing it will not be is dull.
Those who are committed Darwinists through and through can't say enough negative things about Berlinski which is regrettable because regardless of one's point of view, this man is clearly as intelligent as they come. It's a bit unreasonable too, as he is an atheist who was nominally Jewish growing up. His criticisms aren't faith based, they are genuine, sincere, scientific, and legitimate.
I found him to be an honest broker, as well. He pulls no punches criticizing Darwin and evolution then turns right around and gives intelligent design a big black eye. Like a good umpire in a baseball game, Berlinski just "calls 'em as he sees 'em." I found myself mostly agreeing with him as I've long thought the proponents of evolution have built a veritable phalanx of support around a theory which they claim really isn't a theory any more but a proven fact. Anyone asking questions or raising doubts is descended upon with a vengeance which defies explanation unless one takes into account more than the scientific and considers the philosophical. The neo-Darwinian synthesis has huge, gaping holes in it and asking questions about them isn't an attempt to fill them with a "God of the gaps" kind of wishful thinking.
All in all this was a superb (if challenging) read for anyone interested in taking an open, honest look at what is generically termed "evolution."
Great Work Mr.Berlinski! Thank you so much for dedicating much of your time to this subject, personally I appreciate it very much.