- Hardcover: 296 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press (January 8, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195161998
- ISBN-13: 978-0195161991
- Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 1.1 x 5.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 26 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,759,304 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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God, the Devil, and Darwin: A Critique of Intelligent Design Theory
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University professor Shanks is an impassioned defender of evolution. He is animated by the progress he believes evolution's critics are making in injecting creationism into American society, particularly into schools. His opponents' recent books, rarely reviewed in the press, provide Shanks' sounding board here, especially titles by Phillip E. Johnson, Michael Behe, and William Dembski. Collectively, they are the leading lights of the so-called intelligent-design theory, which front-rank Darwinist Richard Dawkins, in the foreword, indicts as "pernicious nonsense which needs to be neutralized before irreparable damage is done to American education." Although Dawkins may be crediting intelligent-design advocates with undue influence, Shanks zealously prosecutes the case against them. He focuses on their main precepts, such as claims that biochemistry possesses an "irreducible complexity" and, therefore, a nonmaterial component, or that thermodynamics refutes evolution. For communities with curriculum concerns about creationism versus evolution. Gilbert Taylor
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"A cogent and well-argued alarum.... Shanks deftly skewers the scientific pretensions of intelligent design creationists."--Science
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This book is almost a must read for anyone interested in learning more about the debate between ID and non-theistic Naturalism, regardless of their position in this debate. Shanks was an avowed atheist and a person deeply concerned with the intrusion of non-science into the teaching of science in the schools. He had a brilliant, analytical mind. As an occasional recipient of his ire as a colleague at East Tennessee State I can testify that he was also a passionate advocate in his defense of what he regarded as the valid approach to science. All of God, The Devil and Darwin reflects these aspects of Shanks' beliefs and personality.
He wrote in the Preface to this 2004 book, "A culture war is currently being waged in the United States by religious extremists who hope to turn the clock of science back to medieval times... The chief weapon in this war is a version of creation science known as intelligent design theory... The proponents of intelligent design are openly pursuing what they call a wedge strategy. First, get intelligent design taught alongside the natural sciences... [then the wedge] can be driven ever deeper to transform ... the educational enterprise itself into a system more open with respect to its aim of religious instruction... At the fat end of the wedge lurks the spectre of a fundamentalist Christian theocracy. This book, however, is about the thin edge of the wedge: supernatural science. Ultimately, it is about two basic questions: Is intelligent design theory a scientific theory? Is there any credible evidence to support its claims?" (Pg. xi-xii)
He adds, "My own experience with creationism... goes back to 1996, when I had the pleasure of engaging in a public debate with Duane Gish [e.g., Evolution: The Challenge of the Fossil Record]... Teaching evolutionary biology in one of the Bible Belt's many buckles, I have had many close classroom encounters with ideas derived from creationism and ... intelligent design theory... Intelligent design theory represents... a serious challenge to the outlook of modern science itself. This is a challenge that needs to be taken seriously and not dismissed." (Pg. xii) He further adds, "I must be blunt with you. I am an atheist, and by this I mean that I am someone who does not believe that there is any credible evidence to support belief in the existence of God." (Pg. 14)
He recounts that "Where others saw intelligent, beneficent design, Darwin saw misery... and he evidently struggled with it, as can be seen in ... remarks to his friend Asa Gray... 'I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent God would have designedly ... [intended] that a cat should play with mice. Not believing this, I see no necessity in the belief that the eye was expressly designed. On the other hand, I cannot anyhow be contented to view this wonderful universe, and especially the nature of man, and to conclude that everything is the result of brute force." (Pg. 53)
He argues, "The motivation behind the intelligent design movement is to justify the claim that there is evidence for a supernatural designer indistinguishable from the God of Christianity---not some idolatrous Hindu deity, not some incompetent, stupid, supernatural bungler, and not some evil manufacturer of torture devices." (Pg. 157) Later, he adds, "Intelligent design theorist William Dembski [e.g., Intelligent Design] believes that the design and creation of the universe was done with a spoken word... Where is the evidence? That it is in the Bible is no guarantee that it even makes coherent sense, let alone is a candidate for truth or falsity." (Pg. 213)
This book (which has a Foreword by Richard Dawkins ]) will be of great interest to critics of Intelligent Design (or even to proponents, looking at both sides of the issue).