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Science v. Religion? Intelligent Design and the Problem of Evolution 1st Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0745641225
ISBN-10: 0745641229
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Editorial Reviews


"A balanced, detailed and well-presented introduction to all aspects of the argument."

Father John-Paul Sheridan, Sunday Business Post

"An engaging book. It will provide fuel for Fuller’s critics who have accused him of 'pomo science' (postmodern science); energize ID theorists in their efforts to 'widen the wedge'; and serve food for thought for those still sitting 'on the fence' between ID and mainstream science. These are marks of a good book."

Science in Christian Perspective

“Steve Fuller’s book is a philosophic and historical tour de force. I know no other book that provides such a balanced, timely, in-depth, account of the historical and philosophic origins and affiliations of contemporary Intelligent Design (ID) and Darwinism. Each chapter is informative, sharply analytic, provocative, probing, witty and superbly written. The historical roots of modern science in ID thinking that Fuller traces will be a much-needed eye-opener to many and a wholesome antidote to the historical amnesia that characterizes most contemporary discussion of the scientific status of ID and of Darwinian theory.”

John Angus Campbell, Memphis State University

“Whether you are outraged by ‘Intelligent Design’ theory or annoyed by the attacks on it, Fuller’s book is an indispensable guide to the controversy. He manages to not only supply the intellectual context, showing how much of this debate is traditional and how much is new, but makes clear what is reasonable on both sides, and why the debate matters so much to us.”

William Keith, University of Wisconsin

From the Back Cover

For centuries, science and religion have been portrayed as diametrically opposed. In this provocative new book, Steve Fuller examines the apparent clash between science and religion by focusing on the heated debates about evolution and intelligent design theory. In so doing, he claims that science vs. religion is in fact a false dichotomy. For Fuller, supposedly intellectual disputes, such as those between creationist and evolutionist accounts of life, often disguise other institutionally driven conflicts, such as the struggle between State and Church to be the source of legitimate authority in society.

Nowadays many conservative anti-science groups support intelligent design theory, but Fuller argues that the theory's theological roots are much more radical, based on the idea that humans were created to fathom the divine plan, perhaps even complete it. He goes on to examine the unique political circumstances in the United States that make the emergence of intelligent design theory so controversial, yet so persistent. Finally, he considers the long-term prognosis, arguing that the future remains very much undecided as society reopens the question of what it means to be human.

This book will appeal to all readers intrigued by the debates about creationism, intelligent design and evolution, especially those looking for an intellectually exciting confrontation with the politics and promise of intelligent design theory.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Polity; 1 edition (October 8, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745641229
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745641225
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,489,033 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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As a sociology major, I really appreciated Fuller's book. As a humanist, I think he really gives an objective look at the false dichotomy between religion and science, and gives intelligent design theory the respect it deserves. After reading the book I walked away with a better understanding of the relationship that coincides between science and religion. To my astonishment, religion was the paradigm that made science such a successful pursuit. The theist used science to understand the mind of God, where science was useless for the materialist, because life was ultimately meaningless. If it was not for the theist, Darwin wouldn't off got his theory of evolution off the ground. 40 years after the theory of evolution was headed to the scrapheap, another Christian, Mendel, resurrected it to become the paradigm it is today.

Fuller also shows how intelligent design is a legitimate scientific theory, that has nothing to do with religion, as well as the bias that judicial system shows to the materialists in the never ending battle between evolution and intelligent design advocates. The book is short, but challenging. I will definitely have to re-read Fuller's book to pick up on anything I may have missed, but overall I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in the battle between these two theories.
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For years, Fuller has been peddling the line that the superior insight vouchsafed him by his ostensible analysis of the social background of science makes him better able to understand science than mere scientists ever can. But his work is shot through with overwhelming evidence that specific scientific theories are well beyond his competence to understand. No matter; he babbles on ad nauseam, citing himself and his voluminous if redundant writings as the supreme authority at every turn. He provides the ultimate example of the academic careerist who can hector and bully his way to the top in a field where nobody is very eager to call anyone else's bluff.

It is interesting to note, however, that work like "Science vs. Religion" represents a sharp turn in Fuller's ideological commitments. For years, he sold himself as the purest and most militant of leftists, scorning the tepid politics of rival gurus in the dubious field of "science studies", from Kuhn to Bruno Latour, in his relentless ambition to be recognized as King of the Hill. He was, for instance, a prominent contributor, along with such as Sandra Harding, Richard Levins, and Joel Kovel, to the doomed "Science Wars" volume of "Social Text" (doomed, that is, by its gullible inclusion of Alan Sokal's hoax article, which bamboozled Fuller as badly as it snookered the hapless editors). Now, however, he has jumped headlong into the embrace of the Discovery Institute and such, some of the most virulently right-wing characters in the landscape of American politics, offering only the weakest of rationalizations for his defection in the form of a lamebraned populism.
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"Science Vs Religion?: Intelligent Design and the Problem of Evolution" is a review of the author's testimony in the Dover Intelligent Design case. He admits that he is not an expert in biology or evolution but rather his field is on the nature of science and it is here where Fuller is a widely peer reviewed published expert. In contrast to what I have found is typical of the writings by sociologists and philosophers, this book is relatively easy reading. I will try to summarize his basic argument. My imperfect attempt may not do justice to Fuller's excellent work, but will give the reader an idea where he is going with it. If one side of an argument is science, it seems reasonable to conclude that the negative side is probably also science. For example, the often cited example of poor design is the putative backward human retina. I have seen this used in at least two dozen science books which argue that the retina could not have been designed because it is backward, and any camera designer who would design a camera film system that was backward, as the human retina is, would be fired. The evidence that the retina is not optimally designed is science but evidence that it is well designed is commonly regarded as religion. A friend with a doctorate from an American Ivy League University, wrote a scientific article documenting that, if the retina was reversed, it would not only not be improved, but would not even function. He documented that the existing design is optimal for over a dozen scientific reasons. The article was rejected because the journal editor stated he did not want to publish the article for the reason that it was religion and not science.Read more ›
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In this book, Fuller displays an expertise which is neither science nor religion yet nevertheless relevant - most relevant? - to whether intelligent design (or, for that matter, evolution) should be taught in public school science classes. It basically draws in equal measures from the history, philosophy, and sociology of science to argue that while Neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory has the best empirical track in biology, that is not entirely for scientific reasons, and moreover it is by no means clear that its success will be to science's benefit in the long term. The main question Fuller poses to evolutionists is how to motivate science itself - especially as the grand theoretical project of Newton, Einstein, etc. - given that it has no immediate survival value, and arguably causes many problems for our survival (e.g. nuclear energy). On the other hand, creationists have some questions to answer too: Why don't they take the biblical message of humans created in the image and likeness of God more seriously? Why do they shy away from ideas like `playing God' and `getting into the mind of God', when clearly the biblical analogy between human and divine intellects motivated the likes of Newton? In a sense, Fuller seems to be arguing that theologians need to embrace the more free-ranging scientific ambitions to really keep up with the Bible. I doubt the fundamentalists will like this message very much but it may secretly appeal to the high-tech types in places like the Discovery Institute. In any case, it strikes me as a very original line in a discussion that (especially as Levitt's comments suggest) can otherwise easily descend into a punch-and-judy show.
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