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Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism Paperback – February 2, 2006

3.5 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A terrific book that explores, fairly and openly, whether proponents of ID have any scientifically valid gadgets in their toolbox at all...accessibly written throughout and an invaluable aid to teachers and scientists.
(Kevin Padian Professor and Curator, University of California, Berkeley, and President, Nation)

About the Author

Matt Young is the author of No Sense of Obligation: Science and Religion in an Impersonal Universe. He is a retired physicist with the National Institute of Standards and Technology and now teaches physics at the Colorado School of Mines.

TANER EDIS is associate professor of Physics at Truman State University. While primarily a theoretical physicist, he has also written numerous articles on the secularist tradition in science. He is the author of The Ghost In the Universe: God in Light of Modern Science (2002) and co-editor of Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism (2004).
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press; New edition edition (February 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813538726
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813538723
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,256,479 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
A timely and persuasive contribution to an important controversy

While this book is rather expensive, I found that the money was well spent. As I started reading chapter after chapter, I was fascinated by the force and clarity of the argumentation by its thirteen authors, who took time from their scientific work to perform their duty as scientists and citizens concerned over the well financed and persistent campaign by the new crop of creationists against genuine science. The thirteen authors dissected the intelligent design pseudo-science from the standpoints of biology, physics, mathematics, archaeology, and philosophy. Each aspect was dealt with by an expert in the particular field. As the collection of negative reviews on this site shows, even the most convincing arguments will not change the minds of those who, by virtue of having preconceived views, rejecti in advance any arguments which are contrary to their beliefs. However, for those who still keep open minds or are uncertain which side the truth is on, this book is a must read. The negative reviews on this site seriously misrepresent the contents of this book. Some of the reviewers who wrote negative reviews obviously have not read the book, as their antics do not refer to any specific points discussed in it. While a positive review may legitimately be of a general type without delving into a book's specifics, a negative review carries no weight unless it critically addresses specific notions in the discussed publication. That is what the negative reviews on this site fail to do. Overall it is a clear case, and five stars may be assigned with confidence.
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Format: Hardcover
So as not to rehash the better reviews by others, let me list a couple of things I liked about this book:

1. As a person who is skeptical of outlandish claims on both sides of this debate, I was pleasantly surprised at the restrained nature of this book. The opening chapter, written by one of the editors, sets the stage by going to great pains to admit that ID is not intriniscally forbidden from the scientific forum (p. 17), and that it is at least theoretically possible that future research could validate some form of ID (p. 18). This in constrast to many scientists would bar ID from the table forever. Of course, this point is only theoretical at present, since the book is all about how ID fails as science (and mathematics).

2. Unlike many anthologies, this book, especially in the first half, is quite self-conscious about not being repetitive; the chapter authors frequently refer the reader to other chapters that look at other aspects of their assigned topic.

3. While most of the chapters are informative and useful, two are particularly so, perhaps because they are not as focused on refuting Behe and Dembski. Chapter 3 is an excellent discussion of why common descent cannot be limited to the certain classification levels. This chapter addresses ID proponents who allow for a great deal of common descent and those who allow for very little. While the former are getting more press these days, the latter are still active in large numbers.

4. Chapter 7 is a fascinating look at how nature can, and demonstrably does, produce complexity and apparent design. This is probably the most approachable chapter in the book.

5.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First, I will observe that many of the critical (i.e., negative) reviews of this book are surprisingly similar in style, diction, format, and content. While this is not sufficient to justify the conclusion that they are all the product of one author under various pseudonyms, it is sufficient to raise the suspicion. Now, if I were a proponent of ID, I would say that this situation could not have arisen by chance, and would suspect that an intelligent -- if unscrupulous, and not particularly articulate -- designer was behind this apparent coincidence.

Now to the point, which the critics seem to miss.

The burden of proof is not on Darwinian evolution, but on alternative theories: Darwinian evolution has been, and continues to be, predominant, and if ID wants to be considered as a serious contender it needs to show that (a) it has at least equivalent explanatory power and (b) satisfies all of the usual criteria for scientific theories. Foremost among the latter is *disprovability* -- it must be possible to disprove the theory, or at least to challenge it such that its proponents must provide a (disprovable) alternative theory that has the same explanatory power.

ID is not disprovable, by definition: no "theory" that has a magic escape clause ("and then a miracle happens") is disprovable, because a miracle (extra-scientific event) can always be (and always is) invoked.

If (for example) human remains were found in strata corresonding to the Cretaceous -- not just once, but in many locations -- this would be a blow to the prevailing theory. This has not, to my knowledge, happened -- nor has any other piece of concrete evidence arisen to challenge evolution.
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