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Unintelligent Design

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Unintelligent Design

Unintelligent Design: Creationism and Evolution

One of the most popular forms of “scientific” creationism in America today goes under the label “Intelligent Design.” According to supporters, this provides scientific validity to the belief that the universe was created by an intelligent being. Most working scientists disagree with this and even find the “Intelligent Design” movement to be laughable. What, really, is this fight all about?

Summary

Title: Unintelligent Design
Author: Mark Perakh
Publisher: Prometheus Books
ISBN: 1591020840

Pro:
•  Most detailed and comprehensive critique of Intelligent Design currently available
•  Explains all of the flaws and errors in great detail, leaving no stone unturned

Con:
•  Some may find the critiques a bit harsh at times

Description:
•  Overview of the arguments and ideas upon which the "Intelligent Design" movement is based
•  Reviews many specific books and personalities, explaining where they go wrong and why
•  Describes how real science is done and why Intelligent Design is completely unscientific

 

Book Review

That’s the question addressed in Mark Perakh’s recent book, Unintelligent Design. Professor emeritus of physics at California State University, Fullerton, Perakh traces the development of Intelligent Design ideas, examines many of the arguments and books created by supporters, and explains just how proper science is supposed to be done.

Even more so than traditional creationism, Intelligent Design has been attracting quite a lot of popular attention. The arguments used by its supporters often appear superficially plausible and even scientifically credible, at least to people without much scientific training or knowledge. Because of this, there are many who have been drawn into it under the mistaken impression that Intelligent Design theorists have something substantive to offer on the subject of evolution and science.

Perakh’s critique is divided into three parts. The first deals with Intelligent Design and takes the time to provide very specific rebuttals to the arguments of many prominent ID writers, like William Dembski, Michael Behe, and Phillip Johnson. The second part addresses traditional Scientific Creationism, explaining the problems in the ideas of influential creationists like Hugh Ross and Fred Heeren.

The third is more general in nature and might seem out of place. Over the course of several chapters, Perakh explains the nature of science and, more importantly, the nature of probability. This is actually very relevant, though, because so much of the creationists position is dependent upon the assumption that readers don’t actually understand how probability works. By getting people to believe that something is “improbable” through natural processes alone, they create a “wedge” with which they can promote their particular brand of religious faith.

If you are curious about the level of character and honesty among those who promote Intelligent Design, consider the following comments posted on Amazon.com by “a reader from Riesel, Texas,” the place where William Dembski happens to live:

    Prometheus Press is one of the most militantly atheistic and ideologically driven presses around. ...If there are ideological ends on the intelligent design side, there are no less ideological ends on the anti-design side, for which Perakh has now become a champion. Perakh’s analyses of Behe, Johnson, and Dembski are in each instance defective.
Unintelligent Design

Unintelligent Design: Creationism and Evolution

If simply by reading Perakh, you think he has decisively demolished intelligent design, you need to read the primary literature. Especially recommended here are John Campbell and Steve Meyer’s _Darwinism, Design, and Public Education_ as well as Dembski’s _The Design Revolution_, which answers many of Perakh’s concerns.

As you may have heard, a glitch in Amazon’s Canadian system revealed the real names of its anonymous reviewers — and who was the above “reader from Riesel, Texas”? Yes, it was William Dembski — and no, his own book which he touted did not actually address Perakh’s critiques. If this is the sort of honesty you can expect from Intelligent Design theorists when it comes to book reviews, what can be expected from their “scientific” work?

Perakh is very critical and even harsh in some cases, but at no point did I get the impression that he was being unfair. We simply aren’t dealing with people who are entirely honest about their beliefs and motivations, so pointed criticism is entirely appropriate. Unfortunately, Perakh can be very technical at times, and this may make it difficult for lay readers to understand. If you are interested in creationism or intelligent design, the book is well worth the effort to read.

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