God, the Devil, and Darwin: A Critique of Intelligent Design Theory

Posted By: maxxum

Niall Shanks, «God, the Devil, and Darwin: A Critique of Intelligent Design Theory»
Oxford University Press, USA | ISBN 0195161998 | 2004-01-08 | PDF | 1,15 Mb | 296 pages



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From Booklist:

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

Book Description:

In the last fifteen years a controversial new theory of the origins of biological complexity and the nature of the universe has been fomenting bitter debates in education and science policy across North America, Europe, and Australia. Backed by intellectuals at respectable universities,
Intelligent Design theory (ID) proposes an alternative to accepted accounts of evolutionary theory: that life is so complex, and that the universe is so fine-tuned for the appearance of life, that the only plausible explanation is the existence of an intelligent designer. For many ID theorists, the
designer is taken to be the god of Christianity.

Niall Shanks has written the first accessible introduction to, and critique of, this controversial new intellectual movement. Shanks locates the growth of ID in the last two decades of the twentieth century in the growing influence of the American religious right. But as he shows, its roots go back
beyond Aquinas to Ancient Greece. After looking at the historical roots of ID, Shanks takes a hard look at its intellectual underpinnings, discussing modern understandings of thermodynamics, and how self-organizing processes lead to complex physical, chemical, and biological systems. He considers
cosmological arguments for ID rooted in so-called "anthropic coincidences" and also tackles new biochemical arguments for ID based on "irreducible biological complexity." Throughout he shows how arguments for ID lack cohesion, rest on errors and unfounded suppositions, and generally are grossly
inferior to evolutionary explanations.

While ID has been proposed as a scientific alternative to evolutionary biology, Shanks argues that ID is in fact "old creationist wine in new designer label bottles" and moreover is a serious threat to the scientific and democratic values that are our cultural and intellectual inheritance from the Enlightenment.