By Design or by Chance?: The Growing Controversy on the Origins of Life in the Universe

Overview

O'Leary provides by far the broadast overview yet of the ID movement. she quotes ID leaders such as Phillip Johnson, William Dembski and Michael Behe. she also quotes their sternest critics, including Richard Dawkins, Stephen J. Gould and Michael Ruse. She writes about the Wedge movement, DNA, the age of the Earth, the search for extraterrestrial life, the teaching of ID in schools, and the monarch butterfly. She anticipates the culmination of the ID revolution by writing that Darwinism "was part of our ...
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Overview

O'Leary provides by far the broadast overview yet of the ID movement. she quotes ID leaders such as Phillip Johnson, William Dembski and Michael Behe. she also quotes their sternest critics, including Richard Dawkins, Stephen J. Gould and Michael Ruse. She writes about the Wedge movement, DNA, the age of the Earth, the search for extraterrestrial life, the teaching of ID in schools, and the monarch butterfly. She anticipates the culmination of the ID revolution by writing that Darwinism "was part of our folklore." Yet the evolutionary tales she relates are still widely taught as fact in many schools.

This well organized guidebook of O'Leary's journey through the world of Intelligent Design has the potential to lead many of the next generation away from the evolutionary fables that now pass for science. Her book is must reading for anyone who wants to understand the history and significance of the Intelligent Design movement. It also belongs in college and even high school classrooms.

Forrest M. Mims III, U.S. science journalist

Denyse O'Leary has been a freelance writer since 1971. She specializes in science news of interest to faith communities for such publications as Christianity Today, Faith Today, and the Christian Times. She is the author of several titles including Faith@Science: Why Science Needs Faith in the Twenty-First Century, and it the Faith and Science columnist for ChristianWeek. She has written for newspapers, magazines, book publishers, and trade jounals, including the Globe & Mail, the Toronto Star, and Canadian Living.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780806651774
  • Publisher: Augsburg Fortress, Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/28/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2004

    Understanding the Origins Debate

    Reading Denyse O'Leary's By Design or by Chance was a particular treat for me because I myself have written on the same subject during the evolution/education debate in Kansas in 2000 and have met and interviewed many of the luminaries she quotes in her pages. Having followed some of the literature of the evolution/creationism/intelligent design debate since then, I was familiar with the context of her subject and the direction this controversy has taken. I must say, I've never seen a clearer and more comprehensive, yet accessible, discussion of the who, what, when, where, why and how of the topic offered in such an entertaining and palatable presentation than By Design or by Chance puts forward. It's both an excellent starting point for the novice as well as a handy resource for the professional seeking additional facts. It quite literally is a book with something for everyone. O'Leary begins with an overview of the historical speculations on how the universe began and the origin of life in that universe. Was the universe always there, or did it have a finite beginning? What is the Big Bang theory and how was it initially received? What does science say about origins? What does religion say? How have both shaped the prevailing views over time within our culture? The book next specifically addresses the question of life and how it came into being and changed. Did all life come from a common ancestor? What roles do natural law and chance play? Exactly who was Darwin, what did he believe and what were his major contributions? How did theists initially receive his views? When did creationism arrive on the scene and what precisely does it advocate? What are the different varieties of creationism? Along the way a number of historical misconceptions or inaccuracies are exposed and dispelled such as the 'myths' surrounding the infamous Scopes Trial and the distortions promulgated by the film Inherit the Wind. Finally, the focus turns to intelligent design theory. What is it and what does it say? How does it differ from the 18th-century views of the Anglican theologian William Paley? Who is Phillip Johnson, and how did he, in the late 1980s, launch the intelligent design movement? What are the contributions of its greatest advocates such as William Dembski, Michael Behe and Jonathan Wells? What do the concepts of 'irreducible complexity' and 'specified complexity' pertain to? Why is information theory a center piece and a quantum leap forward from Darwin's day? Having clearly established itself as a 'third way,' why does intelligent design incur the enmity of both Darwinists and creationists? Is intelligent design the wave of the future? Throughout, O'Leary's great strengths are to make the complex understandable, the mountainous manageable, the presentation logical and the reading experience pleasurable. The format consists of well-placed internal headings, handy sidebars and charts. The reference notes, which are copious, are placed conveniently and unobtrusively at the end. The layout is pleasing to both the eye and the comprehension. If I were forced to offer some criticism, the best I could do would be to note the absence of illustrations and photos, but perhaps those additions would have been cost-prohibitive. I thoroughly enjoyed every page of O'Leary's work. Although familiar with the subject, I came away with a number of new facts in my arsenal. At a time when a plethora of new books are appearing on this subject, By Design or by Chance may well turn out to be one of the cornerstones in broadening public understanding of what's at stake in the origins debate. I give it my highest recommendation.

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