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The Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions About Intelligent Design

The Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions About Intelligent Design

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by William A. Dembski

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Science and scientists are given a lot of authority. But what is science? We think we know. But scientists, mathematicians and philosophers in the intelligent design movement are challenging a certain view of science -- one that limits its investigations and procedures to purely lawlike and mechanical explanations. They charge that there is no scientific reason to


Science and scientists are given a lot of authority. But what is science? We think we know. But scientists, mathematicians and philosophers in the intelligent design movement are challenging a certain view of science -- one that limits its investigations and procedures to purely lawlike and mechanical explanations. They charge that there is no scientific reason to exclude the consideration of intelligence, agency and purpose from truly scientific research. In fact, the practice of science often already includes these factors! As the intelligent design movement has gained momentum, questions have naturally arisen to challenge its provocative claims. In this book William Dembski rises to the occasion -- clearly and concisely answering the most vexing questions posed to the intelligent design program. Writing with nonexperts in mind, Dembski responds to more than forty questions asked by experts and nonexperts alike who have attended his many public lectures or raised objections in written reviews. The Design Revolution has begun. Its success depends on how well it answers the questions of its detractors. Read this book and you'll have a good idea of the prospects and challenges facing this revolution in scientific thinking.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Dembski, a philosopher/mathematician who has been an important theorist for the intelligent design movement, handles a wide range of questions and objections that should give both fans and detractors of ID plenty to chew on. The book's timing is appropriate; it is only in the past few years that ID, initially dismissed by some scientists as "creationism in a cheap tuxedo," has also begun to attract a more sophisticated brand of criticism. These critiques come not only from evolutionary biologists and philosophers of biology, but also from Christian theologians who have made peace with Darwinian evolution. While most of the core arguments of this book will be familiar to readers of the ID literature, they are presented here in (if one may say so) more highly evolved form: explanations are clearer, objections are borne more patiently, distinctions and concessions are artfully made. Without denying the theological and cultural implications of ID, Dembski is more concerned with ID's future as a scientific enterprise: a point where despite some successes the movement continues to struggle. The book's format-responding to individual questions in 44 short chapters-makes for a clear, if repetitive, read. Chapters can focus on a single issue and adopt an appropriate tone: basic questions get basic replies, pointed objections get forceful rejoinders, and technical questions allow Dembski to unleash a faculty for technical detail that can only be called impressive. The latter may leave some general-interest readers in the dark, but readers with the requisite background will appreciate the subtlety, insight, and occasional quirkiness of Dembski's theoretical work. (Feb.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Ted Peters
"I find William Dembski's writing and argumentation on behalf of intelligent design to be careful, erudite, thorough and a formidable challenge to the theistic evolution camp I normally defend."
Ravi Zacharias
"William Dembski examines the challenges to intelligent design and, in turn, unveils the increasing difficulties with once-accepted Darwinian theory. Students will be especially encouraged here to find manageable tools to help them engage the often uncontested Darwinian establishment in the university. I enthusiastically recommend this resource for what is certainly one of the most critical discussions of our day."
Norman Geisler
"This is the most brilliant defense of the intelligent design movement in print. Dr. Dembski systematically dismantles virtually every known objection to the argument for intelligent design. There is nothing like it in print. It is the latest and greatest on the topic."
Phillip Johnson
"Bill Dembski poses all the tough questions that critics ask about intelligent design in biology, and brilliantly answers them all!"
Michael Behe
"This book spells out clearly for the general public how and why the progress of modern science points strongly toward an intelligent designer. It answers the most common criticisms of design theory so deftly that it makes one wonder if dogged opponents of design have something on their minds other than pure science."
Jeffrey M.Schwartz
"The view that intelligence must be intrinsic to the essential nature of the universe is a perspective that is slowly gaining a wider acceptance among serious scholars within the community of scientists and philosophers. For such an inference concerning the intrinsic effects of intelligence on nature and her laws to be truly scientifically acceptable, however, requires that it be placed within a rigorous theoretical framework and that specific criteria for validating the truth of it be clearly enunciated. It is precisely this task that William Dembski undertakes in The Design Revolution. He asks the hard questions and answers them in a clear, frank and straightforward way. His responses to the toughest of queries concerning the investigation of intelligent phenomena intrinsic to the natural world are both lucid and sophisticated. He meaningfully moves the community of scientists and scholars along the path of investigating and understanding the momentous possibility that intelligence is an irreducible aspect of reality."
Conrad Johanson
"In this book, Dembski marshals the evidence for intelligent design, clarifying its detection as well as its potential impact on science. This book comes at an opportune time as the debate intensifies over naturalism's role in fully explaining (or not) intelligence and very complex information-bearing systems. The author's commitment to open the natural sciences to intelligent causation will generate lively discussion for a readership spanning many disciplines."
Edward Sisson
"Through his techniques of design detection as well as his organizational efforts, William Dembski is making the revolution he describes in this book happen. If Thomas Huxley was 'Darwin's Bulldog,' Dembski is the man with the leash and the obedience training techniques to bring Darwinism into check."
Ronald L. Numbers
"For the past decade or so 'intelligent design' has stirred a storm of controversy. Is it nothing more than gussied-up creationism, as its critics charge, or a new scientific paradigm, as its advocates maintain? This sprightly catechism, written by the movement's leading theoretician, offers believers and skeptics alike (and I count myself among the latter) an authoritative, if one-sided, introduction to what the fuss is all about."
David Berlinski
"Not everyone will agree with all that is claimed in this book, and some knuckleheads will reject its theses without reading the book at all; but something of what is claimed in these pages will strike every fair-minded reader as important and provocative. The book does what it proposes to do. It meets criticisms of intelligent design honorably; it allows new ideas to breathe."
Michael Denton
"Dembski's latest book indicates more clearly than any other recent publication that I know why CSI—the sort of order observed in complex machines or computer programs—cannot originate by cumulative selection. The improbability is far too great! Obviously if biological systems contain considerable amounts of CSI as Dembski claims, then the standard Darwinian explanation is deeply flawed, and what is needed is a new paradigm for understanding the natural world."
Stephen Barr
"The Design Revolution is about questions of fundamental importance: Can one formulate objective criteria for recognizing design? What do such criteria tell us about design in the biological realm? Sad to say, even to raise such questions is dangerous; but fortunately Dembski is not deterred. In this courageous book he takes aim at the intellectual complacency that too often smothers serious and unprejudiced discussion of these questions."
John Roche
"Bill Dembski has come a long way in five years from the very technical approach of his Design Inference. One of his key concepts in arguing from the intrinsic features of a system to a designer is its 'specified complexity.' Here, through luminous examples provided throughout this volume, he makes this concept more concrete, clearer and much more persuasive, and links it very helpfully to information theory. Together with a lucid presentation of his arguments for a designing agency for living organisms, he deals with many of the objections to intelligent design theory, especially those that claim it involves supernatural causes, violates the laws of nature and is nonscientific. He does this very readably, in short, snappy chapters, which will make his analysis accessible to a much wider audience. Dembski has the rare ability to create profound new concepts, and he is making rapid strides from the bright but limited scientist into a mature interdisciplinary thinker. I believe it is only a matter of time before he becomes a very formidable mind. At times, stung by the fevered polemics of his critics, he tends, like Samuel Johnson, to 'argue for victory,' or even to claim victory. This, I am sure, will pass."
William J. Abraham
"When I first heard William Dembski lay out his fundamental ideas on design, my immediate thought was a disjunction: we have here either a stunning conceptual breakthrough or a brilliantly illuminating mistake. Conceptual work looks easy when you see the conclusions; it is maddeningly difficult to absorb, refute or evaluate; the temptation to cut to the chase and cry victory is enduring. I was not in the least surprised by the intellectual, academic, theological and cultural storm that followed the public presentation of Dembski's proposals. He has burrowed deep into a warren of issues that will take decades to unravel and evaluate. In this volume he does not shirk the crucial questions that have to be addressed from his side of the house. His admirers should heed the complexity and nuances of his position; his critics need to do justice to the specificity and intellectual sensitivity of his claims; anyone interested in the interaction of theology, philosophy and natural science should listen in very carefully before making up their mind."
Lee Strobel
"This is an incredibly valuable resource from one of the great thinkers in the intelligent design movement. If you've got questions about this important topic, look inside—you'll find the answers in an authoritative yet accessible style."
Roger Trigg
"This lucid and authoritative book attempts to answer the many objections that have been raised against the theory of intelligent design. Dembski argues powerfully that it is an intellectually defensible science. It should be read by anyone interested in the character of the world we live in, whether they wish to attack or defend the theory."
Senator Rick Santorum
"Mainstream modern science, with its analytical methods and its "objective" teachings, is the dominant force in modern culture. If science simply discovered and taught the truth about reality, who could object? But mainstream science does not simply "discover the truth"; instead it relies in part on a set of unscientific, false philosophical presuppositions as the basis for many of its conclusions. Thus, crucial aspects of what modern science teaches us are simply shabby philosophy dressed up in a white lab coat.

"In this important new book William Dembski continues his ground-breaking effort to show just how unscientific many modern scientists tend to be. If we are truly open to all the evidence, we can discover by the use of our unaided reason that the natural world is not the purposeless outcome of law—itself of unknown origin—and chance. This revolutionary approach has broad implications for science and broader implications for modern culture. Among many other things, Dembski's book is further evidence of the critical need for students in our public school systems to learn what is really going on in the disputes at the cutting edge of science rather than having their understanding of the natural world veiled and distorted by the prejudices of the past."

Robert P. George
"William Dembski is asking, and forcing the rest of us to confront, a profoundly important question: Is nature a closed system of efficient and material causes? Some people, purporting to defend the honor and integrity of science, immediately say, "Of course it is!" To them, Dembski issues a challenge: Does scientific inquiry itself vindicate the proposition that nature is a closed system of efficient and material causes? Or is this proposition accepted by many scientists and others as a matter of faith? Some who acknowledge that "scientific naturalism" is a set of philosophical assumptions, rather than a fact that can be demonstrated by scientific methods, defend it on the ground that the success of scientific inquiry based upon it provides ample ground for its rational affirmation. From them, Dembski demands proof that scientific inquiry and the knowledge it generates actually do presuppose the exclusion of causes beyond the efficient and material. This proof has, it must be said, not been forthcoming. In his boldest move, Dembski argues that careful attention to the various manifestations of order discovered in the natural world suggests that efficient and material causes are in fact insufficient to explain the data into which the sciences inquire. We can reasonably infer from the order on display in nature that intelligence has figured in the design of natural phenomena and the natural world as a whole. It will not do for those to whom Dembski has issued his challenge to rely on their standing or authority within the scientific and academic establishments to wave him away. The truth is that the honor and integrity of science really are at stake in this matter. They would be profoundly tarnished by a dogmatic refusal to face up to Dembski's questions."

Product Details

InterVarsity Press
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Product dimensions:
6.16(w) x 9.24(h) x 1.20(d)

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Meet the Author

William Dembski (Ph.D., mathematics, University of Chicago; Ph.D., philosophy, University of Illinois at Chicago) is senior fellow of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture.

He has previously taught at Northwestern University, the University of Notre Dame, and the University of Dallas. He has done postdoctoral work in mathematics at MIT, in physics at the University of Chicago, and in computer science at Princeton University, and he has been a National Science Foundation doctoral and postdoctoral fellow. Dembski has written numerous scholarly articles and is the author of the critically acclaimed The Design Inference (Cambridge), Intelligent Design (InterVarsity Press) and No Free Lunch: Why Specified Complexity Cannot Be Purchased without Intelligence (Rowman and Littlefield).

Colson, formerly special counsel to President Nixon, is founder and chairman of Prison Fellowship and the Wilberforce Forum. He also chairs the Council for Biotechnology Policy. Colson's Breakpoint daily radio commentaries are heard by more than one million listeners.

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The Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions about Intelligent Design 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent book
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dembski shows how the theory of evolution is contradicted by modern information theory (complex, ordered information is produced by intelligence rather than by chance), mathematics (events less likely than the universal probability bound do not occur¿the random coalescence of just one amino acid would be such an event), and physics (according to the second law of thermodynamics, systems increase in entropy [disorder] over time rather than increasing in order, as is posited by the theory of evolution).
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dembski waxes eloquently on the distictions between Darwinism, Scientific Creationism and Intelligent Design. Arguments are compelling and thoroughly thought-out. Takes quite a bit of time to follow some of the logical constructs, but it is worth the effort. It is not a stretch to think that intelligence can be identified. If not, the whole concept behind Mensa is a joke. How do they know that their members are truly smart, and haven't accidentally scored high on the so-called tests? It could be randomness that just happened to coalesce in their favor. Only those bent on intellectual suicide, for their own purposes, could patently dismiss Dembski's arguments. But then again, their whole line of reasoning could be random noise, who knows?
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is great if you need to justify your belief in the almighty. If you buy this book and you believe it, great. If you are a skeptic, then this book is not for you.