Review of Jonathon Wells's new book
Recently a short letter of mine was published in The New York Times. The letter criticized a boilerplate, straw man attack on intelligent design written by a crusading Darwinist—an all too common occurrence, sadly. I received two letters castigating my audacity in criticizing Darwin.
One letter claimed that no amount of empirical evidence could support design because design is not a physical property. Exactly so. This confirmed my letter's comment that opposition to ID is based on methodological naturalism: no intelligent causes are allowed in the game. Why is this? It is because this is how they—the Darwinian priesthood—set up the rules (dogma). In other words, the question is begged. That is a fallacy.
Another letter accused ID proponents of Lysenkoism; that is, they would get their way by strong arm tactics, as did the Soviet scientist who shut down dissent to his ideas I the old USSR. I wrote back saying that the Darwinists are the real Lysenkoists, since they constantly shut down ID from being presented in public institutions and attack ID proponents personally. (Wells gives plentiful evidence for that.) Moreover, ID people have never advocated banning the teaching of Darwinism. They only want to allow it to be challenged with scientific evidence to the contrary. (Wells also demonstrates that Lysenko, common opinion to the contrary, did not oppose Darwinism, but rather Mendelian genetics.)
These letters highlight just some of the wrongheaded responses of Darwinists against ID. Wells addresses all the rest, such as:
1. ID is religious, not scientific.
2. ID is the same as creationism.
3. ID makes no scientific predictions and is not testable.
4. ID proponents want to restrict the teaching of Darwinism.
5. No ID arguments have been published in peer review literature.
But Wells also presents the positive case for ID with clarity, logic, and ample documentation. He thoroughly and engagingly explains some of the more rarified ID concepts, such as specified complexity, with aplomb but never glibly. (Don’t let the title of this book deceive you; it is never flippant, glib, or unserious.) Wells also repeatedly skewers Darwinian fallacies. My favorite fallacy is the claim that ID is not testable, but that all the evidence is against it. If it is not testable, then no evidence could be marshaled for it or against it.
Wells covers the whole spectrum of issues related to Darwinism and ID: scientific, philosophical, cultural, and political. His concluding chapter predicts the eventual ascendance of ID over Darwinism, given the strength of its evidence and the unimpressive strategies of its antagonists.
This book is ideal for the neophyte who wants to get to the bottom of the debate. However, the more seasoned reader (such as myself) will also benefit from some new ideas she might have missed in her other reading as well as from the sheer pleasure of reading such a well-crafted and timely presentation.