Dissent over Descent: Intelligent Design's Challenge to Darwinism, by Steve Fuller, Icon Books, 2008, 280 ff.
The natural world as God's handiwork
By Howard Jones
Steve Fuller is an American philosopher, sociologist and writer on the history and philosophy of science with more than a dozen books to his credit. He is currently a professor at the University of Warwick, in England. The theme of his book is that Intelligent Design, that is, evidence of God's handiwork in the natural world, has been the inspiration behind scientific endeavour from the start. Several scientists would agree with this, but it was not Christianity as Fuller suggests but theism that was the driving force. He also regards ID as a valid concept.
Fuller's opening chapter here deals with dissent in science and religion. As Fuller appeared for the defence in the trial of Kitzmiller vs the Dover Area School District in 2005, upholding the view that ID was science and not religion or creationism, we know from the outset where he stands on the issue. These trial proceedings feature prominently in the book and are available verbatim on-line. The British Royal Society and the American National Academy of Sciences regard evolution as science and ID as non-scientific. It is the remit of science to `replace articles of faith with logical and empirical demonstrations', which it has done very successfully. It is therefore a cause for despair when supposedly intelligent people still insist on a world which is 6000 years old because it is written in the Bible when science indicates clearly it is nearly a million times older. For Fuller, `communion with God is the historic source of communal solidarity . . . a foundational insight in the discipline of sociology.'
Fuller is critical of the `paradigm' approach of science as described by Thomas Kuhn - the principle that new ideas should conform to the foundation of older ones. But, as Darwin, Einstein and Heisenberg, to quote just three, have shown, science progresses by the innovations of those who have adopted a new approach: new vision is not excluded from science. Fuller argues that there can be only one `truth' between religion and science and regards the supposition that there are multiple (or at least double) truths has `impeded the advancement of science until the modern era'.
He considers that Francis Bacon's description of the scientific method arose from Bacon's `supernaturalism'. But then he also endorses humanity's `creation in the image of God', whereas many enlightened clerics today would support the converse. He also would like to think that Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were `spiritually aligned with Christianity' whereas in fact they were well known anti-Trinitarian deists. Religion, or at least belief in God as Creator, did indeed inspire much of the original research in science in the 17th century. But since then, in the 19th and 20th centuries, belief in God has really been an irrelevance to scientific discovery.
Overall, this book is a rather muddled mixture of biology, religion, politics, economics and sociology - and yes, I have read it! The facts, such as they are, are distorted by the author's rather bizarre viewpoints so are of little use as information. The devout Jesuit priest Teilhard de Chardin, for example, is branded as a heretic for failing to conform to Fuller's theistic interpretations; Unitarians are `heretics'; gravity is a `supernatural entity' - can there be anything more natural than gravity? There are far better books on ID in the marketplace, both for (Michael Behe, William Dembski, Stephen Meyer) and against (Richard Dawkins, Stephen Jay Gould, Michael Shermer).
Dr Howard A. Jones is the author of The Thoughtful Guide to God (2006) and The Tao of Holism (2008), both published by O Books of Winchester, UK.Darwin's Black BoxIntelligent Design UncensoredSignature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent DesignThe Blind WatchmakerThe Richness of Life: A Stephen Jay Gould ReaderWhy Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design