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Dissent Over Descent: Intelligent Design's Challenge to Darwinism Hardcover – 5 Jun 2008


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Icon Books Ltd (5 Jun. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1840468041
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840468045
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.8 x 21.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 147,746 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'A rich mine of often-overlooked information, personal interpretations of the history of science that are provocative and sometimes astonishing.' -- Times Higher Education, Book of the Week, July 2008

'The richness and complexity of argument defy critical summary.'
-- Times Higher Education, Book of the Week, July 2008

About the Author

Steve Fuller has appeared on Radio 4's 'Today', Radio 3's 'Nightwaves' and Channel 4's 'Trial of the 21st Century'. He has written for the Independent, the New Scientist and the New York Times, among others. Fuller is also Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick.

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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Dr. H. A. Jones TOP 500 REVIEWER on 18 Nov. 2010
Format: Hardcover
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.
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26 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Morgan Dorrell on 21 Jun. 2008
Format: Hardcover
A lot of books have been published about the evolution-creation controversy but this has got to be the most original and, in many ways, most outrageous. Fuller has been always known for his rather perverse take on things and people (esp. Thomas Kuhn, who also comes in for a whipping here) but this tops them all. Fuller is basically arguing that `Science' in the philosophically robust sense of a unified sense of reality (the kind of thing physicists still go on about) requires a belief in the privileged place of humans in the universe. This belief is by no means self-evident but requires a belief that we have some privileged relationship with whomever was responsible for the universe's creation. In this respect, Fuller argues that a belief in `intelligent design' in some broad sense - and he's not afraid to talk about God in this context -- is needed to do science. Once you accept this point, as many philosophers and scientists have, then Darwin's theory of evolution with its strong emphasis on chance-based processes starts to look strange. And I suppose that's really the point of this book, to make Darwin and Darwinism look strange. There are some truly mind-blowing moments here, including a sustained comparison between evolution and astrology in its scientific heyday (about 500 years ago). Fuller also does a good line on nasty remarks, calling modern evolutionary theory `genetically modified Darwinism' and the blog Panda's Thumb, `Darwin's brownshirts'. He even spends time pouring scorn on theistic evolutionsists like Francis Collins and Kenneth Miller, whom he regards as intellectually superficial. Fuller also makes the interesting point that no good science has ever come from atheism, and that one can go on arguing about the merits of evolution and creation without affecting the day-to-day work of science.
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18 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Hans Castorp on 21 July 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is quite a brilliant, albeit somewhat mad book that is designed to aggravate everyone in this already fraught debate. The best thing about it is that gives `intelligent design' an intellectual scope and reach that matches that of `evolution'. There is a tendency to reduce ID to whatever the Discovery Institute is up to this week. In fact, this book doesn't really focus on that aspect of ID. It's more about why we do science in the first place, and the striking fact that so much of the history of biology is full of Christians.

The book is also rhetorically risky. Fuller openly talks about ID as creationism, and focuses on the biblical religions as really the only ones relevant to science. He even calls for theologians to get more actively involved in the debate. Yet he doesn't regard this anti-science at all. On the contrary, he seems to think that a long-term belief in Darwinian evolution will make science extinct! Readers can make what they will of this suspicion.

Caution: This book recently got a hammering in the Guardian (12th July) but the reviewer, a videogames expert, didn't seem to have read it - or at least didn't understand it. Predictably several anti-ID blogs - and anti-Fuller blogs (they only partially overlap!) - piled in. The funny thing is that none of these people seem to have read the book either. Some even revelled in that fact. So judge for yourself.
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