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Science Vs. Religion?: Intelligent Design and the Problem of Evolution [Paperback]

Steve Fuller
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
Price: £15.24 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

30 Oct 2007
For centuries, science and religion have been portrayed as diametrically opposed. In this provocative new book, Steve Fuller examines the apparent clash between science and religion by focusing on the heated debates about evolution and intelligent design theory. In so doing, he claims that science vs. religion is in fact a false dichotomy. For Fuller, supposedly intellectual disputes, such as those between creationist and evolutionist accounts of life, often disguise other institutionally driven conflicts, such as the struggle between State and Church to be the source of legitimate authority in society. Nowadays many conservative anti–science groups support intelligent design theory, but Fuller argues that the theory′s theological roots are much more radical, based on the idea that humans were created to fathom the divine plan, perhaps even complete it. He goes on to examine the unique political circumstances in the United States that make the emergence of intelligent design theory so controversial, yet so persistent. Finally, he considers the long–term prognosis, arguing that the future remains very much undecided as society reopens the question of what it means to be human. This book will appeal to all readers intrigued by the debates about creationism, intelligent design and evolution, especially those looking for an intellectually exciting confrontation with the politics and promise of intelligent design theory.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 179 pages
  • Publisher: Polity Press; 1 edition (30 Oct 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745641229
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745641225
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 1.4 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,002,797 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

"A balanced, detailed and well–presented introduction to all aspects of the argument." Father John–Paul Sheridan, Sunday Business Post "An engaging book. It will provide fuel for Fuller’s critics who have accused him of ′pomo science′ (postmodern science); energize ID theorists in their efforts to ′widen the wedge′; and serve food for thought for those still sitting ′on the fence′ between ID and mainstream science. These are marks of a good book." Science in Christian Perspective “Steve Fuller’s book is a philosophic and historical tour de force. I know no other book that provides such a balanced, timely, in–depth, account of the historical and philosophic origins and affiliations of contemporary Intelligent Design (ID) and Darwinism. Each chapter is informative, sharply analytic, provocative, probing, witty and superbly written. The historical roots of modern science in ID thinking that Fuller traces will be a much–needed eye–opener to many and a wholesome antidote to the historical amnesia that characterizes most contemporary discussion of the scientific status of ID and of Darwinian theory.” John Angus Campbell, Memphis State University “Whether you are outraged by ‘Intelligent Design’ theory or annoyed by the attacks on it, Fuller’s book is an indispensable guide to the controversy. He manages to not only supply the intellectual context, showing how much of this debate is traditional and how much is new, but makes clear what is reasonable on both sides, and why the debate matters so much to us.” William Keith, University of Wisconsin

From the Back Cover

For centuries, science and religion have been portrayed as diametrically opposed. In this provocative new book, Steve Fuller examines the apparent clash between science and religion by focusing on the heated debates about evolution and intelligent design theory. In so doing, he claims that science vs. religion is in fact a false dichotomy. For Fuller, supposedly intellectual disputes, such as those between creationist and evolutionist accounts of life, often disguise other institutionally driven conflicts, such as the struggle between State and Church to be the source of legitimate authority in society. Nowadays many conservative anti–science groups support intelligent design theory, but Fuller argues that the theory′s theological roots are much more radical, based on the idea that humans were created to fathom the divine plan, perhaps even complete it. He goes on to examine the unique political circumstances in the United States that make the emergence of intelligent design theory so controversial, yet so persistent. Finally, he considers the long–term prognosis, arguing that the future remains very much undecided as society reopens the question of what it means to be human. This book will appeal to all readers intrigued by the debates about creationism, intelligent design and evolution, especially those looking for an intellectually exciting confrontation with the politics and promise of intelligent design theory.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very relevant 4 Mar 2008
Format:Paperback
In the context of today's 'debate' between atheists and theists this is a good book to read because of Fuller's perspective (sociology) and his grasp of debates within science and in the philosophy of science. It is a challenging read for someone who is not an expert in these areas but if you are interested in the science vs religion debate and in the politics of the debate then have a go. I am not an expert but I am coping so far.I have been particularly interested in the (rather brief)sections on the argument between Dawkins and Gould, and Fuller's interpretation of the positive links between science and religion - not the sort of message Dawkins wants to read, I think. I also read the reviews on Amazon.com to see what the Americans(?) were saying about it. Perhaps you might want to do the same.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By trini
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Steve Fuller, Professor of Sociology at the (UK) University of Warwick, defends Intelligent Design (ID), aka Intelligent Design Theory (IDT) in this book. It deserves a better review than I can now offer, as I have read it carefully through only once (I usually aim at two or more readings), but I feel that I should go live in order to promote it as soon as possible.

It will be clear that Fuller does not equate ID with `young earth creationism'. The latter view promotes the idea that the universe and the earth and all living things were created somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago. It is worth emphasising that much criticism of IDT - almost universally in `popular' blogs, but also often in more serious writing too - quite foolishly and utterly wrongly takes these two views as identical. Most supporters of ID accept the general scientific view that the universe is about 14 billion years old and the earth about 4.5 billion years, with life beginning about 3.7 billion years ago. It is childish (and irritating) to read put-downs of `young earth creationsim' as if they discredited ID. No way. It is also, in my view, childish to suggest that a believer in religion makes a less competent scientist than an agnostic or atheist.

The most interesting feature of this book is its extended treatment of the 2005 legal case in the US, `Kitzmiller et al. v Dover Area School District et al.', where ID, and specifically a biology textbook, `Of Pandas and People', in many ways linked to supporters of ID, were challenged by ID opponents as being explicitly religious, and these opponents therefore claimed that to teach ID or use the named textbook in schools would be to teach religion, which would be contrary to the United States Constitution.
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9 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intelligence v Design 3 Jan 2008
Format:Paperback
This book is a curious blend of subtle (sociological)analysis and glaring (scientific) ignorance. It attempts to create a bridgehead between creationism (intelleigent design) and science (evolutionary biology) - generally favouring the former - but fails to convince.

The key to this failure is revealed in the title: evolution is seen as a 'problem'. But evolution is no more of a problem than gravity: it just happens to be the way in which the world is constituted. Nor is evolution 'just a theory': it is the foundation of the entire discipline of biology. In contrast, Intelligent Design has never been a theory so much as a tactic (based on ignorance - or, in its own words, 'irreducible complexity') designed to finding a hiding place for the 'God of the gaps'.

The confusion inherent in the title reverbarates throughout the book. Though much is made of the limitations of the, so called, Modern Synthesis (the neo-Darwinian theoretical model from the 1940's which combined evolutionary and genetic thinking) there seems to be no awareness that this synthesis is no longer modern nor accepted by scientists. It has been completely replaced by the More Modern Synthesis based on the new science of evolutionary embryology or development (Evo Devo)which has emerged over the last twenty years. This has forced biologists to completely rethink how forms evolved, based on a growing understand of the genetic tool kit. In doing so it has taken the lid off the so-called 'black box' beloved by creationists as the site of irreducible complexity and design. There is no evidence of design only endless tinkering.

None of this is really reflected in the thesis of this book. The truth is that as far as evidence is concerned the debate between Intelligent Design and evolution is over. Intellegent design has been entirely discredited and remains the last resort of the willfully ignorant. Which is not a very intelligent position to defend.
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10 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Original Contribution to the Debate 4 Dec 2007
Format:Paperback
I doubt that either creationists or evolutionists will be very comfortable with this book but I suppose it will bother evolutionists more. First of all, Fuller claims that intelligent design (ID) has been behind most of scientific progress, and that Darwin's anti-ID stance is more the exception than the rule to that history. In fact, according to Fuller, a good deal of the history of science has been about trying to get inside the mind of God and, more recently, trying to play God. What this suggests, and here is where Fuller makes life difficult for creationists, the kind of theology that underwrites ID as a science-promoting movement is fundamentally Unitarian, as the greatest scientist of them all, Isaac Newton, himself was. Now, Unitarianism is a sort of heretical offshoot of Christianity (also present in the other monotheistic religions) that veers dangerously close to Humanism and other such anthropocentric visions of reality. This does not bother Fuller in the least, but those more firmly rooted in a traditional Biblical approach to Christianity will have issues with him. What does seem to be true, though, is that it's hard for ID NOT to go down the Unitarian route if it is genuinely trying to promote science, as opposed to being a `science-stopper', as the movement's detractors claim. In other words, Fuller is arguing that science requires a rather specific theological orientation that mainstream religious believer may find hard to accept. But he does agree with the creationists that Darwin's theory of evolution is not necessary, and perhaps even detrimental, to the future of science. Does this make Fuller a `postmodernist'? I don't know. All I know is that only his enemies make the charge. Neither he nor people normally call themselves postmodernists think of Fuller as one. Perhaps you should just read the book!
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