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3 Theories of Everything
3 Theories of Everything
by Ellis Potter
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.91

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On Zen, Christ and Physics, 30 Jan 2012
I havent read the book yet, but have attended lectures by the author, which were excellent. He author was trained in both Zen-Buddhism and Christianity, thus knowing both intimately, allowing unique insights into the two ways of looking at the world: monism and (trinitarian) theism. To these he adds the common modern position of atheism (which usually involves the belief that there is no reality beyond or behind physics: physicalism). He describes the overlaps and contrasts between the 3 views in a fresh way that is more satisfying way than the vague spirituality offered by some. He treats all views with respect, but does not pretend all are identical, and does reveal his own preference along the way.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 24, 2012 11:39 AM GMT

Creation or Evolution: Do We Have to Choose?
Creation or Evolution: Do We Have to Choose?
by Denis Alexander
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.99

20 of 43 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars God creates, but not intelligently., 30 Dec 2008
Denis Alexander sincerely believes that Darwinian Evolution is absolutely and totally sufficient to produce not only the diversity, but also the underlying complexity of life. For most people, that means that God didnt do it, and he would like to persuade us otherwise.

Like many theistic evolutionists, Denis believes that God watched and guided the process, but not in such a way as to leave a discernible difference. That is left up to blind faith. I confess I am with Dawkins on this one, that that is a bit wierd.

He tries to make theistic evolution seem more theologically acceptable than creationism and even intelligent design, which has no theology attached to it.

One way he does this is by suggesting that creationists and ID people dont understand the immanence of God in all creation (i.e. that God upholds the very laws of nature). Which means that although gravity causes objects to fall, God causes gravity, so really God does it after all. Therefore if God causes evolution, then God creates through evolution. Therefore Denis reaches the perverse conclusion that this purely mechanical view of God's action is less deistic than ID. But all creationists and IDers I have met understand God's immanence. They just dont take it to the Denis's extreme. Despite God's upholding it, the law of gravity has a specification which requires design at some fundamental level. But Darwinian evolution is something that just happens, without design. At one point Denis seems to hint at the possibility of design in genetic pathways in genomes (a very promising area, I would add), but then runs away from it.

In fact he runs from any meaningful sense of the word "design", and so he asserts that the Hebrew word for "creation" excludes the concepts of "design", "craftsmanship" or "engineering". In so doing, he tries to score another theological point against ID. The only content that the word "creation" retains is in the word "form". Of course, for most people this still includes design, but for Denis it is important that undesigned, purely natural processes (which can "form" things) be allowed to count as "creation". Again that is somewhat perverse. Maybe other people are happy with this, but not me, thanks.

'Nature is what God does' is in danger of being transformed into a pantheistic meaning. I am sure that Augustine did not intend to say that God works exclusively through natural processes. God has a free hand as well.

He doesnt answer ID on their own terms. For example, he ignores the fact that lots of ID people do believe in universal common descent. Personally, I think that homology patterns are better explained in terms of design rather than common descent; but my knowledge is limited and I could be wrong. The closest he gets to facing ID is when he claims that biological information is entirely dependent on context, is non-objective and cant be separated from that context (although he doesnt say so, this is important in undermining Dembski's approach, which requires independent specification). For example, the same protein may perform different tasks in different contexts. However, this is true of screws, levers, all the way up to microchips, plus all machines that can be made from simpler, even generic parts. Yet all of these contain information ("in-form-ation") in a sense that is more than merely subjective, though some of them are more obviously designed than others.

In short, this is an awful book regarding creation, though on the subject of evolution and common descent, there is some food for thought. I found it double-minded, very confusing, and a somewhat embarrassing book.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 8, 2013 6:34 PM BST

Genetic Entropy & the Mystery of the Genome
Genetic Entropy & the Mystery of the Genome
by John C. Sanford
Edition: Paperback

6 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book, but spoiled by religion., 30 Dec 2008
E.D.Barnes' review is spot on.

Scientifically, this book makes sense, and should be a powerful challenger, and a world-changer.

Unfortunately, it was ruined by Sanford adding his own doom-and-gloom eschatology (we're all going to die of genetic meltdown, and even genetic engineering cant fix us). I think that this is wrong theologically (doesnt fit with Romans 8:20-22, for example). But the worst thing is that he regards it as an unavoidable consequene of his scientific arguments, which it is not. But surely the whole point is that intelligence can do things that degradative evolution cant, and we are intelligent. I doubt that it is beyond us to prevent genetic meltdown, although it will help when we start acknowledging it was designed, and has a particular specification that we can repair.

So this book has "fundamentalist" written all over it. Which is a shame. It needs to be re-editted. There are sometimes good reasons for separating science and religion in academic discourse (although not absolutely, of course). This should not have been an evangelistic tract, but it is.

The Biotic Message: Evolution Versus Message Theory
The Biotic Message: Evolution Versus Message Theory
by Walter J. Remine
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An enlightening romp through evolutionary theory., 30 Dec 2008
This book makes a good case that modern evolutionary theory is confused and self-contradictory. Of course, this could mean that it is merely an unfinished science. However, Remine also levels the accusation that it is shaped much more by a fundamental belief in material causes than by empirical observation. Thus explanation often takes the form of assuming the least-bad evolutionary explanation, while serious design explanations do not receive consideration. Meanwhile, data get conflated with their evolutionary interpretations, so that even the most unfriendly data ends up being used as if it demonstrated evolution. For example, "Convergent Evolution". The observation is "homologies which dont fit with common lineage", but the interpretation could be "common lineage is wrong", rather than "convergent evolution". Either way, the argument "homology implies common lineage" will need to be re-examined, but this is rarely mentioned.

Remine's second strand is to make a case that the biome and the geological progression constitute a Biotic Message, designed specifically to frustrate attempts to explain it in terms of evolution, in such a way that does not become clear until one studies evolutionary theory in detail. I found this a very interesting idea, deserving further development, but I wasnt convinced that he made the case in this book. The picture he left me with was not crystal clear but seemingly contradictory in places, though that is partly due to the huge mass of material (it is a big book), and possibly I missed some things.

For example, he thinks that the nested hierarchy of creatures and their genomes is bad news for evolution, because it precludes any conclusion that there has been extensive horizontal-gene-transfer, evolution's most potent weapon (bacteria constantly swap genes and are much more difficult to categorise hierarchically). This is counter-intuitive, but a fascinating idea.

On the other hand, he points out the total lack of evidence for gradual, progressive evolution in the fossil record, which can best be described as Punctuated Equilibrium. He argues that this is clear evidence for a kind of Progressive Creationism, rather than untraceable bursts of accelerated evolution (Gould's position). However, to reach this conclusion, he argues that you need to take a detailed look at evolutionary theory, which shows that Evolution really does need all those millions of years (Dawkin's position), and probably more. Theory (slow evolution) and empirical evidence (no slow evolution) dont match up.

Remine is different from Young Earth Creationists in that he does not discuss religion, he believes in an ancient earth, and reviews almost exclusively secular science quite deeply to make his points. The areas that he touched on, that I do have some knowledge about, were well done, lending credibility to the rest.

One criticism is that he appears to suffer from the frustration of working in a field where everyone regards Evolution as effectively proven despite the confusion that prevails, and sometimes that frustration surfaces and makes the book feel one-sided and hard-to-read dispassionately. But that is a very common problem. His case that Evolution is surrounded by myth and illusion, and probably wrong, is compelling, however.

The Design Revolution
The Design Revolution
by Charles W. Colson
Edition: MP3 CD

2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A solid reply to the critics, 30 Dec 2008
This review is from: The Design Revolution (MP3 CD)
The Design Revolution is primarily a reply to the arguments levelled against the logic of how inferences-to-design are made. Most of these seem silly in light of the fact that we are able to make positive identifications of design in everyday life, and the fact that we are able to justify the methodology of SETI despite the fact that most of us have never seen aliens or any evidence for aliens :-D , and all this on a Baconian, empirical, non-ideological basis.

Many philosophical and metaphysical objections are also dealt with, allowing for a range of possible positions as to the how of design (e.g. for those who cannot countenance miraculous intervention), while pointing out that we usually dont need to know how an effect was produced to know it was designed.

However, to really understand why all this argumentation leads to an actual conclusion of Design, you need to read No Free Lunch: Why Specified Complexity Cannot Be Purchased Without Intelligence which undermines the common assumption that Evolution is finally responsible for creating information.

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed [DVD] [2008] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed [DVD] [2008] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Anderson Cooper
Offered by Moref Designs
Price: 5.92

21 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Darwinism is not about free thought., 17 Oct 2008
The premise of this film is that the establishment feels Darwinism threatened as never before and is closing a wall around all serious dialogue about it in public, in a way that is hurting people. The film presents Darwinism as a religion of death, which leads honest people to become atheists, and suggests that the intolerance shown now has always been characteristic of the ideologies that use Darwinism.

I can see why Darwinists will bristle at this film. But the allegations of mistreatment of academics and teachers are actually correct (read both sides). And the racism in the film is exclusively on the part of historical Darwinists.

It dares to point out how Hitler used a version of Darwinism as part of his ideology, and how many more moderate racists and eugenecists used Darwinism during that period. It is really scary, and it was not that long ago.

There are some Michael-Moore-esque pictures of the Berlin Wall to evoke emotions, and of course the concentration camps. So it is a piece of propaganda, but not uninformative, and could help Darwinists to understand how their behaviour is perceived.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 14, 2009 1:53 PM GMT

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