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2.0 out of 5 stars The natural world as God's handiwork, 18 Nov. 2010
This review is from: Dissent Over Descent: Intelligent Design's Challenge to Darwinism (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.'

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 Box
Intelligent Design Uncensored
Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design
The Blind Watchmaker
The Richness of Life: A Stephen Jay Gould Reader
Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 13 Dec 2010 07:30:10 GMT
John Brewer says:
You may have read the book but you didn't understand what you read. You seem to think Fuller is criticising Teilhard de Chardin when he appears to be endorsing him. Perhaps the whole ID thing is a little too complicated for you and you're projecting your confusion onto Fuller's text. I immediately lost faith in your credibility when you simply cited what clerics think against Fuller's views, as if that were evidence. I understand if you can't think for yourself, but please don't mask it as criticism. It's quite clear that you're a fairly traditional Trinitarian Christian who likes the intellectual segregationist policies of theist evolutionism (i.e. separate but equal vis-a-vis science and religion) but theist evolutionism's capacity to dwell in the cultural comfort zone is hardly a measure of its truth.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Dec 2010 10:24:35 GMT
An interesting comment - which indicates to me that you have not understood my review at all nor, I suspect, Fuller's book. You say that I think that Fuller is criticizing Teilhard: well, when he calls him a 'heretical Jesuit palaeontologist' (p.96) that's hardly complimentary! But overall, as with so much in this book, I formed no clear impression as to whether he was supporting or criticizing Teilhard.
The fact that many enlightened clerics today think that humankind has created their anthropomorphic view of God in their own image, rather than the other way around, is not 'evidence' one way or another. It is simply a fact that disagrees with Fuller's view and I simply stated it as such.
But the most damning indication that you have understood little is when you regard me as 'a fairly traditional Trinitarian Christian who likes intellectual segregationist evolutionism'.
First: science tells us about evolution; the Bible tells us nothing! they are most certainly not 'equal' in their explanatory value, contrary to what Fuller is most clearly stating (read the transcript of his evidence at the Kitzmiller trial!!). The Genesis creation story is myth, fantasy, fiction.
Second: I most certainly am not 'a fairly traditional Trinitarian Christian'!! I regard Christianity as the most unbelievable and offensive of all the major world religions. To suggest that we can 'save' people from their sins by killing another human being, and that most horribly, is both absurd and obscene.
So I suggest you need to read Fuller again to see if you can understand some of it.

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Jul 2012 17:33:11 BDT
John Brewer says:
Actually, 'heretical' is complimentary for Fuller. You clearly don't understand where Fuller is coming from. Quit while you're behind. Your own religious views are bizarre to say the least, even if they're not Trinitarian.
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