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3.0 out of 5 stars A disappointment, 29 July 2012
This review is from: Natural God: Deism in the Age of Intelligent Design (Kindle Edition)
I wrote a largely favorable review of Houston's previous book, "Born-Again Deist" and looked forward to reading this book. However when I turned to Chapter 4 and her views on Darwin and biological evolution I was shocked. It was as though Houston had declared that she believed the earth was flat.

Ms. Houston writes well, which is not a surprise since she has taught creative writing and literature at a number of institutions of higher learning. But by imagining that the notorious (and discredited) creationist biologist Michael J. Behe has refuted biological evolution or that somehow Charles Darwin needs a scientific dressing down reveals a clear lack of scientific understanding on Houston's part.

Houston's position can be summed up by this statement from page 115: "It is common sense that if the simplest organism is far more complex than a watch (it is), an intelligent Creator must have created life." Apart from the fact that the "then" doesn't necessarily follow from the "if," there is the rather mundane fact that "common sense" doesn't always reveal scientific truth or even come close to it.

Actually Houston goes a bit farther than this. She writes (still on page 115): "The intricate mechanism that allows any version of evolution to work--the laws of nature--must have been designed in order to consistently exist at all, not to mention as an elegant, rational entity. Existence itself, and the continued existence of existence, must have been designed."

Since Houston has no ability (nor has anyone else) to prove that "design" exists she asserts it! Consequently this book is a work of religion and philosophy and should be appreciated (or not!) as such.

I was also taken back at the rather acerbic and ad hominem way she writes about Darwin. I'll quote a bit from pages 109 to give you an idea:

"Given his early religious convictions, we might well believe Darwin's claim that he was a humane boy. Yet he admits, `I owed this entirely to the instruction and example of my sisters. I doubt indeed whether humanity is a natural or innate quality.' He substantiates this startling claim with personal anecdote: `I was very fond of collecting eggs, but I never took more than a single egg out of a bird's nest, except on one single occasion, when I took all, not for their value, but from a sort of bravado.'"...

"It's fair to ask the future Father of Evolution how he decided which single egg to choose. Was his selection the not-fittest and therefore the one targeted for non-survival? Did that make him the pawn of the demigod, natural selection?..."

It would appear that Houston's critique of Darwinism amounts to a personal and moralistic attack on Darwin himself more than anything else. But readers might want to judge for themselves. As for me, I couldn't read any further.

By the way, the subtitle of the book, referring to the present as "the Age of Intelligent Design" is a bit of a howler scientifically speaking since relative few educated people anywhere in the world believe in Intelligent Design in biology. On the other hand, this might be a true but sad expression of the zeitgeist of our time since uneducated people everywhere overwhelmingly believe in something similar.

I give Houston three stars for effort. She certainly put a lot of work into this book.
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