on 18 April 2016
In his book, "On The Origin of Species", Darwin wrote: “A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question.”
"Uncommon Dissent" offers some balancing arguments against the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution and its application. In these well-written, varied and thought-provoking essays, (and an interview), you won't find ad hominem attacks, straw man fallacies or religious bigotry, but soundly reasoned points that highlight genuine areas of challenge for Darwinism.
The authors come from a range of philosophical backgrounds and have areas of expertise including: biology, chemistry, biochemistry, philosophy, mathematics, physics, politics, physiology, theology, genetics, molecular biology, engineering, biophysics, and law – so there's a lot of bases covered.
The foreword invites you to subject these essays to "searching critique". If you honestly do this and are still a convinced Darwinian then good for you; your worldview has withstood serious intellectual scrutiny. On the other hand, you may agree with the authors that Darwinian theory is flawed, (in whole or in part), and that it's time to seek an alternative worldview. Well there's plenty here to get you started on your search – and you can keep your intellectual integrity intact.
Don't be tempted to skip the introduction: it's a good read in itself and you'll also see why the term "Darwinism" is used.
on 11 May 2007
Humans having intelligence to argue each other, think, ponder, reflect, decide et cetc is self proving that intelligence in involved. My awareness of myself being alive within a working system itself is a proof of existence of others. Now about this book. All, I will say is that there are many facts that science never dispute, but "Evolution" is not one of those facts. Read this book or any other similar book. Then make a use of your intellect and I bet you cannot go wrong.
on 22 February 2016
In the Week in Review section of today's The New York Times, a senior official of the Templeton Foundation - without question the preeminent foundation interested in finding areas where science and religion can mutually intersect without any hostility towards each other - is quoted saying that Intelligent Design "researchers" were invited to submit funding proposals for research to his foundation. Much to the dismay of others in the foundation who were sympathetic to "Intelligent Design", all of the proposals submitted lacked substantial intellectual rigor. Hence, they were all rejected. Could it be that it's because Intelligent Design isn't science? And why, you might ask, is Intelligent Design unscientific? Quite simply because it can not be tested, in stark contrast to such important scientifice theories as the Theory of General Relativity, the Theory of Quantum Mechanics, and the Theory of Evolution via Natural Selection, which have not only survived rigorous scientific testing, but in turn, have created fruitful fields of scientific inquiry by generating more testable hyptheses. Furthermore, Intelligent Design was proposed originally back in the 17th and 18th Centuries, then rejected by scientists who realized that there was no evidence supporting it. If Intelligent Design should prevail now, should we embrace a Ptolemian view of the universe too, even when there is ample scientific evidence opposing this view?
Several of the writers in this volume seem to be suffering from an acute form of paranoia, bordering on hysteria (Most notably, the leading Intelligent Design "savant" William Dembski, but his friend Michael Behe seems to have caught this too.), accusing scientists of not relying upon experts in their peer review process of approving funding for scientific research and for eventual publication of results in peer-reviewed scientific journals (I know of no Intelligent Design researcher who has had a paper on Intelligent Design published in reputable scientific journals; instead they have to rely upon essay collections like this one, which are published by religious book publishers, in getting their views circulated amongst a predominantly scientifically illiterate American public.). Scientific peer review is a process which has worked well for all sciences since its inception back in the early 19th Century; the failure of Intelligent Design researchers in getting their work successfully peer-reviewed relies not on the experts - including prominent Nobel Prize laureates who have denounced Intelligent Design as a mediocre, unscientific idea masquerading as science - but rather, on the Intelligent Design researchers themselves for not adhering to the highest standards of scientific integrity (But I suppose that if they did, they would have to reject Intelligent Design as an unscientific idea, simply because it relies on faith, not rigorous scientific testing.).
If you are truly interested in capturing the sense of wonder in genuine scientific discovery, then I recommend reading Harvard University physicist Lisa Randall's "Warped Passages"; an elegant overview of modern physics as seen from the perspective of one of its most important theorists. I would also recommend reading Niles Eldredge's "Darwin: Discovering the Tree of Life", which chronicles Darwin's own scientific journey, culminating with the publication of his book "On the Origin of Species". I also strongly encourage you to read Robert Pennock's "Tower of Babel", Kenneth R. Miller's "Finding Darwin's God", and Eugenie Scott's "Evolution Vs. Creationism", since they have elegant critiques of Intelligent Design, cogently explaining why it is not scientific (I might add too that Niles Eldredge's "Darwin: Discovering the Tree of Life" contains another splendid rebuke of Intelligent Design.).
(Reposted from my 2005 Amazon USA review)
on 9 December 2006
Just read the first page, courtesy of Amazon (but go spend your money on something good). It is simply awful. Of course it is true that no natural scientist can give you a piece-by-piece _complete_ explanation of the evolution of any species. But if that is your criterion of adequacy, it renders any scientific explanation impossible. After all, no physicist could _completely_ explain the movement of a cricket ball: it's just too messy.
And it is simply false that there is no detailed account of actual evolutionary processes (of which natural selection is only one), unless, again, by 'detailed' you mean 'complete'.
The only relevant argument against 'Darwinism' (this locution is objectionable also: it makes it seem like the thousands of very intelligent, highly-skilled biologists out there are merely members of some cult!) is whether there is, in principle, any reason why some natural functioning is beyond the purview of explanatory theory. If the paradigm looks to have the resources to deal with any potential functioning, no matter how complex, then it really does provide a far more satisfactory explanation than the notion of design.
I'm sorry, but if you're looking for reasons to believe what you want to believe, you'd be better off just sticking your fingers in your ears or maintain that God sent Darwin here to test your faith, and whilst evolutionary theory appears to be incredibly explanatorily powerful, this is just because God wanted to make sure you weren't going to let a few facts interfere with your prejudices.