Dembski, W.A. Mere Creation: Science, Faith, and Intelligent Design. Downer's Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1998. 475p.
Reviewed by Jim Miller.
If you're like me, you've resolved by now to accept certain basic understandings about life without question. You have to tell your kids about Santa because it's fun, you don't have to fire your President when he has an affair, you should pay your taxes without thinking too hard about where it's going, and so forth. It's always earth shattering when someone undermines one of these fundamental beliefs, because it makes you realize that some arena of your life was governed more by habit than clear reason. "My goodness!" you would say after such a revelation, "I guess a cup of coffee isn't really worth $3.50 after all!" And you would stop going to Starbucks.
Now a team of scientists, philosophers, and a stray lawyer are after one of the most fundamental presumptions of the modern mind: naturalism. After Phil Johnson cracked the Darwinian tyranny with Darwin on Trial, word spread that you could, in his words, sink the battleship. After a 1996 consortium to discuss the crumbling edifice, Bill Dembski put together a collection of their work. It's called Mere Creation, and it's destined to be remembered as one of the key stepping stones to undermining modern scientific arrogance.
Thomas Kuhn exposed the secret. Dembski is giving us the first real case study. Watch what happens.
The book offers eighteen essays arguing the case for the intelligent design of the universe. Their sources are varied: biology, cosmology, biochemistry, philosophy, astronomy, and history. But their goal is the same, and it is NOT to defend Genesis like an archaic, "Inherit the Wind" kind of stereotype. The goal is a refined, intellectual critique of a religiously held paradigm: Darwinian naturalism.
We've been taught (and lazily acquiesced to) the doctrine that humanity evolved from different species in the soup of time, chance, and natural selection. If we have a theological bent, we may have rationalized God into the picture as a silent but present agent. But what happens when 150 years after the fact, hard scientific data has still not closed a convincing case (I thought the O.J. trial went long!)?
The book is fascinating for it's analysis, courageous for its vision, respectable for its calliber, and deadly for its force. While the uninitiated may be lost in some of the detail, the thoughtful participant in the debates over intelligent design and human origins will find in this data a heavy sword with which to march back into the scientific arena.
And chances are, the tides really are turning. The establishment, having failed to produce an airtight defense, is now resorting to name-calling to avoid the present danger. While I remain unthreatened by the possibility that life has evolved, this book made me doubt that our family photo album will really read that way.