‘Induction over the history of science suggests that the best theories we have today will prove more or less untrue at the latest by tomorrow afternoon.’ Fodor, J. ‘Why Pigs don’t have wings,’ London Review of Books, 18th Oct 2007

Friday, 20 June 2008

Dissent over Descent - by Steve Fuller

Steve Fuller's new book has finally been published, "Dissent Over Descent: Intelligent Design's Challenge to Darwinism", Cambridge: Icon Books, 2008. ISBN: 978-1840468-04-5

Here is the synopsis from Amazon:

"If you think Intelligent Design Theory (IDT) is merely the respectable face of Christian fundamentalism, and Evolution the only sensible scientific world-view, think again...IDT has driven science for 500 years. It was responsible for the 17th century's Scientific Revolution and helped build modern histories of physics, mathematics, genetics and social science. IDT's proponents take literally the Biblical idea that humans have been created in God's image. This confident, even arrogant, view of humanity enabled the West to triumph in the modern era. Evolution, on the other hand, derives from more ancient, even pagan, ideas about our rootedness in nature and the transience of all life forms. It has been always more popular outside the West, and until Darwin few evolutionists were scientists. What happened to reverse these two movements' fortunes? Steve Fuller's brilliant revisionist history is essential reading for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of science's most vociferous debate."

The cover front flap has this summary:

"In Dissent over Descent Steve Fuller argues that the search for intelligent design in nature has been science's overriding concern for its entire history. Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is itself best understood as the work of a failed ID theorist. Not even Richard Dawkins, for all his condemnation of religion, can get away from ID talk. In this eagerly anticipated new book, iconoclastic sociologist of science Steve Fuller argues that hostility to ID is based less on science than sheer anti-religious bigotry. In fact, science and religion have gone hand in hand for most of Western history. Fuller shows that even theological speculations about divine justice and biblical literalism have fostered the advancement of science. However to grant these points the significance they deserve, several myths about science need to be overturned. Anyone interested in the intellectual roots and political prospects of one of the defining controversies in contemporary society will find much to come to terms with in this powerful, provocative and thrilling book, from one of the most consistently challenging and exciting authors writing on science today."

Of himself Fuller writes;

"To those not familiar with my previous work, I should say that I am a secular humanist who has been steeped in the historical and philosophical relations between science and religion since my school days with the Jesuits, the subtle masters of reconciling the seemingly irreconcilable. To this day I regard the difference between science and religion as more institutional than intellectual: they are basically trading on the same ideas but pursuing them by different means and judging them by different standards. While I cannot honestly say that I believe in a divine personal creator, no plausible alternative has yet been offered to justify the pursuit of science as a search for the ultimate systematic understanding of reality. Even if most scientists nowadays call themselves atheists, atheism as a positive doctrine has done precious little for science." (pages 8-9).

The book covers almost every aspect of the debate and crosses the fields of expertise of most of the leading ID scholars - Behe, Dembski, Hunter, Weikart et al, all need to see what they make of this book. On almost every topic Fuller has fresh and interesting things to say, some of them with exciting implications for future debate. So I hope the ID scholars will give their assessments of how well Fuller's arguments stack up in their own areas of expertise. A must read for IDers and theistic evolutionists alike.
Arthur Jones

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

An excellent read.