Forrest and Gross expose the scientific failure, the religious essence, and the political ambitions of "intelligent design" creationism. They examine the movement's "Wedge Strategy," which has advanced and is succeeding through public relations rather than through scientific research.
Analyzing the content and character of "intelligent design theory," they highlight its threat to public education and to the separation of church and state.
From the Author
Why We Wrote This Book
Religious interference in American science and science education is an old story. But intelligent design proponents’ cultivation of support for efforts to eliminate evolution from public school science, or to disparage it, and to secure recognition of creationists’ claims of scientific legitimacy, are today enjoying unprecedented, nationwide success. For the first time, such claims seem to many lay observers to have become respectable. In fact, however, they are no more respectable as scholarly inquiry, or specifically as biological science, than were their discredited "creation science" predecessors. Unfortunately, this is not widely understood. Nor is the seamless continuity of "Intelligent Design Theory" with other recognized forms of creationism. Having examined in detail claims made by members of the "Wedge," we saw it as our professional and civic obligation to scholarship and science to prepare a fully documented account of their anti-evolution agenda. We came to understand that, for the well-being of science and science education, the seamless continuity of intelligent design and traditional creationism must be demonstrated for our colleagues and the knowledgeable public. The narrowness of Wedge strategists’ religious aims, which do not reflect the values of the broader, more tolerant religious community, must be exposed, as must ID’s pervasively sham methods of inquiry. People who value science and the benefits of life in an enlightened society must be alerted to the Wedge’s political, cultural, and religious ambitions.
About the Author
Barbara Forrest earned her B.A. in English at Southeastern Louisiana University, her M.A. in philosophy at Louisiana State University, and her Ph.D. in philosophy at Tulane University. She is a professor of philosophy at Southeastern. She is a member of the National Center for Science Education and serves on the National Advisory Council for Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Her research on intelligent design for Creationism's Trojan Horse was first published as an article, "The Wedge at Work: How Intelligent Design Creationism Is Wedging Its Way into the Cultural and Academic Mainstream," in Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics, ed. Robert T. Pennock, MIT Press, 2001.
Paul R. Gross’s Ph.D. in Zoology was awarded in 1954. He is University Professor of Life Sciences, emeritus, at the University of Virginia, and holds honorary degrees from the Medical College of Ohio and Brown University. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. With Norman Levitt, he authored Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels with Science, Johns Hopkins, 1994. With Norman Levitt and Martin W. Lewis, he co-edited The Flight from Science and Reason, New York Academy of Sciences, 1997.
132 of 156 people found the following review helpful:
They get it right, but they may underestimate their opponent, February 23, 2004
|Reviewer:||Todd I. Stark "Cellular Wetware plus Books" (Philadelphia, Pa USA) - See all my reviews
This book correctly places the intelligent design movement in its political and cultural context as an unfortunately successful attempt to discredit central elements of modern science ... in principle replacing the legitimate scientific tradition with a reformist theistic science as far as it succeeds.
Forrest and Gross do a superb job of showing why ID is not legitimate science according to the history and values that have driven science since its inception.
Yet in taking a scientific debunking approach and equating ID with "creationism" in general (and the "Scientific Creationism" of Henry Morris and Adventist literalism in particular) the authors also seem to miss some of the _non-scientific_ subtleties in their opponents' reasoning which make it as compelling and successful as it has been, even to many who aren't congenial to "Young Earth Creationism" and Seventh Day Adventism.
Forrest and Gross often discount rather than listening to their opponents, and in the process they often appear miss the internal logic and completely different way of thinking of the ID proponents. This results in arguments that must genuinely sound ad hominem and question-begging to ID enthusiasts, accusing the ID authors of deliberate fraud and deception of various kinds.
The ID movement has deceptive aspects to it, but then so does the marketing of evolutionary theory in the popular press. What Forrest and Gross do not consider, and should, is the extremely radical nature of the ID claims. They treat ID as bad alternative science, seemingly because the IDers present it as an alternative scientific paradigm to evolutionary biology and natural selection. They observe that it is neither conventional science nor speculative science ... concluding that it is therefore a fraud.
This doesn't quite seem to capture it. Leaders of the ID movement often claim that science has been mistaken *from its inception* about rejecting a Creator of some sort. In other words, they do not pretend to be doing naturalistic science and then sneak in a Creator, so much as they are claiming that science should have been theistic all along.
A Creator might possibly work through evolution, but with highly visible opponents like Richard Dawkins who often use natural selection as a reason to deny the existence of a Creator, IDers have little reason to split hairs between theistic and naturalistic evolution. Their (often hidden) point is the designer, not the design.
An early hero of the ID revolution, Michael Denton ("Evolution: A Theory In Crisis"), has no argument at all with natural selection, only with its use as an all-encompassing explanation of form and function throughout living things. His popularity among IDers reveals something important about the movement: their focus on making nature consistent with the presumed designer rather than worrying about the specific mechanisms used in design.
The rejection of Aristotelian purposes for all things was pretty clearly a positive step in the development of physical science, and this is a big part of what originally drove the rejection of teleology. The ID folks are not entirely wrong in claiming that the rejection of a Creator itself was the somewhat arbitrary result of opposing the medieval Church's tradition in general along with Aristotle's pervasive teleology. It was not a logical, empirical, or epistemic neccessity, but a cultural value associated with the Enlightenment faith in the autonomy of reason. The core reasoning of the IDers is consistent and reasonable, given their assumptions, so the tone of Forrest and Gross will likely come off as shrill to their IDer opponents.
In the end, Forrest and Gross are surely right to be alarmed at this movement, even though it is probably more sincere than they credit it. The problem with ID is not with its rather trivial observation of design in nature, but in the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) reinterpretation of scientific data in light of scripture and an unspoken but shared vision of the Creator as an alternate way of reasoning in competition with the scientific tradition.
IDers do end up confusing the issue by claiming to be doing science (or "real science,") when in fact they are proposing "a new kind of science" rooted in theistic belief completely outside of the tradition to which we give that name.
Even if many scientists and philosophers were wrong to deny possibility of a Creator and the role of the Creator in natural events (something half of Americans seem to defend) Forrest and Gross are *still* right to be suspicious of a movement that borrows the name of the scientific tradition while seeking to reform it completely to reshape biology in completely non-evolutionary terms against the epistemic values and evidentiary basis of the field.
Forrest and Gross are not fooled by the superficial similarity and pretended association of ID with scientific reformers and fine-tuners of evolutionary theory. They are at their best making it clear that scientific reform of biology and the non-science of intelligent design are two very different things.
This book is a splash of cold water to those who still may think of creationism in any form as something that belongs as a "theory" alongside biological science in a classroom. ID is not alternative science, but an alternative *to* science, a part of a "culture war" to redefine the public symbols of truth and meaning. Forrest and Gross provide the evidence of this, although in avoiding the internal logic of the opposing arguments and considering their opposition to be based mostly on fraud and ignorance, they don't seem to fully realize just how powerful their opposition's reasoning can be to many people.
95 of 134 people found the following review helpful:
Courageous, intellectual, and thorough, January 20, 2004
|Reviewer:||Jeffrey O. Shallit (Kitchener, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
Although its proponents claim ID is science, there are essentially no papers describing the "theory", testing it, or making predictions from it in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. Instead, its proponents publish popular books with religious or political presses.
ID books are full of self-praise and hype, but very little actual science. What little science there is is full of flaws (one crucial calculation in Dembski's _No Free Lunch_ is off by 65 orders of magnitude, a fact he has never publicly admitted).
This book is the first to document, in exhaustive detail, the religious and political motivations behind ID. Forrest and Gross show how the movement was conceived after a religious conversion by a law professor; how it is bankrolled by a Christian reconstructionist millionaire; how it is based on nonexistent science; and how it seeks to replace science at all levels, from grade school to the National Science Foundation, with Christian dogma.
Contrary to the claim by one reviewer (who did not dare give his name), there is essentially no name-calling in this book. Instead, the analysis is scholarly, impeccable, and sober; the endnotes alone run for 65 pages.
If you are concerned about how the Religious Right is hijacking science education in the United States, this book is essential reading. Be sure to take your blood pressure medication before starting, because the unrelenting duplicity that Forrest and Gross chronicle in the ID movement is sure to make you burst a blood vessel.
Will the scientific community heed this wake-up call? I certainly hope so.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
By their own words you will know them., April 22, 2006
|Reviewer:||M. Hollingshead (Fletcher, NC) - See all my reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Now I know why the U.S. District Court Ruled against ID!, April 3, 2006
|Reviewer:||Nonfiction Steve (Marquette, MI USA) - See all my reviews|
On December 20, 2005, the US District Court ruled in the Pennsylvania ID vs. Evolution court decision (Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District) that intelligent design is NOT science and IS essentially religious in nature and the school board's requirement endorsing intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in science classes IS unconstitutional on the grounds that its inclusion violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
The author directly contributed to the decision by speaking as an expert witness during the Dover Intelligent Design court case.
This book is not recreational reading (that is why I gave it only 4 stars). It is technical and detailed, but vital to understanding what is going on behind the latest creationist (Intelligent Design) "movement". The book is filled with details about the strategy and attempt to legitimize ID. It profiles the people and (religious) organizations behind the strategy with sources listed in 64 pages of notes. It is comprehensive and thorough, a massive collection of details that cut through ID's hype and spin. If you are REALLY interested in learning the truth about ID, this book should be on your MUST READ list.
If after reading this book you still think ID is a credible or even a possible alternative to evolution, or if you still think that ID is not religious in nature, then there is no hope for you. You are one of those who believes, even when you are being lied to.
Thank you Ms. Forrest for providing the resource that we all needed to make "Intelligent Choices" about Intelligent Design. Knolwedge is power, and you have given us the power to put ID back where the Supreme Court Case of Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578 (1987) put creationism - back in church where it belongs, and out of our public schools!