Dembski, William and Jonathan Witt. Intelligent Design Uncensored: An Easy-to-Understand Guide to the Controversy. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2010. $15.00. 175 pages. ISBN 0-8308-3742-6.
What’s all the hubbub, bub? One might ask this silly question who hears the phrase “intelligent design” or “neo-Darwinism” or perhaps even “methodological naturalism” floating around in print, on TV, on radio, or even in daily conversation among informed individuals. What esteemed scientist William Dembski and all-around scholar Jonathan Witt aim to do in Intelligent Design Uncensored is give a well-informed guide to the “correct” understanding and interpretation of the controversial intelligent design movement. I say correct like that because there is a plethora of literature (some scholastic, most far from it) that aims to dismantle intelligent design and its proponents from any view scientific, philosophical, educational and otherwise.
Unfortunately for the intelligent design naysayers, ID (as it’s commonly referred to as) isn’t going away anytime soon. As a matter of fact, the movement continues to gain steam year after year as more professional academics “come out of the closet”, so to speak, and sign their name on the dotted line that they, at the very least, acknowledge that ID should be discussed in scholastic and non-scholastic circles. Despite the valiant attempt at academic freedom that the United States (should) be known for, there are many people who disagree that this theory (which after all Darwinism is a theory as well) should not even be discussed. According to some, ID is as silly to discuss as a “flying spaghetti monster” or other nonsense.
Despite the Darwinist figureheads who aim to squash ID into the history books (and probably not even that amount of recognition), intelligent design and the science, the philosophy, and the culture war continues on valiantly. This latest addition to the wide expanse of intelligent design literature available to the curious reader is certainly written for a layperson audience. It does not get into the “heavy” argumentation or propositional intricacies typically catered for at the ivory tower. But instead, this book looks at the debate from 30,000 feet up and asks broad questions about what is going on. It delves into some of the “mainstay” ID arguments like Michael Behe’s discoveries at the microbiological level, the “fine-tuned” argument (which has actually been utilized by theist apologists for centuries), and other propositions putting forth a solid case for intelligent design.
At the core of the intelligent design vs. neo-Darwinism debate is a “heady” concept known as methodological naturalism (or also referred to as philosophical materialism) which basically gives everything to the sensory, physical world we find ourselves in and give nothing to the possibility (inference?) of a supernatural realm. Neo-Darwinist proponents like to discount this “core” of the debate but as the book makes very clear and as objective bystanders (such as atheist and ID sympathizer Terry Eagleton among others) this is certainly where the debate is at.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is not very familiar with the intelligent design arguments or even the debate generally. But if you’re looking for “deeper” literature out there that can go into greater depths about the philosophy of methodological naturalism or the science of microbiology then there is a wealth of other books that a reader can peruse. After a person reads this book I would recommend Signs of Intelligence, also by Dembski, which is a book of essays that goes a little further into some of the subjects described in Uncensored. All in all it is a well put-together book that will serve the ID vs. Neo-Darwinism debate quite well….and let’s hope that the Darwinist camp read actual ID proponents’ work instead of continually chasing after logical fallacies like the straw man or ad hominem attacks. In fairness, ID proponents should be well informed of Darwinist arguments as well.