Science versus the Intelligent Design Movement
By John Brockman (Editor)
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780307277220, 272pp.)
Publication Date: May 9, 2006
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Evolutionary science lies at the heart of a modern understanding of the natural world. Darwin’s theory has withstood 150 years of scientific scrutiny, and today it not only explains the origin and design of living things, but highlights the importance of a scientific understanding in our culture and in our lives.
Recently the movement known as “Intelligent Design” has attracted the attention of journalists, educators, and legislators. The scientific community is puzzled and saddened by this trend–not only because it distorts modern biology, but also because it diverts people from the truly fascinating ideas emerging from the real science of evolution. Here, join fifteen of our preeminent thinkers whose clear, accessible, and passionate essays reveal the fact and power of Darwin’s theory, and the beauty of the scientific quest to understand our world.
John Brockman is a writer, agent, and publisher of Edge, the "Third Culture" website (www.edge.org), the forum for leading scientists and thinkers to share their research with the general public. He is the author of By The Late John Brockman and The Third Culture and has edited several previous anthologies including The Next Fifty Years, Curious Minds, and My Einstein. He lives in New York City.
“Evolutionary biology certainly hasn’t explained everything that perplexes biologists, but intelligent design hasn’t yet tried to explain anything at all.” –Daniel C. Dennett, Philosopher
“Natural selection is not some desperate last resort of a theory. It is an idea whose plausibility and power hits you between the eyes with a stunning force, once you understand it in all its elegant simplicity.” –Richard Dawkins, Evolutionary Biologist
“An evolutionary understanding of the human condition, far from being incompatible with a moral sense, can explain why we have one.” –Steven Pinker, Psychologist
Not only is ID markedly inferior to Darwinism at explaining and understanding nature but in many ways it does not even fulfill the requirements of a scientific theory. –Jerry A. Coyne, evolutionary biologist
The geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky famously declared, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” One might add that nothing in biology makes sense in the light of intelligent design. –Jerry A. Coyne, evolutionary biologist
Evolutionary biology certainly hasn’t explained everything that perplexes biologists, but intelligent design hasn’t yet tried to explain anything at all. —Daniel C. Dennett, philosopher and cognitive scientist
A denial of evolution–however motivated–is a denial of evidence, a retreat from reason to ignorance. —Tim D. White, paleontologist
Natural selection is not some desperate last resort of a theory. It is an idea whose plausibility and power hits you between the eyes with a stunning force, once you understand it in all its elegant simplicity. —Richard Dawkins, evolutionary biologist
The supernatural explanation fails to explain because it ducks the responsibility to explain itself.—Richard Dawkins, evolutionary biologist
Nothing indicates that people who believe that life arose by chance also believe that morality is haphazard. —Scott Atran, anthropologist and psychologist
An evolutionary understanding of the human condition, far from being incompatible with a moral sense, can explain why we have one. —Steven Pinker, a cognitive scientist
To state that a given organ is so improbable that it requires design is just ill founded. The argument uses standard probability, which does not apply to the evolution of the biosphere. —Stuart A. Kauffman, theoretical biologist
We don’t have an intelligent designer (ID), we have a bungling consistent evolver (BCE). Or maybe an adaptive changer (AC). In fact, what we have in the most economical interpretation is, of course, evolution. —Lisa Randall, physicist
What counts as a controversy must be delineated with care, as we want students to distinguish between scientific challenges and sociopolitical ones. —Marc D. Hauser, evolutionary psychologist
Incredulity doesn’t count as an alternative position or critique. —Marc D. Hauser, evolutionary psychologist
Rather than removing meaning from life, an evolutionary perspective can and should fill us with a sense of wonder at the rich sequence of natural systems that gave us birth and continues to sustain us. —Scott D. Sampson, paleontologist