1/09/2010. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Prometheus Books. 459 page indexed hardback. Price: $32.98 (US), £27.95 (UK). ISBN: 1-59102-084-0.
check out website: www.prometheusbooks.com
The main problem with the so-called 'Intelligent Design' brigade is that they don't believe nature can happen accidentally and that evolution is all about trail and error and its only luck and survival that made it possible for humans to be on this planet at all. If there was a deliberate hand behind everything then they have an omnipotent god or whatever nicely laid out in the Bible which they have absolute faith in all its translations. Saying that, you would surely think that, God would have made a better job of it and not riddle us with a variety of diseases and terminal cancers that can strike us down. To create every species individually rather than out of an evolving genetic melting pot adapting to environmental conditions seems like a lot of hard work for a miraculous being.
Keeping an eye on the book market for authors attacking the 'Intelligent Design' brigade doesn't show much in the way of response. Then again, I can understand that a lot of scientists don't even want to sully their hands with a response. Although in an odd way, from Darwin on, there are a lot of books showing the evidence of evolution without having to debunk any other theory. Of all the sciences, evolution has been pretty much nailed on the head for some time. It's a bigger puzzle why people would think otherwise.
When I came across physicist/author Mark Perakh's book, 'Unintelligent Design', I could see it was out to hit these people between the eyes with where they are going wrong and it deserved a read. In a paradoxical fashion, I'm reading his criticisms of their main authors and books without actually reading them myself. Whether these same authors will read this book and become enlightened remains to be seen, especially as this book was originally published in 2006. As they won't then why should you? Very simply, it gives you the ammunition to respond every time they want to have intelligent design taught in preference to evolution at any school your off-spring might be attending.
Perakh's examination of the difference between religious dogma and scientific discovery is also interesting, let alone proving that the two cannot be reconciled. After all, how can faith compete with proven evolution. He also points out the authors who believe and write about intelligent design don't even have a basic knowledge of Hebrew, the source of the Bible, and rely on the translations that often appear to be approximation as to what was originally said. Ironically, Perakh knows more about their own subject purely by checking the source himself than they do which tends to make their books typical of crank material that we've all seen over the years.
Perakh's depiction of how badly informed, for example, author Grant Jeffrey is in interpreting the Hebrew version of the Bible is a joy to behold. Jeffrey sees combination of the number 7 turning up in word counts and so forth as a means to think this is a hidden message from God. A later chapter deals examines the Bible for hidden code where Perakh also demonstrates that a similar thing would happen with any text, even in English.
Something Perakh doesn't dwell on but raised a question mark for me is Christ dictated the New Testament then what were his main apostles doing writing their parts? Even Moses was only concerned with his own section. I doubt if any of them saw their writing would become part of a greater book when they wrote it. Grant Jeffrey cites those of us who don't see, shall we call it his vision, as either fools or liars but is it any wonder that we might see him as being deluded by his own ideas?
There's a great examination of the four apostles sections of the New Testament showing them to be poor historians that you wouldn't trust in a court of law for being collaboration that you would have to raise question marks on the events that they saw for themselves. Considering how the intelligent design folk treat the Bible as...er...gospel and don't question what they read, even in passing, shows too much onus on a single source of material. I think that's probably a flaw in the human personality. After all, we've seen it happen in our own community with the fan gatherings solely on one TV series and not see anything else in a blinkered way.
I also love how Perakh depicts the Romans as rulers and not likely to do what the Jews would want to do, let alone the Jews themselves seeing crucifixion as an abomination and not want any of their own killed that way. The Romans used crucifixion as a means to kill rebel Jews and Christ's popularity would have earned him that, especially after that parade into Jerusalem. If you think this seems an odd distraction from intelligent design, it isn't as it just points out you shouldn't read any book with rose-tinted glasses.
The chapter, 'Science In The Eyes Of A Scientist', explains the need for evidence in building up a theory and how looking for one thing, discovers something else. The best example of which is with German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen who examining the noise from a cathode ray tube that other scientists were ignoring and discovered x-rays. Think what the world would be like without that discovery. Dogma occurs in the religious as much as the scientific community but things can be changed in the latter against irrefutable repeatable evidence. Religious dogma paralysed scientific development for centuries and although he doesn't say it, Perakh demonstrates that we should be beyond intelligent design today when so much evidence supports evolution.
I suspect some of you will find this book heavy going, especially with an probability theory and such, but it would be hard to give proof in a simplified way without giving explanation which Mark Perakh really gives. He doesn't character assassinate, but just shows how shallow the material actually is. If you want some ammunition against the intelligent design brigade, then this book is surely the best place to start.
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