Intelligent Design

The top three books that helped change me from a mindless, irrational Darwinist into an ID proponent

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#1 Evolution, A Theory in Crisis

I was arguing with a (yes, Christian) friend named Dave, about “evolution,” and told him that science had proven that in the primordial seas, once upon a time, a self-replicating molecule came about, and then random changes filtered through natural selection eventually produced all of life. This is what I was taught all my life, having grown up in an academic community infested with “scientists” who told me that any other interpretation of origins was evidence of mindless religious fanaticism.

Dave said, “Don’t trust me, read Michael Denton’s book.” I read it in two days, and exclaimed to myself: “Unholy Crap, I’ve been conned!” (By the way, as best I can figure, Denton is an atheist or at least an agnostic, and has no theological axe to grind.) Interestingly enough, it was this book that first inspired Michael Behe to have doubts about Darwinian orthodoxy.

#2 Darwin On Trial

In this work, Phillip Johnson, an attorney with an extraordinarily sharp mind, elucidates the deceptive and manipulative techniques employed by Darwinists to obfuscate, distort, and use selective evidence to defend the indefensible.

#3 Darwin’s Black Box

In this book Michael Behe lays the foundation for the discovery (which should have been evident all along, ever since the realization that the DNA molecule is an information-encoding system) that life at the most fundamental level is the product of engineered technology. I’ve read the rebuttals to Behe by the most prominent Darwinists, and they are universally desperate attempts that don’t even address his challenges, but change the subject to protein-sequence similarities and other irrelevancies.

23 Replies to “The top three books that helped change me from a mindless, irrational Darwinist into an ID proponent

  1. 1
    Bruce David says:

    Once again, Gil, your experience mirrors mine to a surprising degree. It was Evolution, a Theory in Crisis, followed by Darwin’s Black Box that opened my eyes as well, and like you, I have read Darwinist responses to Darwin’s Black Box (like Dawkins’ NY Times review) and found them to be exclusively composed of rhetorical devices, primarily straw man arguments, appeals to authority (“all real scientists…”), and ad hominem attacks. I haven’t yet read Johnson’s book. I guess I really should, huh.

  2. 2
    GilDodgen says:

    Bruce,

    Indeed, please read Darwin On Trial. It is a masterwork of logic and eloquence.

  3. 3
    kinglygift says:

    Would anyone be up to the task of looking over an email exchange between me and a biology teacher? I’m still familiarizing myself with ID, and am not in the same league as this person. I honestly am open to evolution and ID but I have leaning more towards the ID side. I guess what I’m looking for is an ID-based response to his answers to some of my questions, just to hear both sides.

  4. 4
    van says:

    The book that initially opened my eyes was “Not By Chance” by Lee Spetner. Another was “Independent Birth of Organisms” by Senapathy…..Another is “Biology of Belief” by Bruce Lipton…..finally, my most favorite book to date is “Biological Emergences” by Robert Reid, (Emeritus Professor of Biology at the University of Victoria, British Columbia)

    Has anyone else read this wonderful book?

    http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalo.....;tid=11165

    I’ve got over 100 books on evolution/creation, and Reid’s book is probably the most scholarly, thought-provoking and powerful critique of natural selection I’ve read. To read the book’s description from Amazon makes it sound like it might be a bore-fest — it’s not. His logic/critique is sharp as a knife and he writes in a highly engaging, interesting, and understandable way.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    Gil, Those are the same first books that gave me a clue that something was seriously amiss with what I had been told was true for how I got here. As well, Three videos, which really brought this point home that I was being lied to, were ,,,

    1. Darwin’s Dilemma
    2. The Privileged Planet
    3. Unlocking the Mystery of Life

    by Illustra Media:
    http://illustramedia.com/

    ,,,here is a demo reel by the animators hired by Illustra:

    Molecular Biology Animations – Demo Reel
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/5915291

    The Animators:

    Light Productions Video Services – demo clips of Cambrian Animals From Darwin’s Dilemma
    http://www.lightproductionsvid.....imals.html

  6. 6
    vividbleau says:

    My top three

    1) “Algeny” Jeremy Rifkin. The chapter titled the Darwinian Sunset was the first time I saw a secular writer dismantle Darwinism. Additinaly explained why it is the current dominant paradigm and why, because of genetic engineering, it is destined to be replaced.

    2)”Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds” A litany of historical examples of mass psychology and how even the most absurd ideas can be held by the masses in spite of their absurdity.

    3)”Darwin on Trial” Once PJ demonstrated that Darwinism was nothing more than metaphysics disguised as science it was game set match.

    Vivid

  7. 7
    kairosfocus says:

    Gil:

    The books that made me pay serious attention to the design view are:

    1: Denton’s Evo, a Theory in Crisis (as seems to be so for most people!)

    2: Johnson’s Darwin on Trial (and also his Reason in the Balance, that opened my eyes to some of what is going on).

    3: The decisive one, for me, though, was Thaxton et al, The Mystery of Life’s Origin (fat download linked from here). The three chapters on thermodynamics (cf. here) made more sense than a lot of other things I had seen. But, this one is for those who can follow a thermodynamics case and provide a background statistical thermodynamics context. Cf my own note here that riffs off TMLO. (Complementary to the modern information based approach.)

    GEM of TKI

  8. 8
    zephyr says:

    It’s amazing the influence that Denton had with his Evolution A Theory in Crisis. His book was a big influence on Johnson and Behe themselves. Without Denton’s influence, perhaps Johnson and Behe would never have written their books, at least not when they did so or from their exact perspectives. Denton was also the first to influence me to really question evolutionary theory.

    It’s worth pointing out that Denton’s book was published by a very obscure small press (Adler&Adler), I assume because of the hostility or at least indifference of bigger publishing houses back in the 80’s to heretics in evolutionary biology. Has anything changed much?

    I still consider Walter Remine’s The Biotic Message Evolution vs Message Theory a largely overlooked masterpiece and a landmark book in the field.

    On Johnson, it’s worth mentioning that in some ways it was a case of history repeating. Johnson is of course a retired Berkely law prof, and he used his law background to shape his critique of Darwinism, hence Darwin on Trial. Norman Macbeth was a Harvard trained lawyer who used his law background to shape his critique of evolutionary biology in his book, Darwin Retried (1971). Macbeth’s book would earn praise from no less a figure than Karl Popper (although Popper is difficult to nail on evolutionary biology, wilfully slippery even).

  9. 9
    PaV says:

    Let me chime in:

    For me it was:
    (1) Evolution: A Theory in Crisis;
    (2) Darwin’s Black Box; and
    (3) Darwin on Trial

    But what kind of started it all was simply reading Origin of Species.

    I read the chapter on: “Difficulties on Theory”. His answers to these “difficulties” didn’t hold water. The “imperfection of the geological record” could no longer be maintained, and I knew from a course on Ichthyology that the “missing links” were still missing. That began the journey.

    How interesting that Denton’s book has caused such a groundswell! Imagine what the next generation of thinkers will treat Darwinism! It should be quite a show!

    Thanks all for the citations.

  10. 10
    Bruce David says:

    Actually, there is one other work that definitely bears mentioning, and that is Genetic Entropy & the Mystery of the Genome, by J.C. Sanford. The central thesis, for which he argues quite cogently using the principles of population genetics, is that the genome of every species is in fact degenerating. Every species, including us, will go extinct after a few million years due to the slow accumulation of near neutral mutations. Each of these mutations, which constitute the vast majority, by itself has such minimal effect that it can’t be selected for by natural selection. Thus they build up in the genome (genetic entropy) from generation to generation until their cumulative effect is lethal to the continuation of the species. This is devastating for Darwinian theory because it implies that no species can serve as the base from which a new species can emerge. All life would have ended a few million years after it began (assuming, of course, that it began only once).

    As I see it, the problems with Darwinism fall into three large categories (to simplify somewhat): 1) the problem of the origin of information, 2) the fact that it is in general impossible to make a major change to a complex system through a series of minor changes (the notion of irreducible complexity fits here), and 3) the problem of genetic entropy, as detailed in Sanford’s book.

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:

    Fav passage from Denton:

    ___________________

    >> To grasp the reality of life as it has been revealed by molecular biology, we must magnify a cell a thousand million times until it is twenty kilometers in diameter [[so each atom in it would be “the size of a tennis ball”] and resembles a giant airship large enough to cover a great city like London or New York. What we would then see would be an object of unparalleled complexity and adaptive design. On the surface of the cell we would see millions of openings, like the port holes of a vast space ship, opening and closing to allow a continual stream of materials to flow in and out. If we were to enter one of these openings we would find ourselves in a world of supreme technology and bewildering complexity. We would see endless highly organized corridors and conduits branching in every direction away from the perimeter of the cell, some leading to the central memory bank in the nucleus and others to assembly plants and processing units. The nucleus itself would be a vast spherical chamber more than a kilometer in diameter, resembling a geodesic dome inside of which we would see, all neatly stacked together in ordered arrays, the miles of coiled chains of the DNA molecules. A huge range of products and raw materials would shuttle along all the manifold conduits in a highly ordered fashion to and from all the various assembly plants in the outer regions of the cell.

    We would wonder at the level of control implicit in the movement of so many objects down so many seemingly endless conduits, all in perfect unison. We would see all around us, in every direction we looked, all sorts of robot-like machines . . . . We would see that nearly every feature of our own advanced machines had its analogue in the cell: artificial languages and their decoding systems, memory banks for information storage and retrieval, elegant control systems regulating the automated assembly of components, error fail-safe and proof-reading devices used for quality control, assembly processes involving the principle of prefabrication and modular construction . . . . However, it would be a factory which would have one capacity not equaled in any of our own most advanced machines, for it would be capable of replicating its entire structure within a matter of a few hours . . . .

    Unlike our own pseudo-automated assembly plants, where external controls are being continually applied, the cell’s manufacturing capability is entirely self-regulated . . . .

    [[Denton, Michael, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, Adler, 1986, pp. 327 – 331.] >>
    __________________

    After reflecting on that, ask yourself how evolutionary materialists try to account for the origin of life, and whether it makes sense. Then, think about how cells join together in tissues, organs and systems, starting from the zygote, and ask yourself whether chance and necessity accounts of body plan level biodiversity make sense.

    Unless you beg the question a priori, similar to Lewontin.

    GEM of TKI

  12. 12
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: We can still get the book, starting with here.

  13. 13
    Bruce David says:

    kairosfocus,

    Yes, it is quite amazing that anyone could even entertain the idea that what Denton describes could have arisen through any other means than having been designed and built. It’s absurd on the face of it.

    What is so interesting to me in all this is its demonstration of the fact that very smart people are willing to hold totally stupid ideas rather than give up a cherished paradigm. But, as I have mentioned elsewhere, I also believe that this willingness is something of which we are all capable, that the stupidity into which the materialists have fallen should always remain an object lesson for us all.

  14. 14
  15. 15
    bornagain77 says:

    semi OT: Gil,

    You may appreciate this audio interview:

    Apologist Interview: Stephen Notman –
    Today’s interview is with Stephen Notman. He talks about his background as an atheist, the role of arguments, evidence, and existential, and the experiential in his journey. He explores his reasons for rejecting God and for eventually accepting Christ, as well as the power of immorality in influencing unbelief and belief and more.
    http://apologetics315.blogspot.com/search?q=Notman

  16. 16
    GilDodgen says:

    Let the reading list expand and continue!

    The bottom line is that Darwinism is a quaint, 19th-century, simplistic fantasy concerning biological reality, conjured up in the environment of the death-of-God movement of that era. It was the long-awaited creation myth of the nihilistic religion of materialism.

    The only problem with Darwinian orthodoxy is that it makes absolutely no sense and never did. But it especially makes no sense in the information age, during which we can appreciate the fact that the mechanisms of living systems are based on the most sophisticated computer program ever developed, with extraordinary error-detection-and-repair algorithms, and much more.

  17. 17
    Bruce David says:

    I recently had the thought that if what is now known about biological organisms, from the cellular level on up, had been known at the time that Darwin wrote The Origin of Species, the theory would have been laughed out of existence. It is only because materialism has gained such a foothold in the sciences during the intervening 150 years (due in no small measure to Darwinism itself) that it is still taken seriously.

  18. 18
    RkBall says:

    Bruce — yes.

    If the original theory had been one of intelligent, directed design rather than random mutation, today’s data would be viewed as conclusive vindication. With what we now know about cell engineering, front-loading, mutation algorithms, and information, it would be game-over.

    Problem is, the evidence continues to be stubbornly interpreted in the light of the wrong theory.

    PS — this is a most wonderful post/thread. Thank you to all who posted!

  19. 19
    Chris Doyle says:

    I’ve read two of the three (Behe and Johnson) and cannot see how anyone approaching the subject with an open mind would believe that there is an empirical basis for evolution. Even close minded evolutionists will be disturbed by these works. Must get hold of Denton’s book, but in the meantime, I would still recommend Richard Milton’s, “Shattering the Myths of Darwinism” (the full title here in the UK was “The Facts of Life – Shattering the Myths of Darwinism”).

    http://tinyurl.com/shatteringthemythsofdarwinism

  20. 20
    bornagain77 says:

    semi OT, You may appreciate this article Gil,:

    Two Kinds of Atheists by Mike Adams
    http://townhall.com/columnists.....page/full/

  21. 21
    Frost122585 says:

    The book that helped convince me that ID was a scientific theory and materialistic evolution was bankrupt was Dawkin’s book The Greatest Show On Earth. It was so poorly supported and the arguments were so weak that I thought if this is the best they can do then ID’s good as gold.

    The two big arguments remember off the top of my head was birds flying in patterns -some how this exemplifies slow small step evolution- and of course the revealing argument of chimp DNA being 99% similar to mankind’s.

    The bird argument is rediculous and not even cogent- and so warrants no response. The DNA argument is an old story. The more we learn about DNA the more important and complex each and every function thereof reveals itself to be. Whatever the genetic difference is between chimps and humans I defy a scientist to evolve a chimp into a creature that can split the atom and fire rockets at the moon. I am no asking a lot here given the difference between chimps and man is only 1%.

  22. 22
    Bruce David says:

    That chimp vs human argument is very interesting because the 98% similarity it references, as I understand it, only refers to the coding regions of the DNA. What this actually means is simply that the proteins that are used to make up the bodies of chimps and humans are 98% the same. Actually, this should not be much of a surprise. What this implies is clearly that there is more to the inheritance of characteristics and body plans than can be accounted for by the coding regions (proteins), since humans and chimps are obviously far from 98% alike. So from where does the difference arise? One obvious possibility is from the non-coding DNA (the so-called “junk DNA”). Another, according to Jonathan Wells, is in the geometry of the germ cells themselves, which does not even involve DNA at all.

  23. 23
    Frost122585 says:

    That’s right Bruce. Anyone can look at a Chimp and a human being and see through looks and behavior that there is clearly more than 1 or 2% difference overall. Only gullible people and credulous Darwinists think man and chimp are 99% similar in that respect.

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