Intelligent Design

Uncommon Decent Contest: List the ten most significant ID books of the last 25 years – judged

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Again, sorry for the delay. I write the news around here, and I’ve been busy. ID, you will recall, is dead, deader, deadest, which is why the news stream is becoming a torrent.

Okay, the contest (here) was “List the ten most significant ID books of the last 25 years,” with three brief explanations of the top three.

A number of thoughtful entries were received, all commended, and the winner is Fresh Voice at 5. Thoughts on the other entries follow.

The background:

Recently, a list was posted to Listverse identifying Michael Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box“#1 as in a list of 10 books that screwed up the world” because “Despite much refutation from the Scientific community, many fundamentalists still use this as a “source” for proof that evolution is not true.”

At the time, we noted,

Also rans include Mein Kampf (7) and the The Manifesto of the Communist Party (3) …

So we asked, for a free copy of The Nature of Nature , “List the ten most significant ID books of the last 25 years, and for the first three, give a brief explanation of what you think makes the book significant.”

Some thoughts on the entries, including Fresh Voice at 5:

Mung at #1 wanted to know if we could include books by authors who would deny that they endorse ID. I didn’t answer right away because I could see – on the one hand – a possible can of worms. On the other hand, a great contest idea in its own right. Watch for an announcement. 🙂

Bantay at #2 offers, regarding his own list, that “History will record what is contained in these books to a much greater degree than Darwinism’s (or even naturalism’s) insignificant blip on the timeline of modern science.” I hope so, but if we are in a period of historical decline, Darwinism may linger for decades because of the lack of the energy required to just finally shove it where it belongs.

I was pleased to see Brad Monton’s book place #9 on Bantay’s list. The design community (and society generally) needs to hear more from intellectually respectable atheists and less from “new atheists” foisting their private tantrums on a crowd raised on mindless slogans and poorly thought out causes.

We have much more in common with atheists like Monton – and Raymond Tallis and Thomas Nagel for that matter – than we do with the Christian Darwinists at BioLogos. Bantay, or anyone reading, do you feel as offended as I do when I am told that I ought to embrace Darwinism for the sake making the Gospel more acceptable to intelligent people? Even a limited exposure to orthodox Christian teaching yields the news that I ought not to embrace anything that I reasonably believe to be false and foolish for the sake of making the Gospel more acceptable to intelligent people.

For one thing,  more intelligent people should not accept anything I say about the Gospel – if I am tacking it to a false theory in science, to which it is completely alien, whosebest recommendation is that it currently offers higher social acceptance than factual theories do. That is hardly how to begin living the Gospel. And what would it say for me that I was so willing to mislead them?

The folk at Biologos are not morally at fault. They believe so much in the rotting hulk of Darwinism that they are willing to sail it themselves. But that excuse does not cover those who know better.

Arkady 967 at #3 took a refreshing tack: He included older – lesser known – works published before anything like a design community had begun to gel:

1. Darwin Was Wrong: A Study in Probabilities by I. L Cohen
2. The Natural Sciences Know Nothing of Evolution by A. E. Wilder-Smith

Phillip Johnson’s Darwin on Trial (1993) was probably the book that started thousands of people thinking about why we put up with the Darwin state.

Noam_ghish at #4 comments,

I have to put Darwin’s Black Box as number 1. There were certainly ID books before that but Michael Behe’s book gave ID the real scientific rigor that Johnson’s book could not provide.

One way of seeing that is that Johnson created an audience for Behe, and for Dembski as well. A thinker can analyze a problem accurately to rows of empty seats; this is particularly likely if his colleagues would lose by acceptance of his theory. Once those seats started getting filled, however, fruitful discussions started.

Fresh Voice at 5, you are well monikered.

It was good to see, at your #3, James le Fanu’s Why Us? How Science Has Rediscovered The Mystery of Ourselves: “It cannot be long before a proper appreciation of the true significance of the findings of the recent past begins to sow doubts in inquisitive minds.”

Le Fanu, incidentally, sought legal redress against New Scientist in 2009 (here) for mislabelling him a creationist. The British-published book is now available on

Voice also notes:

Additionally, a common theme for each of these books that I once again discovered while searching for the publication dates on Amazon, was that each of their reviews and ratings exhibits an inverse bell curve, evidence of a controversial disagreement. Ironically, upon closer inspection of the reviews, many of the 1-star reviews display the signs and symptoms of noviews (non-reviews, where the comments show no relevance to the actual substance of the book and that the “reader” did in fact not read the book).

Yes, trying to knock the book down on the ‘Zon is  like trying to “hide” the boardroom elephant in the drapery. Here’s a study of such attempts.

Fresh Voice needs to be in touch with me at, to arrange a mailing address for a copy of  The Nature of Nature .

Bantay at 6 kindly posted to say he hopes he wins. Well, I hope to post another contest soon, to give you the opportunity. Mung gave me a great idea at #1.

Don’t forget to recommend the student essay contest, deadline Tuesday, September 6, 2011.

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3 Replies to “Uncommon Decent Contest: List the ten most significant ID books of the last 25 years – judged

  1. 1
    Joseph says:

    I missed the contest but the following is my list from 2008 (before signature in the cell):

    1) Nature, Design and Science: The Status of Design in Natural Science by Del Ratzsch

    2) The Design Matrix: A Consilience of Clues by Mike Gene

    These first two books are not just recommended, they are required to get an understanding of what is being debated and how it should be approached. IOW they help set the table for the context of the debate.

    The rest of the books finish setting the table and provide scientific data, observations and evidence that supports the design inference.

    3) Signs of Intelligence: Understanding Intelligent Design edited by Wm. Dembski & James Kushiner (15 authors weigh in on the side of Intelligent Design)

    4) The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design by Jonathon Wells (replaced Darwin’s Black Box by Michael Behe, because Behe makes the same points in books 3 & 5)

    5) Darwinism, Design and Public Education edited by John Angus Campbell and Stephen C. Meyer (several topics covered with entries from both sides)

    6) The Edge of Evolution by Michael Behe

    7) The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery by Guillermo Gonzalez & Jay Richards

    8) Not By Chance by Lee Spetner (on the list because it deals with “The Blind Watchmaker” by Richard Dawkins)

    9) No Free Lunch by Wm. Dembski (low on the list because it is very technical- may substitute The Design Revolution by Wm. Dembski if you would rather pass on the very technical NFL)

    10) The Design of Life by Dembski & Wells (replacied “Darwin on Trial”)

    (the reason for leaving out “Darwin’s Black Box” is because the main points are covered in 3 & 5)

  2. 2
    arkady967 says:

    Thanks, Denyse, for making such thoughtful (not to mention very well written) comments on the contest entries…

    And,congratulations, Fresh voice, on your win!

  3. 3
    Bantay says:

    Congrats Fresh Voice! Your winning entry was composed in a lucid, thoughtful and insightful manner.

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