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Understanding Intelligent Design — now available at Amazon.com!


Understanding Intelligent Design: Everything You Need to Know in Plain Language, which I coauthored with Sean McDowell, and for which his father Josh McDowell wrote a bang-up foreword, is now available at Amazon.com (click here).

The book is geared at Christian young people (junior high and high schoolers) as well as for Church groups (e.g., Sunday Schools) to help get out the word about ID — specifically WHAT IS IT? WHY IS IT IMPORTANT? and WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT?

I was particularly concerned in writing the book to inoculate young people not only against the atheistic poison of Dawkins and Co. but also against the theological and scientific confusions of theistic evolutionists (like Ken Miller and Francis Collins). If this book does its job, both these camps will lose much of their traction with young people.

Here is the cover illustration. Further down are the endorsements.

Cover of Dembski-McDowell volume


“Bill and Sean have written a superb book that I wish I had when I was in high school — it would have spared me decades of believing in Darwinism! This book presents a crystal-clear overview of the most important and exciting development in science in our lifetime — the growing recognition that life and the cosmos reveal clear scientific evidence for design by a Mind.”
–Michael Egnor, M.D., Professor and Vice-Chairman, Department of Neurosurgery, State University of New York at Stony Brook, featured in Ben Stein’s Expelled

“Understanding Intelligent Design provides a magnificent introductory explanation of the most significant intellectual controversy of our time. I highly recommend it.”
–Phillip E. Johnson, author of Darwin on Trial

“This book is long overdue! Finally, an understandable, engaging, and well-written introduction to intelligent design. Understanding Intelligent Design is the best book of its type.”
–J.P. Moreland, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Biola University and author of Kingdom Triangle

“In my book Godless, I showed that Darwinism is the hoax of the century and, consequently, the core of the religion of liberalism. Like John the Baptist, Darwin foretold one of the key tenets of the left’s worldview: that humans are accidental descendants of earthworms, not the unique creations of an all-powerful God. Liberals respond to critics of their religion like Cotton Mather to Salem’s “witches.” With this book, two more witches present themselves for burning: Sean McDowell, whose gift is communicating with young people, and Bill Dembski, often called the Isaac Newton of Intelligent Design. I think Dembski is more like the Dick Butkus of Intelligent Design. His record for tackling Darwiniacs is unmatched. This book gives young people all the ammo they need to take on Darwinism and understand the only viable scientific alternative to Darwinism: Intelligent Design. Every high school student in America needs a copy of Understanding Intelligent Design.”
–Ann Coulter, BESTSELLING author of Godless: The Church of Liberalism

“Written especially for young people, this is a lucid presentation of the philosophical and scientific factors that contribute to the debate about origins. It is a “must-read” for Christian teenagers!”
–Caroline Crocker, MSc, PhD, Executive Director, IDEA Center (www.ideacenter.org), featured in Ben Stein’s Expelled

“Intelligent Design is often rejected, but rarely understood, especially by those who incessantly tell the rest of us to keep an “open mind.” This is an age when sophisticated academics do not flinch at requiring public school students to watch “sex education” demonstrations that involve bananas and condoms. Yet these same intellectuals insist that our children be shielded from any literature that may cast doubts on materialism. This is why ID advocates would face less resistance in our more cerebral venues if someone somewhere would just label it as pornography. But, alas, that has not happened. So, you’ll just have to discover by your lonesome self what gets Richard Dawkins’ panties in a bunch. Start by reading this book and learning something. If you wind up disagreeing with portions of it or even the whole thing, that’s okay, for many of us (me included) have issues with and questions about ID as well. But some of us are far more suspicious of the thought-police that want to ‘protect you’ from this new boogey man.”
–Francis J. Beckwith, Professor of Philosophy and Church-State Studies, Baylor University

“‘Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not one bit simpler.’So runs a quote often attributed to Einstein. Using clear and easily read prose, Dembski and McDowell do exactly this in painting a powerful and wonderfully coherent case for intelligent design.”
–Robert J. Marks II, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Baylor University, featured in Ben Stein’s Expelled

“I once asked a juvenile felon why he chose a life of crime. His response was chilling: “Joel, if this is all there is, why not?” Understanding Intelligent Design takes a great first step toward correcting such attitudes. Our schools indoctrinate young people into thinking that they are nothing more than products of time plus chance plus natural selection. ID, by contrast, shows that purpose must be added to this equation. This automatically gives young people a meaning to their existence, something to live for and something to seek after. For anyone who is struggling to understand our place in the cosmos or knows a young person who is, give them Understanding Intelligent Design.”
–Joel Borofsky, Worldview Blogger (www.thechristianwatershed.com)

Dembski, will your book also come in audio format so your critics can understand what you wrote? F2XL
A little off topic: I read the following from this Pro ID Blog: http://theory-of-evolution.net/intelligent-design-blog/?p=68 "Atheists believe that God does not exist. While many scientists believe in God, science itself must assume that He does not exist. Science is based on two axioms: 1) The observable axiom - scientists can accurately observe the universe and everything in it. 2) The naturalistic axiom - everything that happens, has happened and will happen can be described by naturalistic processes. In other words, no help from any supernatural entity like God is required. Science cannot function properly without these two assumptions. For example, suppose a scientist conducts an experiment where he measures how much salt will dissolve in a glass of water. Does the amount of salt depend on God’s mood at the time of the experiment or does it depend on the chemical properties of water and salt? For science to work and be effective, it must assume that the latter explanation is always correct. Thus, science assumes that the atheists are correct. And this assumption is not by choice but rather by necessity. Without this assumption science just does not work." It seems to me that even the most primitive humans make design inferrences. Well heck, even staunch Darwinists make them, but deny that they are making them. Is it therefore correct to say that science demands atheism or a naturalistic assumption to be science? Science must not make any assumptions at all, but hold that anything is possible. Therefore, if God exists, there can be evidence of such. This book is needed to help young people determine where the limits of science truly lie. CannuckianYankee
Rude said,
Larry Fafarman, I know you know this, but it seems to me that Ann Coulter did not say that ID offers the only scientific criticism of Darwinism but rather the only scientific alternative. ID offers not just a negative refutation but a positive theory of design detection.
No, I don't "know" this. You may think that the meaning of Coulter's statement is clear, but others -- particularly those who are not aware of non-ID scientific criticisms of Darwinism -- might interpret the statement in a different way. To some people, "scientific alternatives" could include alternative ways of scientific thinking -- e.g., scientific criticisms -- and does not just mean alternative theories. I am especially disturbed that a lot of people think that ID is the only scientific criticism of Darwinism. As I said, I consider the issues of co-evolution to be an especially strong non-ID criticism of Darwinism. IMO a big problem is that people are relying too much on the semantics and connotations of words. Words often mean different things to different people. Larry Fafarman
It still hasn't made it to addall.com :-( CN
Larry Fafarman, I know you know this, but it seems to me that Ann Coulter did not say that ID offers the only scientific criticism of Darwinism but rather the only scientific alternative. ID offers not just a negative refutation but a positive theory of design detection. The only alternative to excluding design from our explanations (Darwinism) is to include it (ID). Rude
ba77, Your post #14 presents a very compelling case for a long-term strategic plan having been played out on our planet. Thank you. bFast
I have a rising seventh grader. We have already read The Cave Painting together (see right bar). And I took the whole family to see Expelled. I look forward to reading Understanding Intelligent Design with her. I consider this an inoculation against faith robbers that she will encounter later in life. EndoplasmicMessenger
And I add: instead of the visionary dreams of J.Lennon, this policy has been applied successfully in the real world: programming languages books and Linux kairos
#11 Mats and #16 Borne "Bill, any plans in bringing it to europe, specially Portugal?" And let's remember that Portuguese does mean also Brazil with its 150 million people! "Any plans on getting this book, as well as ‘The Design of Life’ etc., translated into French?" And I would add Spanish and Italian! Guys, haven't you ever thought about releasing free of charge the pdf's of these strategic basic books on ID? I have in mind what does actually happen in Computer science where several authors of programming languages books allow people to freely download the pdf files of their books, and allow people to translate them into other languages and dispatch them freely in the same way. At the same time they actually earn very good revenues by selling many many more books than they would have ever sold without this policy. You would immediately find hundreds of competent people who would be happy to translate, without any charge, the books in their languages Let us imagine how, in this worlwide WWW epoch, such a strategy could in a few months let a huge amount of people (speaking some hundred languages all over the world) be aware of what is ID! Come on. Perhaps "you may say I'm a dreamer ..." But I think I'm not the only one :-) kairos
Ann Coulter's endorsement said,
This book gives young people all the ammo they need to take on Darwinism and understand the only viable scientific alternative to Darwinism: Intelligent Design. (emphasis added)
That's just plain wrong -- there are also good non-ID scientific criticisms of Darwinism. IMO issues of co-evolution are an especially strong non-ID challenge to Darwinism. Larry Fafarman
Any plans on getting this book, as well as 'The Design of Life' etc., translated into French? I know some people that would be very interested. And I know some very capable translators. Paul Gosselin, author of 'Fuite de l'Absolu' here and here and "Hors du ghetto" is a good friend of mine and I'm sure he'd be very enthusiastic about getting it done in French. Borne
Hah, I hope so tribune7! Infinite Intelligence
In relation: From 3.8 to .6 billion years ago photosynthetic bacteria, and to a lesser degree sulfate-reducing bacteria, ted the geologic and fossil record (that’s over 80% of the entire time life has existed on earth). The geologic and fossil record also reveals that during this time a large portion of these very first bacterial life-forms lived in complex symbiotic (mutually beneficial) colonies called Stromatolites. Stromatolites are rock like structures that the photo-synthetic bacteria built up over many years (much like coral reefs are slowly built up over many years by the tiny creatures called corals). Although Stromatolites are not nearly as widespread as they once were, they are still around today in a few sparse places like Shark’s Bay Australia. Contrary to what naturalistic thought would expect, these very first photosynthetic bacteria scientists find in the geologic and fossil record are shown to have been preparing the earth for more advanced life to appear from the very start of their existence by reducing the greenhouse gases of earth’s early atmosphere and producing the necessary oxygen for higher life-forms to exist. Photosynthetic bacteria slowly built the oxygen up in the earth’s atmosphere by removing the carbon-dioxide (and other greenhouse gases) from the atmosphere; separated the carbon from the oxygen; then released the oxygen back into the atmosphere (and into the earth’s ocean & crust) while they retained the carbon. Interestingly, the gradual removal of greenhouse gases corresponds exactly to the gradual 15% increase of light and heat coming from the sun during that time (Ross; PhD. Astrophysics; Creation as Science 2006). This “lucky” correspondence of the slow increase of heat from the sun with the same perfectly timed slow removal of greenhouse gases from the earth’s atmosphere was absolutely necessary for the bacteria to continue to live to do their work of preparing the earth for more advanced life to appear. Bacteria obviously depended on the temperature of the earth to remain relatively stable during the billions of years they prepared the earth for higher life forms to appear. More interesting still, the by products of oxygen production and greenhouse gas removal by these early bacteria are (red banded) iron formations, limestone, marble, gypsum, phosphates, sand, and to a lesser extent, coal, oil and natural gas (note; though some coal, oil and natural gas are from this early era of bacterial life, most coal, oil and natural gas deposits originated on earth after the Cambrian explosion of higher life forms some 540 million years ago). These natural resources produced by these early photosynthetic bacteria are very useful to modern civilizations. Interestingly, while the photo-synthetic bacteria were reducing greenhouse gases and producing oxygen and natural resources that would be of benefit to modern man, the sulfate-reducing bacteria were also producing their own natural resources that would be very useful to modern man. Sulfate-reducing bacteria helped prepare the earth for advanced life by “detoxifying” the primeval earth and oceans of “poisonous” levels of heavy metals while depositing them as relatively inert metal ore deposits (iron, zinc, magnesium, lead etc.. etc..). To this day, sulfate-reducing bacteria maintain an essential minimal level of these metals in the ecosystem that are high enough so as to be available to the biological systems of the higher life forms that need them, yet low enough so as not to be poisonous to those very same higher life forms. Needless to say, the metal ores deposited by these sulfate-reducing bacteria in the early history of the earth’s geologic record are indispensable to man’s rise above the stone age to modern civilization. Yet even more evidence has been found tying other early types of bacterial life to the anthropic hypothesis. Many different types of bacteria in earth's early history lived in complex symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationships in what are called cryptogamic colonies on the earth's primeval continents. These colonies “dramatically” transformed the “primeval land” into “nutrient filled soils” that were receptive for future advanced vegetation to appear. Naturalism has no answers for why all these different bacterial types and colonies found in the geologic and fossil record would start working in precise concert with each other preparing the earth for future life to appear. -// Since oxygen readily reacts and bonds with almost all of the solid elements making up the earth itself, it took photosynthetic bacteria over 3 billion years before the earth’s crust and mantle was saturated with enough oxygen to allow an excess of oxygen to be built up in the atmosphere. (note: Anaerobic organisms and most viruses are quickly destroyed by contact with oxygen.) Once this was accomplished, higher life forms could finally be introduced on earth. Moreover, scientists find the rise in oxygen percentages in the geologic record to correspond exactly to the sudden appearance of large animals in the fossil record that depended on those particular percentages of oxygen. The geologic record shows a 10% oxygen level at the time of the Cambrian explosion of higher life-forms in the fossil record some 540 million years ago. The geologic record also shows a strange and very quick rise from the 17% oxygen level, of 50 million years ago, to a 23% oxygen level 40 million years ago (Falkowski 2005)). This strange rise in oxygen levels corresponds exactly to the appearance of large mammals in the fossil record who depend on high oxygen levels. Interestingly, for the last 10 million years the oxygen percentage has been holding steady around 21%. 21% happens to be the exact percentage that is of maximum biological utility for humans to exist. If the oxygen level were only a few percentage lower, large mammals would become severely hampered in their ability to metabolize energy; if only three to four percentage higher, there would be uncontrollable outbreaks of fire across the land. Because of this basic chemical requirement of photosynthetic bacterial life establishing and helping maintain the proper oxygen levels for higher life forms on any earth-like planet, this gives us further reason to believe the earth is extremely unique in its ability to support intelligent life in this universe. All these preliminary studies of early life on earth fall right in line with the anthropic hypothesis and have no explanation from any naturalistic theory based on blind chance as to why the very first bacterial life found in the fossil record would suddenly, from the very start of their appearance on earth, start working in precise harmony with each other to prepare the earth for future life to appear. Nor can naturalism explain why, once the bacteria had helped prepare the earth for higher life forms, they continue to work in precise harmony with each other to help maintain the proper balanced conditions that are of primary benefit for the complex life that is above them. bornagain77
russ says "Why should these wonderful resources be laying just beneath the surface for us to use on this particular planet?" More of the same, why should all the natural substances, living and non-living, in our environment provide for pharmeceuticals? I am curious if anyone has studied whether these, particularly plants that provide medicinal properties, just "happen" to provide these properties, or would they be expected by the Darwinian schema since these very properties have given them their survival traits? And what about spices and seasonings? Why the big craving? Of course, we undertand why we need salt. But what about all those other bottles you find in your spice cabinet? Early humanity certainly did not offer curry and paprika and your other favorite flavorings on their roast whooly mammoth, so why the big deal? Ekstasis
Infinite Intelligence, there is hope for the future :-) tribune7
Sounds like a nice reading. Bill, any plans in bringing it to europe, specially Portugal? ;-) Mats
I remember a post on Design of Life some time back about Dog Heritage. (http://www.thedesignoflife.net/blog/Natural-Selection-Tracking-the-Primitive-Dog/View/Default.aspx) One of the most interesting parts of it reads: === "If feral dogs' recent ancestors were domestic breeds, they at first form motley packs of various shapes and sizes, depending on the mixture of breeds from which they derive. But if they remain free and reproduce, after a few generations of natural selection, the offspring tend toward a common body form (morphology). They generally resemble German Shepherds in build, but are smaller, about the size of a coyote. The surviving packs eventually resemble primitive dogs (also called pariah dogs, because they were unwelcome in most human communities)." === Because OF Darwinian mutation/selection, every dog breed has a set of genetic defects/predispositions (e.g. Great Danes, German Shepherds are predisposed towards Hip Dysplasia in later life; King Charles Cavaliers have prominant eyes***, etc). Relating to intelligent design, it makes me wonder about 'pure' animals, ones that have not been mutated and selected... fresh from design (or whatever you choose). If it was found that the 'first' generations of a species were 'pure' (i.e. no genetic defects, no heritable disorders, etc) would Darwinism be able to explain this? ***The large prominent eyes of the King Charles Cavalier may 'look' cute (I don't think so), but such 'untempered' eye-contact is a large impediment to dog-dog communication, perceived as aggressive. For an analogy, try talking to someone who holds their eyes open as wide as they can as they speak, staring... Avonwatches
Bfast and Avonwatches: On milk, note that cows often make more than their calves seem to strictly need. Dog [and pigeon] breeds are illustrations of ARTIFICIAL selection -- as Darwin himself knew and acknowledged. That is, of "evolution" by intelligent design through foresightful selecting of variations across a population within an existing genome. Actual novelties in which seem to be very strictly limited to a few base-pairs [per Behe's Edge of Evolution, and the Genetic Entropy principle etc]. And, note, e.g. the bulldog's mashed-in face is a breakdown of information, not innovation. Ditto for hairless breeds of dogs etc. Logically, we need to ask:
1] where did the genetic code, algorithms and implementing molecular machinery come from in the first place? [And, on what evidence can we infer that this was without intelligent intervention, relative to what we know directly and though observation on the origin of finely-tuned, functionally specified, complex information bearing systems?] 2] And, once we have a functioning life form, where did body-plan level innovations to get to the macro-level biodiversity come from? 3] Not to mention, how do we get to a credible mind capable of reliable knowledge of these things, relative to the evolutionary materialist premises that are so often insisted on? 4] Nor should we forget the astonishing fine-tuning of the observed cosmos that facilitates the observed life. [Appeals to unobserved, probably unobservable, quasi-infinite arrays of sub-cosmi with randomly distributed parameters are ever so revealing . . .]
Plainly, we see here some heavy-duty question-begging, backed up by appeals to evidence that point in a very different direction than is desired. Not to mention, some pretty sloppy logic. All backed up by a "how dare you question . . ." mentality as Stein's Expelled exposes so aptly. What should that be telling us? GEM of TKI PS: For those needing 101-level details, kindly cf the always linked, under my handle in the LH column. kairosfocus
@2,4,5,7. Of course, the argument goes: "If we didn't have them, we wouldn't be here" - but petroleum, diamond, etc are not essential to a stone-age (etc) culture. When you sit down and think about alot of life's 'givens', you rack up a lot of coincidence. Of course, to make them go away we can just shrug and ignore it, or invoke the anthropic principle (science's "get-out" clause). It also gets you thinking about what we are MISSING right now; as in, are there any rare/alien substances on our world/galaxy that, if we had abundance of, would revolutionize our way of life? ================ On topic: Looking at the "reviews" (or shall I say biased-abuse by people who haven't read it?) of the book, it sounds like just the thing to wrankle Darwinian feathers. There is a desperate need for the brain-fog that is Darwinism to be lifted from the world. In my friend's Medicine course at Sydney University, we have lecturers trumpeting the existence of different breeds of dogs as evidence that Darwinian evolution can produce new species :/ (a beautiful example of what Darwinian evolution CAN do, i.e. mutate and select for different attributes, but given as evidence for something Darwinian evolution CANT do, i.e. create information/species...). Avonwatches
Russ, I also have been toying with the same thought line. Have you ever considered milk? The stuff separates into milk and cream very easily. Yet I don't know of this phenomenon being used in nature. The cream, once shaken, turns into cottage cheese, butter and butter milk. With a little common bacteria, you get cheese. Yogurt is just about as easy to make. Does this give you the feeling that these varieties were waiting to be discovered -- like hidden treasure? It's just all too easy to find such wonderful, yet unimplemented properties in nature. bFast
I bought it for my 11 year old boy. It looks like a great read!!! Mario A. Lopez
yeah coincidental! LOL. If I make it to work on time- that is coincidental! Enough resources to provide for hundreds of millions of years of life? I guess it all "just" coincidental. Now there's a scientific theory! What’s funny is that if you say such things to an evolutionist he will say that if all that stuff wasn’t there the life wouldn’t exist. Haha- So the reason I own a house is because “if I couldn’t, I wouldn’t?” Frost122585
russ, I've been having the same thoughts lately. What are the chances that we are on a planet that provides all this great stuff? Seems a little coincidental to me... ellijacket
This book sounds great! I'm 14, so I have a lot of younger friends that might enjoy this book. I'll do my best to spread the word amongst them. Infinite Intelligence
“Joel, if this is all there is, why not?” Understanding Intelligent Design takes a great first step toward correcting such attitudes.
Slightly off topic: Since the price of oil and other natural resources is in the news, it occurred to me that the wonderful usefulness of petroleum, gold, copper, aluminum, iron, titanium and all the others is quite a happy coincidence. Why should these wonderful resources be laying just beneath the surface for us to use on this particular planet? It hardly seems we could have evolved into beings who would find these things useful to ourselves, since we had to become highly intelligent beings to make anything useful of them in the first place. Would a Darwinist call this dumb luck, or are most other planets pinatas full of goodies like this one? russ
Looks good. May God bless this effort to help get the word out about ID. I think people of all ages (not just adolescents and young adults) who want answers to Big Questions, will find this book appealing. PannenbergOmega

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