strug << Yes, it is Uncommon Dissent. It doesn’t matter if they are the “usual suspects”. Are they scientists or not? >>
Ah ha Bingo!
I’m not saying it is a terrible book, they bring up some decent philosophical and theological issues, but the science talked about in the book is not by trained scientists in the field. One essay is by Phillip E. Johnson (the classic 1990 essay that was re-printed in First Things if I remember) who is a lawyer and “godfather” of the Intelligent Design movement, but is not a scientist. David Berlinski is a mathematician and agnostic, not a biologist. Let’s see…Cornelius Hunter, not a geologist or professional paleontologist yet he critiques the fossil record (he has training in “molecular biophysics”). Nancy Pearcey, nope not a biologist either yet her philosophical critique is pretty good. William Dembski (one of those “usual suspects”) is a mathematician, not a biologist or geologist, but he has trained in philosophy and theology and some of his philosophical / theological points are nice. Virtually all of them are members of the “Discovery Institute” – the anti-evolution group in Seattle.
Michael Behe (another of those “usual suspects”) is a biochemist, but he accepts evolution (universal common descent) fully as far as I’m concerned (he does have some “intelligent design” ideas but at the DNA/molecular level or at the origin of the universe), and says Catholics should have no problem with human evolution and natural selection.
"Although I think my arguments [on intelligent design] are nothing short of compelling, some other Catholic academics have disagreed with me and have published other views. Brown University biology professor Ken Miller describes himself as ‘an orthodox Catholic and an orthodox Darwinist.’ In his 1999 book ‘Finding Darwin’s God’ Miller defends the standard view that, despite the unexpected complexity uncovered at the molecular level, natural selection is the best explanation for life. While admitting that Darwinian explanations currently don’t exist for many molecular systems, he expresses confidence that explanations will be forthcoming as science progresses.
"Nonetheless, in his book he argues that the universe was indeed designed, using the fine-tuning of cosmological constants as his primary evidence. He also finds scope for God’s action in quantum indeterminacy and argues that miracles can occur, but that science can say nothing about them… [a section on John Haught and “God After Darwin” skipped]…
“The point I’m trying to drive home here by discussing my own work as well as the work of Miller and Haught, is that a very wide range of views about the mechanism of evolution is consistent with Catholic teaching, from the natural selection defended by Miller, to the intelligent design I have proposed, to the animated, information-suffused universe that John Haught sees. Those mechanisms are all proposed by persons who attach the same bottom-line philosophy to their ideas that Pope John Paul described: that ‘it is the God of Israel who acts’ and that ‘it is the one and the same God who establishes and guarantees the intelligibility and reasonableness of the natural order of things upon which scientists confidently depend, and who reveals himself as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Indeed, the range of possibilities that are available under a Catholic viewpoint is much wider than under a materialistic viewpoint.” (Michael Behe, from “A Catholic Scientist Looks at Darwinism” in Uncommon Dissent: Intellectuals Who Find Darwinism Unconvincing edited by William Dembski , page 143-144, emphasis added)
I don’t have a problem with this kind of “intelligent design” – it is not classic creationism. Ken Miller accepts design built into the universe in the sense of the fine-tuning we find in the cosmos. And as Behe says, a wide range of views can be accepted within the Catholic theological tent when trying to reconcile with biological evolution (or “Darwinism” to use the detractors term). The Church leaves that open as long as we confess our faith in the God of Israel, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the Creator who runs the whole show.
What you get in that Uncommon Dissent book, and in every other anti-evolution book I own (and I have about 20 of them by now on my bookshelf), is sometimes decent philosophical or theological points, but the scientific critique of evolution is generally mistaken. The books I have listed above (three are by Christian or Catholic biologists: Kenneth R. Miller, Darrel Falk, Francis Collins, one edited by an evangelical geologist: Keith Miller) are the “antidote” to these kinds of anti-evolution books. Or the book by the professional paleontologist Donald Prothero Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters (Columbia Univ Press, 2007) will set you straight.