Doubts About Darwin

A History of Intelligent Design

Thomas Woodward

Christian Research Institute, updated edition 2016, original 2003

vii Foreward to this edition, Hank Hanegraaf
"we don't think about our paradigms nearly as much as we think with them." This captures the spirit of Hanegraaf's comments - you would think that Darwinian evolution would be solidly based on empirical evidence, but this book suggests that it rests instead upon a paradigm, which is later identified as a commitment to materialism/naturalism as an a priori assumption so that there is no room for "design".

Even in this Foreward, Michael Denton is credited as being the "founder" of Intelligent Design for his extraordinary challenge to Darwinian orthodoxy.

Hanegraaf includes this quote from Woodward as characteristic of this "clash of paradigms"
"The cultural stakes of the Darwinism-Design debate are high. The debaters are contending over the fundamental cultural story of mankind, and those who succeed at crafting and telling the most convincing story of origins hold in their hands supreme cultural authority. If any group, religious or scientific, gains the authority to present its own story as uniquely true and to label other stories as mythological, this group functions as the high priesthood of our time."

Woodward is acknowledged as the historian for Intelligent Design, and in this book he points to Michael Denton first, then Philip Johnson and Michael Behe. He points forward then to Stephen Meyer, William Dembski, Jonathan Wells and Paul Nelson as academicians who came forward with powerful arguments.

xi Foreward to first edition, Philip Johnson

Johnson points to the difficulties of communicating the real thrust of the ideas of intelligent design in the early days of the debate.

1 Preface

Woodward shares some of the challenges he faced in producing a dissertation which involved this history of the intelligent design movement. He also describes some of the atmosphere of intense attack that prevailed when these first of these criticisms of Darwinian othodoxy became part of public debate.

5 Introduction to this edition, Thomas Woodward

I was privileged to hear Tom speak about this history for Areopagus and Reasons to Believe at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church on May 1, 2019. A good portion of his introductory remarks reflected the content of this introduction to the update edition of his history. It involves the changes in the environment of the debate about evolution in the years since the original publication. Those changes are reflected in his section titles in this introductions:

  • "Why Darwin Was Wrong about the Tree of Life"
  • "The New World of Darwin-Design Engagement"
  • "The Art of Being 'Paradigm-Shocked'"
    • "Junk DNA .. going, going, gone!"
    • "Darwin's Doubt by Stephen Meyer"
    • "RNA, Epigenetics, and 3-D Genome Packing"

1. Aroused from Dogmatic Slumber: An Introduction to Intelligent Design and a Paradigm Crisis

Woodward describes the environment and discussion about teaching evolution in the public schools. Into that discussion comes articles by Philip Johnson and Michael Behe.

p16 The Alabama textbook disclaimer relative to evolution.

p17 Discusses Eugenie Scott as passionate promoter of teaching the Darwininian orthodoxy and the fact that she had to deal with Jonathan Wells and his "The Icons of Evolution".

p18 First important media coverage of intelligent design in New York Times and Los Angeles Times.

p20-24 Woodward describes his approach to the "rhetoric" of the debate and his plan to address the issues.

p23 Brief description of the "Mere Creation" conference in Los Angeles in 1996, after Johnson had published "Darwin on Trial". Sometimes identified as the public birthplace of Design.

p24 The leaders of the intelligent design movement

  • Michael Denton with his "Evolution: A Theory in Crisis"
  • Philip Johnson with "Darwin on Trial"
  • Michael Behe with "Darwin's Black Box"
  • William Dembski with his "Explanatory Filter"

p24 Notes that Denton is a "self-described agnostic", which surprises me because of all the comments of wonder that I have read in "The Wonder of Water" and heard in some of the videos where he spoke. "argued that Darwininan microevolution is quite plausible, but that the macroevolutionary thesis suffers a chronic weakness of empirical support."

p24 Quotes from Denton's "Evolution: A Theory in Crisis":

"One might have expected that a theory of such cardinal importance, a theory that literally changed the world, would have been something more than metaphysics, something more than a myth.
Ultimately the Darwinian theory of evolution is nothing more or less than the great cosmogenic myth of the twentieth century ... In the final analysis we still know very little about how new forms of life arise. The 'mystery of mysteries' - the origin of new beings on Earth - is till largely as enigmatic as when Darwin set sail on the Beagle."

p25 Gives a two paragraph introduction to Philip Johnson including:

  • Read Denton alongside Richard Dawkins' "The Blind Watchmaker".
  • Wrote five more books and had a conference at Berkeley.
  • Charges that a commitment to philosophical naturalism protects Darwinism from questioning.

p25-27 Brief into to Michael Behe:

  • Behe's "Darwin's Black Box" propelled ID into publicity in 1996
  • Based attack on Darwinism on recent discoveries in his professional field of biochemistry.
  • Discussion of irreducible complexity.

Also more intro to Dembski:

  • Dembski's Explanatory Filter.
  • Books The Design Inference, Intelligent Design, No Free Lunch

2. Murmers of Dissent: The Prelude to Michael Denton

p33 Huxley's 1959 speech in worship of Darwin

p34 Evolution stated as an incontrovertible fact.

p34 Mentions Miller-Urey

p35 Watson & Crick

p36 Denton's education to PhD in biochemistry. Denton: "The multifunctionality of things ... struck me as an extraordinary thing to experience, and this level of complexity was not easily reducible to a simple, continuous, random process" Denton raised in Christian home but became agnostic in university years.

p37-38 Some doubts begin to arise

  • Wistar Symposium 1966 - statistical attempts to model Darwinism failed.
  • Alpbach Symposium 1969 - also critical of evolution in ways not connected to creationism.
  • Pierre Grasse' critique of Darwinian mechanism
  • Dobzhansky - evolutionist, but confirmed Grasse's competence and integrity.

p40 Kuhn more philosophical objection

p40 Eldridge & Gould and punctuated equilibrium, affirmed evolution, but provided basis for others to doubt it.

p43 Hoyle and Wickramasinghe calculated probability for creating an enzyme.

p43 Hoyle after their probability calculations projected extreme implausibility for evolutionary construction of things like enzymes "The speculations of The Origin of Species turned out to be wrong ...It is ironic that the scientific facts throw Darwin out but leave Paley, a figure of fun to the scientific world for more than a century, still in the tournament with a chance of being the ultimate winner."

p43 Hoyle's famous analogy: "Belief in the chemical evolution of the first cell from lifeless chemicals is equivalent to believing that a tornado could sweep through a junkyard and form a Boeing 747."

p43 But Hoyle's panspermia was, as Woodward puts it "contaminated" by theories like covert intelligence being sequestered on the Earth in insect species.

p43 Colin Patterson of the British Museum. As a disgruntled "evolutionary agnostic" he was traveling from conference to conference in 1981 asking everywhere the same embarrassing question, 'Can you tell me one thing about evolution that is true - any one thing at all?'. Denton highlights Patterson.

p44 Running into OOL problems. Dean Kenyon's book on chemical evolution and then his doubts about it.

p45 Crick in "Life Itself" after favoring panspermia, "An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going."

3. The Birth of Design: Denton Launches his Critique

p47 Denton in "Evolution: A Theory in Crisis": "Neither of the two fundamental axioms of Darwin's macroevolutionary theory - the concept of the continuity of nature ... and the belief that all the adaptive design of life has resulted from a blind random process - have been validated by one single empirical discovery or scientific advance since 1859."

p48 Denton "I am totally committed to waging unceasing intellectual war on neo-Darwinian orthodoxy."

p49 Denton's strategy in book:

  • Split Darwin's two theories: microevolution and macroevolution
  • Acknowledging microevolution in Chapter 4 "A Partial Truth"
  • Subject the macroevolutionary theory to detailed empirical test.(Eight separate chapters in his book)

p50 Summary of the dissenters from Darwinism that Denton used

p51 Describes strategy of Ch2 of Denton, 19 quotes from "Origin" used to hammer the problem of the lack of transitional forms. Ch3 "From Darwin to Dogma" describes Denton's strategy, and continues that pattern for the description of the book.

4. The Virus Spreads: The Emergence of Philip Johnson

p65 Pushes off Cynthia Russett's Darwin in America which treats Darwinism as gospel.

p66 Cites Thaxton, Bradley & Olsen's The Mystery of Life's Origin

p69 Philip Johnson in England for year's sabbatical in 1987. Fascinating story of him finding Denton's book "Evolution: A Theory in Crisis" and Richard Dawkins' "The Blind Watchmaker" and reading both carefully.

p70 Johnson was a former agnostic who had just ten years earlier embraced the Christian faith and joined a Presbyterian church in Berkeley.

p70 Nice description of Dawkins' reaction to Paley and his comments about Paley's conclusions.

p71 Two paragraph quote of Dawkins leading to his basic Who created God? simplistic infinite regression. Which turned Johnson off.

p71-73 Very interesting story of Johnson's journey with these two books.

p73 Johnson becomes acquainted with Colin Patterson, one of the critics of Darwinism discussed above and uses him as a reference and critic for his writing.

p74 Johnson's paper "Science and Scientific Naturalism in the Evolution Controversy" marked a significant change in the Design discussion from Denton's paradigm approach. "Johnson argued that the ultimate foundation of the Darwinian worldview was not empirical evidence but metaphysical naturalism."

p74-79 Describes the faculty seminar at Berkeley that Johnson put together, supplying his paper to each participant and asking them to read it before coming to the seminar. This was three years before the publication of "Darwin on Trial".

p76 Quote from Johnson from his recap of the seminar.
"My argument was that, although most people believe that an enormous amount of empirical evidence supports the general theory of evolution, this is in fact an illusion. Most people in the intellectual world are certain that evolution must be true because it is the only tenable naturalistic explanation for the development of complex life, or life in general, and it therefore must be true if non-naturalistic explanations such as creation are ruled ineligible for consideration. The evidence is then built on this pre-existing theoretical certainty based on philosophical presupposition. Non-evolutionary explanations of the evidence are not considered, and therefore the evidentiary support which seems to exist is the product of the cultural certainty rather than its cause or support." Also in Appendix 1

p79-84 Gould vs. Johnson: The Campion Debate. sDescription of a gathering to discuss "Science and Creationism in Public Schools" at which he met and discussed these issues with Stephen Jay Gould. Johnson had mailed his paper to all participants, so they knew where he stood. On p81 is a paragraph where Johnson distances himself from the scientific creationists. Gould, when meeting Johnson, told him "You're a creationist, and I've got to stop you." p82 Very interesting story on p83 about how passionate and agitated Gould was in defending the form of evolution everyone thought he was departing from in his and Eldridge's punctuated equilibrium, and attacking Johnson's position. Describes it as an hour of intense exchange "before a spellbound audience".

p84 Discusses fact that both Johnson and Gould learned a great deal about each other. That figured in Johnson's writing in "Darwin on Trial" and in Gould's writing in his 1992 Scientific American article critical of Johnson and Intelligent Design.

p85-86 Charles Thaxton and the Ad Hoc Origins Committee. Thaxton had written The Mystery of Life's Origin with Walter Bradley and Roger Olsen, and when the "committee" started having meetings, Thaxton was the intellectual leader. Thaxton's critique of evolution was described as an "information theory" critique. Thaxton's PhD was in chemistry, with a Harvard postdoc in the history of science, and he had developed an interest in chemical evolution, also known as 'abiogenesis'. These three authors tackled the extravagant confidence that had been placed in the Miller-Urey experiment

p86 The Mystery of Life's Origin covered many scientific topics related to chemical evolution:

  • Analysis of early Earth atmosphere,geology and geochemistry, organic chemistry
  • Critique of Miller's "prebiotic soup hypothesis"
  • Protocell hypothesis
  • Information theory, entropy and the 2nd law of thermodynamics.
  • Held to 4Gyr cooling time for Earth
  • Overwhelming skepticism about the chemical evolution scenarios common to introductory biology texts.

p86 Quote from book: "A major conclusion to be drawn from this work is that the undirected flow of energy through a primordial atmosphere and ocean is at present a woefully inadequate explanation for the incredible complexity associated with even simple living systems, and is probably wrong."

p86 Published in 1984, just a year before Denton's "Evolution: A Theory in Crisis", "these two books began working in concert as powerful midwives and sculptors of the emerging genre of Design."

p86 Got foreward by Dean Kenyon who had coauthored Biochemical Predestination (1969), but changed his mind in the 70s and became an outspoken critic of chemical evolution.

p86 Describes the intense stir that this book created, from high praise to harsh criticism. Most controversial was the epilogue, which had the audacity to include two "intelligent cause" scenarios, committing a "scientific heresy" and a "transgression of scientific decorum".

p87 Thaxton responded by writing a couple of papers reflecting on DNA as having "specified complexity" suggesting an intelligent designer, and upon the use of "uniform sensory experience" as evidence of "intelligent cause". Used SETI as example.

p88 Thaxton led another conference on "the mystery of the origin of genetic information". Major presentations by Hubert Yockey, an information theorist discussing the similarity of DNA code to human language, and by Michael Denton who flew in from Australia to present papers on the complexity of proteins.

p88 Discusses Thaxton's publishing of "Pandas and People" in 1989. The writing was done by Dean Kenyon and P. William Davis under Thaxton's direction. Like a well illustrated high school biology text according to Woodward, it applied intelligent design to a wide range of topics. As a published alternative to the Darwinian model, it took a lot of flack including a Newsweek article and a Wall Street Journal article. Michael Behe helped rewrite biochemistry chapter.

p89 This book caught Johnson's attention, and he and Thaxton became research colleagues. Led to a Johnson presentation to the Ad Hoc Origins Committee on the Campion meeting with two other Campion participants also coming to Portland for the meeting. This meeting led to Johnson taking the leadership of the effort.

p89-90 Interesting discussion of the interaction between Johnson and Thaxton. Two paragraph summary of Johnson's thoughts on his writing.

5. Putting Darwin on Trial: Johnson Transforms the Narrative

p93 Johnson publishes "Darwin on Trial" in 1991. "It was nothing less than an intellectually savage manifesto designed to overwhelm the opposition, to expose Darwinism as, in Johnson's stigma-word, a 'pseudoscience'."

p93 at the end of his purpose statement "The question I want to investigate is whether Darwinism is based on a fair assessment of the scientific evidence, or whether it is another kind of fundamentalism."

p94 Michael Denton's review "'Darwin on Trial' is unquestionably the best critique of Darwinism I have ever read. Professor Johnson combines a broad knowledge of biology with the incisive logic of a leading legal scholar to deliver a brilliant and devastating attack on the whole edifice of Darwinian belief. There is no doubt that this book will prove a severe embarrassment to the Darwinian establishment."

p94 "..Stephen Jay Gould, who lashed back a year after its publication in a vitriolic and lengthy rebuttal. Gould's four page review, appearing in Scientific American, charged that Johnson had produced a 'very bad book' that 'hardly deserves to be called a book at all'." When someone like Gould writes "The book, in short, is full of errors, badly argued, based on false criteria, and abysmally written.", it's clear that Johnson really got under his skin. Scientific American refused to let Johnson publish a reply, but Johnson responded to Gould in detail in an epilogue to "Darwin on Trial" first appearing in the 1993 revised edition.

p95 "Denton and Johnson had had over two years of friendly correspondence by the time Darwin on Trial was published. At one point, Denton visited Johnson in Berkeley for several days, and as they hiked along Johnson's favorite nature trails near San Francisco, Denton gave him advice on confronting the bitter rhetorical onslaught that awaited him."

p94 Four theses in Johnson's attack on Darwinism.

  1. T-1 Biological and paleontological evidences and other scientific data, with very few exceptions, tend to falsify the Darwinian story of macroevolution and its chemical origin-of-life prelude. (This thesis shared with Denton)
  2. T-2 Darwinian macro-evolution, as a comprehensive truth claim, is ultimately grounded on the philosophical assumption of naturalism.
  3. T-3 When Darwinism is brought into question, it is routinely protected by empty labels, semantic manipulation, and faulty logic.
  4. T-4 Therefore, Darwinism functions as the central cosmological myth of modern culture - as the centerpiece of a quasi-religious system that is known to be true a priori, rather than as a scientific hypothesis that must submit to rigorous testing.

p96-98 Very thoughtful reflection on the dilemma of western universities where every effort has been made to remove the discussion of a deity or theistic ideas from the public square. "Darwin on Trial" as Johnson's "massive act of dissent" against "submitting to naturalism as an inviolable starting point of all research and teaching in academia."

p99-103 Johnson's Obstacles: Creationism and Competence. These pages contain Woodward's reflection on the challenges Johnson faced. Johnson never hid the fact that he was a theist, but clearly distanced himself from the YEC creation science. He didn't actually say much about his faith, but Woodward notes two locations:

p100 "I do not exempt myself from the general rule that bias must be acknowledged and examined. I am a philosophical theist and a Christian. I believe that a God exists who could create out of nothing if He wanted to do so, but who might have chosen to work through a natural evolutionary process instead."

p101 "Why not consider the possibility that life is what it so evidently seems to be, the product of creative intelligence? Science would not come to an end, because the task would remain of deciphering the languages in which genetic information is communicated, and in general finding out how the whole system works. What scientists would lose is not an inspiring research program, but the illusion of total mastery of nature. They would have to face the possibility that beyond the natural world there is a further reality which transcends science." (8 chapters after the first statement above).

p99-103 Considerable discussion of the types of stories Johnson used to make his case.

6. The Matrix of Stories: in Darwin on Trial: Johnson Argues His Case

p105 "The contention of "Darwin on Trial" is that as one scrapes away the layer of topsoil, one discovers that philosophical naturalism, not empirical evidence, laid bare as the bedrock of this confidence."

p106-108 Excellent discussion Johnson's response to the Louisiana case in which a law to allow teaching of creationism along with evolution was struck down.

p108-110 Includes three excellent quotes from the book about flexible use of "evolution" to create the presumption of certainty.

p108 "The literature of Darwinism is full of anti-theistic conclusions, such as that the universe was not designed and has no purpose, and that we humans are the product of blind natural processes that care nothing about us. What is more, these statements are not presented as personal opinions but as the logical implications of evolutionary science."

This is an example of Thesis T-4 and is exemplified by George Gaylord Simpson, "Man is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have him in mind."

p109 Cites Dawkins and his claim that Darwin made it possible for him to be an "intellectually fulfilled atheist" and crowed "It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid, or insane (or wicked, but I'd rather not consider that)" and Johnson's play on this quote:

"We must therefore believe in evolution or go to the madhouse, but what precisely is it that we are supposed to believe? 'Evolution' can mean anything from the uncontroversial statement that bacteria can 'evolve' resistance to antibiotics to the grand metaphysical claim that the universe and mankind 'evolved' entirely by purposeless mechanical forces. A word that elastic is likely to mislead, by implying that we know as much about the grand claim as we do about the small one."

p109 Another excellent quote, but I include only a sentence of it. "The trick is always to prove one of the modest meanings of the term [evolution], and treat it as proof of the complete metaphysical system."

p110 Story of Colin Patterson, mentioned on p43 and p73, British Museum biological expert. Made trip to US in 1981 and was asking the question "Can you tell me anything you know about evolution, any one thing ... that is true?" Patterson is saying that evolutionists talk like creationists in that "they point to a fact but cannot provide an explanation of the means", use "anti-knowledge" "are concepts that seem to imply true information, but do not"

p111-112 Kristol-Gould Controversy Social theorist Irving kristol wrote "If evolution were taught more cautiously, as a conglomerate idea consisting of conflicting hypotheses rather than as an unchallengeable certainty, it would be far less controversial." He suggests that religious fundamentalists were not "far off the mark when they assert that evolution .. has an unwarranted anti-religious edge." This really fired up Gould who replied "but evolution is also a fact of nature, as well established as the fact that the earth revolves around the sun." But Gould had also written that the neo-Darwinian synthesis "as a general proposition, is effectively dead, despite its persistance as textbook orthodoxy." This scenario gave Johnson a lot of ammunition. When later in the writing Gould compares the "fact of evolution" with the fact that apples fall down, not up, Johnson nails him:
"The analogy is spurious. We observe directly that apples fall when dropped, but do not observe a common ancestor for modern apes and humans. What we do observe is that apes and humans are physically and biochemically more like each other than they are like rabbits, snakes or trees. The ape-like common ancestor is a hypothesis in a theory, which purports to explain how these greater and lesser similarities came about. The theory is plausible, especially to a philosophical materialist, but it may nonetheless be false. The true explanation for natural relationships may be something more mysterious."

p112-115 Johnson's 2nd chapter is a detailed discussion of natural selection. As the first of six chapters examining the scientific evidence, Woodward judges that it is critically important. It highlights two questions which are repeated in other forms throughout the book as a skeptical refrain: "How much do evolutionists really know about the process whereby all living things evolved from microbial ancestors? Specifically do thy really know what they have been claiming to know - that it was a mindless process?" He is tackling "natural selection, which sifts out and adds up beneficial mutations". Then dealing with a "classic Darwinian nutshell, natural selection drives macroevolution." This is a formidable task in communicating with an evolutionist who makes these things a basic act of faith.

p117 Discussion of Ch 3 of Johnson, mutations great and small

  • Scene 1: Darwin and His Contemporaries
    • Darwin confined to cumulative product of a great many tiny steps.
    • T.H.Huxley urged against this natura non facit saltum prohibition of large jumps
    • Johnson brings up eye, wing, feather, bird lung as examples difficult for small steps.
    • Cites Gould about such developments: "These tales, in the 'just so' tradition of evolutionary natural history, do not prove anything."
    • Uses Darwin quote that Behe used so much later: "If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous,successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down."
  • Scene 2: Goldschmidt and the Wistar Institute
    • Goldschmidt's "hopeful monster" scenario of saltation drew intense ridicule from evolutionists.
    • Johnson counters by arguing that it had not been empirically demonstrated that micromutations could do it either.
    • Schutzenberger at Wistar mathematically challenged the possibility of building complex structures by undirected micromutations.
  • Scene 3: Stephen Jay Gould
    • His middle position tries to introduce a modest amount of macromutation into Darwinism.
    • Highlights Gould's doubts about the orthodox theory.
    • Too hard to "invent a reasonable sequence of intermediate forms" and we will have to accept "many cases of discontinuous transition in macroevolution."

p121 The Fossil Problem

  • Darwin's most formidable opponents were fossil experts.
    • Lyell's uniformitarianism had won out over Cuvier.
    • Lyell had difficulty with biological evolution,though his geology could be taken as consistent with it.
    • Lyell and others troubled by lack of intermediate forms.
  • A Fossil Primer p124
    • Gould and Eldridge p124
    • Punctuated equilibrium quote of Gould

125 Cambrian Explosion and the Great Extinctions. Sizable discussion of Cambrian Explosion

p126 Cites Gould's "Wonderful Life"

7. The Roaring Nineties: David Takes on Goliath

p133 Debate with William Provine, who showed complete contempt for design and faith in general.

p133 Describes PBS Firing Line debate, in which he judges that Design came out on the short end. Johnson, Behe, Berlinski and Buckley on design side, Kenneth Miller on Darwinism side.

p134 Behe and Berlinski enter as design allies. Alvin Plantinga and Henry Schaeffer also mentioned as allies.

p135 Ad Hoc Origins Committee sent out Johnson's reply to Gould to 5000 university science professors, signed by 45 professors

p135 Enter Steven Meyer, William Dembski, Paul Nelson and Jonathan Wells into the Design effort. Internet village communication 75 in '95, >200 in '03

p135 3 new books

p136 Jukes and Hull as critics. Starts with more moderate criticism of Johnson and Behe by Pennock and Kenneth Miller. Jukes more extreme, and then Hull as over the top.

p139 David Hull, Darwinian philosopher of science at Northwestern University. Review published in Nature. Hull's thoughts about even critics of evolution accepting that evolution has occurred. That was fairly reasonable, but then he takes off on a personal and particularly nasty attack on Johnson. Then an anti-faith polemic worthy of Bertrand Russell's basement of absolute despair. A bitter assessment of life, pain, suffering, etc that you would blame God for if you believed in God.

p140 Johnson's response to Hull's first part - add quote.

p140-141 Lengthy quote of Hull and his anti-theistic horror story.

p141 Significant discussion of Hull.

p142 Science seems to be more moderate in response to Johnson, but then sneaked in charges of creationism that were quite distorted and unfair.

p142 Eugenie Scott debates Philip Johnson

p142 Discusses Behe's reaction to Science's treatment of Johnson

p142 More about Eugenie Scott and her activism.

p143 Behe's letter to Science

p144 Behe quote, further comments about Behe and Woodward's assessment that he has emerged as a very articulate spokesman for design.

p145 Johnson organized a Dallas conference in 1991. Johnson invite Ruse to be the lead speaker opposite him for/against "Darwin on Trial". There were 11 scholars in a 3 day symposium at SMU: "Darwinism: Scientific Inference or Philosophical Preference". Ten presentations, also prepared critical responses to one of the papers on the opposite side. First such conference for Michael Behe, Stephen Meyer and Dembski.Arthur Shapiro was one of the speakers on the Darwinist side. There was also a debate between Johnson and Ruse in a packed ballroom. Produced video and book. Assessment was that all enjoyed the symposium.

p146 A year later, Ruse was invited to address the AAAS annual meeting in Boston on "The New Antievolutionism", organized by Eugenie Scott. Ruse was particularly charged with advising them on how to deal with the "Philip Johnson Problem".

p146-147 A very interesting discussion of Ruse's talk, which shocked everyone by its conciliatory tone and its concession of some possible problems with philosophical presumption in Darwinism.

p148 Eugenie Scott and Arthur Shapiro responded. Shapiro wrote article "Did Ruse Give Away the Store?", but concluded he didn't.

p148 This kicked off a discussion of methodological naturalism vs metaphysical naturalism through 1990s

p149 Resulting theses on methodological naturalism"
Ruse, Scott, Shapiro: "Darwinism's naturalism is merely methodological; it makes no metaphysical statement as to the ultimate nonexistence of a designer."

Design community antithesis: "The distinction between methodological and metaphysical naturalism is functionally meaningless and misleading, since to exclude intelligent causes from consideration in science is really the same as excluding them from reality."

p150 Calls methodological naturalism "the Darwinist's rhetorical firewall."

p150 Johnson group needed to appeal to "empirical evidence of design" Behe created his "rhetorical universe of irreducibly complex molecular machines" whereas Dembski "created his 'explanatory filter' for empirically detecting any kind of design anywhere in the universe."

p150-151 The 4 rules

p151 1993: Behe "recognized as the preeminent scientist within the Design community" "Also in 1993 Behe presented a more detailed elaboration of his ideas at a private conference of ten Design Theorists, including Johnson, William Dembski,Paul Nelson, Dean Kenyon, and German biologist Siegfried Scherer - also David Raup. Held at Pajaro Dunes resort in California. The documentary "Unlocking the Mystery of Life (2002) made this meeting famous.

p151 After Pajaro Dunes, Behe finished Darwin's Black Box

8. The Dam Breaks: Michael Behe and the Explosion of Design

p153 The public debuts of Berlinski and Behe. "In the summer of 1996 a pair of rhetorical bombs jarred the world of biological science." David Berlinski published "The Deniable Darwin" with subtitle "The fossil record is incomplete, the reasoning is flawed; is the theory of evolution fit to survive?"

p153 August 1996 Darwin's Black Box published with quick condemnation by Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett. Immediate and wide discussion of Behe and "irreducible complexity" with the bacterial flagellum. New York "Times took note of Behe's 'heretical' proposition - namely, that such complexity presents us with 'an overwhelming argument for intelligent design.'"

p154 Problematic for the critics was the fact that neither Berlinski nor Behe fit within the "creationist genre". Behe a Roman Catholic, Berlinski of Jewish background, and both arguing strictly on scientific grounds.

p154 Evolutionary theorists react with suspicion that Behe was trying to sneak in creation science. Behe's reply "Inferences to design do not require that we have a candidate for the role of designer. We can determine that a system is designed by examining the system itself, and we can hold the conviction of design much more strongly than a conviction about the identity of the designer."

p156-157 Great description of Behe's motivation and process.

p156 "Behe's sudden conversion to skepticism of Darwinism is the most important individual story of all the Design theorists." "Rather than the dogma of religion, it was the data of science, as presented by Denton, that induced Behe to reject Darwinism."

p157 "Behe's motivations ... were deeply rooted at the level of a strong moral indignation - a simmering, settled outrage - about the pervasive deception and misinformation he saw in all of the textbooks' discussions of macroevoluton."

p157 Encountered Denton's book in 1987 - read it in one long sitting - staying up well past midnight."He describes it as the greatest intellectual shock of his life."

p158 Coyne's review of Darwin's Black Box maligns it with "a new and more sophisticated version of scientific creationism" --that means Coyne hadn't read it, and is the kind of thing you expect from Coyne.

p158 "Behe devoted a chapter in his book to each of six miniature biochemical systems--" "most of these systems possessed the quality of irreducible complexity".."he researched a dozen of the most widely used biochemistry textbooks, as well as many technical journals on biochemical evolution, looking for proposed evolutionary scenarios. He was astonished, yet excited, to find in the literature a 'thundering silence'."

p159 Aristotle's "ethos, pathos, logos"

p159 Though usually recognized as a scientist, some accused Behe of "seduction" Allen Orr of Univ of Rochester "Mr Orr went so far as to concede that Mr. Behe's work may well represent the most sophisticated and the most seductive creationist attack on evolution in a quarter-century." "This hint of seduction links with the theme of Design as a dangerous virus - a 'sophisticated, stealth type creationism.'"

p159 Behe affirms common descent

p160 Behe "I greatly respect the work of my colleagues who study the development and behavior of organisms within an evolutionary framework, and I think that evolutionary biologists have contributed enormously to our understanding of the world."

p161 Behe "By irreducibly complex, I mean a single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning."

p161 Behe's famous mousetrap analogy.

p163 Box on Co-option

p164 Discussion of Kenneth Miller and his "argument from imperfection". Debated Behe in 1997 on PBS. Kenneth Miller spoke at GSU and wore a mousetrap as a tie clasp. "has now risen to legendary status as a champion of Darwinism and a dogged opponent of design".

p165 Behe "The scientific disciplines that were part of the evolutionary synthesis are all nonmolecular. Yet for the Darwinian theory of evolution to the true,it has to account for the molecular structure of life. It is the purpose of this book to show that it does not."

p166 A three-paragraph quote of Behe, with the ending "Why does the scientific community not greedily embrace its startling discovery? Why is the observation of design handled with intellectual gloves? The dilemma is that while one side of the elephant is labeled intelligent design, the other side might be labeled God."

p167 Very important summary page about the difficulty of bringing God into the discussion.

p167-168 Behe's attempts to lower the barriers to discussing design

p168-170 Discussion of Behe's attempts to open dialog and his strategies for communicating and defending the themes raised in Darwin's Black Box. Need to reread and analyze more carefully.

9. Mere Creation and Beyond: William Dembski and the Explanatory Filter

p171 In Nov 96, about 180 members of the Design community converged to Biola University in Los Angeles for a conference titled "Mere Creation". This is in the same year as Berlinski's "The Deniable Darwin" and Behe's "Darwin's Black Box" and "Darwin Under the Microscope"

p172 Henry F Schaeffer, quantum chemist,wrote foreword for conference proceedings. Review first two paragraphs including his quote.

p172 Eighteen plenary speakers including Johnson, Behe, Berlinski. Young scholars they called the "four horsemen": Stephen Meyer, Paul Nelson, Jonathan Wells, William Dembski had been working together since 1993. Meyer built on Thaxton, discussed specified complexity.

p173 Woodward judges that Dembski was the most important speaker. He detailed his "explanatory filter", developed in the early 90s. Dembski outlined the many ways the filter could be used. "Thus, the filter formalizes and makes precise the processes of design detection that are going on in many fields."

p174 Good overviews of the "explanatory filter" and discussion of its importance.

p175 "Both Behe's 'irreducible complexity of molecular machines' and Meyer's idea of 'specified complexity of DNA' are specialized cases of the application of Dembski's filter."

p175 Dembski earned PhDs in Mathematics and Philosophy and a Masters in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary. Woodward recounts "Yet, in the midst of steady progress, he is harshly pummeled and publically vilified by his own hostile colleagues at Baylor." Cambridge published "The Design Inference" based on his PhD dissertation in philosophy. Dembski's roller coaster ride with various controversies is described in Wikipedia on William Dembski, which I would not presume to be either accurate or fair, but it at least gives the flavor of the controversies that followed Dembski's life and work.

p177 Starting with Behe's favorable review of Dembski's book "Intelligent Design" (1999) there is a complicated pattern of controversy related to Intelligent Design:

  • p178 Behe wrote foreword for Dembski's book "Intelligent Design" and rates the "explanatory filter" as one of the greatest philosophical advances.
  • p179 Dembski founded the Michael Polyani Center for study of intelligent design at Baylor, which was strongly opposed by the faculty and ultimately shut down.
  • p180 Dembski organized a remarkable conference at Baylor in 2000 "The Nature of Nature" which had input from Darwinian and ID speakers. It also generated considerable controversy.
  • p182 Production of video "Unlocking the Mystery of Life" presenting positive view of ID, and "Icons of Evolution" which was critical
  • p183 New examples of Design rhetoric
    • New writings focused on the latest puzzles and problems, undermining confidence in textbook treatments
    • The "informational problem" and its critique of macroevolution, based on Thaxton, Meyer and Dembski
    • The new fossils from the late 1980s forward from Cheng-Jiang in southern China.
    • Jonathan Wells "The Icons of Evolution" which raised the issues of fraud in the Darwinian history

p183 One of the interesting stories in the lore of the debate with Darwinian orthodoxy comes from Jun-Yuan Chen, the principal Chengjiang paleontologist. On a 1999 visit to the US, he was puzzled at the lack of response to his criticism of Darwinian theory. He was told that criticizing Darwinism was unpopular in U.S. academia. "At that he laughed and said: 'In China we can criticize Darwin, but not the government; in America, you can criticize the government, but not Darwin.'"

p184 Characterizes Wells' "Icons of Evolution" as a "withering, Denton-style attack on ten major textbook symbols of Darwinian macroevoluton .." Long quote of Wells.

p185 Last paragraph an appeal for the use of a design paradigm to address some of the extreme criticisms. "In the eyes of Design rhetors, the emotional severity of the criticism they have received from respondent like Jukes, Provine and Gould only underscores the revolutionary nature of the situation. In a recent review of design texts and rebuttals, rhetorician Thomas Lessl concluded that the 'leaders of the ID Movement would insist that the [Darwinian] hyperothodoxy and heavy handedness ... are merely signs that the evolutionary paradigm is indeed in crisis.'"

p186 "Kenneth Miller says that Johnson, Behe, Dembski, and their cohorts possess and are driven by a powerful emotional opposition to Darwinism, rooted in the theory's inherent tendency to portray a meaningless universe that is filled with contingency, happenstance and horror."

p186 In a paragraph about the emotions in the Design deployment "Central to this project is the prying of long-sequestered issues of metaphysics out of the intellectual closet."

p187 "In summary, Behe and Dembski were the chief innovators of Design's rhetorical vision after 1996. They contributed to the clarity of goals and gave rise to an attitude of optimism, even spurring projection themes of success in the first half of the twenty-first century. According to this vision, the movement's goals will be achieved by two simultaneous resurrections - the resurrection and exposition of the unsolved biological mystery (the question of how life and humanity arose from lifeless chemicals), and the resurrection of Paley's idea, the inference to design, that has lain buried in the academic graveyard for over a century."

10. A Revolution Built on Recalcitrance: Intelligent Design in Historical Perspective

p189 Birth and rapid growth of the Intelligent Design Movement

  • Michael Denton, "Evolution, A Theory in Crisis"
  • Philip Johnson, "Darwin on Trial"
  • Michael Behe, "Darwin's Black Box" and irreducible complexity.
  • William Dembski and his explanatory filter
  • Jonathan Wells, "The Icons of Evolution"
  • These steps "aroused from dogmatic slumber" many.

p190 This book based on Woodward's doctoral dissertation at the University of South Florida.

p195 Intelligent design tends to polarize and draw opposition. "This is because there persists today among many of our better-educated population a severe and malignant distortion of Intelligent Design. This blind spot is evidenced in hostile caricatures in the media and vitriolic attacks in the universities, which lump Design into biblical creationism and dismiss it as nothing more than "creation science in a cheap tuxedo."

195 From some respected professors at prestigious secular universities:

  1. Darwinism is woefully lacking factual support and is rather based on philosophical assumptions
  2. Empirical evidence, expecially in molecular biology, now points compellingly to some sort of intelligence behind life.

p197 Gallup poll, only 10% hold to strictly naturalistic evolution with no participation by a preexisting intelligence.

p199 Attack on Darwinian cosmology: Denton, Johnson, Behe

  • Denton, Johnson: no empirical evidence that step-by-step macroevolution has occurred.
  • All three: Bridging can't hasn't been conceived in terms of the intermediates required.

p200 Dealing with stubborn realities:

  • Cambrian Explosion, with addition of Cheng-Jiang fossils in China
  • General absence of transitional fossils between higher taxonomic categories
  • Cell's molecular systems of breathtaking complexity
  • Quiet, experiment-driven collapse of the "chemical soup" scenarios for the origin of life.

p200 Quotes Johnson's "Battleship" picture of evolutionary naturalism

p201 History of Science museum, rise in references to Paley

p204 Claim of the Design Movement: "Evolutionary science, in its Darwinian incarnation, is devoted to explaining how complex biological entities came into being without the participation of a pre-existing intelligence." Woodward is pointing out that this is a statement agreed to by both sides of the design debate, so it "outs" the Darwinian as promoting atheism. Even passionate spokespersons like Eugenie Scott are warning against metaphysical preaching by scientists.

p205 "I have made it clear that the chief villain in Design's metanarrative is not personal but philosophical: metaphysical naturalism. Design theorists accordingly were startled by Michael Ruse's admitting the role played by 'unprovable philosophical assumptions'. This qualified him as a strange antagonist - one with laudable intellectual honesty."

206 Stephen Jay Gould and his NOMA. Gould on Johnson, Johnson on Gould.

206 Biologists in National Academy of Science 95% disclaim belief in God

208 Interesting comments by Eugenie Scott of NCSE "But when a topic has religious implications, such as the big bang ... they don't want us to look for natural explanations." "they claim that 'intelligence' must have been involved. 'Intelligence,' of course, means divine creation, a subject outside of science." But Woodward points out "Design builds on this very foundation - the negative results of diligent search for such explanations! In fact, the Explanatory Filter of Dembski demands that a natural explanation be sought first."

Afterword by Andrew Bocarsly and Robert Kaita

Appendix 1: Notes on the Berkeley Faculty Colloquium of 23 September 1988.

Appendix 2: Phillip E. Johnson's Position Paper on Darwinism

Appendix 3: Letter from the Ad Hoc Origins Committee

Appendix 4: The Rhetoric of Science and Intelligent Design: Historical and Conceptual Linkages

Windows of Creation
Evidence from nature Is the universe designed?
Reading Reference
  Reasonable Faith Go Back