INTELLIGENT THOUGHT: Science Versus the Intelligent Design Movement, edited by John Brockman
(Vintage, $14; release date May 9, 2006)

Posted by Anneli Rufus at 1:22 pm, Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The “debate” (and even that term is overly kind) between evolution and the repackaged creationism known as “intelligent design” has been played out on local school boards and in the editorial offices of textbook publishers across the country for almost a decade now. (And for over a century before that under different euphemisms as well.) But there is no debate in the scientific community, where 100% of rational scientists acknowledge evolution as the only viable theory to explain the development of life. Yet this certainty in the halls of academe seems to have little effect on the rough-and-tumble playground of public discourse, where religious fundamentalists and decision-makers with agendas have succeeded in reframing the dispute as a battle of competing ideas. Which of course it isn’t — it’s the battle of an idea versus the absence of an idea. Up until now, the scientific world has purposely refrained from even addressing the absurd claims of the “intelligent design” movement, refusing to grant them legitimacy by so doing. But the strategy has backfired: with no one fighting back, the IDers have actually managed to get evolution out of some schools and textbooks.

Frustrated, and mystified by the eternal lure of this seemingly baseless anti-knowledge movement, the scientific world has decided to take the gloves off and punch back. Hard. This volume of sixteen new, previously unpublished essays by leading scientists utterly demolishes any credibility that “intelligent design” ever imagined it had. With a roster of leading lights like Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, Lee Smolin, Tim White and a host of other world-class thinkers, Intelligent Thought tackles every aspect of the conflict, from the scientific evidence to the social rationale for trying to promote ignorance. Of course, no one in the ID movement will ever read this book, as they studiously avoid any stimuli that might upset their world view, but it stands alone as an admirable rebuttal of the obfuscatory claims of creationism.

Grade: A

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