Thursday, January 04, 2007

Stopping By a Bookstore On the Way to Work: The Birth of the Intelligent Design Movement

Here is a very interesting and brief history of the intelligent design movement. The article dates to March 2002, but I thought I would link to it since I suspect that many of my readers have never seen it. It is also timely and relevant given the tendency of many to equate the intelligent design movement with the creation science movement, and the tendency to lump all critics of evolution into one homogenous mass, which I discussed here and here.

Commenting on the book The Mystery of Life's Origin, he notes:
Their argument was not entirely novel; Henry Morris and A. E. Wilder-Smith had anticipated parts of it already. What was noteworthy, however, about this book is that the authors, while themselves Christians, attempted to argue against biogenesis not from biblical authority but exclusively on scientific grounds.

Here is another excerpt, about how the law professor Phillip Johnson happened to get interested in this issue:
During the 1987–88 academic year, Johnson left Boalt Hall to become a visiting professor at University College in London, where he found himself in an academician’s heaven. He headed into his office three days a week and traveled with his wife the rest of the time. The route to his London office took him past a scientific bookstore, wherein he encountered Richard Dawkins’ polemic The Blind Watchmaker. Johnson concluded that Dawkins’ argument was carried by the same kind of brilliant rhetorical devices that gifted lawyers employ to overcome insufficient evidence. With ample time to devote to reading whatever caught his fancy, Johnson began devouring other popular scientific accounts of evolution by Denton, Stephen Jay Gould, and John Maynard Smith. As Johnson recounts it, he told his wife one evening that “I think I understand the problem with this whole field. But, fortunately, I’m too sensible to take it up professionally or to write about it. I’d be ridiculed. They would say, ‘You’re not a scientist, you’re a law professor.’ It would be something once you got started with it, you’d be involved in a lifelong, never-ending battle.” Johnson, however, found the temptation irresistible. He began writing the next day.

For more on the challenges to macroevolution based on science and not faith, go here.


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