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skeptic: Cambridge Publishes Neo-Creationism

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  • Eric Krieg
    A quick note: An Australian skeptic recently asked me, I ve been searching for a skeptical review of Dean Radin s The Conscious Universe but have been
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 15, 1998
      A quick note: An Australian skeptic recently asked me, "I've been searching
      for a skeptical review of Dean Radin's 'The Conscious Universe' but have been
      unable to find one anywhere. Can you help me with this?" - any info?

      Behe will be speaking at Temple Oct 23.
      The following post is by Marty Rudin:

      Cambridge Publishes Neo-Creationism
      Wed, 14 Oct 1998 16:50:12 +0000
      Marty Rudin <martyrudin@...>

      Dear Eric,

      Creationists have finally slipped one past the goalkeeper. Cambridge
      University Press has just published William A. Dembski's THE DESIGN
      INFERENCE. In it Dembski acknowledges such neo-creationists as Phillip
      Johnson and Michael Behe. The anti-evolutionist David Berlinski wrote the
      jacket endorsement (see below).

      If you really want to see what neo-creationists are up to, compare this book
      with Dembski's blatantly theological MERE CREATION: SCIENCE, FAITH &
      INTELLIGENT DESIGN (an edited collection from the evangelical Christian
      publisher InterVarsity). In it Dembski lays out the theological agenda
      behind the so-called "intelligent design movement." Most of the contributors
      to this volume are "fellows" of a thinly-veiled creationist think-tank
      called the Discovery Institute (www.discovery.org).

      This neo-creationism is a lot more sophisticated and slickly packaged than
      the creationism that lost in the courts back in the 80s (for instance, they
      scrupulously avoid the Bible in their public discussions). Given that
      50% of Americans are creationists, this new-style creationism may not only
      slip past the academic publishers (as it has here), but also past the
      courts. The threat to science education is real. I urge you to take this
      threat seriously and meet it head on.

      Marty Rudin

      ====== ====== ====== ====== ====== ====== ====== ====== ====== ======
      Dembski's DESIGN INFERENCE -- the inside dustjacket reads:
      (taken from Amazon.com)

      How can we identify events due to intelligent causes and distinguish
      them from events due to undirected natural causes? If we lack a causal
      theory, how can we determine whether an intelligent cause acted? This
      book presents a reliable method for detecting intelligent causes: the
      design inference. The design inference uncovers intelligent causes by
      isolating the key trademark of intelligent causes: specified events of
      small probability. Just about anything that happens is highly
      improbable, but when a highly improbable event is also specified (i.e.,
      conforms to an independently given pattern) undirected natural causes
      lose their explanatory power. Design inferences can be found in a range
      of scientific pursuits from forensic science to research into the
      origins of life to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. This
      challenging and provocative book shows how incomplete undirected causes
      are for science and breathes new life into classical design arguments.
      It will be read with particular interest by philosphers of science and
      religion, other philosophers concerned with epistemology and logic,
      probability and complexity theorists, and statisticians.

      "As the century and with it the millennium come to an end, questions
      long buried have disinterred themselves and come clattering back to
      intellectual life, dragging their winding sheets behind them. Just what,
      for example, is the origin of biological complexity and how is it to be
      explained? We have no more idea today than Darwin did in 1859, which is
      to say no idea whatsoever. William Dembski's book is not apt to be the
      last word on the inference to design, but it will surely be the first.
      It is a fine contribution to analysis, clear, sober, informed,
      mathematically sophisticated and modest. Those who agree with its point
      of view will read it with pleasure, and those who do not, will ignore it
      at their peril." --David Berlinski, Author of _The Tour of the Calculus_
      best wishes,

      Eric Krieg eric@... fax (215) 654-0651

      PS: an update from Shermer:
      Thu, 08 Oct 1998 13:40:19 -0700
      Skeptic Mag Hotline <skeptic-admin@...>
      Skeptic Mag Hotline <SkepticMag@...>
      "Skeptics Society" <skeptics@...>

      For those interested, here is how to obtain a free transcript of the Stossel
      show on "The Power of Belief" on the internet:

      Because of the generous exposure of Skeptic magazine on the show the phone
      here has been ringing nonstop for two days, with hundreds of subscriptions
      coming in. Although no mention (that I recall) was made where we are located
      (Altadena, CA), people have had no trouble finding us thanks to the internet.
      And in just one day three media calls were placed and interviews arranged,
      just from that one show. Stossel certainly has a wide and deep influence. He's
      smart and, from what I could tell from spending an afternoon with him, he's a
      hellova nice guy.

      On another topic, since I was in college I have been collecting books on
      science, history of science, philosophy of science, the paranormal,
      pseudoscience (at first because I believed a lot of this stuff--I still have
      my marked up copy of Hal Lindsey's LATE GREAT PLANET EARTH, along with my
      philosophy professor's critique), etc., and have donated them all to the
      Skeptics Society Research Library, now that we are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit
      corporation. We have about 5,000 volumes, plus some very valuable antiquarian
      books, and a number of archaeological artifacts and other items, such that the
      library is also becoming a small museum. For the past few years a few
      individuals have donated important books to help build the library, and
      recently an active skeptic in the movement offered to send about a hundred
      books related to evolution and creation, science and pseudoscience, religion
      and cults, etc., in exchange for some books, tapes, a subscription to Skeptic,
      and back issues of the magazine from our catalogue. If anyone out there would
      like to do something similar--that is, exchange books we could use in our
      library for the equivalent in subscriptions, back issues, books, and video
      tapes from our catalogue, please e-mail me the titles you have so I can see
      which ones we already have and which we need. (We'll have to guesstimate the
      value of the used books, but that's reasonably simple to do.)

      Finally, allow me to add one more point about the Stossel show. Even though
      Skeptic and I got a lot of coverage, watching the show just reminded me again
      that in this area of paranormal and pseudoscience claims Randi, like home run
      champ Mark McGuire, is "the man." He is the fountainhead of the skeptical
      movement and we are proud that Skeptic can be a regular outlet for what he has
      to say. Way to go Randi. Keep knocking them over the fence.

      Michael Shermer
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