Gradually, I am returning to some sense of normalcy. We are slowly unpacking boxes in our new house. My daughter only has four special events to attend this week. And the stack of unmarked papers on my desk is down to a manageable six inches high. All that means it is time to start blogging again. And I’m thinking I need a change of pace and that it is time to begin making good on a sixth month old promise to start reviewing Stephen Meyer’s Signature in the Cell.
But before getting into that I must deal with some underlying issues. You see, for some reason the mere mention of intelligent design makes some people become apoplexic. The last time I so much as mentioned intelligent design in my blog a good number of readers began frothing at the mouth and writhing on the floor while howling something about creationism and cheap tuxedos. (At least that was the mental image that lodged in my brain based on the some borderline coherent vitriolic comments.)
With that memory still fresh in my mind I offer this brief prolegomenon to the review of this book, and any other book on intelligent design for that matter. This prolegomenon will have to be brief. (Perhaps I can add a bit more when the stack of unmarked papers is down to three inches high.) So I offer one simple point: whether or not any intelligent design friendly conservative think tanks or fundamentalist school boards have tried to appropriate the theory of intelligent design for their nefarious purposes is a separate issue from the review of their arguments. In other words, to what use a theory might be put does not make the theory false.
Here’s an analogy. Dr. Doubt is a climatologist at Really Old University and he has just published a five hundred page book arguing in meticulous detail that climate change is not caused by the burning of fossil fuels. There is no doubt that Dr. Doubt’s book will be appropriated to further the nefarious agendas of evil oil companies. And maybe that is even part of Dr. Doubt’s intent in writing the book. (We can’t get inside his head to say yes or no.) But that really is neither here nor there to a review of the book. We must look carefully at Dr. Doubt’s arguments and see whether there is any substance to them. The simple fact that they make the world a little less hostile for a corporation like BP doesn’t automatically make his arguments false.