Darwinism, Creationism, Intelligent Design - or Something Else?

I was up in Cambridge recently. Every time I go there, I always try to pop into the Amnesty International second-hand bookshop; they usually have something there of interest. On this occasion, very close to each other on the shelves of the Religion section (an interesting placement!), I found:

  • Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life Is Designed, by Douglas Axe (1)
  • Critique of Intelligent Design: Materialism versus Creationism From Antiquity to the Present, by John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark, and Richard York (2)
  • Creation or Evolution: Do We Have to Choose? by Denis Alexander (3)
  • Evolution as a Religion, by Mary Midgley (4)
  • Essays of a Humanist, by Julian Huxley (5)

The combination seemed very tempting, and so I bought them all, hoping to get deeper into this very interesting debate, which I have been following for a few years. It has since occurred to me that I could use them as a source of brief articles for Medium, offering a few random thoughts.

Here are a few notes on these texts:

Douglas Axe is associated with the Discovery Institute, which is the leading organisation in the Intelligent Design movement. (I have subscribed to their website’s articles for several years.)

The back cover of the second book says that it is “a key to understanding the forces of irrationalism challenging the teaching of evolution in the United States and seeking to undermine the natural and social sciences. This book offers empowering tools to understand and defend critical and scientific reasoning in both the natural and social sciences and society as a whole”. (I’ll reserve comment on that until later, but I hope readers are already thinking some of the things I’m likely to say.)

The third book is an attempt to reconcile Creation and Evolution from a Christian perspective. From where I stand, this makes it somewhat limited spiritually. I’ll be hoping to expand upon its thinking.

The author of the fourth book is a distinguished, professional philosopher. Critics of Darwinian theories of evolution often say that it has become the new religion of science, that is to say, a belief system relying upon faith rather than evidence. She would seem to be a powerful advocate for this point of view.

Humanism is not exactly the same as Darwinism, but Huxley is a committed Darwinist, and uses it as the basis for his philosophy. The two ideas are often connected.

A lot of material for an interesting debate. Watch this space!

Footnotes:

(1) HarperOne, 2016

(2) Monthly Review Press, 2008

(3) Monarch Books, 2008

(4) Routledge, 2002

(5) Pelican, 1966