February 22, 2010

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Two new books featured at ARN this month are not written by intelligent design proponents, but could have been. The books have nothing to say about ID, but provide powerful critiques of materialistic science and Darwinian evolution.  The first book was written by a British medical doctor and the second book by a pair of secular academics. If you have been following the Darwin vs. Design debate for any length of time, these are two “must read and pass along” books.

Why Us? How Science Rediscovered the Mystery of Ourselves
By James Le Fanu

James Le Fanu, is a British medical doctor who publishes in peer-reviewed medical journals like the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine and the British Medical Journal, a columnist for the London Telegraph, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Award for his book The Rise and Fall of Modern Medicine (2001). In Why Us? we discover Dr. Le Fanu is also a Darwin doubter. Le Fanu’s main point is that the more science reveals about the most important question a human can ask—What is man and how did he come to be?—the more we have to admit that we don’t know. Le Fanu demonstrates this by masterfully recounting the epic demise of expectations that prevailed until recently for the prospects of three scientific enterprises. Darwinian evolution, genetics, and brain research were supposed to combine to give a compelling, coherent and united naturalistic account of man’s origin and nature. They did no such thing and the prospect of their doing so in the future appears hopeless.  This is a great book to give your Darwin-devoted friends.  Intelligent design is never mentioned, but the foundation for the materialist, reductionist worldview is systematically dismantled by a well-known authority on science and medicine.

Check out the table of contents and reviews or order your copy here.

Why Us? How Science Rediscovered the Mystery of Ourselves
By Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini

Welcome to the Post-Darwinian Century. This honest critique of Darwin’s theory comes not from the intelligent design community, but from the center of the scientific and academic community. These two secular atheists now find themselves on the same side of the fence as many theists: Darwin’s simplistic theory does not explain the increasing complex biological world we are discovering. They may not agree with theists on the mechanisms that explain life, but they agree its time to jettison our old reductionist theories.

Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, a distinguished philosopher and a scientist working in tandem, reveal major flaws at the heart of Darwinian evolutionary theory. Combining the results of cutting-edge work in experimental biology with crystal-clear philosophical arguments, they mount a reasoned and convincing assault on the central tenets of Darwin’s account of the origin of species. The logic underlying natural selection is the survival of the fittest under changing environmental pressure. This logic, they argue, is mistaken, and they back up the claim with surprising evidence of what actually happens in nature. This is a rare achievement—a concise argument that is likely to make a great deal of difference to a very large subject. What Darwin Got Wrong will be controversial. The authors’ arguments will reverberate through the scientific world. At the very least they will transform the debate about evolution and move us beyond the false dilemma of being either for natural selection or against science.

Check out the table of contents and reviews or order your copy here.

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ARN News Flash
Quotes by James Le Fanu

Both the Human Genome Project and the Decade of the Brain have indeed transformed, beyond measure, our understanding of ourselves—but in a way quite contrary to that anticipated.  Nearly ten years have elapsed since those heady days when the ‘Holy Grail’ of the scientific enterprise, the secrets of life and the human mind, seemed almost within reach. Every month the pages of the science journals are still filled with the latest discoveries generated by the techniques of the New Genetics, and yet more colorful scans of the workings of the brain—but there is no longer the expectation that the accumulation of yet more facts will ever provide an adequate scientific explanation of the human experience. (page 14)

What then to make of Charles Darwin, who has cast so long a shadow over the past 150 years? He was, like so many of his contemporaries in that Golden Age of Natural History, a brilliant naturalist in extraordinary times.  He had the audacity to seek a grand unifying explanation, in the tradition of his fellow countryman Isaac Newton, for the processes of life and its history.  But those processes, so many billion-fold times more complex than the laws of gravity, defy such simplification.  His legacy then is rather different from that commonly perceived.  Together with Marx and Freud, he is one of that triumvirate whose assertion of the priority of the scientific view ‘would occupy the center stage of Western thought for so long.’….Darwin’s contributing ‘plank’ to that ‘platform of materialist science’ alone endures—but for how much longer?  It certainly seems surprising in retrospect that Marx’s and Freud’s self-evidently erroneous theories should have proved so persuasive to so many and for so long.  Now it is the turn of Darwin, whose reputation can scarcely survive the devastating verdict of the finding of the recent past.  Before long he must fill that vacant chair in heaven alongside Marx and Freud, at which point the triumvirate will be complete. (page 261)

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