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Dennis Wagner, editor

Number Sixty-five, May 24, 2007

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  • NEW BOOK: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Intelligent Design
  • NEW BOOK: World Without Design--The Ontological Consequences of Naturalism
  • ID Author, Guillermo Gonzalez, Denied Tenure at Iowa State University
  • 2 Day Science Teacher Symposium: Teaching Biological Origins at Biola University
  • ID Arts Update: Get your free downloadable ID art print
  • Swallowing: It’s Not As Easy As it Looks by Dr. Howard Glicksman
  • Dogmatic Darwinists: The Captain Ahabs of Science by Roddy Bullock
  • The Vertebrate Eye Does Not Have a Compromised Design by David Tyler

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Intelligent Design

Christopher Carlisle with W. Thomas Smith, Jr.

If you have been baffled by the Darwin vs. Design debate, or have been looking for the perfect book to introduce your co-worker to the topic, then you are in luck! With Complete Idiot Guides available on hundreds of topics, the publishers of this catchy series have decided that the smart people are the one’s who admit up front they know very little about a topic they are interested in gearing up on, and are secure enough about who they are to have an “Idiot’s Guide” sitting on their coffee table at home as they quickly get up to speed on the key issues and facts.

This book takes a balanced look at the issues with an easy to read layout that includes call-out boxes, definitions, and summary statements throughout each chapter.  Christopher Carlisle is the Episcopal Chaplin at the University of Massachusetts and cofounder of The God and Science Project. He has hosted events on his campus featuring proponents of both sides of the debate. In this book you will learn:

  • The fundamentals of Intelligent Design, including the current debate between science and ID.
  • The history of Intelligent Design over the past 2,500 years
  • How Charles Darwin changed the relationship between science and religion
  • What ID proponents argue may be a more adequate explanation of the life’s origins
  • Why scientists, theologians, and ID advocates must come to some common ground

The layman’s ID Trilogy is now complete when this book is read along with Jonathan Well’s Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design, and Denyse O’Leary’s By Design or by Chance.  The cat is out now out of the bag for the average citizen, and the mandarins of science and the sound-byte news reporters can no longer dismiss ID as “creationism in disguise” or a failed attempt to “sneak religion into the public schools”.  After reading this book, even the village “idiot” will know better.

Go here to view the table of contents or to order your copy today.

World Without Design: The Ontological Consequences of Naturalism

Michael C. Rea, Oxford University Press (trade paperback, 245 pages), 2007

Alvin Plantinga has been crying out in the philosophical wilderness for decades about the short comings of philosophical naturalism, the cornerstone of Darwinian evolution. The wilderness just got a little less lonely with the recent publication of World Without Design: The Ontological Consequences of Naturalism by his Notre Dame colleague, Michael C. Rea. Philosophical naturalism has dominated the Western academy for well over a century. However, there is an important sense in which naturalism's status as orthodoxy is without rational foundation. Furthermore, the costs of embracing it are surprisingly high. The goal of this book is to defend these two claims, with special attention to the second. The first part of the book aims to provide a fair and historically informed characterization of naturalism. The second part argues for the striking thesis that naturalists are committed to rejecting realism about material objects, materialism, and perhaps realism about other minds. The book concludes with an examination of two alternative research programs, intuitionism and supernaturalism, and argues that, under certain circumstances, intuitionism is self-defeating. Those who think the Darwin vs. Design debate is all about the scientific evidence, or about science vs. religion, will be surprised to find out, that the issue goes much deeper into the world of philosophy. According to Professor Rea philosophic naturalism, which many take for granted in the world of modern science, stands on shaky ground.

Go here to view the table of contents or to purchase your copy today.

 ID Author, Guillermo Gonzalez, Denied Tenure at Iowa State University

The big story this month is the denial of tenure to widely-published pro-ID astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez at Iowa State University, despite the fact that he exceeded by 350% his department’s standard for research excellence in peer-reviewed publications. A quick recap of the key developments in the case:

1. Two tenured professors in Gonzalez’s department publicly admitted that his work on intelligent design played a role in his tenure denial.

2. Two additional faculty members in Gonzalez’s department were found to be connected to a national statement denouncing intelligent design as “creationist pseudoscience.”

3. Tenure statistics were obtained showing that 91% of faculty who applied for tenure this year at ISU received it, refuting the university’s claim earlier in the week that its tenure standards are “so high, that many good researchers have failed to satisfy the demands of earning tenure” at ISU.

4. Tenure standards for ISU's Department of Physics and Astronomy were released showing that outside research funding was not a stated criterion for tenure decisions in the department.

5. ISU continues to pretend that nothing is wrong while ignoring the hostile work environment for Gonzalez.

What Can You Do? Help Guillermo Gonzalez in his fight for academic freedom. Contact ISU President Gregory L. Geoffroy at (515) 294-2042 or email him at  and let him know that you support academic freedom for Dr. Gonzalez to follow the evidence wherever it leads.  When a university receives hundreds or thousand of messages on one topic, they pay attention.  Be polite, but speak up for Dr. Gonzalez and academic freedom in America.

ARN Correspondent, Denyse O’Leary, has been following this development.  Check her column for regular updates on the situation.

Science Teacher Symposium: Teaching Biological Origins

Biola University's M. A. Program in Science and Religion and the Department of Education will present a Science Teacher Symposium on August 3rd and 4th, 2007. The symposium is specifically designed for high school biology teachers, but anyone may attend.


  • Meet leading critic of Darwinian evolution, Jonathan Wells
  • Investigate Discovery Institute’s new biology curriculum (free copies for qualified* teachers) 
  • Network with other teachers and curriculum writers

An exciting new supplementary textbook delivers critical thinking at its best (9th grade – college): Explore Evolution: The Arguments for and Against Neo-Darwinism (Hill House Publishers, 2007). Those teaching lower grade levels may attend to consider ways of adapting this material.

Presented by the M.A. Program in Science and Religion and the Department of Education at Biola University.  Register: Call 888-332-4652 or download form.

FREE Downloadable ID Art Print: Placed with a Purpose

We are pleased to introduce artist Tim McMahan and his ID Art print entitled “Placed with Purpose”. We are also pleased to offer those that sign up for the ID Arts mailing list a free high-resolution edition of this image suitable for framing or use as your computer desktop wallpaper. Here is Tim’s commentary on the image: “I created it in Adobe Photoshop with the use of two stock photos (the moon and the eye). I created it after hearing a lecture by Jay Richards on The Privileged Planet in March 2005. Dr. Richards mentioned in that lecture that many of the things we find most beautiful in nature also happen to be results of things that are necessary for our survival. I was inspired by the idea that a solar eclipse is not only an expression of beauty but also evidence of purposeful design. While looking at an eclipse, we can see the designer looking back at us.” Tim is a freelance graphic designer based in Orange, CA. He graduated from Biola University in 1996 with a B.S. in Art

Confession — A Short Story by James Hoskins

While you are at the ID Arts website, checkout this short story by James Hoskins. It’s the same old story–kid goes off to college where everything he was raised to believe is challenged, but Confession, a short story by philosophy student James Hoskins, turns out to be a confession of a different sort.


SWALLOWING: It’s Not as Easy as it Looks

By Dr. Howard Glicksman

In this month’s installment of Exercise Your Wonder, Dr. Howard Glicksman walks us through the design of swallowing.  Here is a brief excerpt:

“It is common today to encounter people who would look at the anatomy of the head and neck, see the high risk for aspiration, and would conclude that it couldn’t have been intelligently designed because that’s not the way they would have done it.  Of course, one has to take into account the importance of the faculty of smell and its direct connection to the faculty of taste to see why the parts for breathing and eating are so close together. But then came the need to preserve respiratory function while still allowing for nutrition and hydration through the oral cavity.  You now understand how this is achieved in our bodies 

It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words and that beauty is in the mind of the beholder.  Well, I’d like to leave you with a link that shows a video of swallowing.

As you watch it, consider what you’ve just learned about what’s really going on every time you swallow, about 1,000 times a day. That’s 1,000 chances per day for aspiration causing disease, dysfunction and death to take place, and the body handles it beautifully.”  Go here to read the full article.

Dogmatic Darwinists: The Captain Ahabs of Science

By Roddy Bullock

What does Darwinism have to do with Moby Dick?

To find out, read Roddy Bullock’s column in the ARN ID Report this month.


The vertebrate eye does not have a compromised design

By David Tyler

Glial cells have been known to neuroscientists for over a century and they perform numerous essential functions. Now we can add another. In the vertebrate eye, there are "radial glial cells spanning the entire retinal thickness" known as Muller cells. Shaped like an extended funnel, they are "oriented along the direction of light propagation". These cells "provide a low-scattering passage for light from the retinal surface to the photoreceptor cells", thus acting as optical fibres. Their function is to "mediate the image transfer through the vertebrate retina with minimal distortion and low loss".

For years, we have been told by "blind watchmaker" Darwinians that the eye is an example of bad design because light has to pass through the retina to reach the photoreceptor cells. These folk insist that a good Designer wouldn't have wired our retinas the "wrong" way. The response from those who advocate design has been to show that the eye is an example of optimum design: there are good reasons that can be advanced for having an inverted retina. This approach has satisfied many but certainly not all. The "bad design" claim is still widespread.

This new paper in the May issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, has finally nailed the argument: by revealing yet another level of exquisite design. The authors modestly say: "This finding elucidates a fundamental feature of the inverted retina as an optical system". They describe the Muller cells as "ingeniously designed light collectors". ScienceNow says: "For an organ that delivers such crystal-clear images, the eye is curiously designed. Its light-sensing rods and cones lie hidden behind a blanket of nerve cells that carry visual information to the brain. So what prevents those neurons from obscuring our vision? The answer may be surprisingly high-tech." So, in addition to optimal design arguments, we can now appreciate how these distinctive cells address completely the main perception of compromised design. One of the authors is quoted as saying: "Nature is so clever". Surely, it has to be myopic not to discern here the hallmarks of an intelligent designer. This is argument from evidence par excellence!

Muller cells are living optical fibers in the vertebrate retina
Kristian Franze, Jens Grosche, Serguei N. Skatchkov, Stefan Schinkinger, Christian Foja, Detlev Schild, Ortrud Uckermann, Kort Travis, Andreas Reichenbach, and Jochen Guck.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, May 15, 2007, vol. 104, no. 20, 8287-8292. | 10.1073/pnas.0611180104


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