Let’s Not Debate Design

by Jeremy Stangroom

I’ve just been sent a review copy of a book called Debating Design. I don’t normally go in for book burning, but I’m tempted. It’s edited by Michael Ruse and, wait for it, William Dembski. It claims to provide a “comprehensive and even-handed overview of the debate concerning biological origins”. And, guess what, there’s a whole section on intelligent design written by the bastards – to quote Norman Levitt – from The Discovery Institute.

Maybe someone could explain to me why Cambridge University Press would publish such a book? If I decided to resurrect the theory of phlogiston, I wonder if I could persuade them that it warranted a book.

Perhaps more to the point, why did Ruse and the other scientists and scientific thinkers agree to particpate in such a project as Debating Design? I don’t entirely agree with the stance taken by scientists such as Richard Dawkins and Steve Jones when they say that they won’t debate with creationists and their ilk. But given that part of the ‘wedge strategy’ of the intelligent design people is to establish the scientific credentials of their enterprise, why participate in a project which might so obviously go towards furthering that aim? That just seems very bizarre. Intelligent design is primarily a political movement, so why give them a political victory?

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