The Nature of Nature — sticky

THE NATURE OF NATURE is now finally out and widely available. If you haven’t bought it yet, let me suggest Amazon.com, which is selling it for $17.94, which is an incredible deal for a 7″x10″ 1000-page book with, for most of us, no tax and no shipping charge (it costs over $10 to ship this monster priority mail). This is a must-have book if you are interested at all in the ID debate. To get it from Amazon.com, click here. Below is the table of contents and some introductory matter.

(Other news coverage continues below)

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Seven years in the making, at 500,000 words, with three Nobel laureate contributors, this is the most thorough examination of naturalism to date.

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Nature of NatureThe Nature of Nature: Examining the Role of Naturalism in Science

Edited by Bruce L. Gordon

and William A. Dembski

ISI Books

Intercollegiate Studies Institute

Wilmington, DE 19807

Back Cover:


Key thinkers in the sciences and humanities engage in a cultural

and intellectual debate that affects every aspect of human life

The culture war over theism versus atheism, traditional values versus secular progressivism, and transcendent versus material reality has focused on science as the prize. Who gets to define science? Does science underwrite a naturalistic worldview? Or does it point to a nonmaterial reality?

This landmark volume takes readers to ground zero of the culture war, detailing science�s unparalleled role in shaping our understanding of nature and thereby our view of reality.

Unmatched in its breadth and scope, The Nature of Nature brings together some of the most influential scientists, scholars, and public intellectuals of our day — including three Nobel laureates — to grapple with a perennial question that has been sharpened by recent advances in the natural sciences: What is the fundamental explanatory principle of the universe, inanimate matter or immaterial mind?

The answers put forward in this book have profound implications for what it means to do science, what it means to be human, and what the future holds for all of us.

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Contents

Foreword: Beyond Naturalism to Science — Steve Fuller

Introduction: The Nature of Nature Confronted — Bruce L. Gordon and William A. Dembski

PART I:

NATURALIZING SCIENCE: SOME HISTORICAL AND PHILOSOPHICAL CONSIDERATIONS

1. The Rise of Naturalism and Its Problematic Role in Science and Culture — Bruce L. Gordon

2. Science without God: Natural Laws and Christian Beliefs — Ronald L. Numbers

3. Varieties of Methodological Naturalism — Ernan McMullin

4. Sauce for the Goose: Intelligent Design, Scientific Methodology, and the Demarcation Problem — Stephen C. Meyer

PART II:

THE EPISTEMOLOGICAL AND ONTOLOGICAL FOUNDATIONS OF NATURALISM

5. Evolution versus Naturalism — Alvin C. Plantinga

6. More on the Illusion of Defeat — William J. Talbott

7. Evolutionary Naturalism: Epistemically Unseated or Illusorily Defeated?

A. It’s No Illusion! — Alvin C. Plantinga

B. The End of an Illusion? — William J. Talbott

8. A Quantum-Theoretic Argument against Naturalism — Bruce L. Gordon

9. The Incompatibility of Naturalism and Scientific Realism — Robert C. Koons

10. Truth and Realism — Alvin I. Goldman

11. Must Naturalists Be Realists? — Michael Williams

12. The Role of Concepts in Our Access to Reality — Nicholas Wolterstorff

PART III:

THE ORIGIN OF BIOLOGICAL INFORMATION AND THE EMERGENCE OF BIOLOGICAL COMPLEXITY

13. On the Origins of Life — David Berlinski

14. DNA: The Signature in the Cell — Stephen C. Meyer

15. Mysteries of Life: Is There “Something Else”? — Christian de Duve

16. Life’s Conservation Law: Why Darwinian Evolution Cannot Create Biological Information — William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II

17. Regulated Recruitment and Cooperativity in the Design of Biological Regulatory Systems — Mark Ptashne

18. The Nature of Protein Folds: Quantifying the Difficulty of an Unguided Search through Protein Sequence Space — Douglas D. Axe

19. The Limits of Non-Intelligent Explanations in Molecular Biology — Michael J. Behe

20. The Chain of Accidents and the Rule of Law: The Role of Contingency and Necessity in Evolution — Michael Shermer

21. Molecular Convergence: Repeated Evolution or Repeated Designs? — Fazale R. Rana

PART IV:

COSMOLOGICAL ORIGINS AND FINE-TUNING

22. Eternal Inflation and Its Implications — Alan Guth

23. Naturalism and the Origin of the Universe — William Lane Craig

24. Cosmic Evolution, Naturalism and Divine Creativity, or Who Owns the Robust Formational Economy Principle? — Howard J. Van Till

25. Living in the Multiverse — Steven Weinberg

26. Balloons on a String: A Critique of Multiverse Cosmology — Bruce L. Gordon

27. Habitable Zones and Fine-Tuning — Guillermo Gonzalez

PART V:

MATHEMATICS

28. Mathematical Naturalism — Philip Kitcher

29. Mathematics—Application and Applicability — Mark Steiner

PART VI:

EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY, NEUROSCIENCE, AND CONSCIOUSNESS

30. Toward Mapping the Evolved Functional Organization of Mind and Brain — John Tooby and Leda Cosmides

31. On the Origins of the Mind — David Berlinski

32. Consciousness — John R. Searle

33. Consciousness and Neuroscience — Francis Crick and Christof Koch

34. Supervenience and the Downward Efficacy of the Mental: Nonreductive Physicalism and the Christian Tradition — Nancey Murphy

35. Conscious Events as Orchestrated Space-Time Selections (with a new addendum) — Stuart Hameroff and Roger Penrose

36. Quantum Interactive Dualism: The Libet and Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Causal Anomalies — Henry P. Stapp

37. The Physical Sciences, Neuroscience, and Dualism — James P. Moreland

PART VII:

SCIENCE, ETHICS, AND RELIGION

38. Evolution and Ethics — Michael Ruse

39. Naturalism’s Incapacity to Capture the Good Will — Dallas Willard

40. Naturalism, Science, and Religion — Michael Tooley

41. Theism Defended — William Lane Craig

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Introduction: The Nature of Nature Confronted — Bruce L. Gordon and William A. Dembski

We all take for granted that scientific theorizing and investigation epitomize rational activity. But what gives science its foundation as a rational, truth-conducive enterprise? Why should we even suppose that nature is intelligible to the human mind? In short, what are the metaphysical and epistemological presuppositions that justify scientific activity? And what bearing does the answer to such questions have on the tenability of philosophical or methodological naturalism, and vice versa?

Once such questions about the ultimate justification of science are raised, it becomes clear that any conclusions regarding the nature of nature derived from scientific practice and rational reflection will depend on the answers we give to these questions. A central issue in this interplay between presuppositions and conclusions, one made all the more pressing by recent scientific advances, is whether the universe is self-existent, self-sufficient, and self-organizing, or whether instead it is grounded in a reality that transcends space, time, matter, and energy. More pointedly, does our universe find its ultimate explanatory principle in matter or mind? Any perspective on the implications of scientific research for resolving this issue must address whether there are limits to what science can tell us, and whether there are essential constraints that circumscribe scientific methodology and the entities to which it may appeal in its explanations.

So shall we say that science is only concerned with giving natural explanations of the natural world and that any other sorts of explanations, whatever their merits, are not scientific? Or shall we say that any rigorous reasoning based on empirical evidence and theory construction is scientific? Setting aside the suggestion that some natural phenomena may not have a rational explanation,[1] it is clear that saying either of these things leaves open the logical possibility that certain features of the world have rational explanations that are not natural. It then becomes a matter of semantics whether any such rational but non-natural explanations should be regarded as “scientific.” Were it not for the cultural cachet and authority our era grants to all things scientific, and the regrettable tendency to assimilate rationality to science simpliciter, this matter of semantics would be insignificant. As things stand, however, this game of words has at times become a war of words in a pitched battle symptomatic of a deeper intellectual and cultural divide.

While the editors of this volume stand on one side of this divide, the essays in this volume advance a rational and balanced discussion of these questions. To further this goal, we have refrained from extensive commentary on and analysis of each essay, instead providing a short introduction to each of the seven parts of the book and then letting the authors speak for themselves, so that the readers may judge for themselves. In short, we thought it best to let the readers enter the interplay of ideas and the titanic clash of worldviews in what follows, using their own best judgment as a guide. Before taking leave, however, a brief account of the academic conference that served as the genesis of this compendium is in order.

“The Nature of Nature” Revisited

“The Nature of Nature” conference was the first and last fruit of the former Michael Polanyi Center for Complexity, Information and Design (MPC) at Baylor University. The Polanyi Center was also the first, and to this day only, intelligent design think tank at a major research university.[2] It was so named with the permission and blessing of Michael Polanyi’s son, John Polanyi, a Nobel Prize–winning chemist at the University of Toronto. The MPC hosted the “Nature of Nature” conference during April 12–15, 2000, on the Baylor campus. The origin of the conference was as follows: Late in the fall of 1999, the director of the MPC, William Dembski, received a substantial grant from the Templeton Foundation. He and the MPC’s associate director, Bruce Gordon, had close ties to Seattle’s Discovery Institute (in particular, to its Center for Science and Culture) as well as to Touchstone Magazine (which had just recently published a special issue on intelligent design coedited by Dembski).[3] Together, they approached these organizations about funding a conference devoted to a key theme in the MPC planning document: the nature of nature.[4] All three organizations enthusiastically supported the proposed conference. Along with support from Baylor’s Institute for Faith and Learning, the conference was ready to proceed. Its official description read as follows:

Is the universe self-contained or does it require something beyond itself to explain its existence and internal function? Philosophical naturalism takes the universe to be self- contained, and it is widely presupposed throughout science. Even so, the idea that nature points beyond itself has recently been reformulated with respect to a number of issues. Consciousness, the origin of life, the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics at modeling the physical world, and the fine-tuning of universal constants are just a few of the problems that critics have claimed are incapable of purely naturalistic explanation. Do such assertions constitute arguments from incredulity—an unwarranted appeal to ignorance? If not, is the explanation of such phenomena beyond the pale of science? Is it, perhaps, possible to offer cogent philosophical and even scientific arguments that nature does point beyond itself? The aim of this conference is to examine such questions.

When John Wilson, the editor of Books & Culture, saw the conference description and the lineup of speakers, he remarked that it promised to be the most important academic conference of the past twenty years. Many of the participants ended up feeling the same way. By any standard, the conference was an unqualified success. Paid attendance was huge. The roster of conference speakers was exceptional, not only for bringing together the very top thinkers about naturalism along with various luminaries in the scientific community, but also for providing just the right balance on all sides of this controversial topic.[5]

“The Nature of Nature” conference was the Polanyi Center’s glorious beginning. As already intimated, it was also the center’s swan song. The conference ended Saturday, April 15. That following Tuesday, April 18, the Baylor Faculty Senate voted 27 to 2 to shut the center down. The Chronicle of Higher Education, reporting the following day, quoted Baylor neuroscientist Charles Weaver: “I have never seen faculty as upset over any issue, and I’ve been here 12 years now. It’s just sheer outrage.” All activities of the center were immediately suspended. Robert Baird, chair of the faculty senate, told the Baylor Lariat (the school newspaper), that the creation of the MPC was “one of the most divisive issues to have arisen on the Baylor campus during my 32 years on faculty.”

Rather than close the center right then, the Baylor administration instituted a “peer-review committee” to examine the center and make recommendations for its future. In October 2000, while recognizing the legitimacy of the academic work associated with the center and the appropriateness of Baylor as a context for it, the review committee recommended (with, in our view, an inadequate grasp of Polanyi’s work and legacy) dropping the Polanyi name and absorbing the center into the Institute for Faith and Learning: “the Committee believes that the linking of the name of Michael Polanyi to programs relating to intelligent design is, on the whole, inappropriate. Further, the Polanyi name has come by now in the Baylor context to take on associations that lead to unnecessary confusion.”[6] The Baylor administration complied with all the committee’s recommendations. The Michael Polanyi Center thus ceased to exist.

With all the turmoil surrounding the Polanyi Center (its demise was widely reported across the United States), any hope of procuring a conference proceedings for “The Nature of Nature” event seemed dashed. Both Dembski and Gordon remained on at Baylor as contract faculty for several years following the Polanyi Center’s dismantlement. And for a time, the Baylor administration hoped to salvage something from the wreckage, even holding out the hope that Dembski and Gordon might be rehabilitated in the eyes of the recalcitrant Baylor faculty who had forced the center’s closure. But as the years passed, such hopes vanished. The Baylor administration became further embattled in its strategy to reverse the university’s drift toward secularization and by financial concerns related to the capital projects (facilities expansion) it had undertaken. At this juncture, continued support of Dembski and Gordon was, in the words of the administration, “politically unviable.” Ironically, around the time that Dembski and Gordon left Baylor (May and August 2005, respectively), Robert Sloan, who had hired them, was also forced to step down from the Baylor presidency. It was a clean sweep for the opposition and a clear setback for academic freedom.[7] Notwithstanding, a decade after “The Nature of Nature” conference, harbingers of a brighter future for Baylor are evident. Many faculty are committed to sound scholarship and open dialogue with novel research programs like intelligent design—ideas that have an obvious place at an institution like Baylor—and the new president, Kenneth Starr, no stranger to controversy, seems willing to give such faculty his support.

In 2004, toward the end of Dembski’s and Gordon’s tenure at Baylor, contact was renewed with Richard Spencer, who at the time was Child Family Professor of Engineering at the University of California, Davis, and who remains on the faculty there as a professor of electrical and computer engineering. Spencer had attended “The Nature of Nature” conference as part of a contingent from his local church (Grace Valley Christian Center) led by the Senior Pastor, Rev. P.G. Mathew. At the conference, Spencer was an active and incisive participant in the discussions following the plenary sessions, and as a consequence he had come to Dembski’s and Gordon’s attention. After contact was renewed, subsequent discussions with Spencer and the church administration about the fate of ID research at Baylor led to the birth of a vision for resurrecting the conference proceedings. Doing so, however, proved easier said than done. Gordon’s work as the primary contact and liaison with the original conference speakers had involved a lot of negotiation and some last-minute substitutions. In addition, over four years had passed since the event had taken place, and most of the original talks, many of which were delivered without preparation of a formal paper, were not available. Those talks which were available in written form were not necessarily representative of the current views of the participants or the current state of research. All of these difficulties were further compounded by the continual controversy swirling around intelligent design as a research program.

Nonetheless, this project was not to be deterred. Grace Valley arranged a generous grant for Bruce Gordon to serve as the primary editor, with William Dembski as coeditor, for a suitably updated compendium based on the conference.[8] Such a book would incorporate the latest thinking by key conference participants along with some important voices who were not able to attend the original event. The Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute subsequently also gave its considerable support to the effort. The result, a major landmark in the ongoing debate over Nature’s nature, is the volume you hold in your hands.

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Notes

1. For a discussion of this possibility, see the first section of Bruce Gordon’s essay “The Rise of Naturalism and Its Problematic Role in Science and Culture” in Part I, and the discussion of Humean supervenience in his Part II essay titled “A Quantum-Theoretic Argument against Naturalism.”

2. The opening paragraph from the five-year planning document that led to the founding of the Michael Polanyi Center (a document submitted in March 1999 to Robert Sloan, who was then president of Baylor University) read as follows:

Naturalism currently dominates science, both in the secular and in the Christian academy. According to naturalism, science is best practiced without reference to anything “non-natural.” Granted, science’s proper object of study is nature. Naturalism, however, assumes an impoverished view of nature that artificially limits nature to brute material processes subject to no intelligent guidance or control. The problem with naturalism is not that it limits science to the study of nature, but with its hidden assumptions about the nature of nature. Is nature a seamless causal web controlled solely by undirected natural processes—what Jacques Monod called “chance and necessity”? Or do intelligent causes also play a fundamental and ineliminable role within nature?

The MPC began quietly as one among several academic centers at Baylor, building bridges to the Baylor community through such activities as a faculty book discussion group on the nature of science and its relation to the historic religious foundations of Baylor as an institution. William Dembski was the center’s founder and director, Bruce Gordon its associate director.

The MPC was named after Michael Polanyi, a world-class physical chemist who turned to philosophy later in his career. Among the things that prompted Polanyi’s move to philosophy from science was his desire to foster free and open scientific inquiry. Polanyi had visited the Soviet Union in the 1930s at the height of the Stalinist repression and saw how scientific inquiry could be subverted through authoritarianism and ideology. In response, Polanyi stressed the need for science to be free of artificial strictures and to regularly reexamine its presuppositions. It was in this spirit that Baylor’s Michael Polanyi Center was founded.

When the website for the MPC debuted in January 2000, a controversy immediately ensued that fell within the parameters of an ongoing battle between the Baylor administration and a certain segment of the Baylor faculty regarding the vision for Baylor as a Christian, and specifically Baptist, institution of higher learning. The administration was interested in restoring the historic Christian foundations of Baylor and encouraging scholarship and research that would advance such concerns; the opposed segment of the faculty, represented by the faculty senate, was more interested in compartmentalizing Baylor’s identity as a Baptist institution and sealing it off from any contact with academic work. The ultimate battle, of course, related to whether Baylor would remain a Christian institution of higher learning or drift into secularization as had so many denominationally founded schools before it. For those interested in the history of the Michael Polanyi Center and a chronological account of the controversy surrounding it, the full planning document, as well as other documents and news reports related to events associated with the center, may be found at http://www. designinference.com/documents/2007.12.MPC_Rise_and_Fall.htm (last accessed August 15, 2009).

3. The July/August 1999 Touchstone was a special double-issue focused on intelligent design. The essays in this issue, with an additional contribution by Bruce Gordon, were subsequently published as a book edited by William Dembski and James Kushiner titled Signs of Intelligence: Understanding Intelligent Design (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2001).

4. The key line in the planning document as it relates to the conference theme ran: “The problem with naturalism is not that it limits science to the study of nature, but with its hidden assumptions about the nature of nature.” See note 2.

5. The complete conference schedule and roster of speakers can be found as part of the general history of the Michael Polanyi Center at http://www.designinference.com/documents/2007.12.MPC_Rise_and_Fall.htm (last accessed August 15, 2009).

6. Again, see http://www.designinference.com/documents/2007.12.MPC_Rise_and_Fall.htm (last accessed August 15, 2009).

7. This affront to academic freedom, unfortunately, is a common experience among academic representatives and defenders of intelligent design as a research program. Though the debacle surrounding the Polanyi Center was not covered in the film, similar cases involving academic persecution of ID researchers at a variety of institutions formed the subject of a Ben Stein documentary titled Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, which was released in spring 2008. Those interested in this issue and the defense of academic freedom in origins research can find more information at the website: http://www.academicfreedompetition.com/

8. See also the grateful remarks of the editors in the acknowledgments.

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Contributors to Nature of Nature Volume

Douglas D. Axe, Director of Redmond, Washington’s Biologic Institute, where he oversees fundamental biological and computational research bearing on intelligent design. With a doctorate from Caltech in chemical engineering, he spent a decade at the University of Cambridge working on the evolution of protein folds before assuming his present position.

Michael Behe, Professor of Biological Sciences at Lehigh University and Senior Fellow with Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. His books Darwin�s Black Box and The Edge of Evolution have broken new ground in the field of intelligent design. His notion of irreducible complexity continues to be intensely debated.

David Berlinski, widely acclaimed author and Senior Fellow with Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. With a doctorate in philosophy from Princeton University, he has become a trenchant critic of scientific pretentions, directing his skepticism toward both scientific materialism and intelligent design. His book The Devil’s Delusion addresses the neo-atheists.

Leda Cosmides, Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. With an undergraduate degree in biology and a doctorate in cognitive psychology (both from Harvard), she, along with her anthropologist husband John Tooby, have been seminal figures in developing evolutionary psychology, which attempts to understand human psychology in terms of evolution.

William Lane Craig, Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, California. The author and editor of over thirty books, including The Kalam Cosmological Argument; Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology; and God, Time, and Eternity, he has also published widely in the professional journals of philosophy and theology.

Francis Crick, the late J. W. Kieckhefer Distinguished Research Professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California. Crick shared the Nobel Prize for his work uncovering the structure of DNA. Later in his career, he turned to neuroscience and the physical basis of consciousness.

Christian de Duve, Professor Emeritus at the Medical Faculty of the University of Louvain, Belgium and Andrew W. Mellon Professor Emeritus at the Rockefeller University in New York. He shared the Nobel Prize for discoveries on the structural and functional organization of cells. His book Vital Dust presents a materialist vision of life’s origin.

William A. Dembski, Research Professor in Philosophy at Southwestern Seminary in Ft. Worth and Senior Fellow with Discovery Institute�s Center for Science and Culture. He published the first academic monograph on intelligent design (The Design Inference, Cambridge) and founded the first intelligent-design research center at a major university (Baylor’s Michael Polanyi Center).

Steve Fuller, Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick, England, with a doctorate in the history and philosophy of science from the University of Pittsburgh. A prolific author, he has become a key defender of intelligent design on grounds of academic freedom, arguing that academic freedom must allow vigorous dissent from orthodoxy and consensus.

Alvin Goldman, Board of Governors Professor of Philosophy and Cognitive Science at Rutgers University. Trained in philosophy at Columbia and Princeton, his work has focused on naturalistic accounts of human action and knowledge. A cross-disciplinary scholar, he has explored connections between cognitive science and analytic epistemology.

Guillermo Gonzales, Associate Professor of Physics at Grove City College and Senior Fellow with Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. His work on the galactic habitable zone was featured on the cover of Scientific American. His book The Privileged Planet (co-authored with Jay Richards) examined new lines of evidence for design in cosmology.

Bruce L. Gordon, Associate Professor of Science and Mathematics at The King’s College in New York and past Research Director for Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. Formerly on the faculty of Baylor University, he has written on the interpretation of modern physics, the history and philosophy of science, metaphysics, and the philosophy of religion.

Alan Guth, Victor F. Weisskopf Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The inventor of a new cosmological model called ‘inflation,’ he applies theoretical particle physics to understanding the early universe. A key question motivating his research is whether inflation may be ignited in a hypothetical laboratory, thus creating a new universe.

Stuart Hameroff, Professor Emeritus of Anesthesiology and Psychology and Director of the Center for Consciousness Studies, the University of Arizona, Tucson. In attempting to uncover a quantum-theoretic basis for consciousness, his research has focused on the molecular mechanisms of anesthetic gas molecules and information processing in cytoskeletal microtubules.

Philip Kitcher, John Dewey Professor of Philosophy and James R. Barker Professor of Contemporary Civilization at Columbia University. A philosopher of science and mathematics, he is especially interested in how ethics and politics constrain scientific research, how altruism and morality evolve, and how science and religion come into apparent conflict.

Christof Koch, Lois and Victor Troendle Professor of Cognitive and Behavioral Biology at Caltech. Straddling the fields of biology, physics, and engineering, he attempts to understand the neurophysiological basis of consciousness. Besides tracking the neuronal correlates of consciousness, he also explores formal information-theoretic approaches to consciousness. He has authored The Quest for Consciousness.

Robert C. Koons, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin. Specializing in formal semantics, decision theory, and causation, he has published two important books: Paradoxes of Belief and Strategic Rationality (Cambridge) and Realism Regained (Oxford). He organized an early seminal conference on the topic of this volume: Naturalism, Theism, and the Scientific Enterprise (1997).

Robert J. Marks II, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Baylor University and Director of the Evolutionary Informatics Lab (www.evoinfo.org). A pioneer in the field of computational intelligence, he has broken new ground for intelligent design through his work on conservation of information as applied to evolutionary processes.

Ernan McMullin, John Cardinal O’Hara Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame. Ordained a Roman Catholic priest, he is a wide-ranging philosopher of science. His numerous books include Evolution and Creation, The Inference That Makes Science, and The Church and Galileo.

Stephen C. Meyer, Director of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture in Seattle, Washington. A Cambridge-University trained philosopher of science, he is the author of peer-reviewed publications in technical, scientific, and philosophical journals. His widely acclaimed Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (HarperOne) marks a signal advance for ID theory.

James P. Moreland, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Biola University and Director of the Eidos Christian Center. He publishes widely in the philosophical literature. Among his many books are Christianity and the Nature of Science, Does God Exist? (co-edited with Kai Nielsen), The Creation Hypothesis, Philosophical Naturalism: A Critical Analysis, and Body and Soul.

Nancey Murphy, Professor of Christian Philosophy at Fuller Theological Seminary. With doctorates in theology and philosophy, she has concentrated on expanding theological inquiry to incorporate insights from philosophy of science, as evident in her book Theology in the Age of Scientific Reasoning.

Ronald Numbers, Hilldale Professor of the History of Science and Medicine at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. An expert on how Darwinism has impacted American thought, he has written extensively on the continuing challenges to Darwinism within American culture, notably, in his books Darwinism Comes to America and The Creationist: From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design.

Roger Penrose, Rouse Ball Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford. A preeminent mathematical physicist and recipient of numerous awards (such as the Wolf Prize, shared with Stephen Hawking), he has also written books on the broader significance of science, notably, The Emperor�s New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds, and the Laws of Physics.

Alvin C. Plantinga, John A. O’Brien Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. For many years on faculty at Calvin College, he specializes in epistemology, metaphysics, and philosophy of religion. The renaissance of a deeply influential high-caliber Christian philosophy within the mainstream academy is credited above all to Plantinga.

Mark Ptashne, Ludwig Chair of Molecular Biology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York. His work on gene regulation has received numerous awards, including the Lasker Prize for Basic Research. He is the author of two books, A Genetic Switch and Genes and Signals (co-authored with Alex Gann).

Fazale Rana, Executive Vice President of Research and Apologetics at Reasons to Believe. With a doctorate in chemistry from Ohio University, his research has focused on the naturalistic barriers facing life’s origin and subsequent development. His work has appeared in Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres, Biochemistry, Applied Spectroscopy, FEBS Letters, Journal of Microbiological Methods, and Journal of Chemical Education.

Michael Ruse, Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University. A philosopher of biology, his testimony in McLean v. Arkansas (1981) was critical in overturning an equal-time law requiring the teaching of creationism. A prolific author, his books include Darwin and Design: Does Evolution have a Purpose? and Can a Darwinian be a Christian?

John Searle, Slusser Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. Educated at Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, he is a preeminent philosopher of mind, focusing on speech acts, consciousness, intentionality, and the construction of social reality. A prolific author, his most recent book is Making the Social World: The Structure of Human Civilization.

Michael Shermer, Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine, Executive Director of the Skeptics Society, monthly columnist for Scientific American, host of the Skeptics Distinguished Science Lecture Series at Caltech, and Adjunct Professor of Economics at Claremont Graduate University. His many books include The Mind of the Market and Why Darwin Matters.

Henry Stapp, research scientist with the Theoretical Physics Group at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley. A post-doctoral researcher with Wolfgang Pauli, he has focused on the foundations of quantum mechanics, especially in connection with the problem of consciousness. He authored Mindful Universe: Quantum Mechanics and the Participating Observer.

Mark Steiner, Professor of Philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. With a doctorate in philosophy from Princeton, he writes on the application of mathematics to the natural sciences and is especially interested in the implications of this match between formal methods and physical reality for epistemology. He authored The Applicability of Mathematics as a Philosophical Problem (Harvard).

William Talbott, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Washington, Seattle. A student of Robert Nozick with a doctorate from Harvard, he specializes in epistemology, ethics, rational choice theory, social and political philosophy, the philosophy of human rights, and the philosophy of law. He is the author of Which Rights Should Be Universal? (Oxford).

John Tooby, Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. With his wife Leda Cosmides, he is bringing together cognitive science, cultural anthropology, evolutionary biology, paleoanthropology, cognitive neuroscience, and hunter-gatherer studies to develop the new field of evolutionary psychology.

Michael Tooley, Distinguished College Professor of Philosophy at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Known for his work on metaphysics and applied ethics, he is the author of several books. He edited a comprehensive five-volume collection (with Garland) titled Analytical Metaphysics.

Howard Van Till, Professor Emeritus of Physics at Calvin College. His books in the 1980s (notably, Science Held Hostage and The Fourth Day) played a powerful role in moving evangelical higher education to accept theistic evolution over against creationism. He no longer considers himself a Calvinist but refers to himself as a freethinker.

Steven Weinberg, Jack S. Josey-Welch Foundation Regents Chair in Science at the University of Texas at Austin. For his work on unifying the fundamental forces of nature, he shared the Nobel Prize. He sees as a primary cultural role of science the attenuation of religious belief.

Dallas Willard, Professor in the School of Philosophy at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. His philosophical publications focus on epistemology, the philosophy of mind and logic, and the philosophy of Edmund Husserl. He has also written extensively on Christian spirituality, including The Spirit of the Disciplines and Renovation of the Heart.

Michael Williams, Krieger-Eisenhower Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy at Johns Hopkins University. A student of Richard Rorty with a doctorate from Princeton, he has focused on epistemology, especially as it relates to philosophical skepticism. He is the author of Groundless Beliefs and Unnatural Doubts.

Nicholas Wolterstorff, Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology at Yale University. A graduate of Calvin College, where he also taught for thirty years, and with a doctorate from Harvard, his interest in philosophy have been wide-ranging, focusing on universals, philosophy of art, the epistemology of John Locke and Thomas Reid, philosophy of religion, and political philosophy.

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28 Responses to The Nature of Nature — sticky

  1. Great project. I hope to get a copy sometime.

  2. Outstanding! It appears to discuss issues naturalists and atheists need faith to ignore. I’m buying it!

  3. Congratulations Dr. Dembski !!

    I am looking forward to getting this book.

    Thanks!

  4. Will there be a kindle version?

  5. Alright Bill I am getting a copy. Make sure you get as many good reviews on Amazon as you can- because all those very honest one star reviews are comming.

  6. Teleologist, you beat me to it. I just went to Amazon and there is no info there yet. I have just bought a Kindle so looking to only buy digital books from now on.

  7. Dr. Dembski, it looks like a very interesting book. I wonder if it deals with the false Darwinist claim that there is nothing new about “methodological naturalism.”

  8. I note also that there are few recent ID books that are available in Kindle format :-(. This hardly helps to spread the message.

  9. Dr. Bill Dembski,

    I will be buying a copy- then hopefully we can have a post discussing the book and its contents once I and others are finished reading it.

    I remind you though that you need to get everyone you know will read it to give you postive reviews over on Amazon.com because all of your enemies are comming – out of the wood work – to give your book rediculous one star review ratings…

    It’s like Einstein said:

    “The fanatical atheists are like slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who–in their grudge against traditional religion as the ‘opium of the masses’–cannot hear the music of the spheres.”

  10. Pardon,

    The above post was meant for the recent updated thread.

  11. Looks fascinating! Can find it now on Amazon.com – hopefully will eventually reach .co.uk too.

    BTW, my brother was sent a recent paper by Eric Scott called “Emergence, Intelligent Design, and Artificial Intelligence” (he was sent it because it features the mandelbulb – a pseudo-3d mandelbrot which he discovered).

    Although it seems fairly critical of ID (though nowhere near as hostile as others), it might be of interest. I found a link to it here:

    http://www.andrews.edu/~erics/AIandID2nd.pdf

  12. I actually just received my copy yesterday from Amazon (quite a heavy book). It seems as if they sell out quickly when they get a batch in stock. To obtain one, I checked in every once in a while to see if any were available for purchase.

  13. I also saw a used copy listed for $999. Seriously.

  14. 14

    Wow.

    What an introduction.

  15. 15

    Its great and very important that the book is selling well. This alone, because of the way people think, gives the author credibility and his case for creationism a blow to opponents.
    Evolution runs its machine a great deal on claims of who agrees with it and when thinkers and the public, in these issues thinkers too, give thumbs up to these books one can hear the air leaving the stuffed shirts of the threatened establishment on origin subjects.

    I am YEC but embrace all successful strikes at ideas that never earned their spurs.
    Evolution and company really did ride a hostile British/European stance against the Protestant/religious foundations of their civilization.
    They wanted God/Genesis to be wrong way past careful investigation of the unlikely claims of Darwin and company.
    If creationism(s) are right and the opponents are headed to increasing defeating analysis then then Mr Dembski is a man of our times on important matters.
    We are in a story right now.
    Pages keep turning.

  16. Seven years in the making, at 500,000 words, with three Nobel laureate contributors, this is the most thorough examination of naturalism to date.

    But THE question is:

    How much CSI is that?

    BUUAAHHAAAHAAAAHAAAAA :cool:

  17. NZer:

    I note also that there are few recent ID books that are available in Kindle format . This hardly helps to spread the message.

    This book is too heavy for kindle. :o

  18. Surely this is the definitive volume of the state of the debate at the present time. Look at the names on both sides, the who’s who in the zoo.

    It does remind me of a volume I have (or had rather) on my shelves from a quarter century back. I have mentioned it before at UD but will plug it again, since it is very appropriate in this context. The book is ‘Synthesis of Science and Religion – Critical Essays and Dialogues’ edited by T D Singh and Ravi Gomatam. It is a volume consisting of papers – lectures, essays, interviews – that made up the workshops and the like at the World congress for the Synthesis of Science and Religion in Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1986 and this subsequent volume of proceedings was published in 1987. This congress was organised by the Bhaktivedanta Institute, a leading interdisciplinary institution, well-known in the scholarly Hindu and Oriental world.

    It contains contributions on the dynamics and interplay between religon and science from the likes of the Cambridge physicist and Nobel Laureate Brian Josephson, an interview with Maurice Wilkins, an essay from George Wald, the late Harvard biologist and even an introductory essay from the Dalai Lama appropriately entitled “The need for synthesis”. Along with contributions from many prominent philosophers, theologians, mathematicians, scientists from the West and East. Six Nobel Laureates no less!

    Interestingly there is also a contribution from John Searle in this volume! as he attended the conference. As well as a contribution from Notre Dame philosopher Ernan McMullin (who even back then was at Notre Dame). The 1987 volume actually has an essay in response to McMullin from T D Singh himself.

    ‘The Nature of Nature’ thus can be seen as a follow-up volume and a companion to the one edited by Singh and Gomatam two and a half decades ago. Searle and McMullin serve as a bridge between the two.

    A minor quibble with ‘The Nature of Nature’ – it would have been nice to see a contribution from Rupert Sheldrake or another scientist on his theory of formative causation (morphic resonance) given its seismic implications, whether he is right or wrong. Also a contribution from Dean Radin or another eminent parapsychologist (D Bierman, D Bem, R Broughton, S Krippner or C Tart or whoever else) on parapsychology and the state of the art there and how – arguably more than any other discipline in the sciences – it shows up the demarcation problem between religion and science the most.

    On Quantum Mechanics, I see Henry Stapp makes a contribution, I would also like to have seen one from Ulrich Mohrhoff, an ID friendly physicist and father of the Pondicherry interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. His work has been mentioned at UD before (I chimed in there, as did Mohrhoff himself! This time I make sure to spell his name right). Also a contribution from the leading ID historian Thomas Woodward would have been the icing on the cake.

  19. 19

    Thanks to everyone who got it to us so cheaply!

  20. Hello everyone. I also recommend this Intelligent design book:
    “Science declares our universe is intelligently designed” by Robert A. Herrmann
    Here it is on amazon:

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obi.....miss06-20/

    Visit this site for background information:

    http://www.raherrmann.com/main.html

  21. I’ve been waiting a long time for this to finally be published.

    I couldn’t believe the size of this thing when I opened the box!

    And who on earth prepared the name and subject indices?

    wow

  22. 22
    CannuckianYankee

    I really want to read this book, and so I’m joining the choir:

    “Kindle baby, Kindle!

  23. Bill: I just ordered mine. I hope you realize that this could require Chopin to take a back seat for while, and what a significant sacrifice this means.

  24. 24
    CannuckianYankee

    Gil, please don’t sit out Chopin. You play beautifully. Read the book while you’re playing. :)

  25. What, no Kindle version???

  26. It is *amazing* to me that Baylor didn’t want this kind of conversation to be ongoing. This seems to be precisely the kind of conversation that an institution like Baylor would support. There were views from many sides, and everyone was given their own chance to speak.

    And yet this was the last hurrah of the Polanyi center.

  27. 27

    We should probably wait a year before making this a sticky. You know, so people can read it. :D

  28. An excellent compilation! I recognize many of the contributions from elsewhere and even those were worth rereading again. Fazale Rana’s chapter on molecular convergence comes to mind; I first read that chapter in “The Cell’s Design” and it’s amazing to see how relevant that subject has become now that Morris has made some heavy contributions in that area (while taking a less overt stance on what the implications are).

    This book will take me a month to finish. It’s one of those must haves that should be included with some of the IDEA Center kits given to club start ups. It’s a shame the Polanyi Center was shut down, but it’s great to see that something of real significance resulted from it and will keep the memory of it alive!

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