"Getting Past the Culture Wars: Regarding Intelligent Design:" New Book Rises Above the Rhetoric and Takes ID Seriously
A short but unique little book entitled Getting Past the Culture Wars: Regarding Intelligent Design, by Glenn Shrom, contains some refreshing, and worthwhile thoughts about intelligent design (ID).
The author seems to "get" ID. His main point is that people should start focusing on the science and not get distracted about charges of creationism, personal beliefs about the identity of the designer, the "wedge document," etc. Having clearly followed the Kitzmiller v. Dover case closely, Shrom gives a commendable call to take the issue seriously as a science:
Too much has been made of intelligent design theory in our culture wars, because the press, the lawyers, the politicians, and the people love to sensationalize. They want a story with a lot of conflict. So when they talk about intelligent design in the press, they feel like they have to tell you what the theory implies, and not just what the theory is. They think they have to spell out who or what the designer is, even if it is just to say an "unknown force", instead of simply letting it go at the evidence of design ... Let us be sober-minded, patient, curious, polite, flexible, and welcoming in our scientific endeavors. Let's work together with honesty and integrity. (pg. 92-93)
Shrom immediately latches on to how cultural stereotypes affect how people perceive ID. He is also quick to explain that personal beliefs do not change the scientific evidence:
Whatever you think are the implications or apparent implications of intelligent design theory, these do not change the actual scientific evidence or scientific reasoning that Behe so thoroughly expounds in Darwin's Black Box. (pg. 28)
Shrom is also not afraid to talk about his own beliefs, but explains that when it comes to matters of science, "intelligent design theory says nothing about the creation or creator, and does not even imply that any supernatural exists." (pg. 33)
While I don't agree with everything Mr. Shrom says and feel that his theory of "intelligent DNA" is a bit weird, I wholeheartedly endorse the general spirit of the book. And Shrom deserves credit for his insight that if intelligent design is considered philosophy or religion then "so can Evolution be" (pg. 50) but for ultimately taking the position that both ID and evolution are scientific. I completely agree--both theories have equivalent status as historical scientific theories. I also agree with Shrom that neither should be banned from labs or classrooms. Shrom also enjoyably takes aim at various misdefinitions of intelligent design given by the press and the popular culture.
The book also has a good exposition of irreducible complexity, and a lively exchange with some Darwinists critics. The e-mail exchange is surely illustrative of many e-mail exchanges going on around the world between Darwinists and ID-proponents. (And I'm glad that Shrom reports he received permission to publish these e-mail exchanges.) Of interest is Shrom's defense of the irreducible complexity of the blood clotting cascade against arguments from critics such as Ken Miller.
In the end, this is not the most elegantly written book, but it has a wonderful message. Shrom's book is a call for people to take ID seriously as a science, and avoid the common assumptions and prejudices people bring to this debate. His book cuts against both sides, and he's not afraid to criticize design-proponents when they inappropriately bring metaphysical assumptions into this debate. Since Shrom himself is a design-proponent, I think this adds a lot of credibility to his book. More than anything, however, readers will find it a refreshing alternative to those certain types of ID-critics who base their arguments upon motive-mongering, ad hominem attacks, and other logical fallacies. Glenn Shrom gets ID, plain and simple.
Below is the book description from Amazon.com:
In "Getting Past the Culture Wars", the author appeals to both evolutionists and Creationists to drop their preconceived, visceral baggage and take a fresh look, with reaason and fair-mindedness, at the first approach. Such an enlightened vision is desirable for good education, good religion, good science, and good judicial rulings.
The author's hope is that this book will find its way into the minds of school board members, parents, teachers, university communities, religious advocates, scientists, the news media, philosophers, judges and other government officials. It is possible that no reader will be entirely comfortable with the cognitive dissonance it produces, but if you are open to the thinker's challenge of a cutting-edge text on ID, you've picked up the right book!