213: God, the Devil, and Darwin by Niall Shanks

by Gerard


213: Shanks, Niall. God, the Devil, and Darwin: A Critique of Intelligent Design Theory. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. 246 pp. ISBN 0-19-516199-8.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 200: Religion
  • 210: Philosophy and theory of religion
  • 213: Creation

It is almost impossible to mention evolutionary theory without hearing echoes of the creationist ideology. In a country where opinions and ideas are tragically polarized, so too are theories on the creation on the universe and the beginnings of the human race. The interesting middle ground of the evolutionary debate is the rise of the idea of intelligent design. The central tenet of intelligent design is that the existence of Earth, its inhabitants, and the universe around it are best explained by the presence of some intelligent creator or cause. Traditional science holds that life emerged from an interesting, fortuitous, and random combination of proteins in the primordial soup of Earth around a billion years ago which then developed over the ages into the variety we see all around us. Intelligent design does not hold to the randomness of evolutionists, but rather to ascribes the origin of life to a guiding hand. Niall Shanks’s God, the Devil, and Darwin takes a look at the arguments of those who support intelligent design and argues for a different interpretation of their beliefs.

The one thing Shanks does very well is to thoroughly lay out all the arguments and beliefs of the supporters of intelligent design. Because his ultimate goal is to show through rational dialogue and measured arguments where the hypothesis of intelligent design is flawed, he gives intelligent design its fair day in court. Each argument of the proponents of intelligent design, unfortunately, simply does not hold up when set against actual experimentation and evidentiary exploration. In the end, intelligent design’s base argument that some molecular structures and biological events are too complex to be completely natural does not hold water. Shanks accomplishes a two-pronged feat: a fair and complete rebuttal of proposed pseudoscience AND manages to keep a level head while doing it. An interesting and detailed read.