New book examines the scientific evidence for intelligent design and Darwinism and advocates teaching both to improve science education
SEATTLE — Darwinism, Design and Public Education (DDPE) is a peer-reviewed book published by Michigan State University Press that presents a multi-faceted scientific case for the theory of intelligent design while also examining the legal and pedagogical arguments for teaching students about the scientific controversies that surround the issue of biological origins. Contributors to the book include both leading scientific proponents of intelligent design and neo-Darwinism.
"The book establishes the existence of a vibrant scientific controversy between advocates of neo-Darwinism and the emerging scientific theory of intelligent design. It also develops a compelling argument for teaching students about this controversy," explains Dr. Stephen C. Meyer, director of Discovery Institute's Center for Science & Culture and a co-editor and contributor to the book.
"Darwinism, Design and Public Education makes a case for the educational value of teaching science in a way that prepares lay people to understand it and approach it critically," adds co-editor Professor John Angus Campbell of the University of Memphis, a leading expert on the rhetorical structure of Darwin's classic book, The Origin of Species. "Students in the humanities are encouraged to doubt, question, and think critically about the theories presented to them, and so should students in the sciences."
In the first section of Darwinism, Design and Public Education, the contributors present a legal, and pedagogical case for teaching the scientific controversies about neo-Darwinism, including the controversy about whether natural selection can produce the "appearance of design" in biological systems. These essays emphasize the educational value of teaching students both the case for Darwinian evolution and scientific critiques of the theory.
In the next sections, Darwinism, Design and Public Education details scientific challenges to neo-Darwinism and develops an interdisciplinary scientific case for the competing theory of intelligent design. The book features essays that expand on existing scientific arguments for intelligent design based on the presence of information in DNA and the discovery of complex molecular machines in the cell. It also features new scientific arguments for design based on evidence in paleontology and comparative anatomy.
In the concluding section, prominent Darwinian scientists and humanities scholars critique the educational and scientific arguments presented in the earlier sections of the book. In this way, the book models the critical and open approach that its main contributors advocate as a matter of science education policy.
The book has been praised by leading scientists for bringing the controversy about neo-Darwinism and design into the public eye. Dr. Richard von Sternberg, a biologist at the Smithsonian Institution writes: "For over 30 years now an increasing number of thinkers in biology have questioned the major tenets of evolutionary theory. Into this scientific debate have entered the 'design theorists' who insist that the central issue is biological information, and whether this information can be generated by undirected material processes. The essays by various design theorists in Darwin, Design, and Public Education impress upon the reader that no amount of evasion or redefinition will make this problem go away. Though one may be disturbed by the implications of design theory, the papers in this book will educate the reader concerning the scientific assumptions at stake, and the reasoning behind the positions taken on the design issue."
Humanities scholars have also praised the book for its handling of the educational policy issue.
"This new volume plays an important role in restoring reasoned arguments about evolution to public scrutiny and discussion," said David Kaufer, head of the Department of English at Carnegie Mellon University.
"Darwinism, Design, and Public Education should be read by everyone seeking a fair and comprehensive debate about the teaching of evolution in American public schools," adds James Arnt Aune from Texas A&M University. "This book's careful yet passionate dialogue actually provides the tools needed by a democratic public to make sense of this difficult controversy."
The publisher Michigan State University Press submitted the book to a rigorous peer-review process that included reviews by an Ivy-league professor of biological sciences, and professors of philosophy of science and rhetoric.
DDPE is available in bookstores, from Amazon.com or directly from the publisher at http://msupress.msu.edu/.
To arrange author interviews or request review copies please call Rob Crowther at (206) 292-0401 x.107
About the editors
John Angus Campbell
(Ph.D., rhetoric, University of Pittsburgh) is a professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of Communication at the University of Memphis. He has twice won the Golden Anniversary Award from the National Communication Association (1971 and 1987) for his scholarly essays and was a recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award (1993) and the Dean's Recognition Award (1994) from the University of Washington. Most recently, he was named Communication Educator of the Year by the Tennessee State Communication Association (2001). In his research, he has specialized in the study of the rhetoric of science and is one of the founders of this increasingly important and growing academic subspecialty. He has published numerous highly regarded technical articles and book chapters analyzing the rhetorical strategy of Darwin's Origin of Species. He recently guest edited and contributed to a special issue on the intelligent design argument in the Journal of Rhetorical & Public Affairs (vol. 1, no. 4). He is at work on a scholarly book with the working title, Charles Darwin: A Rhetorical Biography.
Stephen C. Meyer
(Ph.D., history and philosophy of science, University of Cambridge) is director of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture in Seattle, Washington and serves as University Professor, Conceptual Foundations of Science at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Florida. Meyer has worked previously as a geophysicist for the Atlantic Richfield Company and a professor of philosophy at Whitworth College. He is coauthor of the book, Science and Evidence of Design in the Universe (2002). Meyer has contributed to numerous scholarly books, including the forthcoming Debating Design: From Darwin to DNA (Cambridge University Press 2004). He has written for publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, National Review, and First Things. He has appeared on television and radio programs such as Fox News, PBS's TechnoPolitics and Freedom Speaks, MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, and NPR's Talk of the Nation and Science Friday. He coauthored the film Unlocking the Mystery of Life, which has recently aired on PBS stations around the country. Meyer's testimony before the Ohio State Board of Education and his subsequent editorials in the Cincinnati Inquirer and the Columbus Dispatch influenced the Ohio State Board of Education's 2002 decision to require students to "critically analyze" evolutionary theory -- the first statewide endorsement of the "teach the controversy" approach advocated by many of the contributors to this volume.