The Design Inference

Eliminating Chance Through Small ProbabilitiesWilliam A. Dembski

What Darwinists fear most is a peer-reviewed book published by a credentialed scholar with a highly respected academic publisher, which never mentions God but uses the language of science (mathematics) to formalize how various scientific fields, including biology, can detect intelligent design. This is precisely why they rarely talk about The Design Inference.

The Design Inference, by mathematician, philosopher, and Senior Discovery Institute Fellow William Dembski is a major work on intelligent design. Published by Cambridge University Press in the wake of Dembski’s Ph.D. in mathematics, this technical book lays out a detailed and rigorous statistical method by which we can detect design.

Dembski begins by providing many common fields where design detection is already established. It is here that common examples such as the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, forensic science, and archaeology were first provided as examples of scientific disciplines which use design reasoning.

A prominent concept to emerge from The Design Inference is the “explanatory filter,” which can be used to determine if a given event is best explained by chance, law, or intelligent design. Dembski also develops an in-depth analysis of how intelligent agents operate, devising a “specified complexity” criterion by which we can detect design in these fields and others, such as biology.

This book is highly technical and may not be amenable to some lay readers. It is full of statistics and set-theory which provide formal mathematical explanations for how we can detect design. If this is your cup of tea, then The Design Inference cannot be left sitting on the shelf. But even the non-technical reader will take away from this book the sense that intelligent design is a serious intellectual project. Darwinist readers above all should be forewarned: readers of this book rarely continue to believe the mythology that intelligent design is simply a religious viewpoint masquerading as science.


… quite readable. Those who have no knowledge of the mathematics of probability may be put off, but in fact the level of mathematics and symbolic logic employed is not very difficult … The main arguments…are given in ordinary prose, then translated into symbols…Dembski has made a real advance in probability and information theory…

Books & Culture

… generally careful and precise, often persuasive, and at times surprisingly philosophically sensitive.


Dembski has produced an astonishing work. The Design Inference will no doubt become the cornerstone of the intelligent design movement. A marked and dog-eared copy of The Design Inference deserves a place on your shelf not just for its clear historical significance, but also to allow yourself a place in the momentous discussion to come.

Philosophia Christi