Wordtrade LogoWordtrade.com


Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences



Handbook of Algorithms for Physical Design Automation edited by Charles J. Alpert , Dinesh P. Mehta, Sachin S. Sapatnekar(Auerbach Publications, CRC Press) The physical design flow of any project depends upon the size of the design, the technology, the number of designers, the clock frequency, and the time to do the design. As technology advances and design-styles change, physical design flows are constantly reinvented as traditional phases are removed and new ones are added to accommodate changes in technology.

Explore State-of-the-Art Techniques and Trends

Includes a personal perspective from Ralph Otten as he looks back on the major technical milestones in the history of physical design automation.

Handbook of Algorithms for Physical Design Automation provides a detailed overview of VLSI physical design automation, emphasizing state-of-the-art techniques, trends and improvements that have emerged during the previous decade. After a brief introduction to the modern physical design problem, basic algorithmic techniques, and partitioning, the book discusses significant advances in floorplanning representations and describes recent formulations of the floorplanning problem. The text also addresses issues of placement, net layout and optimization, routing multiple signal nets, manufacturability, physical synthesis, special nets, and designing for specialized technologies.

Highly-Focused Information for Next Generation Design Problems

Although several books on this topic are currently available, most are either too broad or out of date. Alternatively, proceedings and journal articles are valuable resources for researchers in this area, but the material is widely dispersed in the literature. This handbook pulls together a broad variety of perspectives on the most challenging problems in the field, and focuses on emerging problems and research results.

Agents Under Fire, Materialism and the Rationality of Science by Angus Menuge (Rowman & Littlefield) This book aims to provide a rigorous defense of the intuition that scientific materialism is incoherent because it either eliminates or artificially constricts resources presupposed by materialistic scientific inquiry. In other words, sci­entific materialism rests on certain implicit foundational presuppositions that it is inherently unable to sustain and that are in fact incompatible with its central claims. Like so many ideas spawned by the Enlightenment, the ap­parent strength of scientific materialism depends on its careful concealment of the borrowed capital upon which it lives. The bankruptcy is there but undeclared. While the public image may resemble the eternally youthful Do­rian Gray, the truth has more in common with his portrait.

The threatened incoherence is most clearly evident in the attempts of physicalists to explain away all, or almost all, of the appearance of design and intentionality in nature. However, it is also present in more modest attempts to naturalize the categories of agency, claiming not that these categories are illusory or nonexistent but rather that they are simply surprising aspects of the same natural world described by materialistic science. In this book, I ar­gue in favor of the existence of significant linkages between the concepts of explanation, agency, and design that make both of these explanatory enterrises self-defeating.

Perhaps the defining goal of post-Enlightenment scientific thought has been to rid science of all commitment to teleology. In particular, scientific mate­rialism aims to show that the appearance of intelligent design in nature is il­lusory because undirected and automatic forces are sufficient to account for it. Thus, the "blind watchmaker" of random variation and selection has been proposed as the explanation of speciation in biology, and the algorith­mic transformation of neural-activation patterns has been proposed as the explanation of cognition in psychology. An interesting question arises: Is the scientific materialist a thoroughgoing eliminative reductionist who wishes to affirm that all appearances of intelligent design in nature are illu­sory; or does the scientific materialist posit that while most of the natural environment is void of agency, humans and higher animals (and perhaps some aliens, if there are any) have developed by chance the real capacity for intelligent design so that some goal-directed behavior is really present in the natural world? This question turns out to be a dilemma for scientific mate­rialism because, regardless of whether it affirms the path of the former or the latter, incoherence emerges nonetheless.

Suppose first that we are dealing with an eliminative reductionist who is will­ing to say that all appearances of design and intentionality in nature are illusory. I call this view strong agent reductionism (SAR). According to SAR, even the most carefully planned and rational activity of human beings, such as the development of modem digital computers, was really a complex undi­rected material process because goal-directed states such as beliefs and desires played no causal role. It might then be useful to adopt what Dennett calls "the intentional stance," treating human beings as if they really had goals; however, we would do so only because the stance is a convenient means of approximate prediction and because the full details of a purely materialistic account are currently unknown and would perhaps be too cumbersome if we did know them. The scientific materialist can clearly allow that treating peo­ple as if they had intentional states is useful without conceding that such states will be recognized by the ontology of a successful scientific theory of human behavior.

However, this view still leads to a number of problems. SAR is unable to account for three important phenomena: what Dennett calls the "real patterns," which emerge in human action; the existence and character of sub­jectivity; and the robustness of folk psychology's ontology.' Most decisively, SAR also undercuts the very scientific rationality that it presupposes. At a pragmatic level, this is shown by considering what Bas van Fraassen calls the "contrastive nature of explanations." 2 Van Fraassen points out that explanations are intended to be informative. When we offer an explanation of the fact that x is F, we convey information because we explain why x is F rather than G, where G is something x might have been. For example, it is worth explaining why water is in solid form, because it might have been liquid. Ex­planations gain part of their point from the fact that the explanandum is not a given. Water does not simply have to be frozen—if it did, we would be much less interested in an explanation of why it was. For this reason, it is clear that the eliminative reductionist's explanations will lose their force. If everything only appears to be designed, then by default a contrast class of actually designed items does not exist; thus, it becomes, at best, much less interesting to explain why something looks designed.

But the problem is really more acute than this. If nothing is actually de-signed, then design is an illegitimate concept (a category without a "deduc­tion" or legal title for its applicability, in Kant's terms). It then becomes a se­rious problem how the "intentional stance," which attributes goals and designs to an agent, can be so successful in interpreting and explaining the scientist's own behavior in constructing theories and in (as we all say) "de-signing" experiments. Furthermore, these appeals to an agent's designs do not seem to be dispensable because they capture high-level regularities in behav­ior that cannot be predicted on the basis of the heterogeneous states of the brain and body that realize them.

Even more telling is the fact that the very notion of explanation employed by the scientific materialist assumes the existence of agents, that is, beings ca­pable of directing their behavior on the basis of representations of states of af­fairs, such as hypotheses, predictions, plans, and designs. Agents, including scientists, make explanations in the hope that they are understood, which cer­tainly seems to imply that it is the intention or goal of a scientist to impart this understanding. But even if the scientist's own goals could be explained away, the problem is that the act of understanding is something only an agent can do and that to explain away the act of understanding would render the whole enterprise of explanation unintelligible. The understanding of a theory consists of beliefs about what the world would be like if the theory were true. Understanding therefore requires intentionality: what is understood are pos­sible and not necessarily actual states of affairs; therefore, such states of affairs may exhibit "intentional inexistence," in Brentano's phrase, which would subsequently disqualify any natural relation to these states of affairs, of the sort that scientific materialism would allow. Thus, there can be understanding only if there is intentionality, yet there can be explanation of any sort only if there is understanding. Therefore, the scientific explanations of the scientific materialist can succeed only if intentionality is real.

However, if intentionality is an illusion, then understanding does not exist, and neither does scientific explanation. Indeed, we would have explained explanation away. Even if the scientific materialist's explanation were "cor­rect" and, in some Platonic sense, divorced from the actual capacities of fi­nite intelligences, no one would be capable of understanding it; hence, things would be explained to no one. Explanation would be pointless since no one would be capable of grasping the point. The "point" of a story or ex-planation is precisely an intentional object, and thus it cannot remain to be grasped in a world emptied of intentionality.

Furthermore, even the claim that belief in human intentionality is a cog­nitive illusion seems to founder on the fact that cognitive illusions are pre­cisely intentional states. To labor under the illusion that p is to falsely believe that p. But, of course, p specifies the intentional content of a propositional attitude. We are back with Descartes, pointing out that even to be deceived, one must think. But thinking is intentional, so if we are deceived, as the eliminativist reductionist claims, then intentional states do exist, in which case SAR is false. Bertrand Russell once made the perceptive point that a successful theory of truth cannot exist without an "error theory": unless you can give a plausible account of what it would be like to be mistaken, you can-not claim to have delineated truth .4 It seems to me that, like those theories of truth that exclude the possibility of falsehood, SAR cannot be correct, be-cause any "error theory" it proposes to account for our mistaken belief in in­tentionality itself presupposes that intentional states exist.

Suppose, however, that the scientific materialist is more moderate and allows that human goals exist and are aspects of "nature," that is, of the realm of le­gitimate scientific inquiry. In other words, intentionality is not to be elimi­nated but naturalized. I call this program weak agent reductionism (WAR). Prominent examples of WAR include biological and computational func­tionalism. According to functionalism, we do not attempt to reduce inten­tional states to brain states per se. Rather, intentional states are identified with something more abstract, the functional roles of certain nonintentional realizing states in mediating sensory input, subsequent states, and behavior. These functional roles may either be defined biologically, as roles that have enhanced the fitness of a creature's ancestors; or psychologically, as roles ac­quired by the developmental learning of the individual creature. Arguably, regardless of whether such theories pursue the biological or the psychologi­cal route, either they are faithful to materialism but fail to account for sub­jectivity and intentionality; or although they seem to work, they do so only by smuggling in teleological notions incompatible with materialism. In par­ticular, it is shown in detail that Dennett's attempt to derive human inten­tionality from "Mother Nature" (his term for natural selection as viewed from the intentional stance) is deeply incoherent.

The repeated and systematic failures of naturalism suggest that intention­ality and other characteristics of agents cannot be naturalized, at least if "na­ture" conforms to materialist strictures. But what is the alternative? I argue that "design" and "intentionality" are legitimate but nonnatural categories. Given the fact that these categories are explanatory in the human case (which the proponent of WAR concedes), it is dogmatic to declare a priori that they must fail in alleged cases of alien, superhuman, or divine design or intentionality. Following the recent work of Del Ratzsch, I argue that common arguments against invoking the nonnatural or supernatural in science are mistaken and rest, in many cases, on unexamined prejudices that derive their plausibility from an unconscious identification of empirical science with materialistic science.

Once it is conceded that designs and purposes are ever part of nature, sci­ence cannot dismiss the possibility that the realm of design extends further than humans and higher animals. Yet the contradiction present in the think­ing of many opponents of intelligent design is the view that we must appeal only to material, nonintentional causes in nature, with the assumption that human scientists really have intentional states that guide their theory con­struction and experimental design. If humans really do have goals, as the ra­tionality of science presupposes, then it is surely possible that other agents have goals and that we may sometimes discover empirical evidence of their activity.

Consider a simple analogy with forensics. When a forensic scientist tries to determine the cause of a person's death, we all recognize the existence of objective, evidential criteria aimed to sort out whether someone died of "nat­ural causes," such as renal failure; because of chance, such as accidentally falling from the observation deck of Strasbourg Cathedral after an exhaust­ing final exam; or, finally, because of the intelligent intervention of an agent. Perfectly objective reasons exist for believing that someone died because of agent intervention, even if the death was an accidental by-product of some-thing else the agent intended to do. Being transfixed by a crossbow bolt fired from thirty paces is not the sort of thing that happens according to some pe­riodic (repeating) regularity that could be explained by a law of nature; nor is it the sort of thing that typically happens by the chance processes of unaided nature, such as those governing quantum phenomena. Crossbows do not spontaneously generate the necessary tension to fire a bolt, even if one happens to be loaded, nor do they aim themselves at a specific site of a per-son so that the shot is lethal. Possibly the bolt might be fired accidentally during a struggle or while loading it for some innocuous use, but even then agent intervention is implicated. Despite the logically possible, bizarre sce­narios in which chance and law might still account for the transfixion, foren­sic science deals not in absolute, deductive proof but with an inference to the best explanation. It can be overwhelmingly more probable that, instead of no agent being involved, a foul agent was at play or a fair agent fouled up.

The basic point of intelligent design is that now that the criteria for de­tecting agent activity have been made rigorous enough for serious empirical sciences—such as forensics, archaeology, cryptography, fraud investigation, and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI)—there is no a priori guarantee that those criteria will be found to apply only in the case of human or animal agency. It may be that we will discover clear evidence of intelli­gent design in cases where no human or animal (or even alien) can credibly be implicated, such as in the complexity of biological information found in all (known) living cells or in the fine-tuning of the cosmological constants.

Finally, regardless of whether design need be invoked in understanding material events outside human provenance, the ultimate challenge for the scientific materialist is whether anything other than an intelligent designer can give a satisfactory explanation of the human capacity for design. In our own case, we have found that to give a satisfactory explanation of intentional action, we have to postulate mental states with intentional content. My ar­gument is that the human capacity for intentional thought itself requires the postulation of a higher agency. To avoid an infinite regress, it must be sup-posed that this higher agency belongs to a necessary being whose intention­ality is not contingent on the existence of any other agent. If intentionality is indeed sui generis, as the absurdity of reductionist materialism argues, the ultimate explanation of human intentionality is some other agent whose in­tentionality is self-sustaining and, hence, self-explanatory.'

The basic structure of this book is straightforward. In the first three chapters, I prepare for and argue for, at an abstract level, the thesis of the book. In the next three chapters, I look at the specific explanations offered by scientific materialists for the apparently goal-directed phenomena in biology and psychology, and I find their arguments wanting. In the last two chapters, I de-fend the legitimacy of design as a scientific category against skeptical chal­lenges, and I propose a model for the proper interrelation of science and Christianity.

Chapter 1, "Skyhooks and Cranes: The Challenge of Reductionism," prepares for the rest of the book by clarifying the varieties of reductionism and the role that they play in the program of scientific materialism. While agreeing that reductions are often major breakthroughs in science, I defend the parallel importance of nonreductive advance in science. Learning that a certain kind of phenomenon is independent of another can be at least as significant an advance as achieving a reduction of one kind to another. The focus is narrowed to reductionist accounts of agency in biology and psychology. I distinguish SAR and WAR. These are the two approaches to agency adopted by scientific materialism. SAR is committed to a thor­oughgoing elimination of agency, extending even to human beings. By contrast, WAR accepts the reality of, at least, human agency but aims to naturalize it.

Chapter 2, "Strong Agent Reductionism: Materialism and the Rationality of Science," focuses on eliminative approaches to agency (especially the work of Paul Churchland). It argues that such approaches fail on their own terms and are inconsistent with the rationality of science. The scientific materialist who pursues SAR thereby loses the right to call herself a scientific materialist. Chap-ter 3, "Weak Agent Reductionism: Science and the Rationality of Materialism," considers attempts to retain intentionality as a legitimate category by naturaliz­ing it. Standard physicalist approaches, such as Jaegwon Kim's, are shown to be inadequate. This motivates Dennett's ambitious alternative project of explain­ing intentionality as the product of natural selection. Dennett's account is ex­amined in detail and is shown to be incoherent. I further argue that acknowl­edging the reality of agency in nature makes the in-principle exclusion of nonnatural agency ad hoc. The proponents of WAR thus lose the right to call themselves scientific materialists.

According to some philosophers and scientists, psychology will be reduced to biology. Confident that biology can be explained in purely materialistic terms, they conclude that psychology will be given a materialist reduction. However, even if psychology is reducible to biology, it does not necessarily demonstrate materialism, because it may be that biological functions them-selves point to nonnatural intelligent design. This argument is the motivation for chapter 4, "Bait and Switch: Indirectness and Biological Unity," in which I consider the arguments of Michael Behe to show that certain kinds of biological structures cannot be fully explained in materialistic terms. Behe argues that biological structures that are "irreducibly complex" cannot be accounted for by the Darwinian processes available to the scientific materialist. In reply, Behe's critics have argued that Darwinian processes can generate irreducible complexity through indirect routes. I examine such proposals at length and ar­gue that they all fail to account for the unity and cohesion of biological func­tion. I argue that, on the contrary, top-down design is ultimately a better ex-planation of the facts; however, top-down design implies teleology and is therefore incompatible with any strict version of materialism.

Chapter 5, "The Alchemy of the Mind: Indirectness and Psychological Unity," parallels the previous chapter in its emphasis on functional unity and cohesion, but it focuses instead on Darwinian psychology. I argue that ac-counts of the self and consciousness in terms of "selfish" genes and memes are unable to account for the integration and cohesion of an agent's inten­tional states. Indeed, the meme–gene theory of the mind is fraught with in-coherence and is incompatible with what we know about psychological unity and the human capacity for practical and theoretical reason. I also argue that science itself has an indispensable commitment to the idea of agents with particular points of view and that such agents cannot be reduced to an as­semblage of blind, atomic entities such as genes and memes.

In chapter 6, "Beyond Skinnerian Creatures: A Defense of the Lewis–Plantinga Argument against Evolutionary Naturalism," the case against Darwinian psychology is strengthened by a defense of arguments de­veloped by C. S. Lewis and Alvin Plantinga. According to Plantinga, evolu­tionary naturalism provides no grounds for supposing that our thought processes are reliable; indeed, it tends to support the thesis that they are unreliable. Consequently, evolutionary naturalism is self-defeating in the sense that if it were true, we could never have adequate reason to believe it. Plan­tinga's argument echoes a distinct argument against naturalism given by C. S. Lewis in his work Miracles. Lewis argues that evolution operates at the level of behavioral responses that do not inherently require cognition and that the order of causation does not explain the rational order of logical thought. I develop this Lewisian argument to defend the conclusion that while reductionist forms of Darwinism might explain the development of so­phisticated responses (the behavior of what Dennett calls "Skinnerian crea­tures"), they do not explain the existence and character of rational thought. In particular, the teleology, normativity, modal force, and personal character of practical and theoretical reasoning are not accounted for. Given this ar­gument, the Darwinists must concede that their theory cannot explain agency or else deny agency altogether and opt for strong agent reductionism with all of the attendant problems previously noted.

Yet, eliminative skeptics will still claim that design and intentionality are fictitious categories, concepts without a deduction in Kant's sense. Against such skepticism, it is clear that empirical arguments have no force, since, re­gardless of how strong these arguments are, they are nonetheless compatible with design and intentionality being very useful but nonetheless fictional cat­egories. Chapter 7, "Intentionality, Information, and Displacement: The Le­gitimacy of Design," develops two main arguments designed to defeat the skeptic. The first shows that the very nature of concepts implicates design and intentionality; thus, if there are any concepts, the categories of design and in­tentionality must be valid. However, it is possible that the eliminativist will reject the whole idea of concepts in favor of a purely information–theoretic account of cognition and action. In response, I first point out that appeal to information does not remove the need to appeal to intentionality in action explanations. But even if it did, my second argument shows that the complex specified information manifested by the theoretical reasoning and practical action of an agent still implicates design. By applying recent results of William Dembski to human cognition and action, I show that design is a demonstra­bly legitimate category in the human case.

Once it has been shown that design is a legitimate category, it is surely an open question how far this category extends; that is, the question of nonhu­man, superhuman, or supernatural design is an empirical one, not one that can be adjudicated by a priori methodological strictures that attempt to spec­ify in advance what science is allowed to discover. The various attempts to avoid these arguments all founder on what Dembski, in his book No Free Lunch, calls the "displacement problem": a common failing of naturalistic at-tempts to explain intentionality, design, or complex specified information by merely relocating the phenomena to be explained and so failing to show how these phenomena could have arisen from simpler kinds of phenomena.

It is a cliché of modernity that religion is the prime source of authoritari­anism and dogmatism while science frees the mind from superstition, ushers in progress, and provides an enlightened perspective on the world. However, in a move that parallels the turn from rebel to tyrant in George Orwell's Animal Farm, some devotees of scientism, a view that claims that materialis­tic science is the sole source of knowledge and the only reliable guide to on­tology, have become almost as doctrinaire and oppressive as the religious fa­natics of the past. In chapter 8, "Science and Christianity: Dogmatism and Dialogue," I argue that the current educational policy of protecting Darwin-ism (and related views) from serious criticism has produced a new scholasti­cism in science. The most dogmatic Darwinists, those who insist that scien­tific materialism is definitive of the scientific method, use a methodology similar to the one employed by the scholastic scientists who were criticized by Francis Bacon. This is what I call uncritical deductionism, an approach claim­ing to acquire "knowledge" by deducing it from preconceived ideology, rather than by serious testing against the natural world. At the same time, well-credentialed critics of Darwinism are ignored or censored and frequently suf­fer in their careers.

Many, though not all, of the scientists who experience such difficulties are Christians who maintain that at least some Christian presuppositions are fundamentally in conflict with the epistemology and metaphysics assumed by Darwinism. Some scholars of science and religion, such as Michael Ruse, have tried to reduce the hostility by arguing that a Darwinian can be a Chris­tian. However, I argue that such a marriage cannot work so long as Darwin-ism is wedded to the reductionist stance of scientific materialism. In the last part of the chapter, I outline what I believe is a more fruitful model for dia­logue between science and Christian theology, one that encourages humility and resistance on both sides. This model emphasizes the importance of a plu­rality of competing ideas in science and draws on the insights of John Stuart Mill and Karl Popper that concern the intellectual (and political) value of free and critical inquiry.



Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism by Matt Young, Taner Edis (Rutgers University Press) Is Darwinian evolution established fact, or a dogma ready to be overtaken by the next scientific revolution? The intelligent design movement argues the latter.

Why Intelligent Design Fails assembles a team of physicists, biologists, computer scientists, mathematicians, and archaeologists to examine intelligent design from a scientific perspective. They consistently find grandiose claims without merit.

Contributors take intelligent design’s two most famous claims––irreducible complexity and information-based arguments––and show that neither challenges Darwinian evolution. They also discuss thermodynamics and self-organization; the ways human design is actually identified in fields such as forensic archaeology; how research in machine intelligence indicates that intelligence itself is the product of chance and necessity; and cosmological fine-tuning arguments.

Intelligent design turns out to be a scientific mistake, but also a useful contrast highlighting the amazing power of Darwinian thinking and the wonders of a complex world without design.

While the advocates of the pseudo-science labeled Intelligent Design work full-time on promoting their agenda and publishing scores of books and articles filled with casuistry designed to disguise the lack of scientific substance in their concepts, most genuine scientists are too busy with their hard work in labs to devote sufficient time and effort to debunking the crock ID advocates are feeding the unsuspecting public. Excellent recently published books by Mark Perakh ("Unintelligent Design," Prometheus Books 2004), Niall Shanks ("God, the Devil and Darwin," Oxford University Press 2004) and Barbara Forrest & Paul R. Gross ("Creationism's Trojan Horse," Oxford University Press 2004), which provided well- substantiated critique of various aspects of Intelligent Design and related concepts, have successfully met some the need for a sound analysis of the fallacies of ID. Now these three wonderful books are complemented by an anthology from Rutgers University Press ("Why Intelligent Design Fails," edited by physicists Matt Young and Taner Edis). Unlike the three books listed above, this one is the product of a combined effort by a number of authors who, unlike most of the ID advocates, all are experienced scientists with extensive records of peer-reviewed publications in their scientific fields. In each chapter of the anthology the author or authors utilize their scientific background to analyze this or that specific concept of the ID and invariably find it lacking validity from the standpoint of a particular branch of science. Each chapter of the collection is authored by an expert or experts in a particular field of science and that gives this collection the power of unassailable authority. Biological aspects of ID are discussed by highly qualified biologists, mathematical questions are addressed by accomplished mathematicians and physicists, paleontological points are the subjects of chapters written by experienced paleontologists, etc. The sum total of experience and qualifications of the authors is so formidable and multifaceted that there is no chance the ID advocates (who with few exceptions typically lack any record of a real scientific research) can offer in response anything even remotely close to it. Besides the strength of argumentation invariably found in all chapters of this collection, it also provides a very entertaining reading as most of the authors possess not only impressive scientific qualifications, but also talents for clearly explaining sometimes rather complicated concepts -- including such esoteric topics as the mathematical theorems of the optimization theory (the so called No Free Lunch theorems) -- in simple terms accessible to a lay audience with a minimal background in sciences. This is a really brilliant book, highly recommended to everybody who wants to form an educated opinion of the ongoing dispute between genuine science and its pseudo-scientific adversary, the Intelligent Design fallacy.


Unintelligent Design by Mark Perakh (Prometheus Books) Spurred on not only by the quasi-scientific agenda of the so-called intelligent design theorists, who seek to prove the existence of God mathematically, but also by his personal contact with otherwise rational scientists, physicist Mark Perakh sets out to reveal the falsity of the claims of neocreationism with a thorough, carefully detailed series of arguments aimed at the very heart of those who would see evolutionary theory discarded. Perakh strips away the reader-unfriendly "mathematizing" present in the neocreationist theses in order to reveal their flawed logic and their meaninglessness.

His work is divided into three parts: first, an attack on the specifics of intelligent design, a theory spearheaded by the writings of William Dembski (The Design Inference, Intelligent Design, No Free Lunch), Michael Behe (Darwin's Black Box), and Phillip Johnson (Darwin on Trial, The Wedge of Truth, Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds); second, a critical dismantling of several arguments closely related to the intelligent design movement, such as attempts to "harmonize" the Bible with modern scientific understanding of the universe, the anthropic principle, and nonrandom evolution; and finally, a discussion of proper scientific method and probability theory, as well as an infamous account of science gone bad for the sake of religion--the Bible code theory propagated by Doron Witztum, Eliyahu Rips, and Yoav Rosenberg.

This thoughtful and incisive critique from a veteran scientist genuinely concerned about the integrity of the scientific enterprise wastes no diplomacy on those who would see its purpose twisted to ideological ends. Perakh successfully ties his opponents' arguments together by demonstrating how most of them are based on the same mistaken view of probability theory and the same disregard for impartial objectivity in testing hypotheses. This is a must-read for anyone interested in separating scientific facts from religion masquerading as science.

Perakh has two basic points as he works his way through the major advocates of ID (Intelligent Design). One is that they misuse statistics is ways that are intuitively reasonable but ultimately incorrect. This is why he includes a discussion of the Bible Code, another case of statistics gone awry.
His second point, and one that I hadn't seen spelled out so well before, is that the idea of irreducible complexity is a jumbled compilation of observations which Paley and others have offered much more clearly long ago. Perakh breaks down each component of irreducible complexity and shows how it does not justify the strong claims made for it by ID theorists.
My frustration in all of this is that the people who most need to read this book aren't going to take the time and effort necessary to engage in his arguments.

Perakh organized his text into three sections. The first two take up issues of creationism, first Intelligent Design (ID), and second the earlier but still influential Scientific Creationism. Significant authors from each of these pseudosciences are addressed in their own chapters. William Dembski, Michael Behe, and Phillip Johnson are the ID representatives. Perakh's thorough demolishment of Dembski's thesis in Chapter 1 (the longest single chapter) alone is worth the price of the book. Not only was Perakh thorough, but understandable using clear language and reasoning. His many years as a teacher are obvious in these pages.

Headline 3

insert content here