Synopses & Reviews
What does it mean to say that God “used evolution” to create the world? Is Darwin’s theory of evolution compatible with belief in God? And even if Darwin’s theory could be reconciled with religious belief, do we need to do so? Is the theory well established scientifically? Is it true?
In the century and a half since Charles Darwin first proposed his theory of evolution, Christians, Jews, and other religious believers have grappled with how to make sense of it. Most have understood that Darwin’s theory has profound theological implications, but their responses have varied dramatically.
Some religious believers have rejected it outright; others, often called “theistic evolutionists,” have sought to reconcile Darwin’s theory with their religious beliefs, but often at the cost of clarity, orthodoxy, or both. Too few have carefully teased out the various scientific, philosophical, and theological claims at stake, and separated the chaff from the wheat. As a result, the whole subject of God and evolution has been an enigma wrapped in a shroud of fuzz and surrounded by blanket of fog.
The purpose of this anthology of essays is to clear away the fog, the fuzz, and the enigma. Contributing authors to the volume include Jay Richards, co-author of The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery; Stephen Meyer, author of Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design; William Dembski, author of The Design Revolution; Jonathan Witt, co-author of A Meaningful World: How the Arts and Sciences Reveal the Genius of Nature; Denyse O’Leary, author of By Design, or by Chance?; and David Klinghoffer, author of Shattered Tablets.
For years Alfred Russel Wallace was little more than an obscure adjunct to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Remembered only for prompting Darwin to write On the Origin of Species in 1859 by writing his own letter proposing a theory of natural selection, Wallace was rightly dubbed by one biographer “the forgotten naturalist.” In 1998 Sahotra Sarkar bemoaned Wallace’s “lapse into obscurity,” noting that "at least in the 19th century literature, the theory of evolution was usually referred to as ‘the Darwin and Wallace theory’. In the 20th century, the theory of evolution has become virtually synonymous with Darwinism or neo-Darwinism.” While the complaint still has a ring of truth, a decade of recent interest in Wallace has done much to bring him back from history’s crypt of forgotten figures. This shouldn’t suggest unanimity of opinion, however.
Some regard him as a heretic, others as merely a misguided scientist-turned-spiritualist, still others as a prescient figure anticipating the modern Gaia hypothesis. Perhaps Martin Fichman’s phrase hits closest and most persistently to the truth—“the elusive Victorian.” Can the real Wallace be found? If so, what might we learn in that rediscovery? The provocative thesis of this new biography is that Wallace, in developing his unique brand of evolution, presaged modern intelligent design theory. Wallace’s devotion to discovering the truths of nature brought him through a lifetime of research to see genuine design in the natural world. This was Wallace’s ultimate heresy, a heresy that exposed the metaphysical underpinnings of the emerging Darwinian paradigm.
Signature of Controversy is a response to the 2009 bestseller Signature in the Cell by Stephen C. Meyer, a book recognized as establishing one of the strongest pillars underlying the argument for intelligent design. To call Signature in the Cell important is an understatement. The critical response that followed the publication of Stephen Meyer’s book was fascinating, but the fact is that few—if any—of the critics really grappled with the crux of Meyer’s argument or with the substance of intelligent-design theory. This is remarkable and telling. In Signature of Controversy, defenders of intelligent design analyze the hostile response using the critics’ own writings.
Edited by David Klinghoffer and including essays by David Berlinski, Casey Luskin, Stephen C. Meyer, Paul Nelson, Jay Richards and Richard Sternberg.
About the Author
David Klinghoffer is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute in Seattle and a contributor to Evolution News & Views. He is the author of How Would God Vote?: Why the Bible Commands You to Be a Conservative (Random House, 2008.), Shattered Tablets: What the Ten Commandments Reveal about American Culture and Its Discontents (Doubleday, 2006), Why the Jews Rejected Jesus: The Turning Point in Western History (Doubleday, 2005), The Discovery of God: Abraham and the Birth of Monotheism (Doubleday, 2003) and the spiritual memoir The Lord Will Gather Me In (Free Press/Simon & Schuster, 1998), a National Jewish Book Award finalist.. A former literary editor of National Review magazine, Klinghoffer has written articles and reviews for the Los Angles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Commentary, and other publications. He lives on Mercer Island, Washington, with his wife and children.'