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The Creation Hypothesis

J.P. Moreland, ed. (InterVarsity Press: 1994), 335 pages.

Is there evidence from natural science for an intelligent creator of the universe? For a century the reigning scientific view has been that God is not necessary to account for the existence of the world and of life. Evolutionary theory is said to be all that is needed to explain how we got here. In addition, many theistic evolutionists contend that God likely used many of the mechanisms of evolution to achieve his will. In this book J. P. Moreland and a panel of scholars assert that there is actually substantial evidence pointing in a different direction. First, they consider philosophical arguments about whether it is possible for us to know if an intelligent designer had a hand in creation. Then they look directly at four different areas of science: the origin of life, the origin of major groups of organisms, the origin of human language and the origin and formation of the universe. The team of experts for this work includes a philosopher, a mathematician, a physicist, a linguist, a theologian, a biophysicist, an astronomer, a chemist and a paleontologist. Their data and their conclusions challenge the assumptions of many and offer the foundation for a new paradigm of scientific thinking.

Essayists: John Ankerberg, Walter L. Bradley, William A. Dembski, Stephen G. Meyer, J. P. Moreland, John W. Oller Jr., John Omdahl, Hugh Ross, Charles Thaxton, John Weldon, and Kurt P. Wise

A Review

The Creation Hypothesis will be welcomed particularly among those who favor a balanced treatment of origins and among those who applaud the kind of science education outlined in The Liberal Art of Science: Agenda for Action. The Report of the Project on Liberal Education and the Sciences (Washington D.C.: AAAS, 1990).The aims of this AAAS agenda to which The Creation Hypothesis significantly contributes include: (1) subject matter organized around specific problems, issues, and themes, (2) study of the methodological landscape of science in comparison with the methodologies of other arenas of rational human discourse, (3) analysis of ideas of causality, (4) use of integrative concepts in science that transcend disciplinary boundaries, (5) appreciation for the atomic, chemical, biological, geological, and cosmological scales of the universe, and, (6) subject matter that draws from the history of science, which fosters a better grasp of the arguments and reasoning behind current science.

The theme of The Creation Hypothesis is the “intelligent design thesis” — both its philosophical and theological parameters and its fleshing-out in specific scientific theories. The problems and issues addressed include the scientific status and legitimacy of both the intelligent design thesis and Neo-Darwinian theory, astronomical pointers to a Designer, as well as the origin of life, biological diversity, and human language capacity. Most of the essays are equipped with a final paragraph that catapults the reader into subsequent essays. The level of coherency and continuity is striking for an edited volume of essays. The Creation Hypothesis would balance out a liberal arts science or philosophy of science course when used alongside texts that assume or assert strict methodological naturalism.

The book’s thought-provoking philosophical study of origin science methodologies — the book’s first three essays — is skillfully materialized in the four scientific surveys that follow. One is reminded (in form, not orientation) of Descartes’ “Discourse on Method” (now read in philosophy courses) which Descartes followed up with several essays on specific sciences (usually ignored today). The book’s early essays draw extensively from Larry Laudan’s philosophy of science (and from other sources including the original work of the authors) in order to replace Paley’s tired arguments from design with a surprisingly new and robust rationale for design inferences. As a whole, this volume of essays demolishes the common objection that design inferences result only from our ignorance of natural causes rather than from our knowledge of the essential limitations to natural causes. Far from limiting our options, this new group of design proponents expand our range of questions and possible answers in origins research.

Scientists and advocates of broad liberal arts learning will appreciate The Creation Hypothesis‘ use of transdisciplinary concepts such as “information.” The essayists approach the concept of “information” from philosophical, theological, biochemical, and linguistic perspectives. These approaches illustrate clearly the difference between the trivial information within the order of a snowflake or the order of a trained ape’s “sign language” and the substantial information of proteins and grammatical human language. This volume shows how information theory commands our attention within many scientific disciplines and illuminates our study of nature on its various scales — from atomic to cosmological.

Part of this story draws from the history of science, particularly in noting the role of Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914) in providing the foundational ideas that made possible a profound connection between human language and the language of genetics.

The Creation Hypothesisis an excellent introduction to the methodologies and theories of origin studies. Its contributors include some of the leaders of a new and more sophisticated generation of “intelligent design” proponents. Students and scholars alike will appreciate its fresh perspectives, concise summaries, and useful bibliographies.

Reviewed by Michael Keas, Dept. of Natural Sciences, Oklahoma Baptist University.