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Critique of Intelligent Design: Materialism versus Creationism from Antiquity to the Present Paperback – November 1, 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Monthly Review Press (November 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583671730
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583671733
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,419,056 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback
Critique of Intelligent Design: Materialism versus Creationism from Antiquity to the Present, written by John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark and Richard York, summarizes coherently and forcefully the power of materialism and evolutionary theory for explaining the magnificent complexity of self-organizing nature. The authors trace the history of materialism, its relevance for a scientific understanding of the world, and the radical conception of human freedom that it implies. Most importantly, Critique details the arguments of the present day opponents of materialism: the intelligent design movement, a group of well-funded, conservative fundamentalists with a hierarchical, teleological, and religious agenda for the world.

Up to the challenge, the authors of Critique show us how intelligent design is not the open-minded skepticism that proponents claim it to be, but is instead a wedge strategy intended to displace secularism with theology (indeed, to bring about a cultural theocracy). Particularly chilling is the book's discussion of the Discovery Institute, the main think tank behind the intelligent design movement. Spelling out the religious commitments of the Institute's founders, and exposing the pseudo-science of its philosophical arguments, Critique of Intelligent Design makes it crystal clear that intelligent design is not a scientific theory at all but instead is a return to the creationism and natural theology of earlier days, if only in more sophisticated guise.
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"Critique of Intelligent Design" by John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark and Richard York presents an outstanding intellectual history of the materialist critique of creationism, spanning from nearly 2,500 years ago to the present day. The impressive collaboration, combining the talents of three professors from leading U.S. universities, results in a tightly argued, persuasive and liberating book. In a succinct but precise manner, the authors offer us a fascinating and important perspective on the development of the Western mind; importantly, the book is no less uncompromising in its defense of rationality over superstition.

The authors begin by comparing and contrasting the current debate over intelligent design with the Scopes Trial of 1925, finding both events to be spurred by reactionary religious fundamentalists who sought to push back against recent gains made by science on the public consciousness. Interestingly, the authors trace the apostasy of materialism back to Epicurus, who is credited with making the first significant contribution to founding a materialist philosophy in ancient Greece; Epicurus' groundbreaking work subsequently provided inspiration to a long line of progressive thinkers including Marx, Darwin and Freud who are each discussed at length. By deconstructing the discourse between the materialists and the fundamentalists over the centuries, we come to understand that the heart of the matter is a desire to control human consciousness: on the one hand, in service to a religion that typically affirms the status quo; and on the other hand, of a materialism that tends to embrace human agency, ingenuity and freedom.
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Format: Paperback
What a perfect time to read this book. Critique of Intelligent Design: Materialism versus Creationism From Antiquity to the Present, by John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark and Richard York provides the informative guide needed to understand the latest attacks on reason and human freedom. The past few months of US political wrangling have left many of us bewildered -- candidates claiming divine intervention on behalf of their campaign, preachers taking the spotlight in political discourse, a rhetoric of faith surpassing real initiatives for change. What's going on?

At first glance it may seem that we have entered a new era of cultural confrontation in the political realm. To truly understand where these arguments are coming from, however, we must move beyond the focus on personal religious beliefs and recognize the historical context in which the debate between creationism and materialism arose. Critique of Intelligent Design provides this essential analysis needed for informed discussion and potential social action.

The authors' collaborative work demonstrates an impressive breadth and depth of analysis. Their examination moves from the philosophical roots of materialism to its application among Enlightenment thinkers. They conclude with contemporary developments in the natural and social sciences that refute the arguments used to buttress intelligent design. Throughout the book, the authors demonstrate how intelligent design is simply old wine in a new bottle. Although the labels may change, the contents will still leave a disenfranchised public drunk in deception that some outside force controls our destiny and that of the natural world upon which we depend.
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