Steve Fuller’s Science v. Religion? Intelligent Design and the Problem of Evolution

Sahotra Sarkar reviews Fuller’s book in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (via bookforum):

Fuller’s analysis of the intellectual disputes over contemporary ID creationism is almost vacuous. The chapter on complexity does not even broach the many fairly sophisticated responses and rebuttals spurred by Behe’s and Dembski’s arguments (see Sarkar [2007] and Sober [2008] for an entry into this literature). It is less than clear that Fuller has deigned to familiarize himself with the intellectual terrain in which Behe and Dembski operate, let alone the arguments of their critics. ID creationists would serve themselves better by engaging a more competent defender. For readers seeking an introduction to the technical issues surrounding contemporary creationism, this book is useless.

Moreover, as noted earlier, Fuller’s account of the Dover trial is unreliable. Similarly, the discussion of naturalism and supernaturalism is less than compelling. If supernatural entities are nothing other than theoretical entities that are the most remote from experiment (however this is measured), the supernatural still falls under the purview of natural law. There are no miracles, no room for divine intervention, not even space for the deity to jumpstart processes such as the Cambrian “explosion”, which ID creationists take to be one of the major occasions when the deity fueled information into the progress of life on Earth. Fuller’s is not a sense of “supernatural” that would excite real creationists or inflame any of their critics. As with the discussion of complexity, Fuller fails to engage the interesting debate over naturalism that ID creationism has generated. Just as the third chapter demonstrated Fuller’s lack of familiarity with the work of Behe and Dembski, the remarks on supernaturalism shows him to be equally non-cognizant of the work of the third member of ID creationism’s intellectual triumvirate, Philip Johnson.

If there is any positive contribution that this book makes, it will have to be because of the historical perspective it brings to the science-religion dispute. But this is where the book has even less to offer.