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Michael J. Behe


The Design Debate

Does "chance" rule out God? Does near-impossibility require him?

Does science point to the existence of intelligent design in the universe? How would we know design if we saw it? Is talk of "design" simply outside the boundaries of science? Such questions have been given urgency in the past decade by the emergence of new arguments against the Darwinian consensus, as exemplified by Michael Behe's widely reviewed book, Darwin's Black Box (1996). To some Christian thinkers, including B&C contributing editor Phillip Johnson, this movement is nothing less than an intellectual revolution, toppling the dictatorship of naturalism, while others—including many in the sciences—regard the intelligent design movement as another wrong turn, leading away from the reconciliation of science and faith and bringing embarrassment and disrepute to the church.

Dean Overman's book, A Case Against Accident and Self-Organization, is another volley in this debate. Like Johnson, Overman is a lawyer, and if he lacks Johnson's superb rhetorical skills, he nonetheless displays a powerful intellect and a lawyerly ability to make a case. His book comes with recommendations from prominent Christian scientists such as cosmologist Owen Gingerich and mathematical physicist-turned-Anglican priest John Polkinghorne (who is interviewed in this issue). Alister McGrath, a theologian with scientific training, also commends Overman's book to our attention. We asked biochemist Michael Behe and biologist Rebecca Flietstra to review Overman's book. Then Behe and Flietstra were given the opportunity to respond to each other's arguments.

Books & Culture is committed to more extensive coverage of science. One purpose of that coverage will be to counter the widespread evangelical notion that science and faith are inherently antagonistic—that is, when science is not being ignored altogether. (Have you looked at the science section in a Christian bookstore lately?) At the same time, we will continue to cover important debates generated by the clash between reductive ...

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