Puck reviews the Comprehensive Guide to Science and Faith

There’s a new book out, edited by Dembski and Luskin, titled The Comprehensive Guide to Science and Faith, a collection of essays by numerous authors on various IDC and IDC-adjacent topics. It’s typical DI-type material: well written but dreadful on substance. It contains some real winners like Casey Luskin’s second not-very-credible go at impersonating a paleoanthropologist and work by the always charming Richard Weikart, along his usual “Darwin equals Hitler” theme.

So, there’s not terribly much to see here, and as best one can tell from its reviews at Amazon, it’s not selling very well. But I had a go at it, and that review is now up: Not a comprehensive treatment of science and faith, but of ID Creationism instead

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Well done. I see a few 5-stars but no reviews to go along with them?

Yes. It used to be that for Amazon didn’t take “star” ratings without reviews, but that changed at some point, probably because someone noticed that a lot of reviews just said “Excellent book” or some such thing. One of the consequences of this is that some of the anthropological value of the Amazon reviews is now among the lost treasures of the Amazon. You used to see hilarious things like IDC books written with vehement denials that the topic has anything to do with religion, reviewed by people who didn’t get the memo on that point who say nothing but how strongly the book confirmed their faith in Baal (or one of those guys; I always get the names mixed up as their personalities are so similar). Now, lots of those reviewers just post their “star” ratings and no explanatory words.

I was surprised by this one getting no reviews – I’d meant to review it a week or so ago but just didn’t get around to reading it very quickly, and I figured that this meant that by the time I did review it, there’d be a ton of reviews already up. Now that I have, I would expect that a few reviews will show up from the usual suspects, probably after a friendly poke from the DI encouraging them to boost the favorability of reviews. Jerry Bergman usually gets one in, full of effusive praise, and one will often see DI personalities either do it in their own names (Andrew McDiarmid had one on Darwin’s Doubt, I think, which was funny given that he worked for Meyer at the time) or via a family member (there’s a review of Meyer’s latest by “Muffy” Minnich, but it appears to have been written by Scott Minnich).

It’s a weird book but I think it’s another sign of the direction the DI is turning. Just as the Judean People’s Front’s worst enemy is the People’s Front of Judea, the DI has figured out that the worst enemy of Christian fundamentalism is other Christians. So this thing is a bit of a Trojan Horse – the idea is that the title appeals to people who might be of a more “liberal” theology but who have questions about the relationship between science and faith, and it tries to drive a wedge between those people and real science by suggesting that the “science” which is most consistent with Christian belief is the pseudoscience of IDC.

I don’t know if that’ll work. Most of it is liable to fall upon infertile ground. I had an interesting conversation about this with my UCC pastor friend whom I’ve known for almost fifty years. He’s quite devout, and yet would probably be described as a “functional atheist” by some of the wild-eyed ones out there because science denial isn’t his thing and neither are apologetics in general. I asked him whether, in all these years in the UCC (about 35; he and I have known each other since junior high), he’d ever found himself confronted with a parishioner who had begun reading the Bible and had concluded that the UCC wasn’t taking the Bible literally enough, and who was leaning toward creationism. He said that in thousands of conversations of every sort about faith and doubt and belief, this had just never come up – that it was always a non-issue for anyone he’d ever dealt with. So if the DI is hoping to peel a few people away from the mainline churches, I do wonder whether there are all that many of 'em who want to be peeled.

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I just realized that the publishing house to which the DI had to stoop here is really a special place. Here’s another offering:

Charting the End Times: A Visual Guide to Understanding Bible Prophecy

The publisher’s blurb is hilarious:

God has made the future known, and as a Christian, you have the privilege of studying it. More than just a glimpse of what is to come, Bible prophecy is a vital part of your walk with God, granting you unique insights into who He is and what He has in store for you.

With Charting the End Times , you’ll gain a clearer understanding of forthcoming events, from the Rapture, to the last days, to the Millennial kingdom, and beyond. Bestselling author Tim LaHaye and prophecy expert Thomas Ice have teamed up to provide a guidebook packed with timelines, illustrations, and infographics that offer clarity on challenging concepts.

Featuring a foldout portraying God’s complete plan for the ages, 50 full-color charts and diagrams, and carefully researched answers to your toughest questions, Charting the End Times will inspire you to live with joy in the assurance that God’s perfect plan for the future is intact, and that He has prepared for you a place within it.

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Also of interest, I’m nearly certain the DI used to have it’s own publishing house. This seems a big step … backwards.

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They still do, but I think that they prefer outside publishing when they can get it. In this case I think they’ve made a mistake; this book is intended, it would seem, to coax people off the deep end, but the publisher’s main audience seems to be people who have already fallen off. And the promotion of the book seems non-existent. I can’t believe the absence of blog entries, reviews, et cetera about it – it’s as though they didn’t already know of a legion of the usual suspects who could be counted on to give a glowing review of such a book.

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As usual, thanks for reading these books so we don’t have to.

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I do wish, actually, sometimes, that more people would read them. I think that a great deal of the delusion that there is a possibility of peace between science and this kind of ludicrous pseudointellectual porno would be dispelled if the people who believe in that possibility would sit down with a few of the DI’s worst books. Once one takes on board a work as dreadful as Marcos Eberlin’s Foresight, or Tom Bethell’s Darwin’s House of Cards, or Jonathan Wells’ Zombie Science, one surely can no longer pretend that there is a shred of honesty or decency associated with this stuff.

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Well, I already understand that, so I’m off the hook. :slight_smile:

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Yes, you certainly do. You and I need to get our sandals and robes and start spreading this particular gospel (or badspel?). We need catchy sayings. “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for Stephen Meyer to tell the truth.” That sort of thing.

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