Wednesday night’s celebration at McCaw Hall in Seattle was more than just a “book party,” which is what we’ve called it, somewhat inaccurately. A book party implies people standing around sipping cocktails and sampling hors d’oeuvres. That was not what happened. Instead, the evening was an outstanding presentation by Douglas Axe of the argument of his new book, Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life Is Designed, published this week by Harper One.
The book itself is admirably concise and “amazingly readable,” as Center for Science & Culture director Stephen Meyer said in introducing Dr. Axe. It reflects, as well, Axe’s remarkable courage. Undeniable is a summary of his thinking and research, said Dr. Meyer, “in the face of opposition and risk to his career.”
Concise or not, though, a book is a book and so it’s very handy to have an even briefer and more readily sharable video précis, which is what we have available thanks to Axe’s presentation being archived now at YouTube. Find it here:
Besides being a brilliant scientist and wonderful writer, Doug Axe is a charismatic speaker. It was a great evening, with the house nearly packed out at 250+. The YouTube link where we live streamed it reflects another 950+ viewers so far.
Axe explained that he wrote Undeniable to go over the heads of the entrenched, tenured gatekeepers of science, directly to thoughtful readers of all backgrounds. The intuition of design in nature is, after all, nearly universal. Even scientists hostile to a design inference admit they share it — only, of course, to reject it.
Axe described the concept of “functional coherence,” shared by designed systems ranging from violins, to mechanical watches, to smart phones, to human beings and other living creatures. This is evident from a macro view of our physiology, all the way down to the micro level of molecular machines, like the ribosome, “Perhaps the most sophisticated molecular machine on the planet.”
Axe said that he believes the argument that will ultimately take down Darwinism will not be “technical but a common sense argument,” one that can be wielded by anyone willing to take the time to understand it.
In other words, it’s not something that scientists somehow own. In the Q&A afterward with CSC associate director John West, Dr. West observed that, “I’m one of those people that Dr. Axe wrote the book for — a non-scientist.” The design intuition cuts across professions, disciplines, and ages. Without doubt, Children share it, a fact that concerns Darwin advocates enough that they are seeking ways to suppress it early on.
Questions from the audience were all positive and enlightening. A young woman said she had recently graduated from U.C. Berkeley (as Axe did in his time) and described the mental gymnastics her peers resort to in order to cast doubt on scientific reality.
A soft-spoken Chinese scientist alluded to his own journey that took him far from home, to Oxford and Harvard. He wanted to know what the title of the book refers to. What exactly is “undeniable”? Axe explained that he refers there to the design intuition. He clarified that he doesn’t mean that all intuition, as an undifferentiated whole, is reliable, or undeniable: “Other intuitions may be very deniable, may be false.”
This intuition represents what Axe calls “common science,” like a three-legged stool held up by the combination of observation, questioning, and deduction.
A woman congratulated Axe for writing for the “average person,” since Darwin’s elite defenders themselves “don’t respond [to challenges] intellectually but emotionally.” To this, Axe replied that it’s often true, but not always. Some Darwin advocates are willing to engage in substantive debate.
Another Discovery Institute fellow, Dr. Paul Nelson, observed that we seem to have been deliberately gifted, or seeded, with the design intuition. Doesn’t this suggest that we’re intended to put it to use? The question seems self-answering.
Finally, an audience member brought up the good point that maybe this intuition isn’t literally universal. There may well be some individuals who never looked at a living crane in flight and thought, even for a moment — Surely, that no more arose by accident than an origami crane ever did.
Dr. Axe conceded that it isn’t necessarily the case, and not necessary to the thesis of his book, that every single person shares this intuitive sense. If you don’t have it, that’s fine. “You can chuck that. The book will still show you that Darwinism is false.”
Photos by Andrew McDiarmid, and via YouTube.