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Scott Turner’s Purpose and Desire — An Important New Voice in the Evolution Debate

David Klinghoffer

Scott Turner

The crisis of evolutionary biology is spoken of openly here and by scientists who are professed advocates of intelligent design. It is acknowledged in much more circumspect terms by other scientists who know they would be hounded and punished by colleagues for doing so in the public arena. You have to look carefully at what they admit in professional journals, when they think laypeople aren’t listening.

However, a forthcoming book by biologist J. Scott Turner, Purpose & Desire: What Makes Something “Alive” and Why Modern Darwinism Has Failed to Explain It, is a real shot across the bow. Dr. Turner’s last book, from Harvard University Press, was The Tinkerer’s Accomplice: How Design Emerges from Life Itself. The new book, from HarperOne, is aimed not at an academic audience but straight at the broadest thoughtful reading public.

Turner is a delightful, clear, and highly engaging writer, and he sets out his argument against smug Darwinism forthrightly. As he shows, biology itself is in crisis, having failed to grapple with the enigma of what life really is.

From the Preface:

[T]here sits at the heart of modern Darwinism an unresolved tautology that undermines its validity. We scientists might not be troubled by this, but we should be, not least because the failure to recognize it closes off modern evolutionism from many big problems it should be capable of answering: the origin of life, the origin of the gene, biological design, and the origins of cognition and consciousness, to name a few. Intentionality and purposefulness are important to all these unresolved big questions, and yet we are very quick to fence these off behind a wall of denial. Instead of a frank acknowledgment of purposefulness, intentionality, intelligence, and design, we refer to “apparent” design, “apparent” intentionality, “apparent” intelligence.

The latest biologist to come out swinging at Darwinism, Turner is not an ID proponent. He teaches at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

And this is not a review – you will be hearing more about Purpose & Desire, here and elsewhere, in weeks to come and more so when the book is published on September 12. Instead I want to invite you to take advantage of a great pre-order deal. See here for details. All you have to do is pre-order from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or other selected venders, and you get two free e-books, Fire-Maker: How Humans Were Designed to Harness Fire and Transform Our Planet, by Michael Denton, and Metamorphosis, which I edited as a companion to the Illustra Media documentary of the same name.

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