Undeniable

How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life Is Designed

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Douglas Axe
  • New York, NY: 
    HarperOne
    , July
     2016.
     304 pages.
     $25.99.
     Hardcover.
    ISBN
    9780062349583.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.

Review

In Undeniable, microbiologist Douglas Axe makes a case for intelligent design over and against the dominant secular materialism that pervades the scientific community. He uses his expertise and knowledge in the field of microbiology, specifically his work on protein enzymes, to explain why Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection is fantastically improbable and therefore, for all intents and purposes, “practically impossible” (117).

The beginning of the book reads more like an autobiography than a book concerning science and faith, but the glimpse it offers into the author’s personal search for meaning is enormously helpful in clarifying what follows. This introduction highlights the human element that often obscures scientific truth and colors perceptions that can distort obvious gaps in theory, particularly the theory of evolution. Axe deems it important for his readers to understand, for example, how even the most prestigious biologists can dogmatize what should be open scientific debate. Science is not based on consensus, despite some claims to the contrary.

Readers should not feel intimidated by the technical aspects of this book, as Axe’s writing style is thoroughly clear and accessible to non-scientists. In fact, Axe illustrates his supporting examples using what he terms “common science” to reveal our universal design intuition. According to Axe, human beings are natural scientific observers and model makers. The analogies that help the reader tap into this common science include homing pigeon robots, blind egg-hunts, high-tech pond scum, and the life patterns of salmon.

Axe is unapologetic in his love for life on earth and the biology that makes each species unique, from the lowliest bacteria to the majestic orca. His enthusiasm in infectious, and even if the reader is not usually inspired by science, Axe shows how exciting questions concerning the universe are “up for grabs” (274).

Overall, if Axe remains unconvincing to readers in his argument toward design, the book remains engaging for the reader who is curious about scientific ideas. One of the most interesting discussions in his book concerns functional coherence and the way in which living beings work compared to human-made inventions composed of working parts. Readers will also find it enlightening just how little geneticists understand about DNA, or the way the brain functions, based on the most current discussion in peer-reviewed papers. Whether one is an atheist, agnostic, or a theist, Undeniable adds another exciting voice to a lively debate.

About the Reviewer(s): 

Kristin Vargas is Assistant Archivist at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

Date of Review: 
February 3, 2017
About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Douglas Axe, PhD, is the director of Biologic Institute, a non-profit research organization launched by Discovery Institute in Seattle. After his undergraduate studies at UC Berkeley and doctoral work at Caltech, he held postdoctoral and research scientist positions at the University of Cambridge, the Cambridge Medical Research Council Centre, and the Babraham Institute in Cambridge. His work and ideas have been featured in many scientific journals, including the Journal of Molecular Biology, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Nature, and in such books as Signature in the Cell and Darwin’s Doubt by Stephen Meyer and Life’s Solution by Simon Conway Morris.

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