Review of Dr Jonathan Sarfati’s book By Design:
Evidence for Nature’s Intelligent Designer—the God of the Bible
Published: May 2009 (GMT+10)
Reprinted with permission from The Old Schoolhouse® magazine
This is a book designed to show that all nature was created, or designed, and that evolution has no explanation for how or why things exist the way they do. This is a book of evidences for Intelligent Design, though Dr. Sarfati takes it one step closer to creationism by telling the reader who the Designer is.
From the start of this book, Dr. Sarfati summarizes the arguments throughout history for a designed world, while also pointing out some of the Darwinist and Neo-Darwinist theories. This book explains how one can look for evidence of creation, or design, using a set of guidelines.
In this book, you will learn about the design of the eye: the transparency of the cells, the nerves connected to the eye, and the chemical reaction that is needed to see. You will learn that there is so much involved with the eye that any evolution theory would not make sense as to how it evolved over time to create all the working parts. This is called irreducible complexity, meaning that without one part of the component, the whole component will not work. Without the nerves connected to the eye, no matter how developed the eye was, you would not see. Likewise, without the chemical reactions in the eye, the nerve connection from the brain to the eye would still leave us blind.
You will also read about the design of the colors and patterns in nature and the senses of smell and hearing. You will read about the design of flight in animals (like birds, bats, and insects), the ability to for animals to catapult themselves (like horses, frog, and the chameleon’s tongue), and the ability for some animals to crawl up walls (like the gecko, spiders, bees, and ants). Dr. Sarfati covers shells, fingernails, spider webs, and bones to show that they are more than accidental mutations. He covers “poorly-designed” creatures, the origin of life, the “Why are things bad?” question, and objections to Intelligent Design. Finally, he points out the evidence that there is a single designer and who that Designer is, which makes Dr. Sarfati stand out among the Intelligent Design crowd.
This book is filled with scientific information and the arguments that an evolutionist might bring up on various topics. Dr. Sarfati explains the technical details of the scientific and mathematical probability of certain things existing (like the eye, or the feather). At times, I had to reread a section, as my knowledge of science at the molecular level is not deep. But nevertheless I found Dr. Sarfati’s arguments compelling, and I found myself wanting to read this book throughout the day.
Sometimes I cringe to hear the arguments made by creationists or Intelligent Design proponents because they are not logical or sensible, but I found Dr. Sarfati's arguments persuasive. For instance, he points out that many evolutionists complain that the eye is poorly evolved. He explains their complaint and then gives the scientific reasons why there could be no other way for our eye to exist without ruining our ability to see. He even reasons if we could design an optical tool that could see as well as the eye and include the embryonic development we would win awards. He points out how the world of technology studies and uses the ideas found in the natural world, proving once again that the designs of the world are not only worthy of reproducing to enhance our way of life (i.e. cameras, flight, telescopes, etc), but actually possess a quality of order and sophistication as to discover there is a design quality about the subjects they are researching.
This book is geared towards creationists and Intelligent Design proponents, but I think an open-minded evolutionist would be comfortable reading this, as it contains more of the scientific arguments of the issue, not the name calling and divisiveness that sometimes characterizes both sides of this debate. In fact, I would love to give this book to some of the local high school and college science teachers, as I am convinced they have not heard these arguments before—especially the argument about the bacterial flagellum motor vs. the bubonic plague bacterium (which was a major topic during the Kitzmiller vs. Dover court case in which the teaching of Intelligent Design as an alternative to evolution was declared unconstitutional by Judge John E. Jones III in 2004).
In conclusion, I absolutely enjoyed this book and feel more prepared to talk to evolutionists about this subject. I recommend this for high school level students, as the science discussed was at a higher level. The book could be read and explained to a middle school student but not to a younger child; it is beyond their level of experience. If you are a creationist, you will not have any trouble with this book, as the author does give God the credit for creating everything. If you are an Intelligent Design proponent, you may not like that he names the God of the Bible as the Creator. If you are an evolutionist, you will definitely not like that he names the Creator. But fear not—he does not state this until the end of the book, after he gives ample evidences of design. This book should stimulate your thinking as to the indoctrination of evolution, and it will solidify your ability to point out design/creation to others.