“Football labor lawyer Doug Ell earned a double degree in math and physics while an atheist at MIT. Now he’s headed back to argue for the existence of a deity.”
Counting to God: A New Book Providing an Introduction to the Evidence for Intelligent Design
By Casey Luskin
A lot of books–many of them very good ones — have been written about the debate over intelligent design. But rarely does a book combine both a compelling story of one’s personal faith journey alongside a well-written, comprehensive,easy-to-read presentation of the scientific evidence. Lee Strobel’s 2004 book Case for a Creator comes to mind, but that book is now ten years old, and it’s never too soon for an update. As a result, I’m pleased to recommend a new book that is an outstanding addition to this genre: Counting to God: A Personal Journey through Science to Belief, by Doug Ell.
Doug Ell is an attorney in Washington D.C. with an undergraduate degree in math and physics from MIT, and a masters degree from the University of Maryland in theoretical math. You’ll have to read the book to learn Doug’s entire story, but he was born into a religious home, and by the time he started college, had drifted away from his religious upbringing which he viewed as outdated superstition. His non-religious beliefs were reaffirmed during his tenure as an undergraduate student at MIT, where he came to embrace scientism — the view that scientific investigation is the only means of discovering real truth. Sometime later, however, Doug was introduced to the scientific theory of intelligent design, and everything began to change.
Counting to God not only tells Doug’s story, but it recounts various key lines of evidence that support intelligent design and challenge materialistic explanations that helped point Doug to the fact that materialism is wrong. He presents what he calls the “seven wonders” of science of the new millennium, including evidence showing:
- The universe had a beginning, and a first cause, some 14 billion years ago
- The universe is finely-tuned for life
- The complexity of life cannot arise through unguided processes
- DNA contains information and biological machines
- New species appear suddenly in the fossil record
- Earth is a special planet, uniquely suited to life on Earth
- Quantum physics points to a reality outside of space and time
Ell surveys the evidence in each of these areas, discussing many intriguing topics long the way, such as the multiverse, junk DNA, irreducible complexity, orphan genes, and near death experiences. The entire discussion is in service to answering what he calls “the great question.” He asks:
Do you think we live in a meaningless universe, and human beings were created by accident? Or do you think we live in a universe designed and created by a great intelligence, and human beings were designed? Accident or design—that is the question.
As an attorney, Ell is well-aware that to answer this question, one must allow a free and fair presentation of all the evidence. Thus, he notes that one factor that drove him towards the ID viewpoint was learning “discrimination” and “violation of intellectual freedom” faced by ID proponents, which made left him “feeling a little angry, and a little ashamed of the scientific community.” He asks: “What was wrong with discussing the mere possibility of design?” He thus issues a challenge to his readers:
You have a choice. You can impartially consider new scientific evidence as it becomes available and revise your opinions as dictated by facts. Or you can do what most people do, just go with the existing paradigm. I’m asking you to have the courage to explore the harder path. I’m asking you to consider the evidence, some of the most sophisticated results of modern science, and make your own decision.
In issuing this challenge, Ell insists he is “not suggesting religious control of government or the media. All I am suggesting is free and open debate, and that we recognize Scientism as a belief.” If you feel ready to take this challenge, Counting to God is a great place to start.
Casey Luskin is an attorney with a graduate degree in earth sciences, and serves as Research Coordinator for the Discovery Institute in Seattle, Washington.