Book Review of ByDesign Biology: The Scientific Study of Life

Trans-European March 27, 2023

North American Division Office of Education, ByDesign Biology: The Scientific Study of Life(Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall Hunt, 2020). ISBN: 9781792425424, 1792425422 (Print). 709 pages. Student Edition + Four-Year License (Print and eBook): US$83.95; Lab Resources (Print): US$30.00. Teacher Edition Digital Package (includes Teacher’s Edition eBook, Teacher Lab Resources and Student Lab Resources): US$186.84. To order, call 800-770-3544 or visit

*This book review is a condensed version. Access original and full version

Of all the textbooks I have seen in my career in science education, this one is certainly a contender for being the most impressive and comprehensive. It is beautifully written, thoroughly researched, impressively illustrated, and provides an exhaustive treatment of all the key aspects of the biology of life. Although it was created for use primarily in the secondary-level biology class, it is also an invaluable reference book for other teachers and lecturers.

The sweep of this 700-page book is breathtaking. It covers all relevant aspects of biology in some detail. From the macro through the micro to the molecular, it provides a comprehensive treatment of biological systems in a way that is readable and informative. You could not open this book without learning something about biological systems that you have almost certainly not encountered before. In fact, I was unable to find any specific biological subject that was not treated to some degree. 

In addition, this text also deals fairly and objectively with contemporary and sometimes controversial subjects like ecology, climate change, conservation, care for the environment, population pressures, use of natural resources, pollution, and biotechnology. The scientific method is also carefully described, showing how experiments are designed, data are examined, and conclusions are drawn, sometimes tentatively, until confirmed or refuted by later discoveries. It gives fascinating accounts of the work of famous scientists, both historical and contemporary, and shows how they came to their conclusions, sometime in the face of opposition from the establishment. 

However, what makes this textbook refreshingly different from all the others I have seen is that it tackles the controversial but vital topic of the existence of design in biological systems. Some would argue that this is an obvious deduction from the intricate and complex systems encountered within living organisms. However, the opposing position of scientific naturalism denies that this is so. This textbook faces fairly the question of how our worldview or philosophy can influence the conclusions we draw from the scientific evidence. 

It seeks to explore gently the opposing and intuitive position that a Designer may be at work. It addresses this question thoroughly and ably, considering, without bias, the two sides of this argument. This textbook also gives proper place, briefly and fairly, to the traditional view of Christian theism and its implications in science.

However, it is important to stress that this textbook is about very much more than the important exploration of origins. It is a fabulous resource for teachers and will refresh their courses, lectures, and lessons. I cannot commend it too highly. 


Alastair Noble

Noble, PhD, is Director of the Centre for Intelligent Design UK (C4ID) in Glasgow, Scotland, U.K. He holds a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Glasgow and was formerly one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Schools for Scotland. Dr. Noble taught high school chemistry for several years and served as an educational administrator; he also served as Education Officer for the British Broadcasting Company. He has published widely on the topic of Intelligent Design and through his work at the C4ID advocates for research and public debate on Intelligent Design.

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