Stephen Meyer - 17th Nov
  • AnthonySmithAnthonySmith December 2011
    Well, Simon - or "Simon" - is certainly causing lots of discussion elsewhere on t'internet!

  • SimonSimon December 2011
    I am quite stunned by quite how blind these ID people seem to be. They just seem impervious to rational argument and instead just repeat the whole "if you say it's God of the Gaps/ argument from incredulity you just don't understand it"... as if repeating this over and over again makes it so! The fact is that the majority of the academic community DOES think it is God of the gaps because THEY HAVE looked at the theory! The premise that these "evilutionists" just don't understand ID and are arguing from ignorance is simply not the case, but how can you argue with someone who just says the same thing over and over again??

    I have far more time for people who ignore the science (or admit their ignorance) and instead are open about their theological concerns about evolution. At least these people are honest in their motivation.
  • Michael December 2011

    Cheer up Simon , I have found the same with the YEC crowd as well and I have been at it longer than you .


    You will get your knuckles rappped soon:)


    PS is this site intelligently designed as the letters take ages to appear as I type them.

  • David_Tyler December 2011

    Simon, rather than continue by responding  to your points 3-5, I’ll pick up on your feedback from 25 November. I had written: “This appears to me to be an acknowledgement that Meyer is on target in his critiques of these approaches.”

    You did not confirm or reply, but declared: Meyer is not a scientist involved in this research. [. . .] Meyer is operating at such a basic level that he mostly misses the relevant questions, or at least misunderstands the conclusions that can be drawn from them.”


    There is not a lot of content here to interact with.  What do you mean by “basic level”?  Meyer keeps hammering away at the issue of biological information, something which is hard to find in peer-reviewed papers!  The researchers may be very good chemists, bit if they’ve not grasped the relevance of biological information, they are just reporting the games they are playing with their chemistry sets.  I am aware that evolutionists have tried to explain the genetic code without intelligence, but their suggestions do not work. All the evolutionist arguments are held tentatively, pending a better "solution" to the problem. A significant contributor to this literature is Michael Yarus, who I think you alluded to in an earlier post suggesting an element of self-organisation of the genetic code.  Meyer (with Nelson) has given this a critical analysis here:
    The defects in the model "include the selective use of data, incorrect null models, a weak signal even from positive results, an implausible geometry for the primordial RNA template (in relation to the universally-conserved structures of modern ribosomes), and unsupported assumptions about the pre-biotic availability of amino acids." The problems have not been solved, and the evidence still points to information having an intelligent cause.  I would like to think that anyone with an interest in following the evidence wherever it leads will at least encourage such debate.


    “If Meyer really wanted to contribute to the scientific discussion he would go work in a lab and publish peer reviewed papers.”

    When he did, there was a howl of protest from a science community that rejects ID as a matter of principle.  The editor explained that the paper did go through the normal peer review process – but that was not enough to satisfy the wolves.  This is what Meyer and others like him are up against.


    I described “your inference that we must keep bearing away” as looking “more like "gap thinking" than Meyer's design inference.”

    You responded: “Nonsense. We know so little about chemistry, biology and physics that we haven't even come close to exhausting the physicalist paradigm. "Gap thinking" relies on gaps not being close-able. Science does nothing of the sort.”

    No, it is not nonsense to say that we have identified a major issue that is unresolved by imposing physicalism.  The issue of information has been explored extensively and there is nothing in physics and chemistry to suggest that answers will be forthcoming.  In terms of published papers, the most fundamental issues are being by-passed: people are writing about what they can do in the lab, not about what defeats them! Because ID is an inference to best explanation, the gaps are only part of the evidence.  The argument rests primarily on what we do know about the origins of complex specified information.

  • SimonSimon December 2011
    Hi again David,

    I find it interesting that you have slipped into using the word "evolutionist" as I thought the contention here was about abiogenesis. Mind you I am not really surprised as there is considerable confusion amongst the ID ranks as to what the argument is about. Some, like Johnson (and perhaps you?), view ID as an argument that replaces evolutionary theory whilst others, like Behe, are far happier to accept common decent. My theory is that this comes from the huge number of young earth creationists who have jumped on the band wagon of ID (the Dover trial was a great example!) but haven't quite understood the way the ID rhetoric works, including the absolute prohibition on saying that it is the Christian God who is the creator!

    Indeed in thinking about this over the last couple days I see a bit clearer how the rhetoric works: 

    The classic "God of the gaps" argument says:

    "Because science cannot explain observation x, God must be the cause"

    Whereas the ID rhetoric says:

    "Because we have evidence that science cannot explain observation x, God must be the cause"

    ID then bangs on and on about this evidence part of the sentence and claims that because of this focus on evidence it is therefore scientific, rigorous etc. etc. Problem is, and this is the philosopher in me now talking, inserting and then emphasising the word evidence doesn't actually change the structure of the argument. Indeed I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that the only (new?) thing ID has added to the debate is banging on about the "evidence" for the gap in the hope that people will miss the concluding "... therefore Goddit" part of the sentence. Not that I am adverse to God being involved in his creation (I am a Christian after all), however I am adverse to any apologetic that is a) not rigorous, b) doesn't fit with what we know of the evidence and c) can so easily be knocked down. As an apologetic ID fails on all three accounts.
  • Michael December 2011
    it is amazing how ID is still put forward despite it being criticised to death in the 90s
  • GrumpyBob January 2012
    As an update, I might add that I bit the bullet and financially supported the Discovery Institute by forking out for the Kindle edition of Meyer's 'Signature in the Cell'.  I wouldn't recommend buying the Kindle version, it's not well put together by the publishers.  I'm about halfway through the text, so far it's pretty poor stuff. I will write a fuller review once I've finished it.  Who knows, perhaps Meyer will succeed in pulling together a valid argument before the end that isn't based on pushing over straw men.  
  • GrumpyBob January 2012
    Michael, re your comment:

    it is amazing how ID is still put forward despite it being criticised to death in the 90s

    It's even more amazing that it has appeared to survive the mauling of the Dover trial, particularly the evidence that it's reheated standard creationism.
  • SimonSimon January 2012
    I've been reading Dennett's "Darwins's dangerous idea" over the last couple of weeks, and although I definitely disapprove of Dennett's militant atheism, I am impressed by the quality of his arguments in most other areas. Reading Dennett reminds me yet again just how poor the thinking of people like Meyer actually is, and yet again astounds me that anyone would think that the ID arguments represent any sort of intellectual rigour at all.
  • SimonSimon March 2012
    I was emailed today by the Centre for Intelligent Design saying they have now put the Meyer lecture I went to on youtube. Yet again I am underwhelmed and can't quite understand why they think this guy is so brilliant.

  • Michael March 2012

    I can!!!!

    I loved his mistakes on the DI's film on the cambrian explosion

  • GrumpyBob March 2012
    Simon, I too received the email from C4ID about the video of the Meyer talk.  Unfortunately, I can't muster the enthusiasm to sit through it, having now ploughed ny way through the pretty execrable 'Signature in the Cell'. I wrote about it at Wonderful Life. It apparently attracted response articles from McLatchie and Luskin at one or other of the DiscoTute websites, but I haven't bothered to read them. I've been to busy to keep tabs on commenters at Wonderful Life, maybe I'll catch up at the weekend.
  • SimonSimon March 2012
    Thanks for your link GrumpyBob - I'm impressed you have the forbearance to review such nonsense so thoroughly!