More on Signature in the Cell

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Yesterday, I showed how the treatment of information in Stephen Meyer’s book, Signature in the Cell, contains many misunderstandings and unjustified claims.

Today, I want to focus on what I call the “dishonesty factor” of the book: claims that are misleading or just plain false. The philosopher Thomas Nagel has stated that “Meyer’s book seems to me to be written in good faith.” Perhaps, after reading these examples, he might reconsider his assessment.

48 Comments

The book seems to be basically a long list of lies and distortions.

One of the most outrageous claims is that evolutionary biology is a historical science.

It is in part. It is also very much an experimental science. There are hundreds or thousands of experiments running in evolutionary biology at any one time. A big trend today is mesocosm experiments where hectare size environments are used as outdoor laboratories.

We also deal with natural experiments every day in science and medicine. The latest was the swine flu, a newly evolved human pathogen. That a novel flu would evolve was predicted by evolutionary biology decades ago. Many other predictions were made about the behavior of this virus and so far, it is following them closely.

Meyer is just a blatant liar. Normal for fundie xians.

The whole “appearance of design” bit that we hear from Meyer and other IDists is one of the most annoying bits of chicanery in my opinion.

But on the whole thing about Darwin thinking cells were simple and so could arise easily, I think this is another good quote (beside what Afarensis and Elsberry wrote) from Darwin showing how he understood the complexity of life in this competitive world, and how simple life would need to be to start:

In 1871, [Darwin] outlined the problem in a letter to his friend, botanist Joseph Hooker: “But if (and Oh! what a big if!) we could conceive in some warm little pond, with all sorts of ammonia and phosphoric salts, light, heat, electricity, etc., present, that a protein compound was chemically formed ready to undergo still more complex changes, at the present day such matter would be instantly devoured or absorbed, which would not have been the case before living creatures were formed.”

http://turing.iimas.unam.mx/~comdig[…]ssue=2009.02

Proteins aren’t thought likely to be the first reproducing entities, of course. Yet RNA and related molecules are still considered like first replicators, if possibly in fairly special environments (like proto-cells).

One could look at Meyer’s mistaken claims and suppose that they were honest mistakes (all books have mistakes in them), if so many–notably those involving the Sternberg affair–hadn’t been amply and well answered. I realize that Meyer, like most IDists, likely avoids the many fiskings of their dreck, but that’s not at all what we’d expect of someone writing in “good faith.”

Has Nagel purchased the Brooklyn Bridge lately?

Glen Davidson

http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

One annoying aspect of ID writing in general is that of half-truths disguised as sweeping generalizations (peppered moths do not rest on tree trunks, for example). Here’s another from Meyer’s book:

Even gene “deserts” that occur between superfolders – long segments devoid of protein-coding genes once thought to be junk and often still cited as evidence against intelligent design – are now known to contain a set of superfolders. Indeed, these gene deserts are extensively transcribed and code for regulatory RNAs. Overall, these clusters of gene clusters perform many other functions that are only now being discerned.

What Meyer fails to say is, only those gene deserts known to be conserved show evidence of regulatory activity: twice as many show no evidence of it whatsoever.

I find it bizarre - in a snake oily kind of way - that a book supposedly about DNA “science” even has anything about the Sternberg afair and “Expelled,” let alone the same long-corrected misinformation about them.

Well, exactly, Frank.

Why does the book have this 200-page prologue about Meyer’s experiences? What’s the relevance to his thesis other than “poor little me, I’m persecuted for my beliefs!”

There’s no point.

Stylistically, however, Meyer’s book is right in line with Hovind’s “PhD thesis” which begins something like, “Hello, I’m Kent Hovind.”

The book ‘Seven Daughters of Eve’ has about the first third dedicated to the experiences of the author. But the experiences he relates are all about he developed his hypothesis, planned for testing it, and some humorous stories about the work.

The second third is all about the actual work, methods, and results.

The final third is a cute little series of so what stories, but even there, the author makes explicit references to the papers where he got things like the climate data and geography for the area he’s describing.

That’s how a popular science book should read and I judge most of the books against it. Meyer’s work is just pitiful.

Meyer makes two outrageous claims in the book which really stood out for me:

1) He claims that biology should be seen solely as a “historical science” (forgetting conveniently that there have been many notable experiments, such as Lensk’s ongoing E. coli experiment, and Endler’s field experiment with guppies, which have demonstrated conclusively as to how Natural Selection acts on populations.). Moreover, I regard his “dichotomy” of “historical” vs. “experimental” science to be overly simplistic and more of a “straw man” analogy than a credible analysis made by someone who claims to be a genuine philosopher of science

2) He claims that one important reason why Intelligent Design can be a scientific theory is that it can make predictions about “deviations” from the perfect design. But the examples he uses - relying primarily on the fossil record - ignore the relevance of phylogenetic history, placing emphasis soley on design itself.

1) He claims that biology should be seen solely as a “historical science” (forgetting conveniently that there have been many notable experiments, such as Lensk’s ongoing E. coli experiment, and Endler’s field experiment with guppies, which have demonstrated conclusively as to how Natural Selection acts on populations.).

You can take that all the way back to Charlie D., who ran many experiments, including soaking seeds in salt water to see which could survive transport to or between islands.

Of course, but conveniently, he doesn’t mention any of Charles Darwin’s experiments… and he calls himself a historian of science? Of course he isn’t, but merely a Dishonesty Institute mendacious intellectual pornographer interested in distorting history so that it fits his own preconceived notions of it:

wamba said:

1) He claims that biology should be seen solely as a “historical science” (forgetting conveniently that there have been many notable experiments, such as Lensk’s ongoing E. coli experiment, and Endler’s field experiment with guppies, which have demonstrated conclusively as to how Natural Selection acts on populations.).

You can take that all the way back to Charlie D., who ran many experiments, including soaking seeds in salt water to see which could survive transport to or between islands.

The idea that ID can predict deviations from the “perfect design” is fucking hilarious. I’m waiting for Meyer and his goons to come up with anything close to the cladistic and phylogenic data that already exist with thanks in part due to evolutionary biology.

Oh and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Stephen Meyer’s name is so close to Stephanie Meyer; they both come from the same Denyse O’Leary school of prose.

Edit: I’m glad someone above brought up the Lenski and Endler experiments. The claim that evolutionary biology can’t be tested is straight nonsense, and I’d bet my left arm that Meyer knows exactly what he’s doing. I don’t think people like Behe, Wells, and Meyer are necessarily stupid - I think they’re just parasites. Money is their real god, and cashing in on the mindless fear and ignorance of right-wing America is a lucrative business.

RDK said:

The idea that ID can predict deviations from the “perfect design” is fucking hilarious. I’m waiting for Meyer and his goons to come up with anything close to the cladistic and phylogenic data that already exist with thanks in part due to evolutionary biology.

Intelligent Design can’t even detect “perfect design,” let alone predict it.

RDK said:

The idea that ID can predict deviations from the “perfect design” is fucking hilarious. I’m waiting for Meyer and his goons to come up with anything close to the cladistic and phylogenic data that already exist with thanks in part due to evolutionary biology.

Let me guess, humans are a “perfect” design but apes are degenerate humans? Have I got that about right? No wait, that would admit that speciation could occur. Maybe, humans are perfect but apes are imperfect because god made them that way? Yea that’s it, god made lots of imperfect stuff, most of which has already gone extinct, maybe because of “the fall”. Yea, that’s it. Some guy eats an apple given to him by some naked chick and then everything has to die. Perfect.

DS said:

RDK said:

The idea that ID can predict deviations from the “perfect design” is fucking hilarious. I’m waiting for Meyer and his goons to come up with anything close to the cladistic and phylogenic data that already exist with thanks in part due to evolutionary biology.

Let me guess, humans are a “perfect” design but apes are degenerate humans? Have I got that about right? No wait, that would admit that speciation could occur. Maybe, humans are perfect but apes are imperfect because god made them that way? Yea that’s it, god made lots of imperfect stuff, most of which has already gone extinct, maybe because of “the fall”. Yea, that’s it. Some guy eats an apple given to him by some naked chick and then everything has to die. Perfect.

Remember though! Yahweh cannot err, therefore he cannot create something that is imperfect. It was Satan sticking his hand in the pie that fucked everything up.

My favorite question to ask an IDC is whether or not Yahweh created such pleasant and wonderful creatures as the botfly or the candiru in their current form.

No, it’s not money who is their real “GOD”. Instead, it is their medieval mode of thought which views GOD as an unseen entity which is most capable of intervening capriciously in human affairs (Consider for example what that “great” theologian Pat Robertson said lately about the Haitian earthquake.):

RDK said:

The idea that ID can predict deviations from the “perfect design” is fucking hilarious. I’m waiting for Meyer and his goons to come up with anything close to the cladistic and phylogenic data that already exist with thanks in part due to evolutionary biology.

Oh and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Stephen Meyer’s name is so close to Stephanie Meyer; they both come from the same Denyse O’Leary school of prose.

Edit: I’m glad someone above brought up the Lenski and Endler experiments. The claim that evolutionary biology can’t be tested is straight nonsense, and I’d bet my left arm that Meyer knows exactly what he’s doing. I don’t think people like Behe, Wells, and Meyer are necessarily stupid - I think they’re just parasites. Money is their real god, and cashing in on the mindless fear and ignorance of right-wing America is a lucrative business.

In fairness to Stephanie Meyer, she’s writing fiction. On the other hand, both Stephen Meyer and Denyse O’Leary believe that they are writing great nonfictional prose, when it’s really only dreadful religiously-inspired fantasy (And if I want fantasy, I’ll take a look at Ms. Meyer’s work before I even think of considering theirs.).

Their chief goal is to get their brand of religion into public school science classrooms. I’m sure they don’t mind the extra cash from trade-book sales, etc.

RDK Wrote:

My favorite question to ask an IDC is whether or not Yahweh created such pleasant and wonderful creatures as the botfly or the candiru in their current form.

First they’ll say that ID does not commit to any specific designer’s identity, then they’ll give the same well-rehearsed objections to the “bad design” arguments as any skilled IDer or classic creationist would. And they’ll top their answers off with all sorts of Gish-galloped “weaknesses” of “Darwinism” to throw the ball back in your court.

What you really need to ask them is when did their unnamed designer(s) first insert those designs into botflies and candirus. Then ask if they think that those 2 species share common ancestors, with each other and with H. sapiens. Tell them up front that they should be able to answer all questions without any reference to any “problems” they may have with “Darwinism.”

When (it’s almost never “if”) they try to evade the questions, make it simpler by stating Behe’s position and ask if they disagree on any points, and if so, if they challenged him directly.

Well, I have an easier suggestion. Tell them that the Klingons did it.… and then see how they react upon hearing the news that the Intelligent Designer was a Klingon:

Frank J said:

RDK Wrote:

My favorite question to ask an IDC is whether or not Yahweh created such pleasant and wonderful creatures as the botfly or the candiru in their current form.

First they’ll say that ID does not commit to any specific designer’s identity, then they’ll give the same well-rehearsed objections to the “bad design” arguments as any skilled IDer or classic creationist would. And they’ll top their answers off with all sorts of Gish-galloped “weaknesses” of “Darwinism” to throw the ball back in your court.

What you really need to ask them is when did their unnamed designer(s) first insert those designs into botflies and candirus. Then ask if they think that those 2 species share common ancestors, with each other and with H. sapiens. Tell them up front that they should be able to answer all questions without any reference to any “problems” they may have with “Darwinism.”

When (it’s almost never “if”) they try to evade the questions, make it simpler by stating Behe’s position and ask if they disagree on any points, and if so, if they challenged him directly.

John Kwok said:

No, it’s not money who is their real “GOD”. Instead, it is their medieval mode of thought which views GOD as an unseen entity which is most capable of intervening capriciously in human affairs (Consider for example what that “great” theologian Pat Robertson said lately about the Haitian earthquake.):

RDK said:

The idea that ID can predict deviations from the “perfect design” is fucking hilarious. I’m waiting for Meyer and his goons to come up with anything close to the cladistic and phylogenic data that already exist with thanks in part due to evolutionary biology.

Oh and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Stephen Meyer’s name is so close to Stephanie Meyer; they both come from the same Denyse O’Leary school of prose.

Edit: I’m glad someone above brought up the Lenski and Endler experiments. The claim that evolutionary biology can’t be tested is straight nonsense, and I’d bet my left arm that Meyer knows exactly what he’s doing. I don’t think people like Behe, Wells, and Meyer are necessarily stupid - I think they’re just parasites. Money is their real god, and cashing in on the mindless fear and ignorance of right-wing America is a lucrative business.

I may be one of the few who hold this opinion, but I strongly believe people like Dembski, Behe, and Wells are motivated more by greed than by whatever version of Christianity they pretend to subscribe to. There is, however, a big difference between someone like Behe and Pat Robertson - a blatant moronic Luddite who, if he had the chance, would ban blacks, homosexuals, and anyone else who is not a middle-upper class, white, Bible-believing, Southern Baptist neanderthal.

Frank J said:

RDK Wrote:

My favorite question to ask an IDC is whether or not Yahweh created such pleasant and wonderful creatures as the botfly or the candiru in their current form.

First they’ll say that ID does not commit to any specific designer’s identity, then they’ll give the same well-rehearsed objections to the “bad design” arguments as any skilled IDer or classic creationist would. And they’ll top their answers off with all sorts of Gish-galloped “weaknesses” of “Darwinism” to throw the ball back in your court.

What you really need to ask them is when did their unnamed designer(s) first insert those designs into botflies and candirus. Then ask if they think that those 2 species share common ancestors, with each other and with H. sapiens. Tell them up front that they should be able to answer all questions without any reference to any “problems” they may have with “Darwinism.”

When (it’s almost never “if”) they try to evade the questions, make it simpler by stating Behe’s position and ask if they disagree on any points, and if so, if they challenged him directly.

Right from the get-go I usually call them on the whole “Designer’s identity” bullshit, because it is indeed bullshit. The whole DI and UD crowd has become increasingly creationist as time has progressed, so they’re only jacking themselves off when they say it’s a purely agnostic scientific venture. Nobody is fooled except people who were dumb enough to fall for it in the first place.

If bad design cannot be used as an argument, then neither can good design, or design of any sort. It’s as simple as that.

If greed was there primary motivating factor, then you would have seen Dembski write a version of the Tim LaHaye et al. “Left Behind” science fiction novels chronicling “The Rapture” (I even suggested to Dembski that he ought to write a textbook on Klingon Cosmology, sarcastically suggesting that he was “doing it” for the money.). No Dembski is motivated by a “higher calling” but the servant he is serving is Lucifer, not the one he thinks he is serving (Jesus Christ).

John Kwok said:

If greed was there primary motivating factor, then you would have seen Dembski write a version of the Tim LaHaye et al. “Left Behind” science fiction novels chronicling “The Rapture” (I even suggested to Dembski that he ought to write a textbook on Klingon Cosmology, sarcastically suggesting that he was “doing it” for the money.). No Dembski is motivated by a “higher calling” but the servant he is serving is Lucifer, not the one he thinks he is serving (Jesus Christ).

Are you implying that Lucifer exists?

During a philosophical moment today, I began to wonder how Meyer, Wells, Dembski, or other IDer would answer the question, “so which parts of life do you think ARE the result of the natural mechanisms of evolution?” in a debate if you put that to them point-blank. The standard YEC “within a ‘kind’” answer? What?

No, of course not. But I will tell zealous Christians preaching on the subway and on street corners that I accept Lucifer as my “saviour”, just to get them riled up. In Dembski’s case I want him to wonder for the rest of his life - which hopefully will be mercifully short via natural causes only - that instead of joining Christ in the afterlife, that, instead, he will spend the rest of eternity as a guest of his true “master”, Lucifer:

RDK said:

John Kwok said:

If greed was there primary motivating factor, then you would have seen Dembski write a version of the Tim LaHaye et al. “Left Behind” science fiction novels chronicling “The Rapture” (I even suggested to Dembski that he ought to write a textbook on Klingon Cosmology, sarcastically suggesting that he was “doing it” for the money.). No Dembski is motivated by a “higher calling” but the servant he is serving is Lucifer, not the one he thinks he is serving (Jesus Christ).

Are you implying that Lucifer exists?

RDK said:

Are you implying that Lucifer exists?

I was driving through San Antonio the other day, and there’s an industrial electrical supply store downtown named “Lucifer Lighting”. By the looks of all the trucks in the yard, they do a pretty good business.

Dunno what that means.

Maybe evil isn’t really paying the bills and the Big Red Guy has a side job. Or maybe Texas is goin’ to hell just fine on it’s own and he has some time on his hands. You know what they say about “idle hands”. Or maybe it’s his kid’s place, cashing in on family name recognition. Dunno.

Or it could be that at least a few people know the meaning of the word “Lucifer” and/or its historical associations with Venus in the night sky.

Hey, I’m no science whiz, but it seems to me that the language and tone used by many of those posting comments is remarkably uncivil. Why not talk just about the issues instead of getting personal: you might impress readers whom you might wish to persuade?

Leo White said:

Hey, I’m no science whiz, but it seems to me that the language and tone used by many of those posting comments is remarkably uncivil. Why not talk just about the issues instead of getting personal: you might impress readers whom you might wish to persuade?

You are correct. Some of the trolls that infest these threads are dishonest, disrespectful, ignorant and arrogant. Their only motivation seems to be to derail threads. They have no intention of ever learning anything or of discussing any real science. The right to civility does not have to be earned, it should be a default. However, that right can be forfeited.

If you want a great example, check out the Seventh Day Adventist thread where a proselytizing troll has hijacked a thread to the tune of 26 pages of incoherent ranting and biblical quotations, threatening all who do not share his holy day with damnation. Now you tell me, how much civility does such an individual deserve on a science blog? If I go to your house and deliberately crap on your couch, should you be polite as you show me to the door? How about after the hundredth time?

And by the way, Meyer deserves no civility whatsoever. He is just out to fleece the faithful, ignorant rubes who lap up his swill. If you want to discuss the many ways in which he gets science unbelievably wrong fine, but don’t expect any sympathy for someone who clearly does not deserve it.

concern troll moron:

Hey, I’m no science whiz, but it seems to me that the language and tone used by many of those posting comments is remarkably uncivil.

You are just another idiot concern troll. Being not only uncivil yourself but boringly stupid. Didn’t you post the same thing several times on pharyngula using several different aliases?

I’ll be civil to the fundie xian death cultists when they stop trying to overthrow the US government, set up a theocracy, and head on back to the Dark Ages. It’s the least I can do.

dumb concern troll:

you might impress readers whom you might wish to persuade?

You are not the target audience. Who cares what braindead, crazy fundie xian trolls think? It isn’t like they are going to suddenly develop normal personalities, let go of their evil death cults, or live anywhere except under the underpasses of the information highway.

They and you aren’t important, just sand in the gears of civilization.

This troll shows the same interest in civility as seen, for example, over at the BioLogos blog (http://www.biologos.org/blog), where its executive leadership (co-presidents Darrel Falk and Karl Giberson) seems far more interested in maintaining civility than in teaching their fellow “Christians” what is - and what isn’t - valid science:

raven said:

concern troll moron:

Hey, I’m no science whiz, but it seems to me that the language and tone used by many of those posting comments is remarkably uncivil.

You are just another idiot concern troll. Being not only uncivil yourself but boringly stupid. Didn’t you post the same thing several times on pharyngula using several different aliases?

I’ll be civil to the fundie xian death cultists when they stop trying to overthrow the US government, set up a theocracy, and head on back to the Dark Ages. It’s the least I can do.

Hey, I’m no science whiz,

At least there’s one part of your statement we can very strongly agree on.

but it seems to me that the language and tone used by many of those posting comments is remarkably uncivil.

Too bad you didn’t give a single example, so nobody can tell what you’re talking about. Or maybe you couldn’t give an example. Maybe you would just call any critical feedback “uncivil”.

Why not talk just about the issues instead of getting personal: you might impress readers whom you might wish to persuade?

First of all, I almost never see any pro-science posts “getting personal”. If someone’s published works are dishonest, incorrect and/or illogical, that’s the way it is.

I believe in civility, but civility is not the same thing as groveling.

In fact, walking on eggshells to be “nice” about blatantly dishonest, incorrect, and/or illogical crap is a mistake. The casual reader might be falsely left with an impression that the crap being criticized is “respected” or “one side of a legitimate controversy”. When something is really worthless, it’s important to use civil but rigorous language that conveys that.

Third of all, concern troll, I know, and you probably know as well, that those who do try to be obsequious and grovelingly “respectful” of creationists don’t get civility back in return. More typically, creationists perceive such an approach as “weakness” (perhaps with some justification), and ladle out extra doses of venom.

Dear Concern Troll,

I have been following Panda’s Thumb since the early days of Dover. If you want abuse, go hang out at Pharyngula. You ain’t seen nutt’in here. On the other hand, if you have an honest and sincere question or constructive comment, I have seen (as recently as this week) the PT regulars respond with volumes of helpful and very civil responses. (Even John Kwok. ;-) (Just gently pulling your leg, John. Please don’t get all huffy.) They are more than eager to help those who seek after knowledge. But after many years of tireless work, they do not have much sympathy left for those who claim to have the unalterable, god-given TRUTH on their side. Especially when it is all too obvious that they don’t know what they’re talking about.

As others have pointed out, the internet isn’t always a civil place. So, suck it up and deal with it.

Scott,

You made me chuckle, and I needed that, especially after spending nearly three hours earlier today involved in trying to pack some food and medical supplies at a Brooklyn, NY social service agency for the victims of the Haitian earthquake.

Appreciatively yours,

John

In Signature in the Cell, Dr. Stephen Meyer shows that the digital code embedded in DNA points powerfully to a designing intelligence and helps unravel a mystery that Darwin did not address: how did the very first life begin? From the blurb on the book’s website The book is awash with dishonesty starting with this blurb. Meyer “helps unravel a mystery that Darwin did not address: how did the very first life begin?” Really? There is nothing in the book that says how. How could anyone lie like that?

how did the very first life begin?” Really? There is nothing in the book that says how. How could anyone lie like that?

Sure there is. How did life begin? Goddidit!!!

So simple. And BTW, Intelligent Design isn’t a religious doctrine.

How Meyers could lie continuously and often is a good question. My answer is that the fundies are just plain old evil, malevolent people

Your observation about the “fundies” wouldn’t be acceptable over at BioLogos, since its two presidents, Karl Giberson and Darrel Falk, regard them as “brothers in Christ”:

raven said:

how did the very first life begin?” Really? There is nothing in the book that says how. How could anyone lie like that?

Sure there is. How did life begin? Goddidit!!!

So simple. And BTW, Intelligent Design isn’t a religious doctrine.

How Meyers could lie continuously and often is a good question. My answer is that the fundies are just plain old evil, malevolent people

raven said:

how did the very first life begin?” Really? There is nothing in the book that says how. How could anyone lie like that?

Sure there is. How did life begin? Goddidit!!!

So simple. And BTW, Intelligent Design isn’t a religious doctrine.

How Meyers could lie continuously and often is a good question. My answer is that the fundies are just plain old evil, malevolent people

That’s what blind faith does to people. Zealotry in action.

Going back to last week and Steveroni’s mention of “Lucifer Lighting” and Wheels’ reply - “lucifer” is also an old Irish term for a match. In the Boys o’ the Lough’s song “Darlin’ Baby”, the father is searching for a boxes of matches to light a candle, and finally …”found a lucifer, a solitary one…”

Raven, You start your comment off saying that Dr. Meyer made an “outrageous claim” when said, that “evolutionary biology was a historical science.” Then you follow with “that is partially right.” How can his claim be such an outrage if it is partially right?

Meyer treats evolution with respect in the book, more so than you do with your comment. Dr. Meyer is merely asking the question, if evolution cannot prove where the information in DNA originated, why can’t intelligent design be a recognized theory alongside evolution in the so called scientific community?

John

raven said:

The book seems to be basically a long list of lies and distortions.

One of the most outrageous claims is that evolutionary biology is a historical science.

It is in part. It is also very much an experimental science. There are hundreds or thousands of experiments running in evolutionary biology at any one time. A big trend today is mesocosm experiments where hectare size environments are used as outdoor laboratories.

We also deal with natural experiments every day in science and medicine. The latest was the swine flu, a newly evolved human pathogen. That a novel flu would evolve was predicted by evolutionary biology decades ago. Many other predictions were made about the behavior of this virus and so far, it is following them closely.

Meyer is just a blatant liar. Normal for fundie xians.

John said:

.…if evolution cannot prove where the information in DNA originated, why can’t intelligent design be a recognized theory alongside evolution in the so called scientific community?

It could be if it made some testable hypotheses about where, when, and how this “information” was added by the Intelligent Designer.

John wrote:

“Meyer treats evolution with respect in the book, more so than you do with your comment. Dr. Meyer is merely asking the question, if evolution cannot prove where the information in DNA originated, why can’t intelligent design be a recognized theory alongside evolution in the so called scientific community?”

Bull semen. Meyer has never treated evolution with anything but the utmost disrespect. His lies and distortions are dishonesty personified. He is merely asking the question: “If you can’t explain everything to my satisfaction, then why don’t you just accept my made up crap without questioning it?” Does that sound respectful to you?

We know exactly where the information in DNA came from, pretending we do not is dishonest and disrespectful in the extreme. Pretending that your made up answer is better than the answer science gives is just plain dishonest.

Is it outrageous to claim that someone is totally worthless and label them as a genetic defective just because they have brown eyes? That is similar to denigrating evolutionary biology for being an historical science. Of course it is, in part, but there is much more to it than that. And being an historical science is not something that makes you automatically worthless either. That is just lies and deceit. In other words, typical creationist behavior.

John said:

… if evolution cannot prove where the information in DNA originated, why can’t intelligent design be a recognized theory alongside evolution

Fine. Go ahead and present the “Theory of Intelligent Design”.

Tell me exactly what happened.

Tell me exactly when and how it happened.

Tell me exactly where I look for the evidence.

I’ll wait.

Sadly, I’ll have to wait forever, because currently, the “Theory of Intelligent Design says…

“At some unspecified time, for some unspecified reason, some unspecified entity, which may, or may not actually be an unspecified deity, performed some unspecified action, possibly (or possibly not) involving powers outside the known laws of physics, enabling life to evolve because if said unspecified agent didn’t do the unspecified thing then life could not have evolved due to some unspecified limitation which has so far eluded demonstration.”

That’s why “Intelligent Design Theory” is ignored by science – because once you get past the huffy persecution complex there’s nothing left to actually examine.

if evolution cannot prove where the information in DNA originated

But we do know whether the information in DNA originated. It originated from mutation and selection.

What we don’t know is exactly how the genetic code originated, but that’s a different problem. And even there, we are making progress.

John said: Dr. Meyer is merely asking the question, if evolution cannot prove where the information in DNA originated, …

What proof would he accept? If you try to answer this I think you will realize why the question is dishonest.

… why can’t intelligent design be a recognized theory alongside evolution …

Because there is no theory of intelligent design. To be a theory it must provide an explanation, be testable and have withstood testing. ID meets none of these requirements.

… in the so called scientific community?

Why ‘so-called’?

John said: Dr. Meyer is merely asking the question, if evolution cannot prove where the information in DNA originated, …

Of course, the other issue is that Myer spends hundreds of pages “asking questions” about where this “information” might have come from, but all the while studiously avoids discussing mechanisms, like mutation with natural selection, which are known to increase “specified information” in the genome.

Meyer’s entire case rests on the idea that “something” must be at work to load the genome with information, but he actively ignores a mechanism that has actually been demonstrated to do exactly that.

Meyer is not “merely asking the question”. He’s asking a question for which he knows there’s lots of data available, then pretending that the well understood answer doesn’t exist.

John said:

Meyer treats evolution with respect in the book, more so than you do with your comment. Dr. Meyer is merely asking the question, if evolution cannot prove where the information in DNA originated, why can’t intelligent design be a recognized theory alongside evolution in the so called scientific community?

There is a little exercise you could do that many of us here have done many times in the last 40+ years or so.

Make a list of all the terms and concepts introduced by ID/creationists. Include in that list all the definitions they have claimed are definitions of concepts found in science. That would include everything from concepts in physics to concepts in biology and evolutionary theory.

Now make a parallel list of the major concepts found in science as they are actually used in science to form the foundations of scientific theory and practice.

Then tell us why the scientific concepts described by ID/creationists should replace the concepts that are actually known by scientists.

Further, take the terms introduced by ID/creationists and ask yourself if any of these concepts have any basis in reality. Then tell us why these concepts should replace the working concepts in science.

If you can do this with any integrity, you might want to revisit your defense of Meyer or any other ID/creationist leader.

if evolution cannot prove where the information in DNA originated, why can’t intelligent design be a recognized theory alongside evolution in the so called scientific community

If the LA county district attorney cannot prove that OJ Simpson killed Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman, why shouldn’t we recognize that, therefore, you probably did it?

A quick rundown of things you obviously don’t understand, just from this sentence fragment alone:

1) The scientific definition of “theory”, and the fact that ID does not, anywhere, ever, present anything which can be legitimately described as such.

2) The fact that science does not “prove” things.

3) The concept of logical fallacy, in this case the fallacy of false dilemma. Look it up.

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This page contains a single entry by Jeffrey Shallit published on January 14, 2010 10:32 AM.

Freshwater: Yet another student and yet another cross was the previous entry in this blog.

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