Review of Stephen Meyer’s Signature in the Cell

Many topics are covered in this book that provide evidence for intelligent design so  I’m going to break the review down in parts. One of the very first things  I noticed about Meyer is the fact that he’s not an in your face writer, but rather he’s very polite, and smart while his commentary gives positives and negatives to the opposition namely the defenders of evolution.

Keep in mind, what Meyer is advocating in this book is not creationism. Although there are points of agreement between the two, but not enough to be the same thing. It’s like saying, the new agers believe in Christ and many other gods, this in fact doesn’t mean these theists are Christians or their doctrine is part of Christianity. It’s not a water down version either of Christianity, but very much different.

Now back to Meyer’s book. I like the way he writes about his life and his curiously in particular about the origin of life. In 1986, Meyers was very inspired by Charles Thaxton who happened to be his mentor at the time. After the conversations with Thaxton, Meyer began to formulate his own questions about the inference of intelligent design and could it pass rigorous scientific arguments. Thaxton believed the very reason why secular scientists rejected design was because they failed to see there are different types of scientific inquiry concerning the past.

Thaxton like Meyer believes in “intelligent agents” as the cause for design which might provide a better answer for causing an event to happen. Meyers then went on to “abductive reasoning” which was first describe by Charles Sanders Peirce. Now abductive reasoning refers to unseen facts, events or causes using clues from the present. Meyers then goes on with more data on historical science.

Meyers writes on page 193…

“So what about the origin of life? Could the chance hypothesis explain the origin of the specified information necessary to produce life in the first place?”

It’s an interesting question, today there is no observation in nature where we see it producing specified information by itself which is needed for life. Meyer then goes into speculating situations needed for life and how naturalism could or could not produce them. There has been much lab work over the past 50 years trying to reproduce life in context to their beliefs on how evolution would accomplish it.

Next, I’ll deal with the signature in the cell that tells us it was designed rather than accidently put together through natural processes.

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21 thoughts on “Review of Stephen Meyer’s Signature in the Cell

  1. “Many topics are covered in this book that provide evidence for intelligent design so I’m going to break the review down in parts…. Next, I’ll deal with the signature in the cell that tells us it was designed rather than accidently [sic] put together through natural processes.”

    Michael, it’s a month later, and we’re still waiting for the next part, the one that promised to present a soupcon of evidence for the cell’s design. Well, I’m waiting. Everyone else seems to have dozed off.

    When you think you understand what Meyer is talking about, and get around to writing the second part of the review, my own copy of of “Signature in the Cell” will be sitting right here. Bon chance.

  2. “what Meyer is advocating in this book is not creationism”

    Of course not. After all, “God did it” is not creationism. Or is it? But “abiogenesis by natural causes is impossible, therefore an “intelligent cause” is required” is certainly not “god did it”. It’s an “intelligent cause”, not “god”. There is sooo much difference between one supernatural explanation and another. Not. But as long as we change the definition of science in order to add that supernatural into the mix, we can come out ok with astrology and alchemy and homeopathy and …

    Hilarious non-science nonsense to bamboozle the believers.

  3. hilarious,

    I understand your angle of attack, but the fact remain. Meyers advocates “intelligent agents” which is not something that comes from creationism. You also overlooked the fact that alien life forms could produce life is not something ruled out by intelligent design unlike creationism. As far as evolution, the mere fact the creation of original information that can produce life from dead chemicals is not observable in nature. In order to explain the observation of not enough visible matter to hold the universe together, they come up with “dark matter” or invisible material instead of revising Newton’s gravity law. As long as it’s a natural thing, you can come up with any story, isn’t that right hilarious?

  4. Michael: “I understand your angle of attack, but the fact remain. Meyers advocates “intelligent agents” which is not something that comes from creationism.”

    But it does come from creationism. That’s the whole point of the Kitzmiller v Dover trial: Is the theory of intelligent design science, or is it a religious theory? The finding was that, in Judge Jones’ words, “intelligent design cannot uncouple itself from its creationist roots.” Barbara Forrest’s[1] testimony in particular adduced facts that could not be controverted by ID witnesses.

    Michael: “You also overlooked the fact that alien life forms could produce life is not something ruled out by intelligent design unlike creationism. “

    Then intelligent design has to explain where the aliens came from. If 4 billion years is many orders of magnitude to small to evolve us, then how could these superior beings have evolved in a similar time frame. Sorry, that’s a non-starter.

    Michael: “the mere fact the creation of original information that can produce life from dead chemicals is not observable in nature.”

    The 18th Century theory of vitalism held that chemicals produced in living organisms could not be produced from inorganic “dead” materials.—because life is fundamentally different. Then, in 1828, Friedrich Wohler synthesized urea. It took another couple of decades, and the synthesis of many more organic compounds, but vitalism is itself long dead.

    Just as there is no difference between organic and inorganic chemicals, there is no difference between information in DNA and information in a crystal structure. Calling DNA “original” information is meaningless. How would you distinguish it from second-hand information?[2] This is merely vitalism.uprooted into the 21st Century.

    Michael: “In order to explain the observation of not enough visible matter to hold the universe together, they come up with ‘dark matter; or invisible material instead of revising Newton’s gravity law.”

    You mean, just as creationists come up with the concept of “original” or “new” information instead of revising their beliefs. Sauce for the neutron is sauce for the neutralino, Michael.

    ===============
    [1] Forrest was the one person that the Discovery Institute really tried to get off the witness list. They even planted personal slurs in newspapers. Her book, “Creationism’s Trojan Horse,” contained a thousand documented references concerning the origin of intelligent design in creationism. Including, of course, the transitional fossil, “cdesignproponentsists.”

    [2] See, eg., “Information in Biology,” at http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2008/01/information-in.html#more
    and an NIH paper, “Pitfalls in Information Theory and Molecular Information Theory, at
    http://www.lecb.ncifcrf.gov/~toms/pitfalls.html

  5. Hilarious – ‘change the definition of sceince’
    Meyers isn’t using his own data collections, he’s using the already published data of…SCIENTISTS, from all related fields – even Darwin’s own data and methods. Exactly how is that ‘not scientific?’ Are you saying that Mathematics, Genetics, Biology, et al are not ‘science’ anymore? How is it that people like you readily accept impossibly abstract mathematical constructs like String Theory and the Theory of Everything (TOE) but “pooh-pooh” relatively simple probability statistics as used by Meyers? “M-Theory” has 11 demensions?!?! Really!?!? That doesn’t sound supernatural at all…

    Olorin – “no difference between between information in DNA and information in a crystal structure”
    Well…you obviously didn’t read the book…or you simply dismiss the highly scietific mathematical conlusions by many noted scientist across diverse fields. Otherwise you couldn’t be saying that with a straight face. Your references don’t refute Meyer’s claims in the slightest.

    Olorin – “But it does come from Creationism”
    Ya?? So? The Rest Of The World gets this; it’s just Atheistical Westerners that are getting hung up on these symantecs. (Even the Russians get it.) I’ll remind you that the Founding Fathers were NOT trying to create an atheistic society when they established the United States. Separation of Church and State was not meant to be a mechanism to suppress rational thought and critical thinking, as it is being employed now. If Creationist, or Intelligent Design advocates or Alien Mothership theorists are wrong, then let’s let the evidence say it – not the courts.

    The ‘Wedge Strategy?’; a sound business plan under any other endeavor. Why, the Democrats (and Socialist-leaning parties in other countries) have been using similar tactics to promote their agendas for decades (since the rise of Communism.) Why shouldn’t conservative/religious types avail themselves of the same mechanisms of disemination to promote themselves? As Olorin says “Sauce for the neutron is sauce for the neutralino.”

    And what’s so terrible about the *possibility* of a Supernatural Being/Beings? Is Olorin so crass and arrogant as to *insist* that there could be absolutely no possibility of such a thing? (Remember M-Theory?) We may not have direct proof of an Ultimate Causal Force – not yet – but we DO have direct proof, scientific proof, of the AGENCY of such a Force. And THAT is the crux of Intelligent Design – the proof of the ‘agency.’ It doesn’t attempt to qualify that agency.

    What if it turns out that some ‘Unified Relativity of Everything’ theory reveals that Causal Force that we, for lack of a better word have been calling ‘God’ all these millenia? But Americans couldn’t pursue that line of scientific inquiry because it smelled too much like believing in something supernatural (which never, never happens in any other branch of science); but the Chinese had no such hang-ups so they got to be the sole beneficiaries of that knowlege?

    I would remind Olorin that in the original Skopes trial – John Skopes actually LOST!! (Rightly or wrongly) Just like in the Dover trial. And similarily, the fundamental validity of the Theory of Intelligent Design will be undeniable in the not too distant future. Darwin’s inspiring ideas will, of necessity, be adjusted into their proper place along side, and in harmony with, Intelligent Design.

  6. Macro-evolution is not observable in nature, likewise neither is dead chemicals coming to life. Since this is the case, evolution is not a ‘theory’ but an “hypothesis” at best.

    “And what’s so terrible about the *possibility* of a Supernatural Being/Beings? Is Olorin so crass and arrogant as to *insist* that there could be absolutely no possibility of such a thing?”

    Olorin like others in his circle seems to believe science can disprove the supernatural (like God) even though he believes it can’t be tested or observed. Imagine going to court and telling the judge we can’t test the subject but we know that science has disproved it’s existence…lol…On the other hand, “dark matter” hasn’t been directly detected either and it’s assumed that it’s out there somewhere because there is not enough visible matter to keep everything together.

    The “Wedge Strategy” introduced by Philips in the 1990s is vastly different than communism. IDers are not attempting to force scientists to think a certain way in the lab, but have the freedom to come to different conclusions unlike Olorin’s circle which demands scientists think a certain way otherwise they loose their jobs…

  7. @BigH: “Meyers isn’t using his own data collections, he’s using the already published data of…SCIENTISTS, from all related fields – even Darwin’s own data and methods.”

    Let me get this straight. Scientists persecute creationism. Thay hide everything that might demonstrate their opponents’ case. They are godless immoral people. In fact, they are in a world-wide conspiracy to justify their own preconceived views.

    Yet you bow down to the data produced by these priests of Ba’al! You even capitalize their name more than you capitalize the name of God.

    When, for example, their data show an entirely new gene in HIV, you would believe that, even though Michaerl Behe says it couldn’t happen.

    Your irony meter may be malfunctioning.

    Big, your case is not particular.. All creationists suffer the same dilemma. They yearn to have science justify them, because of the successes of its theories and its benefits to mankind. Yet science continues to contradict their interpretation of the Bible. They rely on science, yet they must prove it wrong. They build their houses with wood they claim is rotten.

    Some of us, on the other hand, do not believe that God misleads us in the physical evidence. And some of us believe that it is presumptuous to tell God how He should have created the universe.

    The choice is not science or God. Many have found that reason and faith is also an option.

    ==Soc Puppette

  8. BigH: “Olorin – ‘no difference between between [sic] information in DNA and information in a crystal structure’
    Well…you obviously didn’t read the book…or you simply dismiss the highly scietific [sic] mathematical conlusions [sic] by many noted scientist [sic] across diverse fields. Otherwise you couldn’t be saying that with a straight face. Your references don’t refute Meyer’s claims in the slightest.”

    We’ve shoveled a lot of verbiage here about a promised review of Meyer’s book. But Michael has yet to put forth, much less defend, any scientific claims in the book. Now you come along and wave your arms about unspecified “scientific mathematical conclusions” witch purport to have emanated like milkweed pollen from unnamed “noted scientists” who practice in vague “diverse fields.

    This is the problem with creationism. When it comes down to specifics, the physical evidence is always under the next shell, the authorities remain anonymous or turn out to be unpublished outliers. You also do not seem to realize that mathematics is not a science, and that any conclusions it draws demonstrate absolutely nothing unless its assumptions are verified by physical evidence. (See “under the next shell.”)

    The reason I’ve needled Michael about his long-delayed review of the substance of Meyer’s book[1] is to hear his take on what Meyer’s major claims are, and what data support each individual claim. Since there are no detailed reviews on the merits of the book as yet, it will be interesting to see how one who is ignorant of evolution, and of the scientific method in general, will parse Meyer’s arguments, what kinds of things he will consider to be evidence or valid inference, and why.[2]

    If he wishes to hang back on the body of the book, perhaps Michael would be willing at least to discuss the twelve Predictions of Intelligent Design in Appendix A (pp 496-97). I am particularly interested—nay, eager—to hear why he thinks that any of these predictions logically follows from a definition of intelligent design.[3]. That is, if any of these predictions turns out to be true,[4] why would that constitute evidence for intelligent design as a scientific theory?

    I do have a copy of all 611 pages of Signature in the Cell beside me right now. Meyer has been promising this book for almost seven years. How long will it take Michael to review its merits?

    ================
    [1] All we know so far about the technical details of Meyer’s claims is that Michael likes the way he writes:: “Now back to Meyer’s book. I like the way he writes about his life and his curiously in particular about the origin of life.”

    [2] Actually, I suspect that Michael hasn’t done this yet because he fears demonstrating his ignorance, and is waiting for a someone else to write a review that he can plagiarize. Bon chance.

    [3] This will require furnishing such a definition up front. Several of these, all very similar to each other, are found on the Web sites of the Discovery Institute. I limit this to ID, because obviously none of the predictions would be evidence of a young Earth, a six-day creation, etc.

    [4] Actually, a couple were known before he made them. Predicting things that are already known is much easier. For extra credit, Michael can indicate which ones these are.

  9. @Michael: “And what’s so terrible about the *possibility* of a Supernatural Being/Beings? Is Olorin so crass and arrogant as to *insist* that there could be absolutely no possibility of such a thing?”

    Have you really not been listening to anything I’ve said?

    @Michael: “Olorin like others in his circle seems to believe science can disprove the supernatural (like God) even though he believes it can’t be tested or observed.”

    Why do you think science is trying to disprove the existence of God?

  10. @Olorin: “Michael, it’s a month later, and we’re still waiting for the next part, the one that promised to present a soupcon of evidence for the cell’s design.”

    More than two weeks later….

    Chirp … chirp … chirp … chirp …………

  11. @Michael: “Three different sn’s Olorin? Why do you need so many?”

    Five. You missed Upson Downes and Paracelsus.

    I’ve already explained Soc Puppette. As to the Olorin surname, you could look up “anupomonos” in your handy Greek dictionary for relevance to the present discussion.

    Sorry about the duplicate “chirp” comments. The first one sported an “awaiting moderation” flag, then it disappeared. So the second was to determine whether I’d been excommunicated or shunned or whatever the True Bible Believers call it.

    I do try to avoid the sock-puppet syndrome; the names are not used merely as claques.

  12. Seven weeks, no review.

    Chirp… chirp… chirp… …..

    WEEKLY NOTE:
    Beginning a book with a lie does not enhance an author’s credibility. On the very first page, Meyer claims that Richard Sternberg was fired at the Smithsonian. Sternberg’s position was for a fixed term, rotated among the staff members. When his term was up, Sternberg relinquished the editorship, and another staffer rotated in.[1] Sternberg did not lose his regular job, nor his office, nor access to files.

    Because of the furor at the time, and threats of investigations, the events were well documented. No misfeasance was ever found. For Meyer to repeat such a scurrilous charge at this late date has to be a deliberate lie. He must not think very highly of his readers’ intelligence.

    ============
    [1] This just might be why he waited until the last few weeks of his term to pull his sneaky little stunt.

  13. Eight weeks, no review.

    Chirp… chirp… chirp… …..

    WEEKLY CCC* NOTE:
    Stephen meyer makes clear that he does not challenge indisputable facts such as the 4.5 billion year age of the Earth. And “The [intelligent design] theory does not challenge the idea of evolution defined as change over time or even common ancestry.” (Signature in the Cell, p.4). Michael Behe agrees with this position in The Edge of Evolution and previous books. In the fact, the Discovery Institute seems almost unanimous in this view. Are you still sure you wish to go down the path with these people?

    *-CCC: cold comfort for creationists.

  14. Nine weeks, no review.

    Yaaawwwwnnnnn. …..

    WEEKLY CCC* NOTE:
    In all of “Signature in the Cell,” Meyer mentions imparting information only at a single stage—the origin of life. Apparently Meyer believes that his Designer deigned to visit our poor planet only once—to convert dead matter to DNA. As far as Meyer is concerned, He then absquatulated and has not returned.

    Of course, this is handy for Meyer, because he doesn’t have to explain why we can’t observe any design going on today. But are you still sure you wish to hang out with the ID crowd?

    =============
    *-CCC: cold comfort for creationists.

  15. Ten weeks, no review….

    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Meyers writes the entire book as a faux personal account of his “journey” to Intelligent Design, pretending to have been originally at least a fellow traveler, if not an actual Darwinista. This is, of course, an attempt to manipulate the minds of his ignorant readers. Personal-interest stories in newspapers and magazines do the same thing, but not as surreptitiously.

    Charles Darwin’s books are readable by the educated layman. But they were aimed at scientists. Their object was to advance enough evidence to convince his peers of the validity of his theory.

    Meyer’s book, on the other hand, is written entirely for the hoi polloi. Elementary calculations are included and expressed in “trillions and trillions and trillions” format to impress the mathematically inept. The views of others are misrepresented (such as vitalism on p.235). He sneaks terms such as “biological information” into the work of previous authors, even though they didn’t even know the term, much less use it.

    So the purpose of Signature in the Cell is not to advance a theory to scientists, but rather to manipulate the minds of
    ignorant laymen who are predisposed to follow his assertions uncritically, and who have neither the knowledge nor the inclination to check his statements and references.

    Michael himself gushes over the personable style (“I like the way he writes about his life and his curiously in particular about the origin of life”), but has not a thing to say about the content of the book. I rest my case.

  16. Olorin said,

    “Charles Darwin’s books are readable by the educated layman. But they were aimed at scientists. Their object was to advance enough evidence to convince his peers of the validity of his theory.”

    This statement sounds like your in a cult which believes only it’s prophets are able to understand the Bible. The prophets in turn would try to control the flow of information to their followers when a new revelation comes to them thus adding more to God’s Word which must be followed like the Bible, but in reality it’s not. Kids (depending upon age) nowadays can certainly comprehend Darwin’s book that you claim was originally only for scientists.

  17. The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs
    Voyage of the Beagle

    The nonreviewer: “Kids (depending upon age) nowadays can certainly comprehend Darwin’s book that you claim was originally only for scientists.”

    Sigh. yet another failure of reading comprehension.

    Olorin: “Charles Darwin’s books are readable by the educated layman. But they were aimed at scientists.”

    Do you see an “only” in front od “scientists” there? You may use one of your lifelines if you wish.

    The point, if I may repeat it again, is that Darwin included actual evidence that was of the type that scientists would consider credible, and could base further research upon. Darwin didn’t take dozens of pages to puff his own qualifications, not did he relate personal experiences in the manner of a celebrity biography. It is fortunate for us that we laymen can rerad and understand On the Origin, Descent of Man, Voyage of the Beagle (which was essentially his PhD thesis), The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs, and his other books. However, this was not their purpose. Their purpose was to convince scientists that the evidence supported his theory of heritable variation with natural selection.

    Meyer’s book is written is not written to convince scientists; it is not addressed to his peers at all. It’s intended audience is ONLY unqualified laymen. It neither describes any actual evidence of design nor does it offer any suggestions for investigating Intelligent design. In fact, it contains essentially nothing more than window dressing and citations beyond his paper written nine years ago, “DNA and Other Designs” (Access Research Network 2000), written specifically for a religious audience.

    Michael, if you have actually read the book, please list the positive observations, experiments, simulations, or other research for intelligent design that Meyer includes therein: why it qualifies as positive physical evidence for design and how it might possibly be tested or duplicated. I’m not even requiring that you show why any of Meyer’s evidence is correct—just list it.

    You know I’ll be waiting.

    Oh, by the way—

    Eleven weeks, no reviewwwwwwwwwwwwwwww…………………..

  18. Michael: “This statement sounds like your in a cult which believes only it’s prophets are able to understand the Bible.”

    No, that’s what creationism sounds like. No credence given to history or context of the Bible. Only they can interpret it correctly. No credence to the opinions of Church Fathers, no analyses of how the original writers or hearers might have understood it. Just, “Waiter, another round of earplugs, please!”

    ==Soc Pupette

  19. Twelve weeks, no review.

    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    But then, no one else has given this book a comprehensive review on its merits, either. You would think that at least the ID flacks would have adduced some technical support in a review. But no.

    Is this why you have delayed so long? No one else has produced a favorable review that you can plagiarize?

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