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June 2010 Archives

June 3, 2010

Has Craig Venter Produced Artificial Life?

ID the Future podcast featuring Stephen Meyer:

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This episode of ID the Future features an excerpt from an interview on the Albert Mohler program featuring CSC Director Stephen Meyer, author of the recent book, Signature in the Cell. Was there intelligent design in the recent experiments on artificial life? Listen in as Meyer discusses the science behind the latest headlines.

Matheson's Intron Fairy Tale

At Evolution News & Views, Richard Sternberg responds to Steve Matheson's continued attacks on Signature in the Cell.

The failure to recognize the importance of introns "may well go down as one of the biggest mistakes in the history of molecular biology." --John Mattick, Molecular biologist, University of Queensland, quoted in Scientific American
On Friday, May 14, I watched as Steve Meyer faced his critics--two of them anyway, Art Hunt and Steve Matheson--at Biola University in Los Angeles. Matheson had previously claimed that Meyer misrepresented introns in his book, Signature in the Cell. (Introns are non-protein-coding sequences of DNA that occur within protein-coding regions.) In a blog post dated February 14, Matheson had accused Meyer of "some combination of ignorance, sloth, and duplicity" for stating in his book that although introns do not encode proteins they nevertheless "play many important functional roles in the cell."

Calling Meyer's statement "ludicrous," Matheson wrote on his blog that biologists have identified functional roles for only "a handful" of the 190,000 or so introns in the human genome:

How many? Oh, probably a dozen, but let's be really generous. Let's say that a hundred introns in the human genome are known to have "important functional roles." Oh fine, let's make it a thousand. Well, guys, that leaves at least 189,000 introns without function.

Matheson added that "there are more layers of duplicity in the 'junk DNA' fairy tale than Meyer has included in his book," which (Matheson concluded) uses science to advance an agenda in which "rigorous scientific truth-telling is secondary."

Naturally, I expected Matheson to bring up this devastating criticism at the Biola event on May 14. But he said nothing about Meyer's "ludicrous" notions of intron functions that evening, and he was mum about all the other layers of duplicity that he claims to be privy to. This was probably wise, because Matheson is wrong about intron functionality.

Keep reading here.

June 4, 2010

Ayala: "For the record, I read Signature in the Cell"

At Evolution News & Views Jay Richards weighs in on whether Francisco Ayala read and understood Signature in the Cell.

Over at BioLogos, Professor Francisco Ayala has responded to Signature of Controversy--the collection of responses to criticisms of Signature in the Cell. As with the previous Ayala response at BioLogos, this one includes an introduction by Darrell Falk.

The burden of Ayala's response is to wax indignant that some of us have suggested, based on his original "response" to Signature in the Cell, that he had not actually read the book. Why would we suggest that? Well, because he so profoundly misrepresented Meyer's thesis.

Here's what he said: "The keystone argument of Signature [sic] of the Cell is that chance, by itself, cannot account for the genetic information found in the genomes of organisms." He goes on to suggest that Meyer spends "most" of his book attempting to refute the chance hypothesis. Really.

This is such a whopper that I would have expected Ayala not to bring it up again. But in his current response, he begins:

Keep reading here.

June 8, 2010

The Fact-Free "Science" of Matheson, Hunt and Moran: Ridicule Instead of Reason, Authority Instead of Evidence

I was not in Los Angeles on May 14, when Stephen Meyer debated Stephen Matheson and Arthur Hunt at Biola University. But I have followed some of the blog war that preceded and followed the debate--a blog war that now includes Richard Sternberg and Laurence Moran.

Since Matheson, Hunt and Moran are all tenured professors at institutions of higher learning, one might have expected a discussion based on reason and conducted in a collegial spirit. And since the discussion is about science, one might have expected lots of references to evidence published in the scientific literature. But Matheson, Hunt and Moran have abandoned reason and resorted to ridicule; and instead of citing evidence they expect us to bow to their authority.

Round One: Who's Who
Meyer is a philosopher of science and the director of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture (with which I am also affiliated). Meyer wrote Signature in the Cell, which was the focus of the May 14 debate. Matheson is a neuroscientist at Calvin College who has been doing research on formin, a protein affecting the network of microscopic fibers that give a cell its shape. Hunt is a plant biologist at the University of Kentucky who does research on the processing of messenger RNAs, the molecular intermediates between DNA and protein.

Continue reading "The Fact-Free "Science" of Matheson, Hunt and Moran: Ridicule Instead of Reason, Authority Instead of Evidence" »

June 11, 2010

Stephen Meyer Reframes Christianity Today's Question on Intelligent Design

In the May issue of Christianity Today, the magazine's Village Green section posed the following question to Stephen Meyer, as well as to theistic evolutionist Karl Giberson and young earth creationist Marcus Ross. How can the intelligent design movement gain academic credibility? Below is Meyer's response. You can download a PDF with all of the responses here

Asking what advocates of intelligent design must do to gain credibility in the academy is a bit like asking a man when he stopped beating his wife. Such a question makes a prejudicial assumption.

When queried about his history of spousal abuse, an innocent man should say, "I don't concede the premise of your question." Similarly, I would suggest that behind the Village Green question lurk some false assumptions. Indeed, the question seems to presuppose three things: the scientific community is uniformly opposed to the theory of intelligent design; the theory needs majority support in the academy to be credible; and there is good reason--such as lack of supporting evidence--for hostility toward the theory within academia.

First, the scientific community is not uniformly opposed to ID. My recent book on the subject received enthusiastic endorsements from many scientists not previously known as advocates of ID, such as chemist Philip Skell, a National Academy of Sciences member, and Norman Nevin, one of Britain's top geneticists. Further, many longstanding advocates of intelligent design are themselves science professors at mainstream universities and, therefore, already part of the academy. Second, as the recent scandal surrounding global warming suggests, the "consensus" of scientists can often be wrong. What matters is not consensus but evidence. And the evidence for ID is strong. In Signature in the Cell, for example, I show how the information that runs the show in cells points decisively to intelligent design.

DNA stores instructions for life functions in the form of a four-character digital code. Based on our experience, we know that systems possessing such information invariably arise from minds, not material processes. We know that software comes from programmers. We know that information--whether inscribed in hieroglyphics, written in a book, or encoded in a radio signal--always comes from an intelligent source. So the discovery of a digital code in DNA provides compelling evidence of a prior designing intelligence.

Third, those who reject ID within the scientific community do so not because they have a better explanation of the relevant evidence, but because they affirm a definition of science that requires them to reject explanations involving intelligence--whatever the evidence shows. Imagine an archaeologist confronted with the inscriptions on the Rosetta stone, yet forced by some arbitrary convention to ignore the evidence for intelligent activity in the information those inscriptions contain. That is similar to the response of many evolutionary biologists who reflexively reject the theory of intelligent design as unscientific by definition, despite the evidence of intelligent activity in the information encoded in DNA.

Thus, to keep building a scientific research community, we ID advocates must expose the prejudicial rules of reasoning that preclude consideration of our theory, and keep explaining ID's strong foundation in evidence. We must also address our arguments to open-minded younger scientists and show how ID opens up many important research questions that Darwinian thought has long suppressed.


June 14, 2010

Stephen Meyer's New Essay on Craig Ventner's Claims To Have Created Life In The Lab

Stephen Meyer has just published a new essay about Craig Ventner's recent claims to have created synthetic life. Not so quick, Meyer says.

A biologist in California has summoned headlines around the world, some distressed and some celebratory, by supposedly doing in reality what Dr. Frankenstein did in fiction: giving life to lifeless matter.

The Vatican worries that, by swapping artificial DNA for the real thing in a simple bacterial cell, Dr. Craig Venter is "playing God." But most voices from the media welcome his success. Bioethicist Arthur Caplan applauds the end of the myth that life is "sacred, special, ineffable." According to Caplan, Venter has shown that life can be readily produced from its material parts, thus refuting "the argument that life requires a special force or power to exist." Others have called Venter's achievement "a complete victory for materialism," predicting that many atheists will cite it as evidence that life can arise without a divine creator.

But are these assessments correct? Did Venter create life artificially? Did he show that life can arise without help from an external agent?

In fact, he did neither.

Not so fast...

Read the full piece here.

June 18, 2010

Believing Life's 'Signature in the Cell' an Interview with Stephen Meyer

Click play to watch Meyer's interview on the evidence for intelligent design, which aired Friday, June 18, on The 700 Club.

June 21, 2010

Colson's Breakpoint Touts Meyer on Synthetic LIfe

Last week we highlighted Stephen Meyer's article More Than Matter and Energy which was the basis for a Breakpoint Commentary by Chuck Colson. LIsten in here.

June 23, 2010

What a Difference a Year Makes: Signature in the Cell Now Available in Paperback

Several years in the making, the book arrives just as the information age is coming to biology and scientists are delving deeper into the mystery of the origins of life. In Signature in the Cell Dr. Meyer lays out a radical new and comprehensive argument for intelligent design that readers will likely never have encountered before, and which materialist scientists cannot counter.
hadback%20SITC%20image%20copy.jpgThat was written in this space exactly one year ago today when Signature in the Cell: DNA and Evidence for Intelligent Design arrived in book stores and since then has been named a Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year, an Amazon.com best-selling science book and began to change the shape of the debate over intelligent design. Now, it is available in paperback.

Since it's publication some things have changed and some haven't.

Continue reading "What a Difference a Year Makes: Signature in the Cell Now Available in Paperback" »

June 30, 2010

Stephen Meyer Describes Intelligent Design As Used in Signature In The Cell

About June 2010

This page contains all entries posted to Stephen C. Meyer's News page in June 2010. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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