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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.


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