We’ve recently seen a lot of dialogue between proponents of intelligent design and critics of Stephen Meyer’s book Signature in the Cell. For example, Richard Sternberg has a fascinating series that uncovers some hints at function in SINE elements through unexpectedly conserved patterns that contradict the standard phylogeny (see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4). Or, there’s Paul Nelson’s rejoinder to Jeffrey Shallit on whether the weather provides an example of natural processes producing specified and complex information. There’s also Stephen Meyer’s response to Francisco Ayala, as well as responses to Ayala from Jay Richards and David Klinghoffer.
I recently decided to jump into this fray, publishing two articles in the latest issue of Salvo Magazine defending Stephen Meyer’s book Signature in the Cell against critics. The main article, Signs of Desperation? Early Responses to Signature in the Cell Are Easily Dismissed,” responds to some of the initial responses to Meyer from critics such as P.Z. Myers, Jerry Coyne, Francisco Ayala, and others.
The article offers five tips to reviewers, which include (1) know the man you’re attacking; (2) read the book before reviewing it; (3) avoid misframing Meyer’s argument as a mere negative critique of evolution; (4) remain civil; and (5) stick to the science and avoid theological rebuttals. As the article reads:
After debating Stephen Meyer on the Michael Medved radio program last November, science journalist Chris Mooney apparently felt he couldn’t find sufficient ammo to rebut the Cambridge-trained philosopher of science. Thus, Mooney subsequently posted a piece on his Discover Magazine blog, titled “Time to Refute Stephen Meyer?”, in which he lamented that “Meyer’s book is clearly drawing a lot of attention and is scarcely being refuted so far as I can see.”
Mooney was correct that Meyer’s book was garnering much interest–though not from critics. In November 2009, an endorsement from the leading political philosopher (and atheist) Thomas Nagel led to its being named one of the “Books of the Year” by the prestigious Times Literary Supplement in London. The following month, Meyer was named “Daniel of the Year” by World Magazine for the “courage” and “perseverance” that led to Signature in the Cell.
Around this time, the anti-ID internet community decided they could not afford to continue ignoring Meyer’s book, and critical reviews began trickling in. In the spirit of respectful scholarly debate, I will assess some of the counter-arguments and give five friendly tips to critics of Stephen Meyer.
(Read the rest at: “Signs of Desperation? Early Responses to Signature in the Cell Are Easily Dismissed“)
One critic who didn’t heed my second or fourth tips is Mark Chu Carroll. My second piece, “Every Bit Digital: DNA’s Programming Really Bugs Some ID Critics,” critiques Carroll’s arguments and defends Meyer against the charge that DNA is not a digital code which bears striking resemblance to computer programming:
Google’s corporate motto is “Don’t Be Evil,” but unfortunately, not all who work at the search engine behemoth seem to practice the slogan. Mark Chu Carroll, a mathematician and Google software engineer, called Stephen Meyer’s Signature in the Cell “a rehash of the same old s**t,” even though he admitted, “I have not read any part of Meyer’s book.” Chu Carroll further decried the “dishonesty” of Meyer, whom he called a “bozo” for merely claiming that DNA contains “digital code” that functions like a “computer.”
It seems that Meyer’s book isn’t the only relevant literature that Chu Carroll hasn’t read.
(Read the rest at: “Every Bit Digital: DNA’s Programming Really Bugs Some ID Critics“)