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Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design Kindle Edition
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“A decisive case based upon breathtaking and cutting-edge science.” (Dr. Philip S. Skell, member, National Academy of Sciences, and Evan Pugh Professor Emeritus at Pennsylvania State University)
“A fascinating exploration . . . Whether you believe intelligent design is true or false, Signature in the Cell is a must-read book.” (Dr. Scott Turner, professor, environmental and forest biology, State University of New York, and author of The Tinkerer’s Accomplice)
“A careful presentation of this fiendishly difficult problem.” (Dr. Thomas Nagel, professor, New York University, in the Times Literary Supplement) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Stephen C. Meyer received his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in the philosophy of science after working as an oil industry geophysicist. He now directs the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute in Seattle, Washington. He authored Signature in the Cell, a (London) Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
- File size : 6248 KB
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 628 pages
- Publisher : HarperOne; Illustrated edition (June 6 2009)
- ASIN : B002C949BI
- Language: : English
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #34,697 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
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Top reviews from Canada
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In 2005, the famous Dover trial took place. It examined the scientific validity of Intelligent Design and found it wanting. Numerous detractors of the theory sought to show why ID did not meet the requirements of a proper scientific theory. The result being that Judge John E Jones III ruled: "ID is not Science". Besides the patent absurdity of a judge - with no scientific or philosophical background - ruling on such a matter which is clearly beyond the scope of his authority, this was still seen as a win for the Scientific Establishment. But is that still so today?
Since that time, the ID think tank known as the Discovery Institute has thrived amidst the vicious criticism it has received. They have also taken to responding to the critics and their claims that ID is not science, having done so in numerous articles and books published by their various supporters. One prominent defender of ID is Dr Stephen C Meyer, a Philosopher of Science who attained his Ph.D. at Cambridge University . He wrote in his 2009 book 'Signature in the Cell': "Historians and Philosopher's of Science... do not agree about how to define science. Many doubt there is even a single definition that can characterize all the difference kinds of Science." This is a fair point. This is known as the "Demarcation Problem" in the Philosophy of Science which is the philosophical problem of how to properly distinguish between science and pseudoscience.
The value of the opposition to Intelligent Design from Philosopher's of Science is being questioned. Dr Meyer, in his book mentioned earlier, refutes the various criticisms of ID and the reasons why it must not be science. He is well aware of the contradictions that result from attempting to distinguish science from pseudoscience and shows why the various attacks on the supposed unscientific nature of ID would, if applied to other accepted scientific theories also put them in the realm of pseudoscience. He goes on to convincingly argue that ID asks questions that could properly be considered scientific. This has created a crisis for Philosopher's of Science, who have been unable to acknowledge the weight of these refutations and come up with better and more comprehensive arguments.
That being said, I am eager to understand why it is that people are so adamant that ID simply is not science despite not having offered any convincing arguments to support their view. Perhaps one way to contextualize their point of view is by interpreting their opposition from the vantage of science as a social enterprise where subjective groupthink viewpoints inevitably creep in. At the heart of any human organizatiom, be it religious or political, there is a commitment to orthodoxy - correct beliefs one must hold to be considered a part of that group. This orthodoxy promotes consensus and therefore stability. One cannot idealistically conclude that merely because of the aspirations of science that it must therefore be immune to the same potential stumbling blocks faced by other human organizations. This is a reasonable lens by which to understand the attacks on the validity of ID.
What is the orthodox opinion with regard to Intelligent Design? What is this a priori assumption of the Scientific Establishment that MUST be assented to? It is a commitment to "Methodological Naturalism". This concept posits that, for something to be scientific, it must explain by reference to purely material causes. Naturalism implicitly rejects the possibility of Intelligent Design a priori. Indeed, this is a subjective fact for the Scientific Establishment. However, As far as I can see, trying to turn the ID controversy into a mere semantic dispute (of whether it is science) detracts from the real scientific challenges posed by the theory.
To conclude I ask, will this demarcation problem ever be resolved to show what many people feel (emotionally) must be true - namely that Intelligent Design is not science? Perhaps. But for now we can be assured that the the baseless consensus within the Scientific Community will do.
Top reviews from other countries
Stephen Meyer gives a decent but not exhaustive run through of the history of the scientific method, and the cellular biochemistry relating to DNA expression. He also expounds digital data, information capacity and the tricky bit, detecting and highlighting the specified information content symptomatic of a conscious intelligent agent. He successfully turns a well known Richard Dawkins analogy on its head by showing, amongst other things, that minimal complexity is indeed a valid and relevant argument here. Actually with unguided and unplanned takes on evolutionary biology I'd say it can only be encroached on by elaborate special pleading. He demonstrates that Dawkins' approach with text strings violates what are in fact his own stated assumptions about evolution. This applies to neo-Darwinism but arguably more clearly to cellular biochemistry.
Many of us look at the cellular machinery, replete as it is with a generalised quaternary storage method, astonishingly precisely arranged so as to have no energy level bias regarding sequence, along with co-dependent reading, messaging, decoding and assembly apparatus, and just register quiet awe and worship toward the Creator. I certainly do.
Others join with the reductionists and see the minimally functional cell as a result of blind chance. Some form of biochemical evolution is going to be adequate to explain all this 'apparent design', they believe. Somehow the stochastic environment adds information content to other stochastic matter. All rather hand-waving.
Meyer has, in a way, sought to arbitrate between these perspectives by putting rational statistics on the matter-time probability space available in the cosmic environment. This he terms this 'probabilistic resource'. He then sets out to provide workable and benevolent-to-chance estimates for the probabilities of various steps in the required assembly of complex biochemical molecules and the specific information content required to be stored within some of those molecules for cellular life to develop. Here it is noteworthy that much of the criticism of the book is facile. I'm sympathetic, having been party to rigorous probabilistic calculations on digital data systems requiring frame alignment.
An excellent case for a designer. Equally, an excellent case for thinking outside the boundaries delineated by blinkered and constrictive orthodoxy.
What the book is short of is any real attempt to describe how the intelligent agency might have chosen to introduce the first minimal biochemical life, or indeed complete higher organisms. I would appreciate an expounding of the possibilities Meyer would entertain and how the resultant scenarios would compare with those stemming from say the BioLogos camp.
A very unorthodox, thought provoking and informative book. I'll give 5 stars despite what was for me a significant omission.