Responses


Responding to Venema's Response to Meyer's Response to Venema's Response to Meyer's Signature in the Cell: The Last in a Series

We recently posted links to the exchange between Stephen Meyer and Dennis Venema regarding Signature in the Cell in Perspectives on Science & Christian Faith (PSCF), a journal of the American Scientific Affiliation. In that same issue the journal gave Venema a chance to reply to Meyer's reply -- in a courtroom setting it's called a surrebuttal, in case you're curious -- giving Dr. Venema the last word. We ask readers' indulgence as, in turn, ENV appropriates the last last word with a rebuttal to Venema's surrebuttal.

One main point of Venema's original review was to provide evidence of natural selection and random mutation producing new biological evidence challenges Stephen Meyer's thesis in Signature in the Cell. But, as Meyer explains in his reply, his argument pertinent to the origin of life is that information could not be produced by prebiological mechanisms. Meyer explains...

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Of Molecules and (Straw) Men: Stephen Meyer Responds to Dennis Venema's Review of Signature in the Cell

As a longtime [American Scientific Affiliation] member, I was obviously pleased to see Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith (PSCF) devote a review essay in its December 2010 issue to an assessment of my recent book, Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (HarperOne 2009). I also welcomed the general approach of PSCF's designated reviewer, Dennis Venema. Unlike some critics, Venema at least attempted to assess the issues raised in Signature in the Cell by appealing to scientific evidence rather than merely dismissing the idea of intelligent design with pejorative labels (such as "scientific creationism") or a priori philosophical judgments (such as "intelligent design is not science").1

Nevertheless, Venema argued that the scientific evidence does not support my argument for intelligent design, and he offered several lines of evidence in an attempt to refute it. And, of course, I disagree with his arguments. In this response, I will show why. I will demonstrate that Venema did not refute the argument of Signature in the Cell and that he failed to do so for two main reasons...

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Stephen Meyer Responds to Stephen Fletcher's Attack Letter in the Times Literary Supplement

Ever since Thomas Nagel selected Signature in the Cell as one of 2009's best books, the Times Literary Supplement has had a vigorous back and forth in its letters section. The last salvo published was by Loughborough University chemistry professor Stephen Fletcher. The response below was submitted by Stephen Meyer to TLS, but they opted not to publish it.

To the Editor

The Times Literary Supplement

Sir—I see that the Professor Stephen Fletcher has written yet another letter (TLS Letters, 3 February, 2010) attempting to refute the thesis of my book Signature in the Cell. This time he cites two recent experiments in an attempt to show the plausibility of the RNA world hypothesis as an explanation for the origin of the first life. He claims these experiments have rendered the case I make for the theory of intelligent design obsolete. If anything, they have done just the reverse.

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On Not Reading Signature in the Cell: Stephen Meyer Responds to Francisco Ayala

Dr. Francisco Ayala, former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, reviewed (or merely commented on at length, without reading?) Signature in the Cell for The Biologos Foundation's blog, "Science & the Sacred." Below is Dr. Meyer's response.

No doubt it happens all the time. There must be many book reviews written by reviewers who have scarcely cracked the pages of the books they purport to review. But those who decide to write such blind reviews typically make at least some effort to acquire information about the book in question so they can describe its content accurately—if, for no other reason, than to avoid embarrassing themselves. Unfortunately, in his review of my book Signature in the Cell (titled ironically, "On Reading the Cell's Signature"), eminent evolutionary biologist Francisco Ayala does not appear to have even made a search for the crib notes online. Indeed, from reading his review it appears that he did little more than crack the title page and table of contents—if that. As a result, his review misrepresents the thesis and topic of the book and even misstates its title.

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Stephen Meyer Responds to Darrel Falk’s Review of Signature in the Cell

Dr. Darrel Falk, biology professor at Point Loma Nazarene University, reviewed Signature in the Cell for The Biologos Foundation's blog, "Science & the Sacred." Below is Dr. Meyer's response.

In 1985, I attended a conference that brought a fascinating problem in origin-of-life biology to my attention—the problem of explaining how the information necessary to produce the first living cell arose.  At the time, I was working as a geophysicist doing digital signal processing, a form of information analysis and technology. A year later, I enrolled in graduate school at the University of Cambridge, where I eventually completed a Ph.D. in the philosophy of science after doing interdisciplinary research on the scientific and methodological issues in origin-of-life biology. In the ensuing years, I continued to study the problem of the origin of life and have authored peer-reviewed and peer-edited scientific articles on the topic of biological origins, as well as co-authoring a peer-reviewed biology textbook.  Last year, after having researched the subject for more than two decades, I published Signature in the Cell, which provides an extensive evaluation of the principal competing theories of the origin of biological information and the related question of the origin of life. Since its completion, the book has been endorsed by prominent scientists including Philip Skell, a member of the National Academy of Sciences; Scott Turner, an evolutionary biologist at the State University of New York; and Professor Norman Nevin, one of Britain’s leading geneticists.
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Stephen Meyer Responds to Fletcher in Times Literary Supplement

Signature in the Cell continues to stir up debate and attract attention as Thomas Nagel's selection of SITC as one of the Books of the Year brought on an interesting series of letters, where Nagel was attacked (he responded, and he was attacked again) by a Darwinist who told people forgo reading SITC and instead just read Wikipedia.

This week, author Stephen Meyer himself responds in a letter, with a shortened version published yesterday. (Nagel himself responded with a letter that is published on the same page by TLS.)
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Biological Information: The Puzzle of Life that Darwinism Hasn’t Solved

June 16, 2009

Today’s New York Times features an article by science writer Nicholas Wade highlighting what Wade calls "surprising advances [that] have renewed confidence that a terrestrial explanation for life’s origins will eventually emerge."

Yet the scientists quoted in the article fail to address the fundamental issue that has generated the longstanding impasse in the field: the problem of the origin of biological information.
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Moshe Averick Responds to British Geneticist Robert Saunders’s Review of Signature in the Cell

April 4, 2012

Here’s a spot-on reply to UK geneticist Robert Saunders’s recent review of Dr. Meyer’s Signature in the Cell. Averick is particularly good at pointing out the faith, presuppositions and ideological blinders that constrain Saunders's view, even if the scientist doesn't seem to recognize it:

[Saunders] is, in effect, admitting that Science has no explanation for the origin of life and the huge amounts of information necessary for life to exist, but asks us to have faith that Science will yet discover a purely naturalistic answer to the question. Here Saunders makes it clear that he has shut off his mind from even considering the possibility of Intelligent Design, which is, of course, a theory that is proposed to explain the origin of life. In the nearly 600 pages of  Signature in the Cell, Dr. Meyer rigorously, meticulously, and painstakingly explains why it is -- by any reasonable standard -- a valid scientific hypotheses.
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Supporting Documentation

William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II, "The Search for a Search: Measuring the Information Cost of Higher Level Search," Journal of Advanced Computational Intelligence and Intelligent Informatics, Vol.14, No.5, 2010, pp. 475-486.

William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II "Conservation of Information in Search: Measuring the Cost of Success" IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man and Cybernetics A, Systems & Humans, vol.5, #5, September 2009, pp.1051-1061

George Montañez, Winston Ewert, William A. Dembski, and Robert J. Marks II, "A Vivisection of the ev Computer Organism: Identifying Sources of Active Information," Bio-Complexity, Vol. 2010(3).

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