Signature in the Cell: A Letter to Our Readers

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December 29, 2009 Tags: Design

Today's entry was written by Darrel Falk. Please note the views expressed here are those of the author, not necessarily of The BioLogos Foundation. You can read more about what we believe here.

Signature in the Cell: A Letter to Our Readers

Hi Everyone:

The comments are flowing quite freely and in many ways that is healthy. However, I think it is important that we not let this evolve into personal attacks, or even judgments. As a scientist, my read of Signature in the Cell is that it has declared the science of early life to be bankrupt. The book is clearly and articulately written. My colleague Gordon Glover is correct--this is a thoroughly engaging book. With the possible exception of Michael Behe’s two books (which are also engagingly incorrect) never have the arguments been laid out more succinctly. Dr. Meyer says with near certainty that the science has now reached a dead end and since there is nothing else left, he says, the only other possibility is that there is a mind behind the code of life.

So there is one simple question to be addressed. Is the science at a dead end? Has Dr. Meyer demonstrated this or not?

Dr. Meyer has chosen to take this question to a general audience, but it is purely a scientific question. I have asked Dr. Meyer to respond to my review with an answer we could post on our site. We’ll see if he does. I also have a response from the Nobel laureate, Jack Szostak, which I will post soon. I expect responses from other scientists as well.

A couple of commenters have read Dr. Szostak’s article. That is a wonderful start. They have declared, however, that Dr. Szostak’s work is not testable and thereby is not scientific. It is important to emphasize that an article in Scientific American is not where the science is done; this is where the science is summarized. To know whether it is science, one needs to go back to the original articles themselves. Let me assure you, please trust me, the science is still proceeding and some of the best minds on the planet are working on this problem. It is a fascinating scientific problem; they are thoroughly engaged.

Some commenters have become personal. Nothing is to be gained by this. I have said it before and I will say it again, my experience is that these people are sincere. They make mistakes like we all do. However, I find I love these people, even though I have deep concerns about the quality of their science. Please try your best not to question their integrity. If you were to sit down with each of them over coffee, you would find they are not out to deceive.

All of that, however, is beside the point. We can just focus on the science. Dr. Meyer makes a simple proposition. Is he right or is he wrong? It is my opinion that he has been so engagingly clear, everyone with a four year degree in biology should be able to see that there is no dead end. Those of you who don’t have such a degree may have to trust the rest of us; the science is not dead.

We who believe in a Mind that is above all and through all still have very good reasons to believe. We need not base our belief on what happens in culture dishes and test tubes. I have written in other places why I choose to believe. My reasons are very strong and yours can be too. We can still kneel in reverence and awe as we read John 1 and as reflect on the majesty of the Creator. We can wait with “baited breath” as truly great scientists like Jack Szostak, Jerry Joyce and Mike Lynch work through the details of how the creation command came to be realized. But in the famous words of one of my great boyhood heroes, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.” The last twenty years of biology have been characterized by the filling in of one gap in our knowledge after another. Meyer has focused on the biggest gap of all and declared that no one will fill this one in! In the words of that same boyhood hero “this feels like déjà vu all over again.” Trust me. It ain’t over.

Blessings,
Darrel


Darrel Falk is former president of The BioLogos Foundation. He transitioned into Christian higher education 25 years ago and has given numerous talks about the relationship between science and faith at many universities and seminaries. He is the author of Coming to Peace with Science.

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John Kwok - #1571

January 2nd 2010

Gregory Arago -

Would you as a Christian condone such acts committed by Meyers and his colleagues:

1) Larceny via false billing of legal fees to the Dover, PA Area School District as potential witneses on its behalf (done by Dembski prior to the 2005 Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District trial)

2) false accusation (Dembski accusing University of Texas ecologist Eric Pianka of being a potential “bioterrorist” to the Federal Department of Homeland Security)

3) theft (Dembski stealing a Harvard University cell animation video and using it without Harvard or the video producer’s permission in his Fall 2007 talks)

4) censorship (Dembski asking Amazon.com to pull a harsh, but accurate review of his book written by one John Kwok since Kwok’s is the only negative one star review at the time; the others written by Discovery Institute friends and colleagues are all five star reviews)

5) Lying to someone about the true purposes of a film documentary (which Meyer apparently did to paleontologists James Valentine and Simon Conway Morris with regards to his film “Darwin’s Dilemma)

I earnestly hope not.

Respectfully yours,

John Kwok


Pete Enns - #1578

January 2nd 2010

John Kwok,

I am a biblical scholar and an outsider to these scientific controversies (i’ve got plenty in my world believe me). I know nothing of Bill Dembski’s behaviors, but I am wondering if you could substantiate your accusations somewhat. For all I know, this could be common knowledge. On the other hand, this could be more your own perspective. Just consider that a neutral request on my part.


John Kwok - #1591

January 3rd 2010

Paul Eins,

Sure.

Here’s Dembski admitting that he contacted the Federal Department of Homeland Security regarding Pianka’s comments, falsely accusing Pianka as a potential “bioterrorist”:

http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/eric-pianka-time-for-an-interview-with-the-department-of-homeland-security/

Here’s Wikipedia’s take regarding Forrest Mims’s appraisal of Pianka’s comments, including his contact with Dembski:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mims-Pianka_controversy

Here’s David Bolinsky, the president of the science animation video firm that produced the Harvard University cell animation video “thanking” Dembski for admitting to his theft:

http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2008/04/david-bolinsky.html

And here’s more over at Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_controversies_of_Expelled:_No_Intelligence_Allowed

There are credible reports that Dover Area School District had to pay $20,000 to Dembski as a potential witness for the defense, even though he opted not to appear at the Kitzmiller vs. Dover trial. But what I provided should indicate the extreme depths of Dembski’s mendacity and willingness to lie, and even to steal, on behalf of Christ.

John


Gregory Arago - #1596

January 3rd 2010

It seems to me there are other forums to discuss William Dembski’s alleged or actual behaviors. I for one am not interested in such a conversation and don’t know why John Kwok is trying to pull me into diversions, e.g. taunting me as an ‘ID advocate,’ which I am not.  If this thread titled “Signature in the Cell” is to be taken seriously, comments should be restricted to it in particular.

I commented on what I consider to be a misnomer made by Dr. Falk. The establishment of Biologos Foundation offers many possibilities for which I support Dr. Falk and other colleagues. But surely he realizes that the term ‘evolution’ is oftentimes over-used, i.e. in places where it doesn’t belong, doesn’t make sense. He seems to have made an example of this by suggesting that ‘personal attacks evolve.’

Dr. Pete Enns corrected him, saying, “ I think he [Dr. Falk] understands that personal attacks do not evolve.” I agree with Pete Enns that “personal attacks do not evolve.” Would Dr. Falk be willing to address this since he started his ‘daily thought’ with it? Maybe it doesn’t sound like a serious problem, i.e. just about metaphors?


John Kwok - #1597

January 3rd 2010

Gregory Arago -

Call yourself whatever pleases you, but you have demonstrated ample skepticism towards the scientific fact of evolution in the posts I have seen here and indicated at least some symphathy towards Meyer.

While I agree only with your observation that Dembski’s misdeeds ought not be discussed at length here, they are relevant nonetheless merely to illustrate that Meyer is not a sincere, rational, opponent of evolution, but instead, like Dembski, an Intelligent Design fanatic, who has, like Dembski, opted to adhere to morally dubious - and I think it is fair to say - “un-Christian” behavior in order to promote his agenda. In plain English, whatever is morally reprehensible is okay with Meyer as long as he is lying or stealing on behalf of Jesus (Ironically, conduct which Christ himself would regard as reprehensible.). Moreover, Darrel Falk believes that the Discovery Institute has sincere, rational - if misguided and incorrect - people, and I am merely emphasizing Dembski’s misconduct just to demonstrate to Darrel how wrong he is in holidng such a conviction.


John Kwok - #1598

January 3rd 2010

Gregory Arago -

May I ask again, whether you, as a devout Christian, would condone the reprehensible conduct of Dembski and Meyer’s that I have mentioned more than once here? Instead of complaining about me, when will you admit that the Discovery Institute’s staff is capable of morally reprehensible behavior that has been well documented elsewhere online and in print, for example, in Paul Gross and Barbara Forrest’s superb “Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design”.)? I would expect that you, as a devout Christian, would repudiate these blatant instances of theft, lying and bearing false witness against others that I have noted here, and in a couple of instances, provided links to Pete Einns (My apologies Pete for referring to you as Paul) per his request.

Bottom line, Gregory Arago is this. I’m not the problem here. I’m merely the non-Christian raconteur of un-Christian deeds committed by so-called “Christians” and I think you find the fact that I’m not a Christian far more objectionable than the reprehensible conduct of the Discovery Institute’s “Christian” staff. And if you’re not willing to repudiate that conduct, then you’re merely one of their sycophantic acolytes IMHO.


John Kwok - #1599

January 3rd 2010

Gregory Arago -

As some might say, “If you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem”. If you refuse to repudiate the Discovery Institute’s conduct and continue to adopt positions that seem similar to theirs, then it is only fair for me (and others) to conclude that you are a Discovery Institute supporter. And that, sadly, is an assessment I won’t change unless you provide overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Respectfully yours,

John


cist - #1622

January 4th 2010

I am curious why Kwok isn’t banned yet while someone like John A. Davison is. Is Kwok diverting the thread from the OP by chance? by law? by design? I think its by design, a tactic Kwok employs on every single blog he engages in. Its the usual “IDst are a bunch of liars, criminals etc…”, “just look at the wedge document”, “Even Jesus would condemn them” type of nonsense. Please tell us moderator, what does all this have to do with Meyers “The Signature in the Cell”?


John Kwok - #1623

January 4th 2010

cist -

My comments are relevant to Meyer’s “Signature in the Cell” because Darrel Falk thinks Meyer is merely misguided and mistaken, and goes out of his way to show deference to Meyer when he should really call a spade a spade and explain in plain clear English why Meyer is absolutely wrong. Meyer associates himself with people who claim to be “Christian” like Dembski and yet commit acts - as I have been illustrating here and in another recent blog entry - that are CONTRARY TO CHRIST’S TEACHINGS. Meyer engages in ample deceit and lies too, like his fellow Dishonesty Institute mendacious intellectual pornographers Behe, Dembski and Klinghoffer, for example.

BTW you misinterpreted what I said about Philip Kitcher’s conclusion that Intelligent Design is a “dead science” in the other blog thread pertaining directly to “Signature in the Cell”. Read my comments again.


Dan Baright - #1745

January 5th 2010

Dear Darrel Falk:

In post 1425 you made what in my mind is an astounding statement.  You wrote:

“2. Dr. Benner was not implying that science never leads to ‘settlement.’  Quite the opposite. For example, science shows with virtual certainty that HIV causes AIDS.  The fact of macro-evolution has been settled with the same degree of certainty.”

I have recently been composing and refuting a list of the standard “proofs” of evolution (i.e., the idea of common descent, macro-evolution, etc.).  I am curious to know what convinces you that macro-evolution is settled to a high degree of certainty.

(con’t)


Dan Baright - #1746

January 5th 2010

Re.: continuation of previous regards Darrel Falk’s post 1425

One of the examples that is often used to show that man and chimps, for example, share common ancestry is the statements put forth offering supposed irrefutable “explanation” regards two pairs of chimp chromosomes combining to form a single human chromosome.Thus humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes rather than 24.  But surely even this explanation is merely a very refutable hypothesis and not at all as certain as knowing that HIV causes AIDS. My sense is, for example, that 23 pairs of human chromosomes developed in parallel to the 24 pairs of other hominids. There is no way of discerning when the telomeres combined to form a single chromosome pair from two. All one can do is to speculate.  However, the general agreement among scientists that biogenesis was global can’t help but lead to global development of chromosomes and thus organisms as the most parsimonious hypothesis.

What are the evidences and explanations that convince you regards macro-evolution?


Dan


John Blackburn - #1760

January 5th 2010

Have some compassion, men, please!  This entire debate is worthy of ridicule!


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