Stephen C. Meyer Philosopher of Science

Signature in the Cell

In the News

Stephen Meyer Gets a Suitably Impressive New Website

However profound the stakes with our colleague Stephen Meyer’s previous two major books, Signature in the Cell and Darwin’s Doubt, the consequences of his next book, Return of the God Hypothesis: Three Scientific Discoveries that Reveal the Mind Behind the Universe, promise to be still greater. Because of the response we knew he would get to the New York Times bestseller Darwin’s Doubt, from critics and new friends alike, that launch felt like going to war. If that was the case then, I’m not quite sure how to characterize what to expect from the new book — mega-war? Fitting to the circumstances, we are delighted to introduce an impressive new website for the book and for Dr. Meyer’s other work. Find the new Stephen Meyer site here, beautifully designed by Discovery

New Book by Biologist Michael Denton on Nature’s Miraculous “Primal Blueprint”

The cynicism of our time poisons everything, from academic life to media coverage to personal relationships. It instructs us to look at each other with suspicion or mockery, at the cosmos with indifference, at life itself with a shrug. Onto the scene steps biologist Michael Denton, no conventional religious believer, who nevertheless announces that the basis of life, the cells that populate our bodies and those of all other organisms, bear evidence of a “miracle.” Dr. Denton is a Senior Fellow with Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, a widely published biochemist who received his PhD at King’s College, London. His new book, The Miracle of the Cell, will be published on Monday, September 28. It is a lyrical exposition of what might otherwise seem like

Signature in the Cell: Stephen Meyer Faces His Critics

From June 16-30, we are holding an Intelligent Design YouTube Festival by highlighting 15 Center for Science & Culture YouTube videos that have received more than 100,000 views each. Here is video #6. In addition to producing documentaries and animations, we also post lectures by our scientists and scholars. This is one of the best: Dr. Stephen Meyer speaking to a large live audience about his book Signature in the Cell. If you’d like us to create more videos like this one, please consider becoming one of our “movie producers” by donating to our video production

The Information Enigma

From June 16-30, we are holding an Intelligent Design YouTube Festival by highlighting 15 Center for Science & Culture YouTube videos that have received more than 100,000 views each. Here is the first installment. How do you condense the message of two books totalling 1,100+ pages into a 21-minute video? That’s what we were trying to accomplish with “The Information Enigma,” which seeks to present the core message of Stephen Meyer’s bestselling books Signature in the Cell and Darwin’s Doubt. See if we succeeded!  If you’d like us to create more videos like this one, please consider becoming one of our “movie producers” by donating to our video production

Scientist Admits Biologists Are Obsessed with Intelligent Design

What do scientists spend more time thinking about — sex, or the theory of intelligent design? Scientific research famously gives a range of answers to the question of how many times per day men think about sex (from 19 times to 7,200 times). If one European researcher is correct, scientists in the United States (who are mostly male) spend one-fifth of their waking time thinking about how to “combat intelligent design.” Despite incessant declarations that “there is no controversy” about evolution, ID is evidently on the mind of many biologists, to the point of obsession! Evolution News recently commented on an article in an Italian philosophy journal that took intelligent design (ID) arguments with refreshing seriousness. Now another European journal has published its own

What Triggered a Biology Journal to Demand Government Censorship of Intelligent Design

As noted here already, the prominent science journal BioEssays has issued a remarkable editorial by biologist Dave Speijer, “Bad Faith Reasoning, Predictable Chaos, and the Truth.” The article is like a thermometer measuring a fever among evolutionists. Speijer calls for intelligent design websites, including the one you’re reading now, to be censored by government mandate. And he’s quite serious. It would be shocking were it not for the fact that censors are already empowered at YouTube, Facebook, and on other social media, to scour the Internet and wipe out ideas they don’t like. This is not a drill. The editorial proposes that search engines be required to “have mandatory color coded banners warning of consistent factual errors or unscientific

New Video Course with Stephen Meyer on Design Science Offers Hope and Stimulation

At the beginning of the national shutdown, many of us declared grand ambitions for things we would do with our new spare time. Learn Russian! Take up a new musical instrument! Achieve the peaks of physical fitness! Likely these ambitions have had to be ratcheted back. As sports writer Jason Gay laments in the Wall Street Journal, “The goal posts have moved from write the next Great American Novel to put on pants by 3 p.m.” It’s time for some mind-expanding but more realistic objectives. Philosopher of science Stephen Meyer has a solution. It’s a brand new video course on the full range of the scientific evidence for intelligent design, from cosmology to biology, the origin of the stars to the origins of complex life, appropriate for a range of ages. See the trailer

Remembering Our Friend Jon Buell, Intelligent Design’s “Matchmaker”

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of our friend Jon Buell on March 14, 2020. Discovery Institute honors his memory and wishes for much comfort for his family, especially his wife Linda Buell. If others have been hailed as the “father of intelligent design” (Michael Behe) or the “godfather” (Phillip Johnson), then Jon Buell was the “matchmaker.” Without Jon, would the modern ID movement have got off the ground as it did with the 1984 publication of The Mystery of Life’s Origin? It’s hard to see how. He brought together the trio of scientists who wrote the book — Walter Bradley, Charles Thaxton, and Roger Olsen. They in turn profoundly influenced Stephen Meyer, Michael Denton, William Dembski, Michael Behe, Paul Nelson, and others who would

Cosmos 3.0 Revisits Themes of the Past, with Familiar Historical Mythmaking

With its ode to the superior rationality of the modern secular mind, last night’s debut of the third season of Cosmos 3.0 came amid a full-scale national panic attack about a virus. As David Klinghoffer commented here yesterday, the timing could be better. The first two episodes, with Neil deGrasse Tyson returning as host, have now aired on Fox and National Geographic. In contrast to Cosmos 2.0, the President of the United States does not introduce this remake. The overall theme of these episodes is our eventual exploration and colonization of other planets. All Neil, All the Time Episode 1 is titled “Ladder to the Stars.” We learn that this ladder is the DNA molecule. Very poetic. Great visuals. The episode begins with Carl Sagan admonishing us to follow the evidence

Remembering Freeman Dyson and the Enduring Lesson of “Dyson’s Hypothesis”

Editor’s note: See also, “Freeman Dyson: The Passing of an Iconoclastic Physicist,” by Guillermo Gonzalez. The New York Times described mathematician/physicist Freeman Dyson as “a mathematical prodigy who left his mark on subatomic physics before turning to messier subjects like Earth’s environmental future and the morality of war, died on Friday at a hospital near Princeton, N.J. He was 96.” But Dyson was much more: he was a self-described rebel. And so rather than give a standard recounting of the life and work of this noted scientist, innovative thinker, and obstreperously independent voice,  I would prefer to glimpse his rich and acute intellect through an interesting review published on March 25, 2004. The essay, “One in a Million,” is one of 29 articles

Darwinism and Intelligent Design in Poland 

On January 29, 2020, I arrived in Warsaw, Poland, in the middle of a blizzard. Fortunately, most of the snow had cleared away by January 31, when I lectured at an event celebrating the release of a new Polish translation of my book, Icons of Evolution.  The event was organized by Fundacja En Arche (the En Arche Foundation, or roughly, the Origins Foundation). Although its critics call it a “creationist” organization, Fundacja En Arche is not about biblical creationism (whether young Earth or old Earth). Instead, it focuses on the scientific and philosophical issues of Darwinism and intelligent design. I told the staff that the foundation reminded me of Discovery Institute twenty years ago.  A major part of En Arche’s work so far has been translating into Polish books

Cancel Culture Comes to Poland

The term “cancel culture” has recently come to mean the practice of boycotting, or denying a speaking platform to, people whose ideas are considered offensive. I experienced it recently in Warsaw, Poland. Fundacja En Arche (the En Arche Foundation, or roughly, the Origins Foundation) is a Polish group that focuses on the scientific and philosophical issues of Darwinism and intelligent design. Although often labeled “creationist,” it is not about biblical creationism (whether young Earth or old Earth). In many ways it is a lot like Discovery Institute.  A Job Well Done A major part of the foundation’s work so far has been translating into Polish books such as Phillip Johnson’s Darwin on Trial, Michael Denton’s Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, Michael Behe’s

Mystery of Life’s Origin — Intelligent Design’s Original Edition, Greatly Expanded, on Sale Now!

Editor’s note: We are delighted today to offer a new book from Discovery Institute Press, The Mystery of Life’s Origin: The Continuing Controversy, a greatly expanded and updated version of the book that, in 1984, launched the intelligent design movement. The following is excerpted from Discovery Institute Senior Fellow David Klinghoffer’s historical introduction to the work. Other brand new chapters on the “continuing controversy” about the origin of life are by chemist James Tour, physicist Brian Miller, astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez, biologist Jonathan Wells, and philosopher of science Stephen C. Meyer. How does life emerge from that which is not alive? This mystery exercises a peculiar fascination, with the power to elicit remarkable feats of imagination. As the

Dallas Conference Will Unveil Intelligent Design’s Original Edition

We are just a couple of weeks out from the 2020 Dallas Conference on Science & Faith, Saturday, January 25 in Denton, TX. Until today, though, we have withheld one important piece of information about the event: it will be the launch of a wonderful new book from Discovery Institute Press. Actually, it’s an updated, expanded edition of a classic: The Mystery of Life’s Origin: The Continuing Controversy, the 1984 Ur-text or original edition of the modern theory of intelligent design, now with new supplementary essays by scholars extending the work. This is very exciting for us because the three co-authors, biochemist Charles Thaxton, materials scientist Walter Bradley, and geochemist Roger Olsen, will all be on hand for a panel discussion. To Spark a Debate The new edition

#3 of Our Top Stories of 2019: PragerU Video on Evolution = Stephen Meyer at Yankee Stadium x 20

Editor’s note: The staff of Evolution News wish you a Happy New Year! We are counting down our top ten stories of 2019. If you haven’t done so yet, please take a moment now to contribute to our work in bringing you news and analysis about evolution, intelligent design, and more every day of the year. There is no other voice, no other source of information, like ours. Thank you for your friendship and your support! The following article was originally published here on October 24, 2019. Picture this: philosopher of science Stephen Meyer discussing reasons for skepticism about evolution with enough new friends to fill Yankee Stadium. Now multiply that by 20. As the delighted staff over at PragerU point out, in just the few days since it was released, Dr. Meyer’s PragerU

For Christmas, Make New Discoveries with Books from Discovery Institute Scientists and Scholars

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is having more time to read than I do usually. I mean, read actual books. There’s an inviting coziness about this time of year, perfect for shutting the computer down, putting the accursed iPhone away, and retreating to the beauty of printed pages. It’s a golden opportunity to make intellectual discoveries, afforded to us more by books than any other way. It’s for this reason that books make the perfect gifts. No doubt you’ve done all your Christmas shopping by now… Or have you? Whether the answer is yes or no, let me recommend that you add to your own enjoyment of the season, and that of your friends and family, with books. You know, coded information represented in a linear, alphabetic form, one of the hallmarks of

Stephen Meyer Asks David Berlinski How He Became a Darwin Skeptic

An episode of ID the Future features a clip from a Signature in the Cell event a few years ago in Tampa, FL, featuring Stephen Meyer, Michael Medved, David Berlinski and Tom Woodward. Listen in as Dr. Meyer interviews Dr. Berlinski, author of the new book Human Nature, about the questions that led him to become a skeptic of Darwinism. Download the podcast or listen to it here. Photo: David Berlinski on Uncommon Knowledge, via Hoover Institution/YouTube

New PragerU Video on Evolution = Stephen Meyer at Yankee Stadium x 20

Picture this: philosopher of science Stephen Meyer discussing reasons for skepticism about evolution with enough new friends to fill Yankee Stadium. Now multiply that by 20. As the delighted staff over at PragerU point out, in just the few days since it was released, Dr. Meyer’s PragerU video, “Evolution: Bacteria to Beethoven,” has been viewed by a million people across several platforms — Yankee Stadium x 20 — and is on track to greatly exceed that. You haven’t see it yet? You’re in for a treat: It’s just 5 minutes in length and it summarizes two very telling problems with Darwinism, respectively the focuses of Meyer’s first two books, Signature in the Cell and Darwin’s Doubt. You can watch it on YouTube, Facebook, or

In Two Weeks, “Mathematical Challenges” to Darwin Gets Half a Million Views

In Florence, Italy, back in June, Stephen Meyer, David Gelernter, and David Berlinski got together with Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institution to talk about “Mathematical Challenges to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.” The episode of Hoover’s interview series, Uncommon Knowledge, has been up now for a little over two weeks and has already amassed more than half a million views on YouTube. Actually, the precise number is 522,800, since July 22. Not bad! The occasion for their conversation, a delightful hour in length, is Gelernter’s recent essay in The Claremont Review of Books explaining his apostasy from Darwinism. The renowned Yale computer scientist and polymath attributes his change of mind to reading books by Meyer (Darwin’s Doubt,

A “False Narrative” on Origin of Life Research?

Georgia Tech biologist Matthew Herron is still chiding me for sharing synthetic organic chemist James Tour’s statements, a “false narrative,” that we — the public, the media, and yes, scientists too — are “clueless” about how life originated. As Tour puts it, “Everyone’s clueless on this but no one wants to admit it.” Herron offers more instances of journal articles that start off with admissions of “difficult problems,” “many open questions,” “unsolved problems,” “one of the biggest mysteries,” etc., but then go on to advance what the researchers take to be clues with proposals toward a solution. Here’s what Professor Tour, at Rice University, says in Episode 5 of Science Uprising. “They will write in their very papers, they will see some small

“We Hold These Truths”: On Design of the Cosmos, Science Uprising Updates Thomas Jefferson

On Independence Day, Evolution News traditionally republishes a wonderful post by Stephen Meyer. Dr. Meyer, the author of Signature in the Cell and Darwin’s Doubt, explains how the philosophy of human rights enshrined in the Declaration of Independence is grounded in recognizing intelligent design. Regarding the “sources of our rights as citizens”: There is one source that is more basic than any other, yet that receives less than the attention it deserves. I refer to the idea that there is an intelligent creator who can be known by reason from nature, a key tenet underlying the Declaration of Independence — as well as, curiously, the modern theory of intelligent design. The birth of our republic was announced in the Declaration through the pen of Thomas Jefferson. He and

“We Hold These Truths”: On Design of the Cosmos, Science Uprising Updates Thomas Jefferson

On Independence Day, Evolution News traditionally republishes a wonderful post by Stephen Meyer. Dr. Meyer, the author of Signature in the Cell and Darwin’s Doubt, explains how the philosophy of human rights enshrined in the Declaration of Independence is grounded in recognizing intelligent design. Regarding the “sources of our rights as citizens”: There is one source that is more basic than any other, yet that receives less than the attention it deserves. I refer to the idea that there is an intelligent creator who can be known by reason from nature, a key tenet underlying the Declaration of Independence — as well as, curiously, the modern theory of intelligent design. The birth of our republic was announced in the Declaration through the pen of Thomas Jefferson. He and the

Now on YouTube — Stephen Meyer, Eric Metaxas on the Return of the God Hypothesis

It’s a great, great privilege to work with brilliant scientists who do such an amazing job of explaining the science that lies behind the deepest questions men and women can ask themselves. Because of that, it is a remarkable thing to me that some smart public intellectuals get this (Ben Shapiro) while some equally smart folks who ought to get it (Kevin Williamson) don’t. Back in January, some of our very brightest colleagues gathered for Discovery Institute’s Dallas Conference on Science and Faith. The discussions there have just come online at YouTube so that we can all enjoy them. As an introduction, here is the Socrates in the City conversation between Stephen Meyer and Eric Metaxas, which kicked off the weekend. Do Yourself a Favor Do yourself a favor and watch this

Now, Here’s Ben Shapiro on Michael Denton’s Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis

I’ve been following the evolution of Ben Shapiro’s thinking about evolution, and intelligent design. I knew something was up when he talked about Stephen Meyer’s Signature in the Cell on his show, when he subsequently talked about Michael Denton’s Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis, and of course when he had Meyer on his Sunday Special to talk about Darwin’s Doubt and next frontier for Meyer, the book he’s working on now, The Return of the God Hypothesis. I hadn’t previously presented Shapiro’s comments on Denton, but here they are. Take a moment to listen: It’s interesting to consider why some super-smart folks I can think of remain intellectually closed to considering any of this, despite what you’d assume are their good

Today: Stephen Meyer, Ben Shapiro, and a Mind-Opening Experience

Ben Shapiro’s hour-long Sunday Special interview with Steve Meyer will be live later today. Covering design evidence in biology and cosmology, this is one to look forward to. Meanwhile, we have these photos from the Shapiro studio in Southern California. Looking good, gentlemen. Remember, the optimal way to enjoy the show is by subscribing now. I knew Shapiro was in intellectual exploration mode on ID last month when he talked about Meyer’s Signature in the Cell in a segment on The Ben Shapiro Show. He has talked about other ID work since then, as I’ll share with you another

Error Catastrophe: Manfred Eigen’s Show-Stopper Is Still Stopping the Origin-of-Life Show

NASA recently put out another over-hyped announcement that makes it sound like they have actually solved the riddle of life’s origin by unguided natural processes. Actually, Manfred Eigen (1927-2019) pointed out a hurdle that shouts, like Gandalf, “You shall not pass!” A leading physical chemist and Nobel laureate, Manfred Eigen died last month. He often had evolution on his mind. An obituary in Nature honored him as “a creator of the new field of evolutionary biotechnology.” From the early 1980s, he developed these concepts into evolutionary biotechnology at the MPI. His colleagues built ‘evolution reactors’ that drove the evolution of viruses and other replicating molecules under controlled conditions to investigate how pathogens evade the immune system, or to

Where Design Explains, Darwinism Explains Away

Look at the photos in an article on Live Science. They report:  Hundreds of stone structures dating back thousands of years have been discovered in the Western Sahara, a territory in Africa little explored by archaeologists. The structures seem to come in all sizes and shapes, and archaeologists aren’t sure what many of then were used for or when they were created. Immediately you know these structures were designed. How should you know that? How did the scientists know that? The discoverers didn’t know who made them. They didn’t know why they made them. No obvious purpose for the structures came to their attention, yet they knew someone made them intentionally.  A new book documenting hundreds of rock structures in the Western Sahara has been published: The

Ben Shapiro Rethinks Life’s Origins — Applauds Meyer’s Signature in the Cell

A pat on the head from the scientific majority is something many laymen seem to crave. To otherwise independent-minded adults, materialism offers a source of attraction that keeps them from being willing to exercise their usual skepticism. This may have something to do with the social opprobrium that comes with being associated, per the dominant media myth, with downscale “creationists.” So I have great admiration for thinkers like Ben Shapiro, radio host and podcaster, who dare to break with the expected views that go along with being publicly acknowledged as whip-smart. The Ben Shapiro Show is impressive. The other day, February 11, he discussed and recommended Stephen Meyer’s book Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design, a “great book.” Here

Kevin Williamson on Intelligent Design

No intellectually challenging idea has attracted more uninformed criticism than intelligent design. That includes from smart people like National Review’s Kevin Williamson, who’s made a habit of it. Here he is today commenting on “The Politics of Snobbery, and Its Inverse” (my emphasis): The Republicans, for their part, have devolved from the holier-than-thou party of the Moral Majority to the prolier-than-thou party of Donald Trump, the party that talks about the “Real America” in accents purporting to be Texan but native to no part of the Lone Star State, the party of Duck Dynasty and bad FM country music, the party of such daft rube-bait as “intelligent design,” and the party that sneers at many of the most successful parts of this country — Wall Street,

Steve Meyer: Dallas, a Hub for ID, Will Host a Major Conference This Weekend; Don't Miss It!

The Dallas Conference on Science and Faith is coming up this Friday and Saturday. Stephen Meyer (Darwin’s Doubt, Signature in the Cell) was on the Kerby Anderson radio program and he recalled the interesting background of Dallas as an intellectual “hub” in the history of intelligent design. A 1985 conference there was a turning point in Dr. Meyer’s life, a story he tells in his next book, The Return of the God Hypothesis. Listen to the conversation on a new ID the Future podcast here. There’s still time to join us for the Dallas Conference — you can pre-register here through 5 pm CST, today. Or come as a walk-up. Look there for more information including a full program. Meyer will be joined by the always entertaining Eric Metaxas along with the mind-expanding

Happy New Year! #1 of Our Top Stories of 2018: Yes, Intelligent Design Is Detectable by Science

Editor’s note: The staff of Evolution News wish you a Happy New Year! We have been counting down our top ten stories of 2018. The following article was originally published here on April 24, 2018. The online journal Sapientia posed a good question to several participants in a forum: “Is Intelligent Design Detectable by Science?” This is one key issue on which proponents of ID and of theistic evolution differ. Stephen Meyer, philosopher of science and director of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, gave the following reply. Biologists have long recognized that many organized structures in living organisms — the elegant form and protective covering of the coiled nautilus; the interdependent parts of the vertebrate eye; the interlocking bones, muscles,

Meyer, Axe: “Five Major Problems with Macro-Evolution”

There’s something very clarifying about seeing an argument laid out in crisp bullet points. For your weekend enjoyment, here are Stephen Meyer and Douglas Axe on Frank Turek’s radio program. The interview was recorded following the 2016 Royal Society meeting. They hammer home the “Five Major Problems with Macro-Evolution”:  Problem #1: the sudden origin of body plans in the fossil record Problem #2: the origin of information (e.g., in protein molecule) Problem #3: need for favorable early mutations (for body plans) Problem #4: the problem of epigenetics Problem #5: the universality of the design intuition For the MP3 file, go here. (Thank you for archiving that, Wintery Knight.) Dr. Axe is the author of Undeniable. Dr. Meyer is the author of

Intelligent Design from Every Angle: Check Out These Fine Christmas Book Offerings!

Is there anything more relaxing and uplifting than settling in with a good book on a winter day? This Christmas, give the gift of a book worth reading! Books by scientists and scholars associated with the intelligent-design movement stimulate the mind while giving insight and inspiration. Twenty-two years after the publication of his seminal work Darwin’s Black Box, Michael Behe returns with Darwin Devolves, showing that new scientific discoveries point to a stunning fact: Darwin’s mechanism works by a process of devolution, not evolution. That places severe limits on what unguided evolution can do. The book is due out in February. Pre-order Darwin Devolves for friends or family members and they will also receive free access to Mike Behe’s 41-session online video course on

Nine Years Later, Meyer's Signature in the Cell Still Stirs Readers’ Praise, Wrath

Some books continue to be read long after the hype of their release has passed. These books contain compelling ideas and stories that speak to our humanity and inspire us to seek out the truth. One of these books is Stephen Meyer’s Signature in the Cell. Published in 2009, Signature has enjoyed tremendous interest in the last nine years, evident not only from sales but from reader reviews, too. From six major sources of online book reviews (Amazon, Goodreads, Audible, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and Google Play), Signature has garnered almost 1,900 reader reviews and holds a combined average rating across all those platforms of 4.25, a decidedly positive response from all but the most ideological readers.  A quick look at the breakdown of the ratings shows very few 2- or

Discovery Insiders Tour, Israel 2019: Discover the Ancient Roots of Today’s Profoundest Debates

The most fascinating and important questions we debate here have roots that go back not decades, not centuries, but millennia. If a question is important, whether it has to do with science, culture, politics, you name it, there’s an excellent chance that our ancestors were already discussing it thousands of years ago.  Intelligent design, the modern challenge to Darwinian evolution, is a prime example. Materialists and theists, Greek and Roman philosophers alike, argued about whether the universe gives evidence of purpose and design. You can’t really understand the contemporary debate about life’s origins — Darwinism versus design — without appreciating the long roots of that debate, tracing back to Athens and Jerusalem. That’s why Discovery Institute’s Center for

Stephen Meyer’s Next Frontier: The Return of the God Hypothesis

Steve Meyer is well known as a leading proponent of intelligent design, the scientific alternative to theories of unguided biological evolution. He talks here about his exciting and important next book. It’s a new episode of Great Minds with Michael Medved, as our friend Mr. Medved chats with the Cambridge University-trained philosopher of science about the new frontier in the origins debate. The video and audio versions of the show are up now at the Great Minds website. Biology reveals evidence of design, Dr. Meyer explains, but it can’t take us very far in identifying the source of that design. Proponents of intelligent design, including Meyer in his books Signature in the Cell and the New York Times bestseller Darwin’s Doubt, have been clear about that. For an idea

Intelligent Design and Alfred Russel Wallace’s Intelligent Evolution — Different Yet the Same

Editor’s note: The new book Nature’s Prophet: Alfred Russel Wallace and His Evolution from Natural Selection to Natural Theology is officially out today! Nature’s Prophet is currently on sale here for $26, a substantial saving from the list price of $44.95. Wallace was the co-discoverer with Charles Darwin of the theory of evolution by natural selection. He later broke with Darwin over the question of teleology. We asked the author, science historian Michael Flannery, to define the difference between intelligent design and Wallace’s case for what Professor Flannery calls “intelligent evolution.” Intelligent design (ID) is the theory “that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected

For This Physicist, “Overthrowing” Darwinism Is on the Table

Ethan Siegel is a physicist who writes a pretty consistently interesting regular blog for Forbes. Yesterday he offered thoughts on “How To Overthrow A Scientific Theory In Three Easy Steps.” He concedes, “Even our best theories of today may be superseded with tomorrow's science.” And no one, except perhaps some ultra-Darwinists, would disagree. He notes that theories have limits: Any theory, no matter how successful, has a finite range of validity. Stay within that range and your theory works very well to describe reality; go outside of it, and its predictions no longer match observations or experiments. This is true for any theory you pick. Newtonian mechanics breaks down at small (quantum) scales and high (relativistic) speeds; Einstein's General Relativity breaks down

Are We Alone in the Cosmos? Here’s a Real Paradox for You

Astrophysicist Ethan Siegel writing at Forbes delivers a bracing chastisement to seemingly scientific efforts to estimate the probability of extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI) in the cosmos. The case in point is a preprint paper by Sandberg, Drexler, and Ord of the Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford University, claiming to “dissolve the Fermi paradox.”  The Fermi paradox represents the problem of why ETI ought to be abundant yet gives no sign of itself. We appear to be living alone. The paper “dissolves” the paradox by rethinking the Drake equation: The expectation that the universe should be teeming with intelligent life is linked to models like the Drake equation, which suggest that even if the probability of intelligent life developing at a given site is small, the

Yes, Intelligent Design Is Detectable by Science

Editor’s note: The online journal Sapientia recently posed a good question to several participants in a forum: “Is Intelligent Design Detectable by Science?” This is one key issue on which proponents of ID and of theistic evolution differ. Stephen Meyer, philosopher of science and director of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, gave the following reply. Biologists have long recognized that many organized structures in living organisms — the elegant form and protective covering of the coiled nautilus; the interdependent parts of the vertebrate eye; the interlocking bones, muscles, and feathers of a bird wing — “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”1 Before Darwin, biologists attributed the beauty, integrated complexity, and

Computer Software Sheds Light on Human and Chimp DNA Similarity

Recently I had the opportunity to hear Discovery Institute’s Stephen Meyer provide an update on the progress and current state of the theory of intelligent design. At the end of Meyer’s lecture, he took questions from the audience. Inevitably, the question came up about humans and chimpanzees with their “98 percent” similarity in DNA. Isn’t that evidence in favor of evolution and against design? Meyer’s reply was to compare DNA code to differing computer programs that share an underlying code base. As a professional software engineer over more decades than I care to express here, I can attest to the accuracy of Meyer’s comparison. As he demonstrated in his book Signature in the Cell, the cell is a microscopic factory bustling with the activity of thousands of tiny

In the Wall Street Journal, Stephen Meyer Proposes an Intelligent Design for National Defense

Against the backdrop of an upcoming presidential meeting with Korea’s Kim Jong Un, Discovery Institute’s Stephen Meyer has a striking proposal. Writing with Arthur Herman in the Wall Street Journal, he concisely argues for a cheap and technologically very attainable alternative to waiting passively to see what comes of North Korea’s growing ICBM collection. Yes, this is Steve Meyer of Darwin’s Doubt and Signature in the Cell fame. Herman and Meyer argue for the use of drones to intercept missiles at boost phase: Our existing ground-based missile-defense systems are designed to intercept intercontinental ballistic missiles during the later phases of flight. But missiles become harder to detect and destroy during later phases because they are colder, smaller, faster and

Adam and the Genome and the Evolution of the Genetic Code

Much of biologist Dennis Venema’s book Adam and the Genome focuses on attempting to rebut arguments for intelligent design. This, as noted already in the present review series, may come as a surprise to the reader who was expecting a book all about Adam and Eve in light of genetic science. But it’s good to have substantive arguments from critics, including Dr. Venema of BioLogos, whatever the packaging may say. Thus, after finishing his discussion of the evolution of new proteins, Venema asks: “So if there is good evidence that ‘complex, specified information’ can arise in sufficient quantity to account for the diversity of life, and that ‘irreducibly complex’ biochemical systems can indeed be built up over time, is there anything left to argue for within ID?” (p.

Prominent Retraction Vindicates Stephen Meyer and Signature in the Cell

Ann Gauger struck the right note here yesterday with the news of a major retraction of a 2016 paper by Nobel laureate Jack Szostak, of Harvard Medical School, in Nature Chemistry. He and his postdoc Tivoli Olsen, who showed that his results couldn’t be duplicated, deserve kudos for candor and self-correction. Of interest, too, is that the retraction serves to vindicate an argument Stephen Meyer made back in 2009 with Signature in the Cell. See, especially, Chapter 14 (“The RNA World”) which discusses Szostak’s work. The 2016 paper, obviously, isn’t covered by Meyer there. But at the time, criticism suggested that Szostak and others were fast closing in on a solution to the origin-of-life problem with the “principle of RNA self-replication,” touted by Szostak in, for

Free Webinar Tomorrow — Stephen Meyer on "Seeing the Signature in the Cell"

It's the next best thing to being there: Join Stephen Meyer for a live, free webinar, tomorrow from 10 AM to 12 PM, Pacific time, sponsored by the Forum of Christian Leaders (FOCL). It's "The Case for Intelligent Design — Seeing the Signature in the Cell." From the event description: In this webinar, based on his first book Signature in the Cell, Dr. Stephen Meyer shows that digital code embedded in DNA points to a designing intelligence and helps unravel a mystery that Charles Darwin did not address: How did life begin? Meyer tells the story of the successive attempts to explain the origin of life, and he develops a case for intelligent design based on new evidence and using the same scientific method that Darwin himself pioneered. An intriguing feature of the online event

In Time for Black Friday, Here's the New Discovery Institute Bookstore

It's Black Friday, the traditional first day of the Christmas shopping season. What should you do? You can jump in the car and wade through crowds at the local mall, or you can do the smart thing and join us in exploring the new bookstore operated by Discovery Institute's Center for Science & Culture. It's right here! Check it out: This is your one-stop portal for obtaining books, videos, curricula, and other products relating to intelligent design, evolution, science and faith, and science and culture. To be completely honest, the photo above is not the snazzy new interior of the Discovery Store. It's the snazzy interior of the new Amazon Bookstore in Seattle's University Village. Nevertheless, our freshly launched operation is entirely online, which is a plus. It

ID’s Top Six — The Origin of Information in DNA and the Origin of Life

Editor's note: In the past we’ve offered the top 10 problems with Darwinian evolution (see here for a fuller elaboration), and the top five problems with origin-of-life theories. But somehow we neglected to offer a parallel listing of the top evidence supporting intelligent design. Many different sources pointing to design in nature could be adduced, but we decided to distill it all down to six major lines of evidence. Sure, five or ten would have been more conventional, but when did ID advocates start playing to expectations? So here they are, their order simply reflecting that in which they must logically have occurred within our universe. Material is adapted from the textbook Discovering Intelligent Design, which is an excellent resource for introducing the evidence for ID, along

ID’s Top Six — The Origin of the Universe

Editor's note: In the past we’ve offered the top 10 problems with Darwinian evolution (see here for a fuller elaboration), and the top five problems with origin-of-life theories. But somehow we neglected to offer a parallel listing of the top lines of evidence supporting intelligent design. Many different pieces of evidence pointing to design in nature could be adduced, but we decided to distill it all down to six major lines of evidence. Sure, five or ten would have been more conventional, but when did ID advocates start playing to expectations? So here they are, their order simply reflecting that in which they must logically have occurred within our universe. Material is adapted from the textbook Discovering Intelligent Design, which is an excellent resource for introducing the

Michael Shermer and the Laws of Complexity

Recently on the Michael Medved Show, atheist Michael Shermer debated Catholic philosopher Edward Feser. The subject was Feser’s new book on five arguments for the existence of God. During the debate, a caller commented on the improbability of the undirected appearance of life. Shermer stated that bottom-up organizational principles are built into the laws of nature, which can create complexity. This assertion has been made countless times by scientists addressing the problem of the origin of life. However, it is based on a fundamental confusion between the order created in self-organizational processes and the specified complexity/information seen in life. Stephen Meyer describes the error at length in Signature in the Cell. One of the first scientists to attempt to identify

Evolution and Education — The Evolution Institute Weighs In

Evolution education is my subject at the Center for Science & Culture. So with interest, I took note of an online pamphlet from The Evolution Institute, “Education Through an Evolutionary Lens.” The Introduction by Gabrielle Principe (Department Chair, Department of Psychology, College of Charleston) notes that our system of strict formal education doesn’t comport with our past as hunter-gatherers. She believes today’s education system is necessary, but that we should keep in mind the importance of learning from experience and the biological oddity of keeping kids in classrooms for hours a day while using tests to measure knowledge. On the whole, she’s right. As a kinesthetic learner myself, more of a physical style, I know it’s important to focus on more than just

An Extraterrestrial Spin on the RNA World

As Evolution News has previously noted, a recent article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences presents an extraterrestrial spin on the standard RNA World origin-of-life proposal. The authors argue that RNA molecules appeared in warm little ponds (WLPs) more than 4.17 billion years ago, transported by “meteorites and interplanetary dust particles…to warm little ponds whose wet–dry cycles promoted rapid polymerization.” The Abstract states: Before the origin of simple cellular life, the building blocks of RNA (nucleotides) had to form and polymerize in favorable environments on early Earth. At this time, meteorites and interplanetary dust particles delivered organics such as nucleobases (the characteristic molecules of nucleotides) to warm little ponds whose

“Great” Minds Think Universe Is a Computer Program

The Matrix, the first episode, was a fun movie. But as a description for reality? Please. Yet some of our most prominent scientific and tech thinkers seriously propose we are living in a computer program. From the BBC story: The idea that we live in a simulation has some high-profile advocates. In June 2016, technology entrepreneur Elon Musk assertedthat the odds are “a billion to one” against us living in “base reality”. Similarly, Google’s machine-intelligence guru Ray Kurzweil has suggested that “maybe our whole universe is a science experiment of some junior high-school student in another universe”. Far be it from me to question such rich and influential thinkers, but really? Where’s the evidence? The idea isn’t just promoted by

Intelligent Design and Methodological Naturalism — No Necessary Contradiction

Another corespondent draws our attention to a comment from atheist and "poetic naturalist" Sean Carroll, in his recent book The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself. Science should be interested in determining the truth, whatever that truth may be – natural, supernatural, or otherwise. The stance known as methodological naturalism, while deployed with the best of intentions by supporters of science, amounts to assuming part of the answer ahead of time. If finding truth is our goal, that is just about the biggest mistake we can make. Such a statement may or may not be surprising to you, considering the source. Well, what about it? Methodological naturalism (MN) in relationship to intelligent design has been a source of some discussion and

Oracle Soup – Dialogue with a Theistic Evolutionist, Continued

This is the third part of my discussion with theistic evolutionist Hans Vodder about my book, Undeniable. I describe the background in the first post, and I end the second post by asking Hans to clarify what he means when he says that conditions on the early Earth may have been conducive to biological evolution. Here is his reply: I used “conditions” as a catch-all term for any physical circumstances relevant to life’s emergence. When I suggested circumstances may have been “conducive to biological evolution,” yes, I roughly meant they may have been sufficient to cause biological evolution. So, I guess I’ve conflated two separate issues here: a) the question of abiogenesis and b) the question of evolutionary development -- sorry! However, I don’t wish to dogmatize.

“In China We Can Criticize Darwin,” Continued

With our attention to the launch of a new research center on intelligent design, Discovery Institute-Mackenzie, at Brazil’s Mackenzie Presbyterian University, we don’t mean to slight other big countries or important parts of the world where ID is rising in prominence. Recently I had a conversation with a new Chinese acquaintance, who disclosed a thoughtful interest in questions about biological and cosmic origins. I quoted the remark from Chinese paleontologist Jun-Yuan Chen, “In China we can criticize Darwin, but not the government; in America, you can criticize the government, but not Darwin.” I thought this would get a knowing laugh – Yes, you silly Americans with your strange reverence for a long-dead Victorian Englishman. Instead, it drew a small and what I took

Methodological Naturalism: A Rule That No One Needs or Obeys

Recently, BioLogos posted the concluding Parts 3 and 4 of Robert Bishop's review of Darwin's Doubt. Although the discussion at BioLogos is winding down, Bishop's review raises issues calling for a reply, because the underlying premises of his position are shared by large numbers of science and philosophy faculty at both secular and religious universities. It is likely that, left unchallenged and unexamined, these faulty premises will continue to influence the debate. One issue in particular deserves extended comment: the standing of methodological naturalism (hereafter, MN) as a rule for scientific inquiry. Evaluating the role of MN can make for distinctly odd bedfellows. One finds theists such as Bishop, or Princeton philosopher Hans Halvorson, arguing in favor of the doctrine,

On the "Settled" Science of Darwinian Theory, Tennessee's Evolution Lobby Is Simply Bluffing

Tennessee's own Darwin Lobby is working hard to pressure Governor Haslam into vetoing an academic freedom bill that has passed both houses in that state. One of their main talking points holds that there is no controversy over Darwinian evolution, so of course there's nothing to teach. As an op-ed in The Tennessean by a trio of academics asserts: It is misleading to describe these topics as scientifically controversial. What is taught about evolution, the origin of life, and climate change in the public school science curriculum is -- as with all scientific topics -- based on the settled consensus of the scientific community. While there is no doubt social controversy about these topics, the actual science is solid. Every time I hear a Darwin lobbyist declare that "There is no

On Signature in the Cell, a Rabbi Does an Admirable Job of Explaining Things to Geneticist Robert Saunders

Here's a nice reply to UK geneticist Robert Saunders's recent review of Stephen Meyer's Signature in the Cell. Particularly gratifying: it's by an Orthodox rabbi out of Chicago, Moshe Averick, who seems to grasp the subject a lot better than Saunders does. 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: 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

News Media Going Ape with Misinformation about Tennessee Academic Freedom Bill

Yesterday I predicted that despite the fact that an academic freedom bill in Tennessee includes clear language specifying that it does NOT protect the teaching of religion, critics will "ignore the actual language of the bill and falsely claim it would introduce religion in the classroom." Now, a flurry of news articles shows that my prediction was all too correct. The news today is full of stories making false claims that the bill would promote creationism. For example: The Guardian writes that the bill "comes at a time when science associations are increasingly concerned by moves to inject religious or ideological beliefs into science teaching..." The Huffington Post has two pieces, one with the outlandish title "Tennessee Science Bill Allowing Discussion of Creationism in

Stephen Meyer at the University Club: Why Are We Still Debating Darwin?

In his "Socrates in the City" talk in Washington last week, Steve Meyer asked: "Is there a scientific controversy about the theory of evolution?" After quoting many spokesmen for official science who deny the existence of any such controversy, or any reason to doubt evolutionary theory whatsoever, Meyer showed that there are significant reasons to doubt both biological and chemical evolutionary theory. He first addressed the problems associated with chemical evolutionary theory, which "attempts to explain the origin of the first life from simpler pre-existing chemicals." Here he explained the critical question of the origin of genetic information. This is the problem he addressed in his book Signature in the Cell, a problem that has beset all attempts to explain the origin of life by

This Saturday on the National Mall in Washington, It's the Unreasonable Rally

This Saturday, March 24, on the National Mall in Washington D.C., atheists and secularists from all over the world will gather for a day of entertainment from guest speakers, comedians and musicians. The Reason Rally, which claims to be the "the largest secular event in world history," features such notable figures as Richard Dawkins, Michael Shermer, Dan Barker, David Silverman, James Randi, Lawrence Krauss, and PZ Myers. But is the Reason Rally all that it advertises itself to be? I, for one, very much welcome the celebration of reason over superstition, delusion and irrationality. I am also very strongly an evidentialist inasmuch as I maintain that justifying belief requires having rational substantiation for it. Surely, genuine "skepticism" is not a position one takes, but rather

Seeing the "Signature" in Nature Requires Patience, Care, Study

One of the things that constantly amazes me in the public discussion of evolution and intelligent design is how quickly otherwise thoughtful adults are willing to assume they've got it all figured out and, having read an article or two in the popular media, cast their vote for Darwinian theory. That's true of journalists, and even many professional scholars. I had that in mind when the quarterly journal published by the Orthodox Union, Jewish Action, asked me to write in the current issue on the Jewish Sabbath and what it says about "why the evidence of design in the world is elusive to many people." Excerpt:What my colleague Dr. Stephen Meyer calls the "signature in the cell" in the genetic code, in protein synthesis, in what biochemist Michael Behe calls irreducibly complex features

Psychology Today: There's No Controversy over Evolution and Besides, We Shouldn't Teach It in Science Classes

James Madison University psychologist Gregg Henriques has a long article in Psychology Today titled "Teaching the Controversy." It claims to agree with Rick Santorum's views on teaching the controversy over evolution: Although I myself am an academic and a humanist, I actually agree with Rick Santorum on this issue. The controversy should be taught and understood by all educated Americans because it lies at the very heart of the deepest ideological disagreements of our nation. This sounds very liberal (in the classical sense) and quite reasonable. However, Henriques then explains what he really means is that we shouldn't teach the controversy, at least not in science classrooms: An important point of difference I have with Santorum is that I think the controversy should be taught in

Prayers and Wishes for Good Health to John Derbyshire

National Review's resident atheist John Derbyshire has been an entertaining sparring partner for us and I always looked forward to his attacks on intelligent design, which have been frustratingly sparse recently. He knows how to disagree enjoyably. Now a friend sends along an article that John D. has written describing, in very good humor, his current experience with cancer and chemotherapy. Dear John, please do get all better soon. I looked for a reference to the subjects we cover here at ENV and thought I would go away disappointed until, in the context of unexpected side-effects of chemo, I clicked on his reference to the Duke of Marlborough Effect, which turns out to be an amusing Richard Dawkins-ism.I supposed I'd emerge from the place feeling awful. But one of those IV bags had

Stephen Meyer Speaks to Packed House at "Socrates in the City" Event in Nation's Capital

"The unexamined life is not worth living."--Socrates As best-selling author and host Eric Metaxas explained in his characteristically humorous introduction, "Socrates in the City" is a program designed to give people a chance to have respectful discourse on important topics. That's exactly what happened on Thursday night here in the nation's capital when Dr. Stephen Meyer presented his talk, "Why are we still talking about Darwin, and why does it matter?" to a packed room of over 150 attendees at the University Club. Meyer began by highlighting quotes that suggest there is no controversy over Darwinian evolution. Then he proceeded to explain how Darwin's theory presupposes information but does not explain it. He presented the mathematical improbability that the Darwinian mechanism

On David Coppedge Trial, Darwin Bloggers Groping Their Way in the Dark

At the Darwin-defending group blog Panda's Thumb, Nick Matzke and his friends are enjoying a discussion of the David Coppedge trial even as they admit that they know hardly anything about the facts behind the affair. They are nonetheless sure he deserved to be fired by his employer, NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, and was no innocent victim. Matzke writes:We don't know anything more than what can be gleaned from the news reports and DI propaganda (and the court filings, if anyone is brave enough to dig through that tedium), and the various evolution folks have said relatively little about it as a resultSo Matzke & Co. admit they know essentially nothing about Coppedge's case, but they are sure that Discovery Institute's commentary is "propaganda." How odd. Matzke opens up the thread for

Robert Saunders Makes False (and Incoherent) Criticisms about Stephen Meyer on the Identity of the Designer

  Don't miss Jonathan M.'s great article that deftly handles many of the mistakes made by British biologist Robert Saunders in his critique of Signature in the Cell. Saunders claims he "reviewed the Kindle edition of this book," but one of his comments makes you wonder how careful that review was. In his critique, Saunders specifically asserts that "Meyer refuses to come clean that he believes that God was that designer," and thus supposedly takes "a hugely dishonest approach, but one in keeping with the strategy of Intelligent Design creationism proponents." Saunders is so eager to attack and smear Meyer that he's apparently imagining things -- or failing to see evidence that refutes his preconceptions. In fact, Meyer is quite clear in Signature in the Cell that he's a

British Geneticist Robert Saunders Weighs in on Signature in the Cell

Readers may recall my exchange with British geneticist Robert Saunders (here and here) following Stephen Meyer's lecture at the Lord McKay dinner in London (which you can now watch here). At the time, Saunders admitted that he had not read Signature in the Cell, nor had he attended the lecture. It was, therefore, not entirely unexpected that Saunders failed to understand Meyer's core arguments. Saunders now claims to have read Signature in the Cell, and has posted a "review" on his website. I place "review" in quote marks because very little of the article actually engages with the substantive scientific content of Meyer's book. Instead, much of it is taken up with attempting to identify Meyer's religious motivations and challenging Meyer's scientific credentials. Since this has been

Suspicious Circumstances Surrounding David Coppedge's Firing from JPL Explained in Fox News Interview

In a Fox News interview this morning, David Coppedge and his attorney, William J. Becker Jr., explained the suspicious circumstances surrounding Coppedge's firing from Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) last year. As we saw yesterday, Darwin-defenders are claiming Coppedge was let go merely because "the mission that he was working on was winding down and he was laid off." But does it make sense that Coppedge would be the one laid off from his team in that situation? Coppedge explains in the interview why his layoff was suspicious:There were only two of us let go at that time of a team of six, and I was the most senior in the group, with the most experience and history on the team, and the other was near retirement. The Fox News anchor then observes that JPL's lawyers downplay Coppedge's layoff

G.E. Brings Life to Good Things

There's more to a butterfly wing than meets the eye -- as if the eye needed more. Suppose we said there's more to a Rembrandt than meets the eye and that by studying a Rembrandt painting's microstructure, we could learn ways to improve surgery or firefighting. Would you believe it? The Morpho butterfly, a genus of tropical butterflies from Central and South America, shines with a lovely iridescent blue color that delights butterfly aficionados. (Its image adorns the cover of Illustra's latest documentary, Metamorphosis.) What doesn't meet the eye is the intricate microstructure that makes the wing's beautiful tapestry possible. That microstructure -- actually, a nanostructure on the order of billionths of a meter -- is loaded with market potential. For proof, go to General Electric's

What it Means to Be "Pro-ID"

We check in on the pro-Darwin bloggers at Panda's Thumb regularly and always look forward to another post from Jack Scanlan. You may remember he's the one who is always threatening to read and review Stephen Meyer's Signature in the Cell when he finally gets some free time. Now Scanlan's back again and warning that he may someday get around to reading our updated list of pro-ID peer-reviewed scientific publications:Now, this post is not about to dissect all 50+ citations, that's for someone else (or me, if I ever get some free time) to do at another time, but I would like to look at exactly how Casey describes the way these papers, even if they don't mention it by name, "endorse" ID.Scanlan has an issue with Casey Luskin's describing the papers in question as "pro-ID" when many, instead

The Invisible World Revealed

We've occasionally pointed you to TED talks when the investment of seven or so minutes is worth your time. Here's one where that's surely the case. It is biomedical animator Drew Berry talking about and showing the invisible world of life at the molecular level. It's a reality we can't see because its dimensions -- DNA, for example, is 2 nanometers wide -- are smaller than the wavelength of light but whose shapes and working we infer by other means. You'll hardly find a better, more jaw-dropping animation of the cell's "astonishing molecular machines," as Berry accurately describes them, than in this very brief video. When I say it's jaw-dropping, I mean that literally as those of us with TMJ may wish to take

Origin-of-Life Theorists Fail to Explain Chemical Signatures in the Cell

There's supposedly no debate over whether life began via blind chemical processes, but a Nature news story, titled "Debate bubbles over the origin of life," opens with the candid admission that "How life began is one of nature's enduring mysteries." Origin-of-life theorists love to regale us with accounts of ancient fossil evidence of early life, but the Nature article acknowledges that these fossils don't explain how life arose: Fossil and biological clues have led scientists to estimate that cells originated on this planet about four billion years ago, but exactly what catalyzed their emergence has remained elusive. The article goes on to discuss a new study that suggests "inland pools of condensed and cooled geothermal vapor have the ideal characteristics for the origin of life"

In the Beginning, Before There Was RNA, There Was...TNA?

Where did life come from? There are two kinds of answers to the question. One looks at the construction of organisms and says that all of the components of the organism from its DNA to its body parts were designed with the end goal, the organism, in mind. The other answer looks at the construction of an organism, and says that all of the parts and pieces came first and through selection pressure and trial and error, a functioning organism emerged. The first answer builds the organism from the top down with its overall design in mind from the start, while the second answer builds the organism from the bottom up. Origin-of-life research is predominantly of the bottom-up variety, with the RNA-world scenario being the favorite origins theory among scientists at the moment. If you were to

One of These Days, Alice, One of These Days. Pow! Right in the Kisser!

Among Darwinist bloggers, Jack Scanlan holds the distinction of having registered the longest-standing series of empty threats to read/review/debunk Stephen Meyer's Signature in the Cell. A frequent writer for Panda's Thumb, he issued another threat hardly more credible than the others. This time he writes in the context of a family vacation:I'll just be reading some of the numerous books I've acquired, both recently and a while ago. The priority at the moment is Stephen C. Meyer's Signature in the Cell, which was sent to me in March last year by Paul Nelson. Analysing Signature has actually been rather easier than I initially thought it would be.To show he's serious he reproduces this photo of Signature on his reading table juxtaposed with a notebook where he's jotting down his

On Signature in the Cell, Robert Saunders Still Doesn't Get It

At his Wonderful Life blog, geneticist Robert Saunders has responded to my recent take down of his "critique" of Stephen Meyer's arguments for intelligent design, offered and defended in Signature in the Cell. Of course, it wouldn't be an anti-ID article without its share of condescending rhetoric. Saunders claims that I "have absorbed a typical strategy beloved of Intelligent Design creationists: of devising neologisms that don't correspond to normally used science terminology, and combined this with ignorance of biology." I have no doubt that Dr. Saunders is informed about his discipline but the arguments he presents here are weak. Saunders proceeds to quote what I wrote concerning the arbitrary nature of the ordering of nucleotide base pairs along the spine of DNA's sugar-phosphate

The New Rallying Cry: "Intelligent Design Is Dead!"

Help! Some leading Darwinists have cooked up a pot of al dente fettuccini noodles and they are cruelly flogging us with it. The new rallying cry: "Intelligent design is dead!" So says Jason Rosenhouse, in turn cited as authoritative by Jerry Coyne, and now rounding out the toxic daisy chain, by PZ Myers. Actually, it's not really a new rallying cry. Darwinists were saying the same thing back in 2005 when an obscure judge in Pennsylvania took dictation from the ACLU and declared ID to be religion instead of science, thus settling the matter forever and ever. The new rallying cry follows on the heels of others, like "No peer-reviewed research!" (The truth is that, despite ID's being an upstart in the science world operating without university/government patronage, by our count the 51st

From the Darwinist Blogosphere, Stephen Meyer's Trip to London Elicits a Typical Reaction

As we have already reported, Discovery Institute's Stephen Meyer recently paid a visit to London to present and defend the thesis of Signature in the Cell at a dinner party attended by scientists, philosophers, politicians and other men and women of influence. His visit included a radio debate against theistic evolutionist Keith Fox, which you can download and listen to here. Fox presented nothing fundamentally novel, and more or less all of the objections raised by him had already been thoroughly addressed in Meyer's book. Keith Fox is a professor of biochemistry at the University of Southampton, and is also the chairman of Christians in Science -- in essence, the UK equivalent of the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA). Unfortunately, I was not present at the event in London. But I

At First Things, Ferment over Intelligent Design

We've long enjoyed and admired the important ecumenical journal First Things, founded and still inspired by a great man, the late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus. We note now, with interest, a bit of a dustup going on among editors and advisors of the magazine. Over the years, FT's stance on the Darwin v. Design debate has undergone shifts and revisions. Father Neuhaus contributed a warmly approving jacket comment to Phil Johnson's Darwin on Trial and, in one of the last things he wrote for the magazine, tartly criticized organizers of a scholarly Vatican-led conference on the 150th anniversary of the Origin of Species for dismissing proponents of intelligent design. It became clear that others on the staff felt differently. David P. Goldman, a senior editor who departed earlier this year to

Welcomed by Lord Mackay, Meyer Speaks in London to Centre for Intelligent Design UK

Our British sister organization, the Centre for Intelligent Design UK (C4ID), posts a report on Stephen Meyer's recent visit to London where he spoke at the Royal Horseguards Hotel. Dr. Meyer's topic: "Is There a Signature in the Cell?" Interestingly, the lecture's host, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, indirectly seems to have acknowledged that in Britain it can be no less dangerous to publicly voice sympathy for ID than it is in the United States. Perhaps even more so. Some guests were evidently nervous about being known to have been in attendance, even as they judged that hearing Meyer's lecture was worth the risk. Lord Mackay, who served as Britain's Lord Chancellor under Margaret Thatcher and John Major, "stressed in his introduction, their presence was not taken as an indication of

The Uncivil Style of Intelligent Design Critics

I'm going to let ENV readers in on a little secret: When many of us in the intelligent design (ID) movement read the arguments coming from our critics, we're surprised at their low quality and style. We don't rejoice at this -- we'd much rather see a robust, civil, and fruitful scientific debate over the relevant questions. But the incivility, basic inaccuracy, and unserious tone characteristic of so many criticisms of ID all make you wonder: If the critics had stronger rebuttals to offer, wouldn't we be hearing them? To be sure, there are some serious scientific critics of ID out there. These critics should be praised for their civil scientific rebuttals, and rewarded with a serious and civil response. And in fact that's what they get from ID advocates. Doug Axe's recent reply to

Stephen Meyer Debates Keith Fox on Premier Radio UK

During a recent visit to London, Dr. Stephen Meyer was invited to debate Keith Fox on Premier Radio UK about issues raised in Meyer's 2009 book Signature in the Cell. In the book, chosen as a Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year, Meyer builds a compelling case for intelligent design by revealing how the digital code in DNA points powerfully to a designing intelligence behind the origin of life. Fox, the man chosen to debate with Meyer, is professor of biochemistry at the University of Southampton, England. He holds a PhD in Pharmacology from Cambridge, and his research on DNA focuses on the molecules, oligonucleotides, and proteins that bind to DNA in sequence-specific patterns. Fox is also chairman of Christians in Science, a UK-based society open to all who are concerned with

Stand Up Now for David Coppedge's Right to Speak about Intelligent Design!

Urgent Action Required: Contact the leaders of NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab and demand they make things right. The Facts According to a discrimination lawsuit filed in California Superior Court, supervisors at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) illegally harassed, demoted and retaliated against computer systems administrator David Coppedge without warning after he occasionally loaned pro-intelligent design science videos to some of his colleagues. Coppedge's actions were deemed inappropriate even though his colleagues were apparently allowed free rein to attack intelligent design in the workplace. After Coppedge filed his discrimination lawsuit, his position was suspiciously terminated by JPL in January 2011. On Nov. 18, 2011, a judge ruled that Coppedge's case presented legitimate

Lynn Margulis, Acclaimed Biologist and Critic of Neo-Darwinism, RIP

Lynn Margulis, an eminent evolutionary biologist, professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, has died. She was 73 years old. Dr. Margulis was well known for advancing the theory of endosymbiosis, which hypothesizes that eukaryotic cells arose when prokaryotic cells engulfed other prokaryotic cells and formed a symbiotic relationship. According to the theory, the engulfed cells ultimately evolved into cellular organelles like mitochondria or chloroplasts found in many eukaryotic cells. The day that such an eminent scientist dies is a time to remember her and not critique her views, so I will leave a discussion of the flaws and weaknesses in endosymbiosis theory for another day. But Margulis was also a staunch critic of

Pumice and the Origin of Life

Is pumice the solution to many of the problems with origin-of-life scenarios? Science news sources are abuzz about a paper that came out in Astrobiology. This paper proposes pumice as a key player in making possible the origin of life on Earth. Pumice is a low-density volcanic rock, formed from solidified lava froth, whose uses include the preparation of stonewashed denim. (You may find bits of it in the pockets of your newly purchased "distressed" jeans.) The authors of the paper begin by addressing some of the major hurdles facing origin-of-life scenarios, and they subsequently outline the important features of pumice that make it a viable contender in aiding early Earth chemical reactions. Many people are interested in this because the authors present a well-researched paper that is

In the Beginning: Watch Stephen Meyer on Hubble, Einstein

You can now see the video of the first installment of Stephen Meyer's 4-part interview on the John Ankerberg Show. You won't find a more lucid explanation of how scientific materialism received a mortal blow in the 20th century with the observational and theoretical findings of Hubble and Einstein and the revelation that the universe had a beginning, after all. Meyer tells the story of Einstein's visit to the Palomar Observatory and his realization that he must abandon his famous fudge factor, the cosmological constant: "I now see the necessity of a

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

Editor's Note (Updated): We are pleased to republish, from the current issue of Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, Stephen Meyer's reply to Dennis Venema's review of Signature in the Cell, which also appeared in that journal. For links to the full exchange, Venema's original review of Signature can be found here, Meyer's reply is below or here as a PDF, and Venema's surrebuttal to Meyer here. -- Editor As a longtime 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,

Wheel of Fortune: New Work by Thornton's Group Supports Time-Symmetric Dollo's Law

In the June 2011 issue of PLOS Genetics the laboratory of University of Oregon evolutionary biologist Joseph Thornton published "Mechanisms for the Evolution of a Derived Function in the Ancestral Glucocorticoid Receptor," the latest in their series of papers concerning the evolution of proteins that bind steroid hormones (Carroll et al., 2011). In earlier laboratory work they had concluded that a particular protein, which they argued had descended from an ancestral, duplicated gene, would very likely be unable to evolve back to the original ancestral protein, even if selection favored it (Bridgham et al., 2009). The reason is that the descendant protein had acquired a number of mutations which would have to be reversed, mutations which, the authors deduced, would confer no benefit on

Hominid Hype and the Election Cycle

It's that time of the election cycle again. You know, the time when the media starts regularly deploying the "evolution test" to decide whether a candidate is mentally impaired. Those who capitulate to the Darwinian consensus are deemed of normal intelligence and fit for office. Those who don't are subjected to public mockery and humiliation. In this context, the media is naturally going ape over papers recently published in the journal Science discussing an australopithecine fossil. This provides a perfect opportunity for the media to kill two birds with one stone: attack disfavored candidates and promote evolution. The ever-political New York Times carried a story on the fossils claiming, "the new species, known as Australopithecus sediba, is the most plausible known ancestor of

At BioLogos, Still Critiquing the Book Steve Meyer Didn't Write

The BioLogos Foundation has got quite a team of Christian-Darwinian evolutionists assembled. But reading comprehension, the kind measured on SAT tests, is not their strong suit. Or so it would seem from the persistent refusal by several BioLogos writers -- Ayala, Venema, Falk -- to grapple with the main point of Stephen Meyer's Signature in the Cell and from their strange insistence that the book makes an entirely different argument from the one it in fact does.Dr. Darrel Falk, President of the BioLogos Foundation Now Dr. Darrel Falk is back with a brand new essay remarkable, in addition, for combining displays of piety with unworthy personal insinuations about Steve Meyer. His occasion is a reply by Meyer to Dennis Venema in Perspectives on Science and the Christian Faith (not yet

Strange Bedfellows at the National Center for Science Education

People who trade in contentious ideas, advocating and defending them before the public, are well advised to be careful about what kind of other people they join with in partnership. The other day I mentioned briefly the interesting datum that National Center for Science Education Deputy Director Glenn Branch had co-edited a now notorious issue of Synthese on "Evolution and Its Rivals" with a leading 9/11 Truther, University of Minnesota professor emeritus James H. Fetzer. I hadn't given much thought to Fetzer, other than to say that the New York Times noted his conspiracy interest. But then Branch's NCSE colleague Josh Rosenau, the Darwin-lobbying group's Programs and Policy Director, stimulated me to take a closer look. Rosenau chides me for tracing parallels between Darwin activism

Gotcha! Checking Stephen Meyer's Spelling and Other Weighty Criticisms of Signature in the Cell

While my chapter in Signature of Controversy responding to Stephen Matheson's review of Signature in the Cell deals with a variety of issues, I'd like to boil it down to two or three which I feel are the most important topics. Why are they the most important? Because it's on these topics that Matheson engages in the most name-calling, and where Matheson also happens to be the most wrong. (Is there a reason why evolutionists so often increase the ad hominem attacks when their case is weak?) With that, here's a condensed and abridged version of my response to Matheson: What would you get if you crossed a snarky pro-evolution blog like Panda's Thumb with a passionate defender of theistic evolution? You might get the critique of Stephen Meyer's book Signature in the Cell (SITC) written by

Two Articles Defending Stephen Meyer and Signature in the Cell in Salvo Magazine

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

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