The last time we used the title of this post was Discoveroids: Intelligent Design Is Testable, about a claim by the Discovery Institute that their “theory” of intelligent design was indeed scientific, as shown by the works of Michael Behe. They’re doing the same thing again, this time appealing to the work of Stephen Meyer, a Discovery Institute “senior fellow,” who is the author of Darwin’s Doubt, in which he claims the Cambrian explosion is proof of intelligent design.
Meyer was a central figure in the infamous Sternberg peer review controversy. And as we reported here, Meyer was one of three creationist “experts” who were on the 6-member panel selected by Don McLeroy to testify before the Texas Board of Education regarding standards for science education. In Discovery Institute: Their 2016 Tax Return we reported that his salary was $250K. The year before it was $200K.
The title of the new offering at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog is Yes, Intelligent Design Is Detectable by Science. Ooooooooooooh!, what a thrilling title! It was written by Meyer himself. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
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.” [Footnote credits that quote to Richard Dawkins.]
Yet Darwin argued that this appearance of design could be more simply explained as the product of a purely undirected mechanism, namely, natural selection and random variation. Modern neo-Darwinists have similarly asserted that the undirected process of natural selection and random mutation produced the intricate designed-like structures in living systems. They affirm that natural selection can mimic the powers of a designing intelligence without itself being guided by an intelligent agent. Thus, living organisms may look designed, but on this view, that appearance is illusory and, consequently, the study of life does not render the activity of a designing intelligence detectable in the natural world.
That’s a fair introduction. Then the creationism slips in. He says:
But did Darwin explain away all evidence of apparent design in biology? Darwin attempted to explain the origin of new living forms starting from simpler pre-existing forms of life, but his theory of evolution by natural selection did not even attempt to explain the origin of life — the simplest living cell — in the first place. [Gasp!] Yet there is now compelling evidence [Hee hee!] of intelligent design in the inner recesses of even the simplest living one-celled organisms. Moreover, there is a key feature of living cells — one that makes the intelligent design of life detectable — that Darwin didn’t know about and that contemporary evolutionary theorists have not explained away.
What is that detectable “key feature” Darwin didn’t know about? Meyer tells us:
Like the precisely arranged zeros and ones in a computer program, the chemical bases in DNA convey instructions by virtue of their specific arrangement — and in accord with an independent symbol convention known as the “genetic code.” Thus, biologist Richard Dawkins notes that “the machine code of the genes is uncannily computer-like.” Similarly, Bill Gates observes that “DNA is like a computer program, but far, far more advanced than any software we’ve ever created.” Similarly, biotechnologist Leroy Hood describes the information in DNA as “digital code.”
This is an old story with the Discoveroids — see Discovery Institute: The Designer’s Language. Meyer continues:
Where did the information in the cell come from? And how did the cell’s complex information processing system arise? These questions lie at the heart of contemporary origin-of-life research. Clearly, the informational features of the cell at least appear designed. And, as I show in extensive detail in my book Signature in the Cell, no theory of undirected chemical evolution explains the origin of the information needed to build the first living cell.
Ooooooooooooh! Information! See Phlogiston, Vitalism, and Information. Let’s read on:
[T]he scientists [Hee hee!] who infer intelligent design do not do so merely because natural processes — chance, laws, or their combination — have failed to explain the origin of the information and information processing systems in cells. Instead, we think intelligent design is detectable in living systems because we know from experience that systems possessing large amounts of such information invariably arise from intelligent causes. The information on a computer screen can be traced back to a user or programmer. The information in a newspaper ultimately came from a writer — from a mind.
Ooooooooooooh! It’s detectable! Another excerpt:
In The Design Inference, mathematician William Dembski explicates the logic of design detection. His work reinforces the conclusion that the specified information present in DNA points to a designing mind.
As we’ve said before:
No one can detect [information] with the instruments of science, but the Discoveroids claim they can somehow sense its presence by using William Dembski’s Design Inference, commonly called his Design Filter. We wrote about it here: The Discoveroids and Their Magic Filter.
Meyer drones on and on. Here’s our last excerpt:
So, contrary to media reports, the theory of intelligent design is not based upon ignorance or “gaps” in our knowledge, but on scientific discoveries about DNA and on established scientific methods of reasoning in which our uniform experience of cause and effect guides our inferences about the kinds of causes that produce (or best explain) different types of events or sequences.
Since the multiverse theory cannot explain fine-tuning without invoking prior fine-tuning, and since the fine-tuning of a physical system to accomplish a propitious end is exactly the kind of thing we know intelligent agents do, it follows that intelligent design stands as the best explanation for the fine-tuning of the universe. And that makes intelligent design detectable in both the physical parameters of the universe and the information-bearing properties of life.
So there you are, dear reader. The Discoveroids aren’t just making stuff up. They’ve got science — real science — and the handiwork of their intelligent designer — blessed be he! — is detectable.
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