Discoveroid Stephen Meyer’s New Book

We have big news today, dear reader — news that is certain to shake the scientific world to it’s roots. At the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog there’s a new post by David Klinghoffer, a Discoveroid “senior fellow” (i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist), who eagerly functions as their journalistic slasher and poo flinger.

The title is Stephen Meyer’s Next Frontier: The Return of the God Hypothesis. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

Steve Meyer is well known as a leading proponent of intelligent design, the scientific alternative to theories of unguided biological evolution.

We all know about Stephen Meyer. His Discoveroid job description has changed over the years, but as their bio page indicates, he’s one of their senior fellows and currently the Program Director of their Center for Science and Culture — that’s their creationism shop. It should not be forgotten that Meyer was a central figure in the infamous Sternberg peer review controversy. According to the Discoveroids’ 2016 Tax Return, Meyer’s salary was $250K.

Okay, now that you’re oriented, let’s get to it. Klinghoffer says:

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.

We’ve omitted the link to that video because we don’t want to pollute our blog. Klinghoffer tells us:

Biology reveals evidence of design [Really?], 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 [links omitted], have been clear about that.

Yes, the Intelligent Designer — blessed be he! — could be Yahweh, or Zeus, or maybe it’s the Cosmic Aardvark. Klinghoffer continues:

For an idea about who or what the designer might be, you need to turn to other scientific fields — physics and cosmology — that consider the ultra-finely tuned laws [Hee hee!] that permit a livable planet in the first place. The awesome design extends from the origin of the universe, down to the tiniest particles. [Hee hee!] Actually, to call it “awesome” is a gross understatement.

As you know, the Discoveroids’ “designer” is nothing more than a raw God of the gap argument, despite Meyer’s denials — see Stephen Meyer: “I Don’t Use God of the Gaps”. Let’s read on:

Meyer here sketches the persuasive evidence for theism. [Persuasive!] A 20-minute conversation permits only a sketch. And of course this is still well short of identifying the designer with any particular religion’s concept of a divine being, whether Christianity, Judaism, or any other. Still, Meyer is ready to advance the discussion of why life exists to a whole new level.

Wowie — a whole new level! This is our last excerpt:

Meyer directs Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture. The Return of the God Hypothesis is only a working title, and the book is still in progress. But those of us who have followed our colleague Steve Meyer’s writing and research know this will be an explosive work. This is your first opportunity to preview the direction it will take.

It’s amazing that they’re even thinking of calling this thing “The Return” of the god hypothesis. The Discoveroids’ founding manifesto, drafted in 1998 — see What is the “Wedge Document”? — boldly declares their purpose:

Discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture seeks nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies. … Bringing together leading scholars from the natural sciences and those from the humanities and social sciences, the Center explores how new developments in biology, physics and cognitive science raise serious doubts about scientific materialism and have re-opened the case for a broadly theistic understanding of nature.

[…]

The social consequences of materialism have been devastating. As symptoms, those consequences are certainly worth treating. However, we are convinced that in order to defeat materialism, we must cut it off at its source. That source is scientific materialism. This is precisely our strategy. … [The theory of intelligent design (ID)] promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.

So there you are. Despite their constant denials over the 20 years of their existence, the Discoveroids may be finally emerging from the closet to admit that they’ve been creationists all along.

Copyright © 2018. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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28 responses to “Discoveroid Stephen Meyer’s New Book

  1. Karl Goldsmith (@KarlGoldsmith)

    “It’s a new episode of Great Minds” In house circle jerk, it’s up there with Eric Hovinds Creation Today, you have to be a creationist to be on it.

  2. Karl Goldsmith (@KarlGoldsmith)

    “Meyer’s salary was $250K.” Plus $20k of other compensation. At least Ray Comfort shares it around, with six of them getting about $140K, Meyer gets $100K above anyone else.

  3. And of course this is still well short of identifying the designer with any particular religion’s concept of a divine being, whether Christianity, Judaism, or any other.
    Yet still associated with a religious concept. (I vote for the aardvark)

  4. Karl Goldsmith (@KarlGoldsmith)

    “It’s amazing that they’re even thinking of calling this thing “The Return” of the god hypothesis.” Well he can hardly just call it “God of the Gaps”

  5. Meyer believes a man came back from the dead, so why not a failed idea as well?

    I’m just having one of my weird fantasies, picturing a bunch of awkward Christian and Jewish dorks, celebrating with Pepsi and M&M’s in their offices above the gym, trying to get down and funky to Hot Chocolate: “Ah believe in mira-coools…”

    The Orthodox dweeb goes on to say: “Biology reveals evidence of design…”

    Bad design: yes. Makeshift design: yes. Intelligent design? Noooooooo.

  6. Michael Fugate

    Meyer wrote a paper back in1999 with that very title:
    Meyer, S. 1999. The Return of the God Hypothesis. Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies. XI:1-38.

    Click to access sm_returnofgod.pdf


    The journal seems pretty much publish pseudo-intellectual conservative Christian puff pieces.
    https://www.jis3.org/contents

    Historian of science Frederic Burnham has stated that the God hypothesis is now a more respectable hypothesis than at any time in the last one hundred years. This essay explores recent evidence from cosmology, physics, and biology, which provides epistemological support, though not proof, for belief in God as conceived by a theistic worldview. It develops a notion of epistemological support based upon explanatory power, rather than just deductive entailment. It also evaluates the explanatory power of theism and its main metaphysical competitors with respect to several classes of scientific evidence. The conclusion follows that theism explains a wide ensemble of metaphysically-significant evidences more adequately and comprehensively than other major worldviews or metaphysical systems. Thus, unlike much recent scholarship that characterizes science as either conflicting with theistic belief or entirely neutral with respect to it, this essay concludes that scientific evidence actually supports such belief.

  7. ” Still, Meyer is ready to advance the discussion of why life exists to a whole new level.”
    From goddiddid to god’s still doing it?

  8. This should be an obvious and blatant red flag to any school, legislature, etc. that it’s based on religion, period.

  9. Ah – I should have reread our dear SC’s former blogpost on SteveM first.

    ”Still, Meyer is ready to advance the discussion of why life exists to a whole new level.”
    Stevie’s standpoint back then: “the scientific argument that I make does not attempt to establish the existence of God.”
    Stevie’s standpoint now: “the scientific argument that I make does establish the existence of God, I’m just not telling which one.”
    Given “ultra-finely tuned laws” and “explaining the Cambrian explosion” (Stevie’s personal fetish), none of which can’t be explained by science according to Stevie, we are totally and unsurprisingly back at …. the entirely not new level of the god of the gaps.

  10. Michael Fugate

    I wonder if Meyer will cite this paper:
    Loesberg, J. 2007. Kant, Hume, Darwin, and Design: Why Intelligent Design Wasn’t Science before Darwin and Still Isn’t. The Philosophical Forum 38(2): 95-123.

    In its original embodiment, natural theology claimed to ally religion with the contemporaneous scientific theories rather than refute them, to ground religion in empirical evidence. Both Hume, in Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, and Kant, not only in The Critique of Pure Reason but more fully in The Critique of Judgment, undid this claim. They did not explain the material cause of the appearance of design in nature, but showed that that appearance could not function as evidence for an extra‐natural intelligent designer. Indeed, what Kant and Hume show, I think, is that limiting oneself to seeking natural causes for natural effects is not—as Intelligent Design theorists from Philip Johnson through Michael Behe and William Dembski have insisted—a metaphysical principle with no inherent grounding in science but rather a disciplinary condition of doing science, the only way to get the particular kinds of answers that science seeks within the terms of the evidentiary warrants it demands. Consequently, the problem with Intelligent Design is not that it is scientifically inaccurate but that it fails to have any scientific relevance at all. It will follow, however, that Darwinists who use natural selection to question Intelligent Design also fail in their attempt. It is not only logically possible both for natural selection to be true and for the world to have been designed, but more to the point, the status of Darwin’s theory cannot change the nature of the “evidence” Intelligent Design cites. As a matter of both rhetoric and logic, it is as important to recognize that Darwin does not provide counter‐evidence to the argument from design as it is to recognize that a design argument is not in fact a scientific one. In fact, Intelligent Design is about as relevant to a course in biology as quantum mechanics is to a course on Victorian literature.

  11. Does anyone have a description of “Intelligent Design”? One which addresses issues like these:
    1) What ID does, when, where, why, how, who.
    2) In order for something to come into existence, it takes more than design. There are plenty of examples of things which have been designed, but never produced.
    3) What does it mean for omnipotence to resort to design? For a super-natural agent to be limited by nature, in designing?
    4) Does Intelligent Design exclude natural evolution? How about natural reproduction?
    5) Does Intelligent Design tell us about how many designers there were? Is there any point to current existence of designer(s)? Has there been any Intelligent Design in the last few hundred years? Why would there be any need for ongoing Intelligent Design – was there anything lacking in the original design?
    6) Is Intelligent Design consistent with the natural relation of the human body with the bodies of other living things, such as chimps and other apes?
    7) Are the laws of nature consistent with the existence of life on Earth? Are the laws of nature designed? Is life on Earth designed?

  12. Still chasing that elusive pot of gold at the end of the creationist rainbow?

    If molecular clocks have been supposedly “trashed”, why does Behe accept common ancestry?

  13. @Michael Fugate
    I wonder whether there will be a response to William Paley:
    , Why should not the Deity have given to the animal the faculty of vision at once? … Why resort to contrivance, where power is omnipotent? Contrivance, by its very definition and nature, is the refuge of imperfection. To have recourse to expedients, implies difficulty, impediment, restraint, defect of power.
    (Or, rather, “What does it mean to resort to contrivance, where power is omniptent?”)

    … the problem with Intelligent Design is not that it is scientifically inaccurate but that it fails to have any scientific relevance at all.
    Another problem with Intelligetn Design is that it fails to have any theological revelance at all. (Indeed, any revelance, other than making people feel good about not being related to monkeys.)

  14. Oh, he disappeared. One moment he was there; the next– poof!–he’s gone.

    [*Voice from above*] Same troll, but with another ID.

  15. [TomS:] “Does anyone have a description of “Intelligent Design”?”

    In 2004, Paul Nelson was saying:
    “Easily the biggest challenge facing the ID community is to develop a full-fledged theory of biological design. We don’t have such a theory right now, and that’s a real problem. Without a theory, it’s very hard to know where to direct your research focus. Right now, we’ve got a bag of powerful intuitions, and a handful of notions such as “irreducible complexity” and “specified complexity”—but, as yet, no general theory of biological design.”

    As you know nothing changed since then, or for the worst as they have lost their champion of “specified complexity”.

  16. @Desnes Diev
    What is lacking inre the ID theory is not just a wish list they might have, but as we all know the substance of a real scientific theory (below):

    Scientific theory
    A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that is acquired through the scientific method and repeatedly tested and confirmed through observation and experimentation. Scientific theories are the most reliable, rigorous, and comprehensive form of scientific knowledge.

  17. Michael Fugate

    After reading this, http://www.arn.org/docs/meyer/sm_teleologicalevolution.htm
    I wonder about Meyer’s seeming disingenuousness.

    In the first place, contemporary design theory does not constitute an argument from ignorance or a God-of-the Gaps fallacy as Lamoureux claims. Design theorists infer design not merely because natural processes cannot explain the origin of such things as biological systems but because these systems manifest the distinctive hallmarks of intelligently designed systems, that is, they possess features that in any other realm of experience would trigger the recognition of an intelligent cause. For example, Michael Behe has inferred design not only because the gradualistic mechanism of natural selection cannot produce irreducibly complex systems, but also because in our experience irreducible complexity is a feature of systems known to have been intelligently designed. Indeed, whenever we see systems that possess irreducible complexity (i.e., systems with many functionally integrated but necessary parts) and we know the causal story about how they originated, intelligent design invariably played a role. Thus, Behe infers intelligent design as the best explanation for the origin of irreducibly complexity in such things as cellular molecular motors, based upon what we know, not what we do not know, about the causal powers of nature and intelligent agents, respectively.

    Similarly, Phillip Johnson (following Charles Thaxton and Walter Bradley and me) has argued that the specified complexity or information content of DNA and proteins implies a prior intelligent cause, again because ‘specified complexity’ and ‘high information content’ constitute a distinctive hallmark (or signature) of intelligence. Indeed, in all cases where we know the causal origin of high information content or specified complexity, experience has shown that intelligent design played a causal role. Thus, when we encounter such information in the bio-macromolecules necessary to life, we may infer –based upon our knowledge of established cause-effect relationships–that an intelligent cause operated in the past to produce the information necessary to the origin of life. Design theorists infer a past intelligent cause based upon present knowledge of cause-and-effect relationships. Inferring design thus employs the standard uniformitarian method of reasoning used in all historical sciences. These inferences do not constitute arguments from ignorance any more than any other well-grounded inferences in geology, archaeology, or paleontology, –where provisional knowledge of cause-effect relationships derived from present experience guides our inferences about the causal past.

  18. Stephen Kennedy

    A number of years ago I designed a new type of gamma camera for use in Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging in Nuclear Medicine. I was even awarded a patent for it by the U.S. Patent Office. However, an actual device based on my design has never been built. The materials would have been expensive plus I lack the background in Electrical Engineering and computer programming to do the work myself.

    This is what I do not understand about ID. How does the designer, whoever he or she is, go about not only designing something but then implement that design to create something physical in the real world?

  19. Michael Fugate

    TomS – you might be interested in this paper
    Synthese (2011) 178:307–330
    DOI 10.1007/s11229-009-9541-9
    Intelligent design in theological perspective
    Niall Shanks · Keith Green

  20. @Michael Fugate Thanks

  21. @Stephen Kennedy
    Yes, there are so may obvious catastrophic failures in “Intelligent Design” it is hard to believe that anyone is taking it seriously.
    One of those is that design is in need of a contractor, who needs a supplier of materials, and so on. The design department of a manufacturer will not turn out a finished product.
    The 18th century design argument sounds to me what a upper-class would think of. He has no idea, and it would be beneath him to inquire, where his watch, or his shoes, or his meal, comes from – it comes from an artisan.

  22. [DavidK:] “What is lacking inre the ID theory is not just a wish list they might have, but as we all know the substance of a real scientific theory”

    I think P. Nelson (a fellow of the DI, no less) also known that when he was affirming that the’re is no theory of ID. Probably one of the very few occasions where an IDeist was prescient.

  23. @MichaelF quotes Loesburg: ” In fact, Intelligent Design is about as relevant to a course in biology as quantum mechanics is to a course on Victorian literature.”
    I dare to maintain that the latter is more relevant. The ink on the paper used for this literature consists of elementary particles etc.

    @TomS asks many question and I pick just one: “4) Does Intelligent Design exclude natural evolution?”
    Yes, no, sometimes, perhaps. Take the Cambrian Explosion. Before: natural evolution. After: natural evolution. During: natural evolution can’t explain, hence a Grand Old Designer (blessed be MOFO!). Stevie calls Him/Her/It God, but it’s not a god of the gaps because reasons.
    Confused? Stevie’s God is mysterious.

    @StephenK: “This is what I do not understand about ID. ….”
    Your question applies to all thinkable interactions of any supernatural entity with our natural reality. I refer to Herman Philipse’s God in the Age of Science.

  24. “But those of us who have followed our colleague Steve Meyer’s writing and research know this will be an explosive work.”

    Too much excrement will sometimes cause sufficient methane buildup to cause that kind of explosive event.

  25. In your face, theology!

    Scatology triumphs, yet again!

  26. @FrankB
    Yes, no, sometimes, perhaps. Take the Cambrian Explosion.
    I think you are being overly precise.
    Myself, being a non-scientist, I allow myself a certain freedom. I don’t have to back up my pronouncements, or have precision in what I mean. I can explain the Cambrian Explosion with the Prinicple of Unnecessary Superfluity”.

  27. Meyer here sketches the persuasive evidence for theism. [Persuasive!] A 20-minute conversation permits only a sketch. And of course this is still well short of identifying the designer with any particular religion’s concept of a divine being, whether Christianity, Judaism, or any other. Still, Meyer is ready to advance the discussion of why life exists to a whole new level.

    Yes, I’m sure.

    Of course Meyer tiptoes past identifying the Designer with you-know-Who. ID adherents want their ideas taught in public school as science, and there are all those pesky legal cases–notably the Kitzmiller case, the court ruling in which, readers of this blog know, made no bones about identifying ID as religiously driven. That brings us back to the Establishment Clause and essentially establishes that teaching ID as science at taxpayers’ expense is unconstitutional, period.

  28. @DavidK, this is an old bugbear of mine: a side issue,but the definition you provide of a scientific theory,

    “A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that is acquired through the scientific method and repeatedly tested and confirmed through observation and experimentation. Scientific theories are the most reliable, rigorous, and comprehensive form of scientific knowledge.”

    although used IIRC by AAAS is self-serving and question -begging. Consider phlogiston theory, never well-founded, or string theory, looking for an observational test.

    Worse, to invoke this definition in defence of evolution is to beg the question. In ordfer to justify the claim that evolution qualifies as a theory in the sense you quote, we need to show that it is well-substantiated. But that is what we need to do anyway, so invoking this definition still leaves us wth all the work still to do.