Stephen Meyer has a new book out on Intelligent Design (ID) called Signature in the Cell. Although I have not read the book, I am going to offer a “pre-review” of the book based on what I know of it and Stephen Meyer. You can download an excerpt of the book here.
To sum up the argument of the book, at least in this excerpt, it is an argument from personal disbelief. He looks at organisms and thinks “there is no way this happened on its own. There must have been a designer!” Meyer will surely make the same tired and evidence-less arguments of ID proponents: Look how perfectly put together the cell is. Evil Darwinists have been wrong before!
The title, Signature in the Cell, says a lot more than Meyer wants. He uses the word “signature” Doesn’t signature imply that there is some unmistakable sign we can observe? However, none has been found yet. Maybe this could lead to an ID hypothesis:
The designer would have left an unmistakable mark in cells that has no other function than to provide information about the designer
If such a hypothesis gets evidence to support it, then I think you have a lot of evolutionists onboard. I will patiently await this evidence. Currently unexplained phenomena are not evidence.
In the excerpt of the book, I take issue with some of the ideas that Meyer is conveying, but he does get one thing right:
the appearance of design in living things has been understood by most biologists to be an illusion—a powerfully suggestive illusion, but an illusion nonetheless. As Crick himself put it thirty-five years after he and Watson discerned the structure of DNA, biologists must “constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved.”
This sort of putting biases and preconceptions aside is part of biology and all of science. One typical example is the personification (anthropomorphizing) of microbes or even chemical reactions. Or what about relativity or even quantum mechanics? Scientists have to constantly guard against human biases and heuristics in order to find out what is really going on .
This is exactly why science depends on testable hypotheses. This is why experiments have to be reproduced. This is exactly why there are statistics. This is why scientists carry out “blind” experiments whenever possible. When these things are ignored, science turns into pseudoscience. Meyer using this weakness of human thinking as an argument for intelligent design is ridiculous.
Perhaps I will read the book and offer a real review in the future, but don’t hold your breath. Until real evidence appears in high caliber peer-reviewed journals, ID should be thought of and treated like pseudoscience.