Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Dissection of Signature in the Cell

From a review of Meyer's ID/Creationism book "Signature in the Cell";

Meyer’s attempt to infer the existence of intelligent design are somewhat naive.  He summarises his strategy as “Inference to Best Explanation”. 
Premise One: Despite a thorough search, no material causes have been discovered that demonstrate the power to produce large amounts of specified information.
The flaws with Premise One:  (1) There are plenty of chemical and biological mechanisms which can and do increase the quantity of biological information.  (2) ‘Specified Information’ is a bogus concept, and one which Meyer never actually defines. (3) A number of hypotheses have been advanced to explain the origins of biological information, and it’s only the straw man versions set up as easy targets by Meyer which fail.  (4) And finally, science will ultimately continue to generate origin of life hypotheses, some completely undreamt of as yet. 
Premise Two: Intelligent causes have demonstrated the power to produce large amounts of specified information. 
The flaws with Premise Two: (1) Specified Information continues to evade definition by Meyer.  (2) The only intelligent cause that Meyer can demonstrate is human cause, and (3) the complex information devised and generated by humans does not in fact correspond to biological information. 
Conclusion: Intelligent design constitutes the best, most causally adequate, explanation for the information in the cell. 
ID creationism fails.  Even were one to suppose intelligent design, for this form of creationism to gain traction, one would need at the very least to identify who or what this designer is (or was), and the means by which this intelligent designer undertook this major design effort (which actually exceeds the human ability at present). 
Ultimately, Meyer’s concept remains a restatement of the classic ‘God of the Gaps’.  Because Meyer cannot conceive of a natural mechanism by which genetic information arose (or indeed believes that such a mechanism can never be uncovered) the role of a supernatural entity is the explanation.  Meyer rejects this, and rather unsuccessfully argues that his ‘Inference to Best Explanation’ is not such a ‘God of the Gaps’ argument.
Meyer restates his chain of illogic as follows: 
Premise One: Causes A through X do not produce evidence E. Premise Two: Cause Y can and does produce E. Conclusion: Y explains E better than A through X. 
For Meyer, the ‘E’ in the first premise is biological (genetic) information.  He also supposes that an exhaustive catalogue of explanations has been generated and rejected. 
This reveals his unscientific approach: the list can not be exhaustive, and many explanations only fail for Meyer because of the way he’s set up straw men, and applied irrelevant statistical tests.  Meyer makes a direct connection between human generated information and biological information.  From my perspective as a research in molecular genetics, the premises must be restated as: 
Premise One: Causes A through P do not explain (in Meyer’s view) the origin of evidence E (biological information), though we have yet to devise causes Q-X . Premise Two: Cause Y can and does produce F (human-generated information). Conclusion: Y explains E better than A through X. 
This quite clearly illustrates the flaws in Meyer’s reasoning. I don’t believe that linguistic information or computer code are directly analogous to biological information.

From here;

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