“You got a beef with Stephen Meyer and William Dembski?”

An Amazon reader named Gordon loves Evolution 2.0, but asks:

Why have you not referenced any of Stephen Meyers’ books (“Darwin’s Doubt” or “Signature in the Cell”) or William Dembski’s books (“Debating Design” or “Signs of Intelligence”)? Please respond.

Simon, darwins_doubt

Great question. In chapter 10 I make extensive reference to Darwin’s Doubt. There, I complain that Barbara McClintock’s work, Lynn Margulis’s work, transposition, genome duplication and symbiogenesis only get scant mention, if at all.

You would never get the impression reading Meyer’s book that these systems produce impressive high speed evolution events in real time.

His omission of these systems eerily mirrors Richard Dawkins’ omission of the exact same details. Two successful bestselling books about evolution, yet neither one of them properly presents experimental evolution.

I had lengthy conversations with several Discovery Institute people about this  before my book went to press, so it’s not like chapter 10 was a passive-aggressive shot across the bow.

Since Darwin’s Doubt is specifically about the Cambrian explosion, and Darwinism’s inability to explain it, these adaptation systems apply.

Without them you can’t explain high-speed evolution at all. With them, you at least have a plausible framework for how you get 40 new phyla in a few tens of millions of years.

My disagreement with Meyer is: He’s trying to argue why evolution is impossible, and thereby missing the biggest untold story in the history of science. We have all these amazing mechanisms, which do produce significant adaptations and new species in the lab, yet nobody is talking about them.

So yes, I believe there is design in biology, but it’s orders of magnitude more impressive than God beaming zebras onto the savanna from the sky. (Which is more or less what some people mean when they say “intelligent design.”)

Evolution 2.0 is not a different flavor of ID. It describes experimental science practiced at universities all over the world. It’s the first book written in plain English that explains how evolution actually works.

Aside from that, Meyer makes an extremely persuasive case. His scholarship is excellent. But the way IDers approach this subject is doomed. As evidenced by the lack of support for ID in the academy.

I explore this on several blog posts in response to Michael Flannery’s review on Bill Dembski’s blog Uncommon Descent. I’ve also left several comments in the comments section. You’ll find a good discussion there.

As for Dembski, his “Complex Specified Information” model says: More than 500 bits require intelligence, because chance would demand more chances than a universe can provide in 13 billion years.

Dembski is correct. In fact the math that the ID guys present (by Doug Axe and Ann Gauger for example) is generally correct. In spite of the fact that Darwinists scream bloody murder any time people bring up probability and statistics.

Darwinists’ allergic reactions to probability & statistics is itself a huge witness against them. Why isn’t there a book somewhere called “The Statistical Case for Random Mutations?”

If Neo-Darwinism were possible, someone would have written that book. So… why doesn’t it exist? Why doesn’t somebody write it right now?

From the standpoint of defending and debating Dembski’s model, the definition of CSI is just a little bit too vague – too much wiggle room on fine points – to stop materialists in their tracks. So the debates go round and round in circles.

The way I’ve defined information for the Evolution 2.0 Prize is airtight. It does stop materialists in their tracks. In building it, I’ve referenced ONLY widely accepted peer reviewed material like Claude Shannon and Hubert Yockey.

This is my usual practice. Very important when you’re trying to convince skeptics and scientists. All my main arguments are backed by secular mainstream sources, Nobel Prize winners, etc.

Up to a point, I’m sympathetic with the ID framework. Design is a necessary paradigm for understanding biology. The Systems Biology guys have a great thing going.

But as I said in a meeting at the Discovery Institute in 2015, “When you guys started this, you thought this was Operation Desert Storm. But the way you’ve framed the debate, you’re in Afghanistan. And you’re never getting out with the strategy you’re using now.”

Arguing against evolution is a losing proposition. Arguing for evolution, and demanding functional experimental models instead of just-so stories, is a fight that is slowly but surely gaining ground.

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