Stephen Meyer lies again

July 22, 2009 • 9:27 am

Discovery Institute creationist and lying liar Stephen Meyer now claims that I think Francis Collins should be disqualified as head of the National Institutes of Health (or indeed,  of any “scientific organization”!) because of his religious beliefs.  This piece contains a quote from Meyer:

Dr. Stephen Meyer is the director of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture.

“Jerry Coyne from the University of Chicago [is an] evolutionary biologist and thinks it’s inappropriate for someone who believes in God and who further believes that science and God are compatible to be the head of a scientific organization,” he notes. “But the double-standard involved in that condemnation is kind of breathtaking because Coyne is an outspoken atheist — and atheism is every bit as much a worldview as theism.”

. . While Collins has never supported the idea of intelligent design, Meyer contends the idea that he should be disqualified to head an organization such as the NIH because of his religious beliefs amounts to bigotry.

Chalk up another lie to Meyer and the Discovery Institute. For the record, what I said about the matter is this:

I’ve been chewing over what I think of Obama’s picking Francis Collins as head of the National Institutes of Health. (See the New York Times piece here, which includes some reactions by other scientists.)  I guess my first reaction would be to give the guy a break, and take a wait-and-see attitude towards his stewardship of the NIH.  After all, he doesn’t seem to have let his superstition get in the way of his other administrative tasks, and he doesn’t seem to be the vindictive type, either. (I do have an NIH grant!)  I won’t grouse too much about this, but do want to emphasize again that the guy is deeply, deeply superstitious, to the point where, on his website BioLogos and his book The Language of God, he lets his faith contaminate his scientific views.  So I can’t help but be a bit worried.

And this:

Collins may indeed be a good administrator, but this appointment is a mistake.  At the very least, Collins must remove himself as director of the BioLogos foundation, as holding both posts would represent an unwanted incursion of religion into the public sphere.  I call for him to resign from BioLogos if he’s appointed as head of the NIH. (That, of course, has the attendant benefit of putting the ever-amusing Karl Giberson in charge of BioLogos!)

Yes, I think the appointment was mistaken, but I do understand why Obama did it. And I certainly don’t think Collins should have been disqualified because of his faith.

Pro-intelligent-design editorial in Boston Globe

July 15, 2009 • 1:12 pm

Stephen Meyer, young-earth creationist and Discovery Institute macher, has published a pro-intelligent-design piece, “Jefferson’s Support for Intelligent Design,” in today’s Boston Globe.  It’s largely an argument from authority, noting that Jefferson imputed the structure of the Universe to design:

“It is impossible, I say, for the human mind not to believe that there is, in all this, design, cause and effect, up to an ultimate cause, a fabricator of all things from matter and motion.’’

(I’d love to see that quote in context.)  The authority argument is combined with the same tired old assertions about how natural selection could never have produced the “digital information” represented by the DNA code:

This discovery has made acute a longstanding scientific mystery that Darwin never addressed or solved: the mystery of how the very first life on earth arose. To date no theory of undirected chemical evolution has explained the origin of the digital information in DNA needed to build the first living cell on earth. Yet modern scientists who argue for intelligent design do not do so merely because natural processes have failed to explain the origin of the information in cells. Instead, they argue for design because systems possessing these features invariably arise from intelligent causes.

DNA functions like a software program. We know that software comes from programmers. Information – whether inscribed in hieroglyphics, written in a book, or encoded in a radio signal – always arises from an intelligent source. So the discovery of digital code in DNA provides a strong scientific reason for concluding that the information in DNA also had an intelligent source.

Design is an inference from biological data, not a deduction from religious authority. Jefferson said just that, and based his political thinking on it. The evidence for what he presciently called “Nature’s God’’ is stronger than ever.

Is a 6,000-year-old Earth also an “inference from geological data”?

This God-of-the-gaps argument for DNA has been addressed by evolutionists many, many times.  See, for example, Dawkins’s most recent books or Ken Miller’s Only a Theory.

It’s amazing, really, that a paper with the gravitas of the Globe would publish such a piece of tripe.  First of all, the argument is wrong.  Second, it’s not new.  Surely someone at the Globe must recognize that the appearance of design does not demonstrate the occurrence of design.  Then again, maybe not.

Note: I stand corrected–Stephen Meyer is not a young earth creationist. I was thinking of his Discovery Institute colleague Paul Nelson, whom I debated a while back.  My apologies to Mr. Meyer for attributing to him a lunatic idea of his colleague.