I do not believe, as Dr. Meyer asserts, that he is unqualified—quite the opposite. He is likely more qualified as a philosopher than I am as a scientist. Furthermore, I guarantee you that if I was venturing into his discipline, I would have little of value to say. Dr. Meyer has ventured into my discipline, biology. He is not highly qualified as a biologist, but he’s ventured in anyway. Fair enough. Since he is a great communicator, we should be able to analyze the quality of his arguments.
It should be pointed out at this juncture that the biological points made by Darrel Falk in his exchanges with Meyer are easily understood by most freshman students in biology. I have a daughter who is a freshman and an intending major in biology who has no difficulty following Falk's points. Of course Falk might maintain that his deeper understanding would confound both Meyer and my daughter and account for any divergence of views but in what follows I'll show that to be a mistaken assumption.
In Meyer’s response to my review, he made a very strong statement. I am amazed that someone who is really smart and equally sincere could make it, but here it is
First, intelligent agents have demonstrated the capacity to produce large amounts of functionally specified information (especially in a digital form). Second, no undirected chemical process has demonstrated this power. Hence, intelligent design provides the best—most causally adequate—explanation for the origin of the information necessary to produce the first life from simpler non-living chemicals. In other words, intelligent design is the only explanation that cites a cause known to have the capacity to produce the key effect in question. (Emphasis added)
What is he saying here? First of all he says that intelligent agents are known to produce specified complexity. Of course. But look at what he says next: “no undirected chemical process has demonstrated this power.” Surely he doesn’t mean this. Consider the generation of antibody diversity for example. When a bacterium invades the body, a process results in a whole lot of random rearrangements of DNA sequence, and this eventually produces trillions of highly specific antibodies which specifically recognize and bind to the invading bacterial cells. The antibodies are highly specified. They bind only to that one type of bacteria. We go from a state of lower complexity to higher complexity—higher specified complexity! The process that generates this specified complexity is pure chemistry. A set of random processes have generated the highly specified information required to fight the bacterial infection. Surely none of us would believe there is a little “intelligent being” in the body directing the body step-by-step to make the correct antibody. We know it doesn’t work that way. The universe of biology is full of examples of random processes giving rise to specified information.
I'm amazed that someone as smart as Falk responds like this to Meyer's point. He's right of course about the immunological reaction but it was clear to me while reading the book that Meyer was addressing the origin of biologically functional DNA. Computer programs generate specified information too, do they not? We're tracing a causal source. I suspect Meyer's critics know this but have decided to wave a red cape in hope that readers will follow it rather than Meyer's trail of logic. After all you would not take issue with a professional matador would you?
Now at this point, Dr. Meyer might step in and remind me of our common belief that there is a Mind who established life’s processes, a Mind whose presence is necessary to sustain the laws of the universe. Sure. We both accept that. But that’s beside the point. There are “undirected chemical processes” that produce functionally specified information.
Yes, Dr. Falk but the relevant question is: did an undirected chemical process generate a functional cell? The process issue is related to a specified event.
If he wants to beg the question by saying that there is a Mind that created the DNA which would ultimately cause the random processes—fine.
Having read what Meyer wrote I would rephrase Meyer's argument as posing the question as an open issue allowing for both chemical pathways as well as the end product of a mind. Meyer states the mind better fits the causal source for a functionally sequenced DNA outcome.
But, if he does this, I would go back further and argue that if he is going to beg the question this way, he needs to be willing to beg the question all the way back—there could also have simply been a Mind who established the system so that DNA arose through natural undirected processes. We just don’t know how it worked. And that’s my point. The data is simply not in yet.
Falk is a better philosopher than he credits hmself as being. Grasp the significance of a professional, immersed in a discipline whose predictions are empirically confirmed, acknowledging that an empirical approach has not yielded answers. He is essentially admitting that limitations on predictions about life's origin are a boundary beyond which his chosen field has been unable to transgress. Yet it is clear that Falk also believes this to be a temporary state of affairs. One day…
Falk is a philosophical naturalist. I have no doubt that he is also a Christian who believes God sustains the universe and ordered it so that the physical processes we observe now, would have been causally sufficient at point of origin to generate life. That's philosophy and Falk is doing a good job of advancing it while leading the interference with his beefy blocking scientific credentials.
I emphasize again, all that Dr. Meyer has done is identified an area of science that still has many unanswered questions. For sure, it is simply far too early to jump in and say: “Stop the game. You’ve lost. We’ve won. Game’s over!” This, in my opinion, is silly. Let’s just wait and see.
I do not recall reading that Meyer advises mainstream origin of lifers to abandon their lab work. He did make some arguments, involving natural selection and sequence specificity, that Falk has not responded to.
Just because I believe Steve Meyer and his colleagues are really smart, really sincere, and really have integrity does not mean that they cannot also be really wrong. My one hope and prayer—given that they have the first three qualities—is that the day will come when they admit the fourth holds true as well. In the meantime, I will hold them up in prayer and I know they’ll do the same for us.
Falk quoted from scripture in his response. I'll do the same. From First Romans:
19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.- NIV Version
Meyer and I perceive those divine qualites in DNA. We also doubt the causal sufficiency of chemical pathways to effect a biologically functional DNA outcome. The doubt is grounded in function and the theoretical weaknesses of natural selection as an explanation for chemical pathways to cells.