December 26, 2009
The Berlin Wall in East Germany fell on November 9, 1989, after 28 years of darkness. When the dominoes of communism began to fall, the speed at which they tumbled was amazing.
Today, traditional Darwinism is in the same place in 2010 as communism was in 1986. It’s wheezing like a dying animal. Flailing wildly. Draining limited resources defending itself against attackers. It’s barely able to feed its own people, let alone advance useful scientific theories of its own.
Please understand: I am an advocate of biological evolution. I don’t believe that God beamed complete Zebras from heaven down to the savanna, Star-Trek style. I hypothesize they came from an earlier ancestor through a process that we can study and learn from. I cast my vote for Common Descent.
Furthermore, Charles Darwin is to be commended for formulating an early concept of Common Descent. I think the mechanism of evolution is an utterly fascinating scientific process that well deserves our close study. The question of how evolution works is the 2nd biggest question in science. Just behind the origin of life, which is #1.
As we begin to solve the evolution question *for real*, we’ll also crack the code on artificial intelligence. Information technology will leap forward at an unprecedented pace. All we must do is take our cues from biology and coveted secrets of technological advancement await us, literally right under our noses.
But my friend, Darwinism is NOT the only theory of how evolution works! It’s just the loudest one. And it’s fracturing badly. There is no theory in the history of science that has more holes, problems or detractors than Neo-Darwinism. It’s the most troubled theory in all of science.
Here in Chicago there’s an activist group called The Chicago Northshore Darwin’s Bulldogs. I’ve sparred with them on multiple occasions. I often joke that Darwin is the only scientist that needs bulldogs. All the other scientists can fend for themselves just fine, thank you very much.
Darwinism in 2010 is in sad shape. It’s about to shatter. The wall is about to come down.
The best evidence for this comes from a most curious place: The Amazon reviews of Stephen Meyer’s recent book “Signature in the Cell.” This is a superb text, it’s footnoted with incredible thoroughness. It is remarkably readable considering the depth of its subject material.
It’s also quite popular: Today, in all of Amazon it’s ranked #1,110. Remarkable sales for such a technical book.
It analyzes the cell from an information systems perspective, not unlike the approach I use here. It concludes that random processes do not describe the operation of cellular machinery. Meyer shows that a design paradigm is in fact scientific and that it makes successful, testable predictions.
This book is currently the subject of a book review war on Amazon. I write this today, there are 188 reviews. 140 5-star reviews, 16 2-, 3- or 4-star, and 32 1-star. People either love this book or hate it.
You’ll glean much about the current sad state of Darwnism by reading the 1-star reviews.
You’ll find that many of the 1-star reviews are pure vandalism. So far more than 60 have been deleted by Amazon’s editorial staff. Most of the 1-star reviews are bitter slams against the author and tirades about the Intelligent Design movement. Read these reviews and decide for yourself how little content they contain on what the book actually says.
Contrast this to many of the positive reviews which discuss the contents of the book in detail.
When all opponents can do is rail about the politics of ID and prattle on about what a waste of time this book is, you tend to become rather suspicious.
However…. a handful 1-star reviews are a welcome exception to this. They do challenge the actual content. One such review is by K. M. Sternberg and deserves comment.
“There is a phenomenon known as pareidolia, “The tendency to interpret a vague stimulus as something known to the viewer.” Pareidolia is when we see faces in clouds, or “evil” in the tragic path of a tornado. Meyer’s book is an exercise in pareidolia: the classic “machinery” of cellular cilia, the “computer program” of DNA. He’s appealing to our sense that anything complicated needs human-like interviention, but unless you’re going to buy into the idea that we’d fall apart if angels stopped holding us together, the line between “natural” emergence and the need for divine intervention is tragically fuzzy. Meyer’s book isn’t science, it’s wishful thinking. (It’s also hubris; Meyer’s arguing that, if there’s a God, he and his fellows at the DI can tell us what he was thinking. I suggest anyone who thinks that way go re-read the Book of Job, especially Job 38:4-41.)”
Thank you Mr. Sternberg for finally contributing a good 1-star review to this discussion. There is a LOT that we can unpack from your short paragraph.
The pattern in DNA is not a “vague stimulus.” DNA is a literal code with a 4-letter alphabet, not a figurative one. Thus the term “genetic code” is a proper scientific term. Books and papers discussing linguistics and universal grammars in DNA are plentiful.
This was my epiphany 5 years ago when I began studying evolution. I had written an Ethernet book and spent 10 years in computer networking. I suddenly discovered that everything I knew about 1’s and 0’s, and all of Claude Shannon’s work, applied to the pattern in DNA. Which is why there are scientific journals such as The Journal of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology published by World Scientific.
If Mr. Sternberg was right, this silly journal could not exist. All self-respecting biologists would instruct those ignorant engineers to mind their own business and stop meddling in DNA.
Mr. Sternberg, please write to the journal and inform them that their journal exists purely because of wishful thinking, ignorance and “pareidolia.” Please inform them that DNA only has the appearance of processing and storing information. Let them know that all that DNA “code” is really just a product of their over-stimulated binary imaginations. Tell them that they might as well be telling us that clouds look like sheep.
Mr. Sternberg, I invite you to come to my blog and post the reply you receive from them.
Hubert Yockey addressed this exact question when he said, “Information, transcription, translation, code, redundancy, synonymous, messenger, editing, and proofreading are all appropriate terms in biology. They take their meaning from information theory (Shannon, 1948) and are not synonyms, metaphors, or analogies.” This is from his book “Information Theory, Evolution and the Origin of Life” (Cambridge University Press, 2005).
Yockey is the #1 living authority on information theory in biology. He is not a creationist, he’s an evolutionist. He’s not pushing a religious agenda. Cambridge University Press is not the mouthpiece for some Intelligent Design committee. DNA really is a digital code. It really does contain instructions. It’s not just our imagination.
Stephen Meyer is not suggesting that we’d all fall apart if angels stopped holding us together. That statement shows that Mr. Sternberg is not interested in understanding what Meyer is saying.
And finally, the entire field of theology is predicated on the idea that if there is a God, we CAN know at least something about what He is thinking. Scientists of no less stature than Isaac Newton regarded their scientific work as an act of worship, revealing the mind of God. And yes, while one of the main points about the book of Job is that God does not tell us everything He is thinking, He does tell us some things. That’s why we have the book of Job in the first place.
I know all too well that the typical Darwinian response to information theory is to say, “WHOA, wait a minute, don’t be so quick to apply those computer engineering metaphors to DNA!”
Which is like saying, “Slow down there, boy, don’t you go comparing this to things we actually understand. Let’s keep this DNA thing a mystery. Otherwise we might reach conclusions that are not compatible with atheism.”
Because of materialism and “evolution by random accident,” 30 years of precious time has been squandered. Investigation has been resisted because of the “Junk DNA” theory which is now discredited. If you look closely, you find that at every point, “Evolution by randomness” has vigorously opposed scientific inquiry, even as it pretends to endorse it.
Evolution is not driven by randomness. It’s driven by a fantastically sophisticated Mutation Algorithm. Cells employ a built-in program which engineers re-arrangement of Mobile Genetic Elements (as observed by McClintock and Shapiro). Genes and Chromosomes are re-arranged in a fantastically beautiful process which produces useful adaptations and new species.
The Mutation Algorithm tests design options like blades on a Swiss army knife. DNA has a huge “bag of tricks” and is able to mix and match combinations of eyes, feet and claws, joints, digits, hair, skin and fur colors and patterns, switching out different “blades” as environments change.
It builds animals on a common chassis of head, spine, heart, lungs, stomach and limbs. It ferociously defends this core chassis from being corrupted by random mutations, while switching out different variables in the head, spine, heart etc.
Darwinism is not scientific. Why? because it appeals to randomness instead of presuming underlying order. Explanation by accident is not science. It’s anti-science.
But SCIENTIFIC theories of evolution postulate that an intentional program directs the development of living things. Towards a goal of occupying every imaginable ecological niche. Of filling the earth with life and beauty.
Today, I make a bold prediction.
The “Berlin Wall” of Darwinism will crack in 2013. (I estimate we’ve got about 3 more years to go before this can realistically happen.)
The event will be triggered by some “Deep Throat” scientist who has grown sick and tired of the shell games and politics and charades. He is perhaps retired and no longer fears having his career trashed. He will step forward and speak the truth.
He will publish emails and committee notes and recordings of secret meetings. He’ll tell of organized efforts to rig scientific data. Campaigns to malign skilled researchers, to prevent papers from being published, to halt important research from being seen. He’ll report missions to trash the careers of people who publish work that peers into the design process.
He’ll name university presidents, science journal editors, research teams and grant committees. All with an agenda of suppressing legitimate scientific data.
There have been smaller skirmishes of this kind already. But in times past, the retribution from the Old Guard was so swift, so decisive, that one dared not oppose it. This one will trigger a symphony of reports of censorship from across academia. Reports so loud they cannot be ignored.
This revelation will initially be shunned by the mainstream press. A snarl of protest will arise from the Old Guard. But newspapers are dying and most people don’t trust the media anyway. By 2013 the press will be so emaciated, there will be nothing left but a dry husk. The blogosphere will go wild and an entire branch of the formerly trusted scientific community will be discredited.
This will be a major step in evolving the news media beyond its current, calcified form. Most newspapers will become extinct.
Once the dust settles, a new channel will be open for disseminating scientific research that is allowed to assume purpose and teleology in living things. There will be a “Cambrian Explosion” of new research in the genome, in Artificial Intelligence, and in the development of information storage and communication systems.
The next decade holds wonderful new possibilities.
In the late ’90s I worked closely with a German communication software company near Frankfurt. I traveled there and spent many hours having conversations and beers with the owner and the employees. They told me stories of the aftermath of the Berlin Wall coming down. And hardships of integrating workers from East Germany into the Western economy and work ethic.
This West German business owner explained to me that East German workers over the age of 40 were nearly useless. They had spent so long in the docile, uninspired, toxic environment of communism that they were unable to cultivate new habits.
On the other hand, my German friend said, the 20-somethings were eager to learn, to re-tool, and made great workers.
I predict we will see a similar challenge to biology. It’s going to take a long time to heal the profession of its materialistic bias. And, I mince no words, its intellectual laziness. I am still dumbfounded that a theory like “Junk DNA” could have ever been allowed to circulate. It speaks of a woefully anti-scientific intellectual prison. The men who advanced that theory should be stripped of their credentials and ejected from the academy.
The Old Guard may never change. Fortunately, most researchers in the Human Genome Project, genetic engineering and bio-medicine do not actually act as though they believe biology is purposeless and random. They may even say it is, but in actual practice they assume biology wants to do X, they want it to do Y. They figure out what they need to change to get the result they want.
Isn’t it amazing how practical people get when they need to accomplish something productive and get a paycheck?
My friend, not everyone in biology agrees with the Darwinian Dogma. And you don’t need to either, in order to fully embrace science.
Biology is as biology does. It IS purposeful because it acts purposeful. DNA IS a code because it acts like a code.
Countless scientific careers have died in efforts to breach the Darwinian Wall. But this wall will not stand forever.
In June 1987, president Regan had these words for the leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev:
“We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
May the truth be made known.