Update on my Signature in the Cell adventure

I’m currently 310 pages into Stephen C. Meyer’s Signature in the Cell, which was sent to me a few weeks ago for the purpose of a review on this blog (which I’m happily planning to do). The book’s total length is 611 pages, but the main, non-appendix/index/notes portion is only 480 pages – and guess what? Stephen has yet to articulate any sort of argument for intelligent design. Skimming ahead a little, the first real attempt at this (arguably) occurs in Chapter 15, at p. 324.

That means about 68% of the book isn’t really about the topic it’s supposed to be the ultimate guide about, instead going into a bit of historical detail about old and semi-new origin of life hypotheses from the last two centuries or so. Mmm.

However, there is a bit at the end I’m rather interested to get stuck into – Appendix A – which is titled “Some Predictions of Intelligent Design”. Why couldn’t they have been included into the main body of the book? I suppose I’ll speculate on that a bit later on, when I get around to writing the review and subsequent posts about specific topics brought up by Stephen.

Preliminary thoughts so far? It’s well-written to be sure, and Stephen makes sure to keep it a fairly personal read, throwing in anecdotes from his times a teacher and a graduate student. I can see how they would be comforting and persuading to a person unfamiliar with the ID debate, but since I’m more interested in his arguments rather than how the book makes me feel emotionally, they tend to drift by when I’m reading. But that’s just me.

Only time and further reading will tell how his arguments for ID turn out. I’m keeping an open mind as best I can.

6 thoughts on “Update on my Signature in the Cell adventure”

  1. "I’m keeping an open mind as best I can." It's as if you're saying "I'm really closed-minded and I'm not pretty good at this open-minded stuff." Well Jack, just let what evidence Meyer presents speak for itself. You can't go wrong with that. Unless, of course, pleasing Meyer's naysayers weigh heavy on your opinion. I certainly hope not. I trust your better scientific instincts will lead you to look at the evidence presented and not allow the pressure of anti-ID politics to dictate you.

    1. Haha, very poor choice of pseudo-comedic words on my part then.

      I do have an open mind, which is why I've been thinking about how ID could be formulated scientifically. I just don't think most ID proponents have a very good understanding of what it is they're actually trying to do or what their ideas imply or don't imply, ie. supernaturalism.

    2. You obviously missed the bit above where Jack said “311 pages into it…Stephen has yet to articulate any sort of argument for intelligent design.” Doesn’t sound like he’s got a whole lot of evidence to make a clean spot, let alone wash over him.

  2. Hi Jack,

    You may be planning on mentioning this in your review, but if not, then …

    Something that did not set right with me was the implication that Meyer had studied the subject matter extensively and exhaustively, such that he was in a position to speak authoritatively about topics such as gene expression, prebiotic chemistry, and the like. Do (did?) you get the same sense? Or am I reading too much into the autobiographical narrative around which the argument for design is woven?

    1. How many chapters does the book have? Matheson's review then should not be titled 'A Book Review of Signature…' but ' A Review of Chapters 1 to 10 ONLY of Signature…' "Reviews" like this probably reveal more of the reviewer's biases than the book being reviewed. Not a very credible approach.

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