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Stephen Meyer and the Daunting Return of the God Hypothesis

Updated: Nov 19, 2019

Stephen C. Meyer grew up in the northwest, Seattle, Washington. He attended Whitworth State, where he majored in physics and geology, and took many philosophy classes along the way. He's a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and foremost advocate of intelligent design (ID). At age 12, Meyer’s mother intimated that he would grow up to be a philosopher based on the questions he was asking her as he was always interested in questions at the intersection of science and philosophy.



Discovery Institute's Stephen Meyer (on the left) and host Eric Metaxas

In his interview with Eric Metaxas, host of the talk show Socrates In The City Conversations On The Examined Life, Meyer begins by recapitulating the concept of Newton’s law of gravity by stating that gravity is essentially “the tendency for unsupported bodies to fall”. The influence of the Moon’s gravitational pull causes tidal movements on the Earth, and he explains how this phenomena puzzled Sir Isaac Newton himself, who called it ‘action at a distance’. In the early Scientific Revolution, medieval scientists would assign a name to an effect, which just renamed an effect its own cause, thus, employing circular or rather tautological logic.


Newton admitted that he did not really understand the power behind the force of gravity, but did recognize that there was an immaterial cause behind it.


In his essay, “General Scholium '' that was added to the second edition of The Principia: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, he posited the famous phrase hypotheses non fingo or ‘I contrive no hypotheses’, which is to say that he did not discover the reasons for gravitational properties from phenomena. In private correspondence, Newton seemingly stated that the cause of gravitational force is “constant spirit action”--- going as far as approximating, Colossians 1:16-17, “by Him, all things hold together.” In Principia, he also stated that, “Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done.”


Later in this work, he states, “This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent Being… This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called “Lord God '' or “Universal Ruler ''... The Supreme God is a Being of eternal, infinite, and absolutely perfect.”



However, Newton was a deeply unorthodox Christian who would have been considered a heretic had he publicly expressed his private religious views. Although he did believe Christ was divine, he believed he was a distinct being from God and subordinate to Him; therefore, Newton most likely held on to the Arianist Christological doctrine. To be completely transparent, Newton also was a believer in the occult and alchemy, so he was spiritually confused to say the least. At any rate, he understood that the world could not be reduced to purely material components, indeed, there had to be a spiritual force behind the laws of nature.


As a 26-year-old geophysicist at a science and faith conference at the Dallas Hilton some number of years ago, Meyer encountered a mixed variety of atheistic, agnostic, and theistic perspectives about the origin of the universe, the origin of life, and the origin of human consciousness. A famous agnostic astrophysicist named Allan Sandage, who worked with Edward Hubble to determine the age of the universe, shocked the attendees by sitting with theists. Sandage stated in his talk that the evidence for both the beginning of the universe and its exquisite fine-tuning had convinced him that there must be something more than a purely materialistic account of the universe. Sandage realized that the evidence was pointing towards a theistic direction, but he attempted to suppress the truth because he had prided himself on scientific objectivity for so long, but the ‘God Hypothesis’ was irrefutable. He pondered the question, “What is it within me that does not want this to be true?”


In the mid ‘80s scientists hit an impasse with materialistic explanations for the origins of life, all the evidence was beginning to point away from the ill-conceived primordial soup simulated in the Miller-Urey experiment and towards a divine cause.


The real dagger was the discovery of information bearing properties of DNA and biomacromolecules in the cell.


In 1953, Watson and Crick elucidated the meticulous double helix structure of DNA. In 1957, Crick further explained that the function of chemical subunits, called nucleotides, in DNA is tantamount alphabetic characters in written language or digital characters in computer code which directs the instructions of the proteins that all cells need to survive (genetic code). There is digital information arrayed in complex information processing systems inside of our cells that directs the construction of the crucial components of living cells. How does chemistry produce code? It doesn’t. The materialist frame of mind is exceedingly untenable in light of the evidence.


James Warson (on the left) and Francis Crick, A. Barrington Brown (photoresearchers.com).

At the same conference Meyer attended in his twenties, Dean Kenyon, Stanford PhD and NASA scientist, who had a best-selling book called Biochemical Predestination, disavowed his own book after becoming persuaded that there must be some kind of guiding intelligence or “intelligent cause” responsible for the origins of life. All of these shocking admissions were utterly fascinating to Meyer. When pursuing his PhD, Meyer began to study Darwin’s methods of scientific reasoning that satisfied requirements of the scientific method and could ultimately be used to answer the origin of life problem in a way that supports a design hypothesis.


Meyer knew he needed to define his terms in order to make a cogent argument, so he had to determine the precise meaning of ‘information’ in the cell. There are multiple definitions, such as ‘Shannon information’ which is the mathematical measurement of the improbability of a sequence of symbols, but does not capture the notion of functional meaning in the cell. Random processes might produce Shannon information, but DNA has a specificity of arrangement in order to produce a function inside of the cell. Meyer pondered other analytical tools to distinguish between products intelligent agents can produce that unguided agents can’t produce, therefore the complex components of DNA necessitated functional or specified information.


Pioneering scientists such as Newton, Kepler, and Boyle each made arguments from design throughout their scientific studies.


The great irony of scientistic atheism is that the same scientists who frivolously reject intelligent design conduct prebiotic simulation experiments that require active engagement in choosing purified chemicals, chemical recipes, and combinations of life-relevant molecules to produce functional models. Predictive modeling of prebiotic environments and atomistic simulations are attempts to replicate conditions for life in primordial Earth. Essentially, scientists conveniently negate their own intelligence when designing these experiments.


In an interview with thesciencenetwork, Neil deGrasse Tyson famously said, “If that’s how you want to invoke your evidence for God, then God is an ever-fleeting pocket of scientific ignorance that’s getting smaller and smaller and smaller as time moves on.” This is the bedrock of the ‘god of the gaps’ argument, which is a theological perspective in which gaps in scientific knowledge are taken to be prima facie evidence for the existence of God. Tyson’s rebuttal is semantically appealing, but at a closer glance it seriously lacks substance. Refuting the trite ‘god of the gaps’ argument concerning ID in the 21st century is tantamount to crassly proclaiming that “young people will die anyway!” at a gun control debate, therefore eliminating gun show loopholes to mitigate mass shootings would be pointless… It's a vapid strawman.


Tyson's position on theistic belief is carelessly wrongheaded. The greater our capacity to understand science, the greater our capacity is to admire the genius of the Creator, not the opposite. In The Veritas Forum speech John Lennox, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics and Emeritus Fellow in Philosophy of Science at Oxford University, delivered nearly a decade ago, he said, “The more you understand about art, the more you can see the genius of a Rembrandt or Picasso; the more you understand about engineering, the more you admire the genius of a Rolls Royce or Frank Whittle, it’s not the other way around. So, this idea of pitching God against science comes from a totally inadequate view of God... Choosing between God and science is like choosing between Frank Whittle and science as an explanation for the jet engine.”


Furthermore, what we have been witnessing at the intersection of scientific discovery and the advancement of ID perspective over the past six or so decades are quite the contrary of ‘gaps’, and more like harmonious junctures. The more we prime the scientific method, postulate scientific inquiries, and develop well-supported theories within research programs, the more evidence poinrts towards a divine mind or unmoved mover. After building on earlier Aristotelian concepts of an unmoved mover, Thomas Aquinas first posited the design or cosmological argument in his preeminent work, Summa Theologica, which he attempted to prove God’s existence with five logical proofs known as quinque viae. This includes: 1. The argument from motion; 2. The argument from causation; 3. The argument from contingency; 4. The argument from degree; and 5. The argument from final causes or ends (teleological).


Aquinian arguments were of a posteriori logical form related to reasoning that proceeds from observations or experience rather than theoretical deduction. Nevertheless, Meyer makes a biological argument for design by employing both Aquinian and Darwinian methods of reasoning through observing cause and effect processes, thus, invoking a vera causa premise or true cause that is known to produce the effect in question.


Meyer curiously inquires, “What is the cause we know that produces digital information? We know of only one, a mind [a programmer].”


Genetic Code (Memorial Spaceflights).

In his 1995 book The Road Ahead, Bill Gates famously said, “DNA is like a computer program, but far, far more advanced than any software ever created.” Whenever we see information and trace it back to its source, whether it’s a hieroglyphic inscription, Incan quipu, a book chapter, information embedded in a radio signal, or information generated in prebiotic simulation experiments there is always an intelligent input that accounts for that information. The God Hypothesis is inescapable.


Today, some people believe the universe is eternal, some did in Darwin’s day as well. Given an infinite or extreme amount of time, anything is theoretically possible, so far as the human mind can conceptualize. This way of thinking ostensibly enables the theory of gradualism to adequately explain the development of complex life on Earth--- including minds, souls, and consciousness.


To dogmatically commit to Darwinism is to purport unguided evolutionary processes in a universe that doesn’t care about us produced great philosophers like Aquinas, Descartes, Aristotle, and Socrates; great scientists like Boyle, Hubble, Newton, Einstein; great writers like Huxley, Solzhenitsyn, Shakespeare, and C.S. Lewis; great theologians like Calvin, Tillich, Kierkegaard, and Cornel West; great abolitionists like Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner, and John Brown; great freedom fighters like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Huey Newton, and Baldwin; great performers like Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Prince, and James Brown; great composers like Chopin, Beethoven, Ludovici, and Kanneh-Mason; and great artists like Da Vinci, Picasso, Kahlo, and Basquiat. All of these beautiful minds were apparently cosmic accidents produced from undirected evolutionary processes...


Oh, and according to the reductive physicalist worldview, they all lack a consciousness because the mind is actually comprised of matter. This is an example of another self-refuting proposition because in order to excogitate one worldview over another, you have to consciously choose one school of thought over the other. How can evolutionary mechanisms produce complex frameworks of philosophy? Scientific materialism and its branches are verifiably absurd.


In 1927, The Catholic scientist Georges Lemaitre discovered the phenomena of the observable expanding universe could be traced back to a single point. A couple years later, Hubble concluded that galactic redshifts are responsible for distant galaxies receding from our own at speeds that increase with distance. Coincidentally, the Big Bang Theory actually supports evidence for the beginning of the Heavens and the Earth… sound familiar? Genesis 1:1. Although the estimates of the age of the Earth (4.54 billion years) and Universe (13.8 billion years) provided by radiometric decay models are quite literally astronomical, they still support a beginning point in time. Admittedly, it’s hard to grasp some of these figures and trust that the scientific research involving parametrizations of Big Bang cosmological models are objectively true. In fact, there is new evidence suggesting that the universe may be a closed sphere and not flat, which may imply the true nature of the universe is almost undiscoverable. Nevertheless, the point still remains.


Science Photo Library/Alamy Stock Photo

The theory of gradualism is flawed because time works against the chemical synthesis of life and there is a limit on probabilistic outcomes of biochemical structures in DNA since the Earth has a beginning. When testing the plausibility of a random search for an informational sequence, two factors are required: 1. Time available; and, 2. The complexity of the sequence. After mathematically analyzing the prebiotic and biological conditions necessary for complex life, Darwin’s mechanism of random mutation and natural selection lacks the probabilistic resources to build standard-length functional proteins.


There are too many combinations required within sequencing DNA to produce meaningful protein machines in the cell given the time constraints.



Even if the universe is infinite (or the Earth) and our galaxy simply resides within the infinite realm of space, Darwin’s mechanism still would not produce meaningful solutions to the problem of the origin of life. For example, take the ‘infinite monkey theorem’ in which a chimpanzee or a thousand chimpanzees hitting random keys on typewriters for an infinite amount of time eventually type a sophisticated piece of literature, such as Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It’s far more likely that such a random search would fail rather than succeed given all the possible opportunities there are for such a search to occur since the first simple life-form to today. The probability of this outcome is so considerably low, although not zero, it’s not even worth reasonable consideration.


The same can be said for Darwinism, which is why we must sincerely consider the God Hypothesis.


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