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At Mind Matters News: If DNA is a language, who is the speaker?


In a talk at the Dallas Conference on Science and Faith (2021), philosopher Steve Meyer looked at the question of whether a multiverse, as in Multiverse of Madness (2022), or God, as in many traditions is the origin of our universe. That is, is our universe designed — as considerable evidence suggests — or is ours just one of a few lucky universes whose extra-lucky conditions allow for advanced life?

3D illustration of a method of DNA sequencing. image Credit: ktsdesign / Shutterstock
3D illustration of a method of DNA sequencing. Image Credit: ktsdesign / Shutterstock

Dr. Meyer is the author of The Return of the God Hypothesis (Harper One, 2021) which argues that the evidence from science favors God over a multiverse. (Sample here.)

In this first of four transcripts of the talk, he talks about how and why it matters to ordinary people which of these claims is more likely. Tom Gilson is the moderator of the podcast.

Stephen C. Meyer: At a previous Science and Faith conference I had the opportunity to do an interview with Eric Metaxas about my new book. About halfway through, he and others noticed that one of the young women who was manning the camera for the interview was weeping visibly.

Later we got a letter from the producer who had hired this young camera woman. The young woman — we’ll call her Alice — had shared her story with him.

She was listening to us discuss scientific evidence for the existence of God. She found herself overcome with emotion and she told us a bit of the backstory in her letter. This is what she said.

Throughout my college career professors would constantly lecture that, based on the evidence they had provided there should be no way that anyone in class could believe in God. They’d argue that science was proven, and hence God was a myth. I was not equipped to present a valid opposition in debate. I was desperate to find commonality between my beliefs and my scientific education, but could find none.

Stephen C. Meyer: There are many powerful voices in our culture today that have declared that science properly understood undermines belief in God. 

Stephen C. Meyer: Now, Dawkins has done a nice job of framing the issue. He says, “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect at bottom. There is no design, no purpose, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.” In other words, the universe we observe is consistent with what philosophers call a materialistic worldview. There’s only matter and energy are the things from which everything else comes. And there’s no purpose of intelligence behind the universe whatsoever. “And the properties of the universe,” Dawkins says, “are exactly what we’d expect if that kind of a materialistic universe was in fact the case.”

And I want to argue that no, it’s not. I’ve focused on just one discovery: In the foundation of life, every living cell, every living organism, there is a molecule that contains digital code. Code for producing the really important protein molecules that keep cells alive. And that molecule of course is DNA, deoxyribonucleic acid. 

Stephen C. Meyer: In 1957, 1958, Francis Crick proposed what he called the sequence hypothesis. And this hypothesis was, if anything, more significant than the original discovery of the double helix structure.

The sequence hypothesis proposed that the four chemical bases called nucleotides function like alphabetic characters in a written language or digital characters in a machine code, like the zeros and ones that we’d use in software today. And in fact, our local hero here in the Seattle area, Bill Gates has said that, “DNA is like a software program, only much more complex than any we’ve ever devised.” Now… to build life you need code. Just as you need new information to build a new program or operating system on your computer.

Digital information has to be present in the DNA in order to build the proteins that service the types of cells that are present. Where did it come from? In my book Signature in the Cell, I argued that the origin of the information that’s necessary to new forms of life is best explained by designing intelligence.

Full article available at Mind Matters.

So, the pivotal question that the information content of DNA and other biomolecules raises is, can the relevant forces of nature, namely gravity and the electromagnetic forces, produce the complex, information-rich, functional biomolecules found within even unicellular organisms? Do we have here evidence of intelligent design (as in Dr. Meyer’s book, The Return of the God Hypothesis), or has our study of the interaction of these forces with the precursor, constituent atoms of biomolecules shown us that there is a reasonable expectation of the atoms forming into a living organism naturally?

World of tanks is fantastic AaronS1978
I looked at a couple of Star Trek games but was not particularly impressed with them. Now I'm into World of Tanks in a big way. Seversky
AS1978, It is sick that some people are on a crusade. They think they are perfect. That they must hunt down anyone they disagree with and cause them trouble. Sick. They should get a life. Help people. I was there when Battletech first came out. It was first called Battledroids. Really. relatd
@Jvl MVC2 and soulcaliber 2, I won state for SL2 and was supposed to go to west coast finals but two things happened no money for the trip since sponsoring wasn’t a thing at the time and college. And yes on the card crack that is magic @Relatd Yeah played the board game since I was 13, 44 now. Blaine Lee Pardoe was canceled from writing for BT fiction due to writing for groups like the American Thinker. He’s a republican. Big founder and author for BT or was. It’s a long story and involves a crazy who has stocked him for a while and had a lot to do with his accounts getting constantly hacked, something I got sucked into one time and nailed the hackers for it. Currently we are all fighting it. Awesome game though loved it since I was a child AaronS1978
AS1978 at 17, Battletech? Wow. I know a big Battletech fan. Never got into computer games. Saw them at a con and I think they are boring. I'd rather play tabletop with a group. canceled? Vas ist das canceled? I don't accept the nonsense being spewed by the Global Cabal of Relabelers and Repackagers. relatd
AaronS1978: Ok ok here I go, rpgs Any favourites? magic The card game yes? used to play fighting games professionally Street Fighter? Mortal Kombat? My favorite elder scroll is morrowind by far. You're not alone there!! I'd love a remastered version with updated graphics and map! JVL
Ok ok here I go, rpgs, magic, Battletech (friends with certain individuals that were canceled recently) 40k, used to play fighting games professionally during my first 4 years doing medical before I changed my major. My favorite elder scroll is morrowind by far. My nerdyness goes on. AaronS1978
Relatd: I am an RPG guy. I have other hobbies involving science and military history. A good RPG will last for years and years. Even if it isn't Skyrim. WWWAAAAAAYYYYYY back when I used to play Avalon Hill table-top war games. Blitzkrieg was one of the famous ones. A friend and I spent quite a while setting up Jutland and then realised we didn't know the rules!!! My great-great-grandfather was at Chancellorsville and Antietam and Gettysburg; I know a bit about the war between the states, the eastern side anyway. I live a few miles away from The Battle at Stamford bridge, the battle Harold fought before getting shellacked at Hastings in 1066. JVL
I am an RPG guy. I have other hobbies involving science and military history. relatd
AaronS1978: I would be relatively embarrassed to reveal the epic level of nerdiness that I am and hobbies that I participate in Oh go on! You know you want to!! No one else is paying attention. JVL
@jvl Not sure where to begin but let me tell you before I explode into nerdy goodness this is a topic for a totally different thread I would be relatively embarrassed to reveal the epic level of nerdiness that I am and hobbies that I participate in AaronS1978
Relatd & AaronS1978: Which games do you play? I'm an Elder Scrolls Online fan myself but I do like some puzzle games especially ones that are more physics or placement based like Portal or The Talos Principle. JVL
AS1978, A gamer. In Arizona. That explains a lot. I'm also a gamer. relatd
Not to be taken as the actually term welp “like you are a welp” my friends and I use it as slang for saying “well” only being slightly sarcastic in a humorous sense, like welpers and other weird things. I live in Arizona and I do a lot of gaming too, so yeah there’s a lot of weird language that gets tossed around AaronS1978
AS1978 at 8, Welp? Welp? Where did that word come from? relatd
@1 @2 Welp if Nancy Pelosi is the speaker and DNC is the language I can fully understand why you guys don’t believe in the designer No wonder why we get cancer AaronS1978
Semi related, another forlorn hope of atheists, i.e. the bouncing universe, bites the dust,
Science Journal Reaffirms Universe Had a Beginning, - Brian Miller - August 9, 2022 Excerpt: Cyclical Cosmologies and the BGV Theorem Kinney and Stein applied the BGV theorem to the IS model, which I have previously critiqued. Anna Ijjas and Paul Steinhardt propose that the universe expanded, then contracted, and then bounced back into an expansion stage in a never-ending cycle. Each iteration grows vastly larger than the previous one, so the universe is on average always expanding. Kinney and Stein rigorously demonstrate that the BGV theorem mandates the IS model being “geodesically past-incomplete,” meaning that spacetime had an absolute beginning: "In this paper, we use the BGV theorem to demonstrate that growth in the scale factor inevitably means that the spacetime is geodesically past-incomplete. … This result is completely general: any bouncing spacetime which obeys the condition for entropy dissipation and the Null Energy Condition outside the bounce must be geodesically incomplete. This is consistent with the BGV theorem, which shows that any spacetime for which the average Hubble parameter is positive must be similarly geodesically incomplete. The IS cosmology satis?es this condition and therefore cannot be past eternal, independent of the details of the dynamics." https://evolutionnews.org/2022/08/science-journal-reaffirms-universe-had-a-beginning-a-key-argument-in-meyers-god-hypothesis/
If the multiverse exists then there are an infinite number of universe with every possible attribute. If this is the case then there is at least one universe where there is no multiverse. Since the multiverse can not exist and simultaneously not exist, therefore there can not be a multiverse. Therefore only God can be the creator. Atheism always leads to bad science. Peter
Chuckdarwin: You show contempt. And that makes you contemptible. PaV
Seversky/2 Yup...some days they make it so easy just to sit in the peanut gallery all day. How many times do we have to be entertained by Meyer's one trick pony......................?? chuckdarwin
"... or has our study of the interaction of these forces with the precursor, constituent atoms of biomolecules shown us that there is a reasonable expectation of the atoms forming into a living organism naturally?" What a silly, unsupported notion. Dead chemicals can't just spring to life. There are two types of chemistry: organic and inorganic. The leap from the dead to living is impossible with natural - meaning non-God - forces. relatd
... so language would be DNC? Seversky
Nancy Pelosi is the Speaker........ chuckdarwin

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