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Michael Flannery: Astounding News Flash!—Perry Marshall Singlehandedly Breaks the Deadlock Between Darwin and Design (or maybe not)

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Science historian Michael Flannery kindly contributed this review:

When I started reading Perry Marshall’s book, Evolution 2.0: Breaking the Deadlock Between Darwin and Design, I must confess to some consternation almost from the beginning.

While Marshall was quick to point out the shortcomings of the neo-Darwinian approach of common descent by means of natural selection through the undirected processes of chance and necessity, he oddly went on to claim that

ID, while recognizing many truths about biology that old-school Darwinism denies, ultimately abdicates its responsibility by jumping directly to ‘God did it’. At least in its most simple forms, ID halts scientific inquiry by dismissing too easily the possibility that God may have used a process to develop life on earth. Further investigation becomes impossible if a miraculous event cannot be reproduced in the lab (xxii-xxiii).

Now I don’t know of any position by any major ID theorist that jumps to the “God did it” conclusion claimed by Marshall. Curiously, Marshall seems to admit this in a note at the bottom of the same page in the tiniest of fonts:

But it’s important to note that for many ID advocates, God has little to do with ID. There’s an important distinction between IDers who believe in episodes of divine intervention and IDers who, often apart from religion, observe that mindless, materialistic processes simply fail to explain or adequately describe many aspects of living things (see Discovery Institute at http://discovery.org/about, accessed January 13, 2015). . . . ID asserts that the same principles of design employed in architecture, computer science, and music are valid and necessary in science and biology. One need not care about theological questions to recognize that Darwinism fails to answer science questions as well. In the pages to come I’ll describe why, from an engineering and technology point of view, ID raises question we cannot afford to ignore—because they are not only scientifically sound but commercially valuable.

So, which is it? Is ID, as Marshall asserts in his main text, a misguided “God did it” science-stopper or is it what he claims in his tiny-fonted footnote? It seems to me that Marshall starts out from the beginning talking out of both sides of his mouth.

He seems to suggest that ID is too direct, too immediate an inference to a designer; that ID is necessary only insofar as it is mediated through processes. (Aren’t those the very “principles” [i.e. processes] of architecture, computer science, and music to which he alludes?) Given this, I fail to see where he is adding anything new. His so-called “third way” is really just another version of ID. In fact Stephen Meyer’s excellent definition of ID makes this whole book unnecessary. Meyer states quite clearly, “the theory of intelligent design holds that there are tell-tale features of living systems and the universe that are best explained by an intelligent cause—that is, by the conscious choice of a rational agent—rather than by an undirected process” (Signature in the Cell, 4). So the issue isn’t process vs. miracle, rather it is between directed and undirected process. I would direct attention to Meyer’s use of the word “tell-tale.”

There is no “jump” to “God did it” or even to the miraculous in this definition—Paley is not waving his magic wand here—the “tell-tale” signs are essentially forensic, precisely embedded in the codes, etc. that Marshall is talking about. But strangely one searches in vain for any mention of Meyer’s Signature book and perusal of the bibliography finds it conspicuously absent.

Michael Flannery
Michael Flannery

Nevertheless, there is much good in the book. Marshall makes much of the coding capacities of cells, which makes him predictably enamored of Lynn Margulis’s symbiogenesis. However, he departs from her larger Gaia hypothesis that sees these tiny marvels as simply wholly non-teleological, self-creating and self-sustaining properties of nature. (Good thing too, an interview with Margulis published in Discover [April 2011] just months before her death ventured toward the bizarre when she claimed “consciousness is a property of all living cells.”) Marshall really does believe that nature is teleological and that an outside code-giver can only explain the first biological cell, and it follows that his definition of Evolution 2.0 is “the cell’s capacity to adapt and to generate new features and new species by engineering its own genetics in real time” (145).

It can do this through his “Swiss Army knife” analogy whereby Evolution 2.0 functions through the “five blades” of epigenetics, transposition, horizontal gene transfer, hybridization, and symbiogenesis. Marshall points out that Evolution 2.0 is fast, organized, adaptive, and functions through natural genetic engineering. However, lest he fall prey to simply accepting Margulis’s strange “cells are intelligent” argument, Marshall passionately defends a theistic (indeed Christian) solution to the question of an ultimate Code-Giver, the inventor and patent- holder of his “Swiss Army knife.” Marshall also ably defends Mike Behe’s irreducible complexity argument against all challenges, pointing out that “none of the papers that challenge the irreducible complexity argument about the flagellum solve the problem within the gradual-mutation framework [italics in the original]” (172). Furthermore, Marshall’s understanding of the relationship of science/faith question is cogently addressed in his chapter 28, “On the Shoulders of Giants: When Men of Science Were Also Men of Faith.”

Marshall is certain of his thesis, so certain in fact that he’s is offering a $10 million-dollar prize to anyone or group who can demonstrate a naturally occurring code—i.e, $100,000 for anyone that discovers “a purely chemical process that produces codes” (201) and $9.9 million if it is patentable. His appendix 4 outlines eleven specific and clearly defined criteria that must be met to claim this prize. Of course, given everything else in Marshall’s book, his money should be safe. He is putting his readers on a fool’s errand. While the prize makes for an interesting media stunt, it shows the author’s sense of marketing and attention-getting maneuvers to gain visibility for his ideas. Frankly, I like this gutsy approach despite its rather P. T. Barnum flavor.

However, on the whole I find this book an effort at co-option. Marshall is simply taking ID concepts and ideas and re-packaging them as Evolution 2.0. Perhaps that’s to get folks to understand and accept ID, or (less generously) perhaps it might just be to sell books. I’m not suggesting Marshall is being disingenuous (I’m sure he’s committed to every word of his book), but frankly most of the salient ideas in it have already been long and well expressed by ID proponents, and efforts to belittle the ID brand are misguided and self-serving. Marshall’s truly original contribution is that he claims his book is “breaking the deadlock between Darwin and design” by creating a so-called “third way.” But, in fact, his “third way” adds nothing new to any of the basic ID arguments offered by its modern-day proponents.

So, in the end, I can only offer a final assessment reminiscent of a devastating 18th-century critique attributed to Samuel Johnson: Mr. Marshall, your book “is both good and original but the part that is good is not original and the part that is original is not good.” My advice to Marshall is simple: stop co-opting the ideas to which you subscribe and start cooperating with your manifest allies. More is to be gained by working in concert than in conflict.

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Note: Perry Marshall  (left) vs. P.Z.Myers (radio)

Perry Marshall is an online marketing strategist with a background in computer engineering. His new book ‘Evolution 2.0: Breaking the deadlock between Darwin and Design’ claims to show a ‘third way’ which proves evolutionary changes are neither random not accidental but are targeted, adaptive and aware.PZ Myers is well known as an evolutionary biologist and strident atheist blogger. He believes Marshall’s book is flawed. They debate the mechanics of the cell, how information arises and whether…

54 Replies to “Michael Flannery: Astounding News Flash!—Perry Marshall Singlehandedly Breaks the Deadlock Between Darwin and Design (or maybe not)

  1. 1
    Mapou says:

    Perry Marshall speaks from both sides of his mouth, i.e., with a forked tongue. Besides, I never understood the claim that God-did-it somehow stops scientific inquiry. Where did that come from? Isaac Newton also believed that God did it. Did that prevent him from becoming the father of modern physics? On the contrary, Newton credited his belief in a logical God for his understanding of nature.

  2. 2
    tjguy says:

    “So the issue isn’t process vs. miracle, rather it is between directed and undirected process.”

    So is this the only difference between Theistic Evolution and ID now?

  3. 3
    Robert Byers says:

    ID did not jump but concluded on the rules of human investigation that complexity shows a complicated thinker behind the creation of the complexity.

  4. 4
    Robert Byers says:

    I’m not able to post because the thing keeps telling me the time limit has finished which is not true as I post quick things. Is there anyone who can tell me whats wrong?

  5. 5
    tjguy says:

    Marshall says:

    At least in its most simple forms, ID halts scientific inquiry by dismissing too easily the possibility that God may have used a process to develop life on earth. Further investigation becomes impossible if a miraculous event cannot be reproduced in the lab (xxii-xxiii).

    OK, fair enough, but is there ever a point when we are permitted to recognize the “God did it.” idea as a real possibility? Or are we committed to searching for a natural solution to the day we die? Modern day “science” has decided to arbitrarily rule out that possibility.

    True, it sure does keep the door open for further research – probably forever! But it doesn’t necessarily mean we will ever arrive at the truth for philosophical reasons.

    It seems to me that Perry is saying that we can never allow a role for the Creator and never allow for the possibility that the Creator might have used a miracle in the creative process.

    In order to keep it all “scientific”, perhaps that is the position that we must take, but personally, I’m not comfortable with simply ruling out any and all possibility of a supernatural God using His supernatural power to create the world. I don’t think that the Designer really has any concern for the demands of “science”. I don’t think He has any interest in making sure that the way He created the world meets the arbitrary standards set up by scientists so that His creative process can be legitimately labelled “scientific”. That’s just plain old silly if you ask me.

    I’m afraid that in our effort to remain respectable in the “scientific” community, we have put unnatural limits on the Creator. We rob Him of the glory that He deserves for His creative power and work by limiting how He is allowed to use His unlimited power and wisdom.

    OK, so I’m a creationist, but it seems to me that ID, in it’s determined effort to be a viable scientific theory, is very possibly getting further and further away from the truth.

  6. 6
    tjguy says:

    Robert asks: “I’m not able to post because the thing keeps telling me the time limit has finished which is not true as I post quick things. Is there anyone who can tell me whats wrong?”

    Robert, I think all you need to do is to refresh the capcha numbers before trying to post. I have had the same problem. Must be a change in the system. But if you click on those two arrows that form a circle beside the capcha numbers and then enter the number right before you post your message, it should work fine.

  7. 7
    EugeneS says:

    Tjguy:

    “I’m afraid that in our effort to remain respectable in the “scientific” community, we have put unnatural limits on the Creator. We rob Him of the glory that He deserves for His creative power and work by limiting how He is allowed to use His unlimited power and wisdom.”

    I sympathize with your view. The fundamental distinction between science and religion is the notion of miracle. For this reason, I am personally not in favor of explaining the Revelation in terms of science because science is not up to the task. Science is too weak, too limited to provide a basis for a world view. For science there is no miracle (for understandable reasons). But, as you point out, the big picture perspective must not be lost, which is, imo, that everything is really a miracle (including science itself, why it works, etc.). This is a distinction between scientists and poets, in the parlance of G. Chesterton.

  8. 8
    Virgil Cain says:

    I read the book and Marshall has obviously never read “Not By Chance” by Lee Spetner nor its follow up “The Evolution Revolution” as he “borrows” some of its concepts, ie the evolution happens but not by chance, ie mutations are not all happenstance occurrences.

    The best part of the book, however, was his information challenge, offering 3.1 million dollars to anyone who can show a code can come from something other than intelligent agencies. 3.1 million not 10 million- http://cosmicfingerprints.com/solve/

    As for God halting scientific inquiry- LoL! The founders of modern science saw science as a way of understanding God’s Creation.

  9. 9
    Mung says:

    I recently witnesses an exchange between Casey Luskin and Perry Marshall, and Casey would repeatedly say that this or that feature was designed and then just stop.

    So whether or not that full stop indicated [insert designer here] or something else it certainly makes it appear to opponents of ID that that the default thing to insert is “goddidit.”

    Perry’s argument is that until ID ceases to say therefore design and then stop there, it will always be perceived as a god of the gaps style argument that is a science stopper.

    I agree with Perry about that.

  10. 10
    Mung says:

    Hi Robert,

    Compose your post then click on the two arrows that make a circle to re-fresh the captcha. Fill in the new captcha and then post comment.

    The key is to refresh the captcha just prior to committing the post.

  11. 11
    nightlight says:

    Now I don’t know of any position by any major ID theorist that jumps to the “God did it” conclusion claimed by Marshall.

    Mayer, Dembski and others at DI routinely point to supernatural mind or deus ex machina as the source of the intelligence behind (some cases of) biological complexity. That’s merely euphemistic rephrasing of “God did it.”

  12. 12
    Virgil Cain says:

    Mung, ID is about the detection and study of design. That means it doesn’t stop at “it’s designed”. There is still plenty of work to do to figure out the design so that we can either maintain it, fix it or duplicate it.

  13. 13
    Eric Anderson says:

    Why is it so hard for some people to understand the difference between the specific claims of a theory and the potential implications of those claims?

    ID has never identified the designer. It doesn’t seek to. It doesn’t claim to be able to. It is not a theory of everything. It addresses a very limited set of questions.

    Many supporters of Darwinism seem keen on pointing out that belief in Darwinism does not, in and of itself, entail atheism. Yet they can’t seem to make the logical connection on the other side of the coin. Apparently they are operating with some kind of philosophical bias or mental block . . .

  14. 14
    jerry says:

    The whole ID premise is based on probability. Namely, that the probability of an intelligent designer for a complex functioning entity is much higher than the probability for a natural explanation for this entity.

    No mention of God. No mention of the designer’s motives. No mention of who or what the designer is.

    Answering questions about these issues is beyond ID.

    The main argument against ID is that there was no possible designer, thus, there must be a naturalistic explanation. It is an argument based on fiat or assertion. The ID argument is different and is based on logic and not fiat. It is there is a high probability that there was a designer, since naturalistic methods are highly improbable.

    No God of the gaps argument. It leaves open the possibility for a naturalistic explanation but at present the odds are infinitesimally low. The real gaps argument is on the other side, in that they have ruled out a designer arbitrarily.

    Remember Dawkins gave the game away when he revealed his true beliefs by saying that a designer makes the most sense just as long as it is not God.

  15. 15
    bill cole says:

    I know Perry and have discussed ID with him. His strategy is to simply create a platform that cleans up evolutionary theory from its current state of dogma. He has no problem with the concept of ID he only wants its supporters working on science that connects the concept with the mechanism through experiment. I think Doug Axe and Ann Gauger’s recent paper is nicely moving in this direction.http://www.donotlink.com/htdp

  16. 16
    Flannery says:

    Virgil,

    Just a quick point: If you go to chapter 23, “Information: The Ten-Million-Dollar Question,” of Marshall’s book you’ll see where he is offering a total prize of $10 million.

  17. 17

    “Goddidit” no more stops science than “nature & chance did it”. “God did it” doesn’t stop anyone from modeling the behavior of matter and calling that model of behavior a “natural law”, a specific kind of energy, or a force.

    ID is a paradigm of investigation, just as naturalism is a paradigm of investigation. What are you looking for? How are you looking for it? What do you expect to find? Where are you looking? The reason a lot of what modern biology has found is both unexpected and troubling is because it doesn’t fit the naturalistic paradigm – what we would expect to see under a framework limited to law and chance.

    Are natural laws even something you’d expect under a non-ID paradigm?

    ID is a broader paradigm because it can rightfully ask not only naturalistic questions and pursue naturalistic investigations, but also those that require design, purpose and teleology.

  18. 18
    Mung says:

    A point that Perry makes is that the ID community needs to start taking seriously how it is perceived by others, especially within science.

    Such perceptions include that it’s a science stopper and that it’s a god designer of the gaps argument.

    Saying it’s not a designer of the gaps argument and that it’s not a science stopper doesn’t help if the typical offering of ID is for someone to say “therefore intelligent design is a better explanation” and stop with that statement.

    If the goal of the ID movement is to get miracles accepted within science, so much the worse for ID. If it’s miraculous then it’s no better than goddidit. If it’s not miraculous then there ought to be more that can be said than “therefore design.”

  19. 19
    gpuccio says:

    As I have often discussed here, I am absolutely convinced that a design paradigm must bring us to a lot of new questions:

    Who is the designer or the designers?
    When did the design happen?
    What implementation procedures were used?
    What kind of consciousness-matter interface is implied?
    Where was the design implemented?
    Was it sudden or gradual?

    And so on.

    All of those questions must be addressed exclusively on a scientific basis: answers, is and when are possible, must be suggested only by observed facts and good inferences from them.

  20. 20
    Virgil Cain says:

    LoL! @ me OK Mike Flannery, got it. My bad. The prize can possibly reach 10 million.

  21. 21
    Eric Anderson says:

    Mung @18:

    . . . the ID community needs to start taking seriously how it is perceived by others, especially within science.

    Meaning what? ID proponents certainly have an excellent idea of how ID is perceived among the establishment. So what does it mean that we should start taking it seriously?

    That ID proponents should roll over and accept that ID means what its detractors say it means?

    Or perhaps ID proponents should continue to try to make sure it is perceived correctly, through the (admittedly slow and laborious) effort to correct misunderstandings, combat blatantly false allegations, with the hope that some people will be smart enough to pay attention and understand what ID actually is.

    The strength of ID lies precisely in the fact that it limits itself to a narrow, clearly-identifiable, clearly-investigatable set of questions. It doesn’t pretend to be a theory of everything.

    Now someone could be an ID proponent and use that ID background or go beyond ID to start investigating additional questions, like those gpuccio mentions @19. But that does not mean that ID itself is concerned with questions like the identity of the designer, or whether design was gradual or sudden, or what procedures were used to implement the design.

    Again, we need to be extremely scrupulous about distinguishing between the concept of intelligent design — the design inference itself — and what people might do with that inference once it is made.

    Failure to be scrupulous (including, unfortunately, by many people who are sympathetic to design) is indeed part of the source of the problem about perception within the science community.

  22. 22
    Eric Anderson says:

    Incidentally, I don’t know that it is possible to ever get away from the fact that some people supportive of ID will promote a wrong impression of ID.

    ID is, in that sense, in a similar position to that of Darwinism:

    There are always going to be people who point to ID as “proof” of the existence of God, or their particular version of God, or some other personal religious or philosophical preference. Just as there are always going to be people who point to Darwinism as “proof” for their atheistic worldview.

    The best we can do is continue to be clear about what the design inference is and what it isn’t, and hope that most people will eventually come around to understanding where the line is.

  23. 23
    gpuccio says:

    Eric Anderson:

    Thank you for your very good insights.

    My point is very simple: the design inference has nothing to do with all the questions I mentioned, and is independent from such considerations.

    However, once one accepts the design inference for a whole class of objects (the biological objects), or at least for most of them, then those questions become scientifically necessary and legitimate (which does not mean that all of them can find an answer, at least with our available data).

    I think that ID should be a general paradigm, which starts with the design inference and goes on with a whole new scientific approach to reality.

  24. 24
    Mapou says:

    There is lot that can be inferred about the designers of life on earth from observing current living organisms and the fossil record. Here are a few that fall off the top of my head.

    1. There were many of them. This is evident in the different styles and sense of humor/beauty we see in the created organisms.
    2. Some of the designers were exceedingly infatuated with bugs.
    3. They were not in a hurry. They had no problem with conducting ecological experiments that lasted hundreds of millions of years or more.
    4. They either made mistakes or changed their minds about previous designs on several occasions as evidenced by the massive extinction events seen in the fossil record. But it could also be that those events were planned from the beginning of the experiments.
    5. They strongly believe in the age-old practice of reusing previous designs as much as possible. This is why the different species share so many genes in common and why they fall into a mostly nested hierarchy. Intelligent design 101.
    6. They obviously have a way to store different genes and sequences, and a way to edit, mix and match them on demand.
    7. They have the ability to transfer genes that were designed for one species into other distantly related species.
    8. They love hierarchical designs: Both the genome and the brain’s cortex have a hierarchical organization.
    9. They seem to have based they work on a Yin-Yang principle: male/female, left/right brain hemispheres, double helix, etc.
    10. They are obviously conducting a grand experiment which is still ongoing. And humans seem to be the main subjects of the experiment.

    There is a lot more that can be inferred, I’m sure.

  25. 25
    perrymarshall says:

    Thank you for the review, Michael. My response is at http://cosmicfingerprints.com/id-blind-spot/

  26. 26
    mike1962 says:

    WJM @17:

    +1

  27. 27
    Robert Byers says:

    TJguy and Mung. thanks for the help and i will see if that does it.

  28. 28
    gpuccio says:

    Mapou:

    Good points!

    ID is a paradigm of investigation, as very well stated by WJM at #17. A paradigm raises questions.

    If the paradigm is correct for its context, the questions will be good, and in time they will yield good answers.

    If the paradigm is wrong for its context, the questions will be bad, and the answers even worse.

    Although science is a subjective product of our consciousness, it certainly deals with reality. That’s an important point, which is often overlooked.

    Whatever we may think or like, reality is reality. How things really are.

    Therefore, our paradigms about reality can be more or less correct, and more or less wrong.

    Biological objects certainly came into existence in some way. We can certainly say that they were designed or they were not designed. Those two statements are logical opposites.

    So, if reality is that they were not designed, then ID is a wrong paradigm.

    But if, on the contrary, reality is that they were indeed designed, then only the ID paradigm will give the right questions and the right answers.

    There is no a priori science stopper: a wrong paradigm is an inconvenience for science, while a good paradigm can certainly promote scientific thought.

  29. 29

    There has been ongoing scientific research into the consciousness/matter interface for quite a long time now. Some aspects of it are more widely accepted, such as research into the nature of quantum physics and mindfulness experiments on things like overall physical and mental health and genetic expression.

    Other research, however, may be more uncomfortable for many ID supporters. There is quite a bit of evidence, for example, of anomalous consciousness-related effects on random number generators based on decades of research. I don’t see, however, how ID researchers can experimentally investigate the idea of a mind-matter interface (sans resorting to actual physical body and equipment) without some sort of research into quantum-consciousness/psi effects.

    If you think mainstream ridicule of ID is bad now, bringing the boat into those waters would generate a storm of epic proportions – and not just from atheistic materialists, but possibly even from many ID supporters. However, if we agree in principle that consciousness is primary, then it probably follows that consciousness may indeed directly affect matter, and such interaction should be subject to some kind of scientific verification.

    I just wonder if that’s research many IDists would be willing to pursue.

  30. 30
    Andre says:

    Perry Marshal.

    Thank you for responding to Michael Flannery, I would like to ask you two questions if I may.

    Similarly, evolution can mean “chancedidit”… or… scientists can conduct repeatable experiments and re-construct the chemical, genetic and information pathways that transform one species to another.

    1.) How does one model chance and unguided processes? How is it scientifically possible to repeat a luck event?

    The Evolution News and Views page frequently conflates evolution with atheism. The casual visitor would naturally conclude the Institute is anti-evolution.

    Why this blatantly dishonest remark? The debate as you know is not about evolution it is about guided vs. unguided evolution.

  31. 31

    At the end of Marshall’s response, he asks:

    Dear reader, what do YOU think? In your experience, in your conversations with friends, is ID a program of repeatable evolution experiments? Or is ID a search for divine intervention in the universe? Or both?

    The general misapprehension of what ID is, is due largely to a concerted effort of misinformation by those that oppose ID.

    ID is an theoretical framework that fosters certain avenues of research, such as Axe & Gauger’s experiments concerning the probability of the chance generation of useful proteins. If you’re a committed naturalist, there’s probably not even any conceptual reason to do such work because there is no question that chance processes generated proteins.

    Indeed, similar such research undertaken by ID antagonists to counter Axe & Gauger’s claims wouldn’t even exist without the ID challenge. Hawking has even offered an entire book to respond to the fine-tuning argument for ID.

    There has been quite a bit of research undertaken to counter various ID claims and arguments. Would such research have been done without the ID challenge? Would naturalists have even thought of irreducible complexity and the challenge it brings to the assumed, non-design explanatory paradigm? Would there even be a debate now about the origin of biological information?

    The naturalist paradigm simply assumes things that shouldn’t be assumed. The ID theoretical framework is a necessary counterbalance – otherwise, some questions simply don’t get asked and some problems go unnoticed.

  32. 32
    Mung says:

    Let’s say that AXE and Gauger show that protein folds could not have evolved via mutation/selection [neo-darwinian mechanisms] and infer that intelligent design is a better explanation.

    Let’s say that Meyer shows that the Cambrian animals could not have evolved via mutation/selection [neo-darwinian mechanisms] and infers that intelligent design is a better explanation.

    Now what?

    Is it the hope of the intelligent design community that scientists who reject ID will take up the search for what [non-Darwinian] processes actually happened that can explain new protein folds or new Cambrian body plans?

    Should they start looking for the designers?

    Good luck with that plan.

    I support the DI. I think they are doing a good job of getting the word out to the public, helping support authors and actual research.

    The work though is not done at “therefore design.” It’s going to take more than that.

  33. 33
    Virgil Cain says:

    Now what? Figure out the design so that it can be properly maintained, sustained, repaired and replicated.

  34. 34
    bill cole says:

    Virgil Cain
    I agree. Is it possible through repeat experiments they can isolate a non random cause of improving resistance to the antibiotic.

  35. 35
    Virgil Cain says:

    bill cole- Or if they figure out the design of the bad bacteria they will be better able to kill it and all of its variants. Or, even better, turn it into helpful bacteria.

  36. 36
    Flannery says:

    I’ve read your reply, Perry, and I would only add four things:

    1) You seem to presume a lot about what “practicing scientists” hear and what the “average guy” believes about ID. While I can’t speculate on what other people may or may not believe about ID, I would say that if you’re correct it is only because William J. Murray (#31) is absolutely correct, “The general misapprehension of what ID is, is due largely to a concerted effort of misinformation by those that oppose ID.” In essence you create a straw version of a “God-did-it” “science-stopping” ID and then tell everyone, based upon this false version, what they believe about it. What I find most curious is that through most of the book, you actually argue essentially for ID. Your real argument seems to be not against ID per se, but against its present marketing. If that is, in fact, the case I think there would have been a far better, less divisive way of presenting your ideas. (I also think Andre #30 asks a couple of good questions.)

    2) I didn’t “skip” chapter 17. Perry, I didn’t say you ignored Stephen Meyer’s books, I said you ignored one particular book, his Signature in the Cell. You want to define Evolution 2.0 by the remarkable capacities of the cell. Fine. Then you need to more thoroughly engage with this book. It is not mentioned or cited in Evolution 2.0.

    3) You think there is a 10% chance that someone will discover a “purely chemical process that produces codes.” Then I can only say that at best your book has a 10% chance of being utterly wrong. If this can be proven I don’t see how teleology and meaningful design hold up. And as for cells being “conscious,” I don’t know how we swim in these epistemologically deep waters. It seems to me you could easily get caught up in the whirlpools of Haeckel’s “cell-soul” monism and other philosophical dead-ends. You say “life can be free to develop its own purpose.” Perhaps, but this just sounds to me like a reprise of old Biologos theology. I invite readers to peruse the excellent three-part series by Thomas Cudworth on “Theology at Biologos” from several years ago.

    4) Given the importance you place in your book on concepts like science, miracle and consciousness, some analysis of these complex terms should have been given before going further. For example, in what sense is consciousness bound up with intentionality and how is it distinguished from mere sentience? What exactly do you mean by miracle? What is its relationship to other phenomena? Here is not the place to go into these questions, but your book should have.

    Nevertheless, I will challenge your view of science. You seem to suggest that science is just a sort of one-dimensional bench or field activity defined by the degree to which it is replicable. In fact, you say that on page 178, “Real science is based on inference from repeatable experiments. Anything less is abdication.” I invite you to read Carol Cleland’s article, “Methodological and Epistemic Differences between Historical Science and Experimental Science,” Philosophy of Science v. 69, no. 3 (Sept. 2002): 447-451. You seem rather dismissive of historical science (p. 129), but as Cleland points out both are quite valid and useful in their own right, they’re just very different. Without going into the concept of what a miracle is, I’ll only relate back to your own concept of science. If the hallmark of science is repeatability, why wouldn’t miracles themselves be repeatable? I invite you to read Andrew Rein on “Repeatable Miracles?,” Analysis v.46, no. 2 (Mar. 1986): 109-112. Reins points out, “In the senses of ‘repeatable’ . . . a repeatable miracle could (logically) occur. If, however, we mean by a repeated event that its recurrences are governed by a regularity enshrined in a natural law then there can be no repeatable miracles. But this claim is trivial. For if the occurrence of an event is governed by the regularity enshrined in some natural law, then that occurrence cannot be in violation of the laws of nature (assuming, of course, these laws to be consistent) and hence cannot be a miracle.” In short, and you can read Rein’s complete argument for yourself, miracles can be repeatable.

    Having said all this, there a danger of highlighting our differences too much. Fact of the matter is, there is much to applaud in this book. I do, as you do Perry, invite readers to get the book and read it for themselves. In the end, despite my issues with it, it is a book worth having.

  37. 37

    We are giving Perry Marshall’s book too much publicity here. Let’s follow his steps by linking about his book using the donotlink services:

    http://www.donotlink.com/dnl/faq

  38. 38
    News says:

    Isn’t the point here that some people now sense a coming thing and want the ID theorists’ territory? So they now claim the ID theorists don’t really own it or aren’t treating it right …

    They may think their PR is better. If so, well and good.

    But there’s this: If Darwin’s trolls and tenured asshats come to think such people matter, they’ll soon find out how little PR counts for. We’ll see.

    Note: News is poster, not author, of this piece.

  39. 39
    bb says:

    To say ID is a science stopper, even when it better fits what we observe, is a pathetic bit of handwaving. Because ID fits observations better, it is closer to the truth of what happened and what is.

    Truth is never a science stopper. Continuing with an obviously incompetent theoretical framework is. Every step we take towards truth is helpful.

    An ID scientist never has to be surprised that the appendix isn’t really vestigial, or that most of our DNA actually has a purpose. Had we known there are no vestigial organs sooner, research into organs labeled as such would have occurred productively and sooner. There wouldn’t be so many missing tonsils and other mislabeled organs. More effort would have been made discovering how to save them. Which is the “science-stopper” in that context?

    There is a different, more earnest, mindset when an object is considered a vital and advanced piece of technology whose function isn’t readily apparent, than when it’s considered junk. Purposeless. An outdated holdover, and nothing to waste time on.

  40. 40
    perrymarshall says:

    Michael’s response is too good to leave buried at #36. I posted a response here:
    http://cosmicfingerprints.com/.....nt-design/

  41. 41
    Andre says:

    Perry Marshall

    Thank you for your reply, a question again;

    There is a third possibility, which is that cells are ontologically capable of directing their own evolution.

    Is this by chance or design?

  42. 42
    perrymarshall says:

    Those who read my book will know that it’s inevitably by design. Ultimate levels of order in the universe. But the difference in my approach is that “design” is never an endpoint. It is only a reason to dig deeper. I don’t believe the scientific rabbit hole ever ends. A subtle but VERY important distinction.

  43. 43
    Virgil Cain says:

    Hi Perry,

    With ID design is not the endpoint. The detection of design is just one level. Next we study it so that it can be understood. We want to understand it so that we can properly maintain it, sustain it, repair it and replicate it.

  44. 44
    Andre says:

    It is turtles all the way down for Perry Marshall

  45. 45
    Andre says:

    Perry Marshall

    But the difference in my approach is that “design” is never an endpoint.

    Can you point me to any ID literature that says design is the endpoint?

  46. 46
    perrymarshall says:

    @andre, I quote from http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....00701.html:

    “Perhaps the major animal phyla evolved from earlier species. Plenty of ID advocates accept that. And we all accept evolution in the sense of change over time. What we dispute is the mechanism responsible for change over time.”

    ID’s problem: That troublesome word PERHAPS.

    ID is equally receptive to, and representative of, the guy who thinks the major animal phyla DIDN’T evolve from earlier species, as the guy who accepts evolution.

    DIDN’T evolve = “poof.” Smoking gun.

    And you just shot yourself in the foot, because ID as it currently handles this discussion is at best agnostic to common descent and at best agnostic to methodological naturalism. (And then, only on a good day.)

    So from the standpoint of silencing the objection that ID = “goddidit” they just pointed a shotgun at their foot and blasted off four toes. Making themselves wide open to the derision of Larry Moran.

    (See http://cosmicfingerprints.com/larry-moran/)

    And yes, by the way, in the practical WORK of science it is turtles all the way down. There’s always another subatomic particle, there’s always another layer of order in the cell or genome, always another mystery. Always another job to do. The scientist’s job is never done.

    That doesn’t negate the ultimate need for an ultimate explanation. Nor does it negate the need to see the genome as orderly not disorderly. But it neatly solves the main objection and serves the interest – and the PROFESSION of science.

    Until ID people recognize this, you guys are lost in Afghanistan and you’re never getting out.

  47. 47
    Mung says:

    There’s an interesting new article up at ENV about an enzyme that must be designed.

    An “Exquisitely Designed” Enzyme that Maintains DNA Building Blocks

  48. 48
    Mung says:

    Can you point me to any ID literature that says design is the endpoint?

    He probably can’t. But that’s not his argument anyways. Can you point me to any ID literature that goes beyond making an inference to design to speak of what must have actually taken place?

  49. 49
    Mung says:

    Science is not just about facts. Science is about “How?” How do things come into existence in a cause and effect world? What is the mechanism of causation for the effects of genetics, genomics, and epigenomics?

    – David L. Abel

  50. 50
    hnorman5 says:

    I saw this book at Barnes & Noble. It was in Christianity. I went back today. It was not there but they said it would be shelved under Christianity. When I saw it it was very
    close to Darwin’s Doubt. I don’t think that’s where either book belongs but that’s where they were.

  51. 51
    Otangelo Grasso says:

    Perry Marshall was a pioneer in educating people about
    DNA and information. His website Cosmicfingerprints was where i first learned about this fundamental issue and one of the pillars of intelligent design. Stephen C. Meyers book , Signature in the Cell, came afterwards. So i regard Perry amongst Werner Gitt , Stephen C.Meyer et al as one of the pioneers of the ID movement, and he deserves credit for it.

    As about Evolution 2.0, it has some interesting things like information entropy. And so other issues like communication of bacterias etc.

    As for his 5 mechanisms of evolution that lead to macro evolution , body form and cell differentiation, histology and development, i think the arguments and explanations are too superficial and not enough indept researched.

    Irreducible complexity is a barrier of evolution to many molecular mechanisms and biosynthetic pathways, and epigenetics involves far more than just gene regulatory networks. That is not well exposed in Perry’s book.

    In that regard, Stephen’s Darwins doubt is a far better educational book about the real mechanisms of biodiversity.

    I have made a little list, which is certainly incomplete, but shows the real mechanisms of complex life forms, and the mechanisms that are involved :

    Where Do Complex Organisms Come From?

    http://reasonandscience.heaven.....-come-from

    Meyer, Darwins doubt, page 212:

    According to neo-Darwinism, new information, form, and structure arise from natural selection acting on random mutations arising at a very low level within the biological hierarchy—within the genetic text. Yet both body-plan formation during embryological development and major morphological innovation during the history of life depend upon a specificity of arrangement at a much higher level of the organizational hierarchy, a level that DNA alone does not determine. If DNA isn’t wholly responsible for the way an embryo develops— for body-plan morphogenesis—then DNA sequences can mutate indefinitely and still not produce a new body plan, regardless of the amount of time and the number of mutational trials available to the evolutionary process. Genetic mutations are simply the wrong tool for the job at hand.

    Even in a best-case scenario—one that ignores the immense improbability of generating new genes by mutation and selection—mutations in DNA sequence would merely produce new genetic information. But building a new body plan requires more than just genetic information. It requires both genetic and epigenetic information—information by definition that is not stored in DNA and thus cannot be generated by mutations to the DNA. It follows that the mechanism of natural selection acting on random mutations in DNA cannot by itself generate novel body plans, such as those that first arose in the Cambrian explosion.

    Cell and body shape, and organism development depends on following :

    Membrane targets and patterns
    Cytoskeletal arrays
    Centrosomes
    Ion channels, and
    Sugar molecules on the exterior of cells (the sugar code)
    Gene regulatory networks

    Various codes and the encoded epigenetic information is required:

    The Genetic Code
    The Splicing Codes
    The Metabolic Code
    The Signal Transduction Codes
    The Signal Integration Codes
    The Histone Code
    The Tubulin Code
    The Sugar Code
    The Glycomic Code

    ” Junk DNA ”

    MicroRNAs–“Once Dismissed as Junk”–Confirmed To Have Important Gene Regulatory Function

    In 2008 Scientific American noted that microRNAs were “once dismissed as junk” and said the following:
    Tiny snippets of the genome known as microRNA were long thought to be genomic refuse because they were transcribed from so-called “junk DNA,” sections of the genome that do not carry information for making proteins responsible for various cellular functions. Evidence has been building since 1993, however, that microRNA is anything but genetic bric-a-brac. Quite the contrary, scientists say that it actually plays a crucial role in switching protein-coding genes on or off and regulating the amount of protein those genes produce.

    Transposons and Retrotransposons

    striking evidence has accumulated indicating that some proviral sequences and HERV proteins might even serve the needs of the host and are therefore under positive selection. The remarkable progress in the analysis of host genomes has brought to light the significant impact of HERVs and other retroelements on genetic variation, genome evolution, and gene regulation.

  52. 52
    Otangelo Grasso says:

    Furthermore, micro adaptation or micro evolution depends not on mutaton and natural selection, but is a DESIGNED process, as Shapiro states :

    Non random mutations : How life changes itself: the Read-Write (RW) genome 2 3

    http://reasonandscience.heaven.....-rw-genome

    And all available scientific evidence also indicates that evolution is an engineered process. In engineering and computer science, evolution never happens by accident. It’s always the result of a deliberate act. A program that can self-evolve is always considered an engineering marvel. 6

    The genome has traditionally been treated as a Read-Only Memory (ROM) subject to change by copying errors and accidents. 7 I propose that we need to change that perspective and understand the genome as an intricately formatted Read-Write (RW) data storage system constantly subject to cellular modifications and inscriptions. Cells operate under changing conditions and are continually modifying themselves by genome inscriptions. These inscriptions occur over three distinct time-scales (cell reproduction, multicellular development and evolutionary change) and involve a variety of different processes at each time scale (forming nucleoprotein complexes, epigenetic formatting and changes in DNA sequence structure). Research dating back to the 1930s has shown that genetic change is the result of cell-mediated processes, not simply accidents or damage to the DNA. This cell-active view of genome change applies to all scales of DNA sequence variation, from point mutations to large-scale genome rearrangements and whole genome duplications (WGDs). This conceptual change to active cell inscriptions controlling RW genome functions has profound implications for all areas of the life sciences.

    Ever since the formulation of the neo-Darwinist Modern Synthesis evolutionary theoryin the 1930s and 1940s, it has been an article of faith that hereditary variation results from stochastic copying errors and unavoidable damage to the genome

    In the past 60 years, since the structure of DNA was elucidated, molecular biologists have studied the basic mechanisms of long-term genome change. They have discovered a wide array of proofreading and damage repair biochemical systems that remove copying errors and correct DNA damage. At the same time, they have revealed an amazing and wholly unanticipated array of cellular and molecular systems that operate to generate genome variability, both temporary and structural. As we begin the second decade of the 21st century, accumulating empirical evidence has thus shifted the perspective on genome variation to that of an active inscription process changing the information passed on to future generations.

  53. 53
    tertiumquid says:

    I myself am really confused by Perry Marshall’s message. He acts as though anyone that accepts ID will be uninterested in seeking further information about how life and (micro)evolution work—presumably because that was his own response if/when he counted himself in the ID camp—a generalization that I find ludicrous. The ID inference for him seems to be true in only an “ultimate” sense that is purely metaphysical, ruling out any evidence for something being transcendentally involved and therefore restricting any Higher Intelligence to a front-loading act or to be working invisibly and immeasurably. In that way he seems to be drinking from the Biologos cooler in believing that if we can just restrict the Big Tent of ID into the small space of methodological deism that we’ll have that coveted legitimacy in the eyes of the academic elite and such luminaries as P.Z. Myers. Perhaps I have him wrong, but it sounds like a lot of double-talk. Just because academia joins you in looking down your nose at ID, doesn’t mean they’re your friends, doesn’t mean you’re not next on their list. That said, while I disagree with Perry—not sure how much, since he seems a bit hard to pin down—I certainly think he should have a booth at the academic marketplace and I wish he felt the same way about ID. He’s getting people thinking about these concepts and that’s good. Some preach anti-Darwin out of contention, and I nonetheless give thanks that it is preached.

  54. 54
    Peer says:

    I missed the release of this book, but apparently the author drained the paradigm of rapid speciation.

    https://creation.com/images/pdfs/tj/j23_1/j23_1_99-106.pdf

    https://creation.com/images/pdfs/tj/j23_1/j23_1_107-114.pdf

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